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

  1. #161
    So Many Ideas, So Little Time SleepMode's Avatar
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    Quick

    Compliance is a weakness in this situation, since they ultimately want information, with Dolores' being an afterthought.
    The Act of dozing off in the afternoon is a luxury indeed.
    Coffee would be nice, though.

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  2. #162
    Buster.

    I agree with Sleepy above, but I think we can go beyond simply getting out. Let's show that Dolores isn't just a victim that's going to roll over and die. Right now the only thing she has for herself is those information, giving them all too quickly to be able to flee the scene will show weakness in front of predators and throw away her only 'advantage'. Better give them the bare minimum so they have to bargain back if they want more, and show that she isn't just a weak girl that can be expected to accept indignity and condamnation. There are no uses for those, while someone willing to fight back might be worth keeping in mind. She just became an adult in her own right, do we want her first act as such to be bowing down her head to those who condemned her to death ?

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  4. #164
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six Bird of Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by King Prussia View Post
    Buster.

    I agree with Sleepy above, but I think we can go beyond simply getting out. Let's show that Dolores isn't just a victim that's going to roll over and die. Right now the only thing she has for herself is those information, giving them all too quickly to be able to flee the scene will show weakness in front of predators and throw away her only 'advantage'. Better give them the bare minimum so they have to bargain back if they want more, and show that she isn't just a weak girl that can be expected to accept indignity and condamnation. There are no uses for those, while someone willing to fight back might be worth keeping in mind. She just became an adult in her own right, do we want her first act as such to be bowing down her head to those who condemned her to death ?
    +1

  5. #165
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six SpoonyViking's Avatar
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    Hmmm... Buster!
    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.

  6. #166
    吸血鬼 Vampire Wyvern's Avatar
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    Magus Profile!
    Origin: Vessel
    Element: Vessel
    Sorcery Trait: ???
    Crest: Second Foundation (Entomopathy)
    Circuits: Core
    Foundation: Shamanism
    Mana Output: 500 Units


    Inventory!
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    Relationship Index!

    - Suibhne the Bronze: Ally
    - Harfang B. Kingsworth: Ally
    - Berserker ???: Enemy
    - Caster ???: Enemy
    - Master 1: Enemy
    - Master 2: Enemy
    - Dominika von Martinitz: Ally
    - Linus Rosenberg: Enemy
    - Victorio Bellefronte: Enemy
    - Bram Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri: Ally
    - Marcus Rosenberg: Ally
    - Penelope Damnatia: Ally
    - Animusphere Family: Unknown
    - Lorelei Barthomelloi: Unknown
    - Department of Summoning: Unknown




    Day 1 - Morning 3


    “In one condition.”

    There was a tense pause, the overwhelming silence which could only herald something truly unexpected. Every occupant of the room looked at the youngest magus as if she had just pulled the pin on a hand grenade. Which she might as well have, considering the present company. Even the previously smug Bellefronte looked as if someone had just bashed him across the face, a look of true shock as his mouth hung agape.

    Dolores didn’t care.

    She didn’t care that both her mentor and the Warden were looking at her as if she’d just revealed herself to be an undead abomination after all.

    She didn’t care that Suibhne’s fur stood on end.

    Didn’t care for the way the most powerful woman in the Clock Tower frowned at her, lips becoming a thin line as her eyebrows twitched a micrometer. Eyes the color of coal - which had looked down at her until now - suddenly bearing down upon her with all the ferocity of a dragonkin.

    No. She was way past caring.

    There was only one thing she cared about. And that was finally gaining back some measure of control, not the illusion of safety and platitudes offered by this… high born witch.

    She wanted things to go back to when her parents were still with her. Wanted to feel safe without having to check for enemies in her shadow every time she walked out of the Department she loved so much. And the only way she could have her life back was to buy it from the highest, most intimidating figure she could grab ahold of.

    Who just so happened to be standing across from her.

    “I suggest you reconsider, Lady Morello. You are in no position to dictate terms.”

    The young shaman steeled her spine, eyes glaring back at the Queen of the Clocktower in defiance.

    “I do not plan to, Lady Barthomeloi. But I am not one to relinquish such resources without something in exchange.”

    A measured response. Perhaps a bit shakier than she’d hoped to deliver.

    “The matter of your debt has been settled. This is a matter of security which supersedes your ability to bargain. Do not think you can use this chaos to make some form of agreement, because your cooperation is wholly unnecessary at this point.”

    “And yet, here I stand.”

    The highborn lady grunted.

    “As a show of trust, and personal favor to your mentor.”

    “Our mentor.” Dolores pointed out.

    Master Harfang did not have the political clout to force Bartomelloi to let her go. She knew that. But she also knew the man was deeply entrenched into the Department of Spiritual Evocation, which was on the verge of establishing an alliance with the El-Melloi family, a cadet branch of the vice director’s own family.

    If there was one obstacle to the arrangements being made, it would be the Eulyphs family backing out of it. Which they would consider if one of their higher ranked and most respected members was slighted in any way.

    Politics were a drag. But that didn’t mean she was uninformed.

    Losing the alliance would be a slight to Bartomelloi’s faction. And the woman would sooner kill her own subordinates than allow them to shame her family name.

    “So, Lady Morello, explain to me why should I not simply take your brain, have it probed, and then compensate Master Harfang for his time and the inconvenience?”

    “Aside from the fact I could fry my own body before you could so much as twitch a finger?”

    Harfang grunted, having to refrain from chastising his student for answering a question with a question. That was a right reserved for Masters, not apprentices.

    “You assume I have grown lax since your indiscretion earlier.”

    “Even so, it would still take you all but a few seconds for your power to respond. In fact, it would take exactly the same amount of time for your spells to reach me as it would mine. The only difference being that mine wouldn’t have to overcome the inherent resistance of distance and affecting another living, thinking being.”

    Glaring now, with a glimmer of grudging respect in her gaze, the Vice Director steepled her fingers and leaned forward.

    “You would hold your entire lineage hostage, risking the destruction of your entire bloodline, because of your pride?”

    “It is a bloodline you’ve already picked over. And, as you so generously informed me, sold off.” Dolores was angry. She was angry, angry. And it wasn’t the kind of anger that most people could understand. No, it was something deep. Something racial. Something bred into her over the course of centuries. “Much like the Barthomeloi, the Morellos can trace our legacy back more than two thousand years, going back generations.”

    And then it occurred to her what it was that had so enraged her.

    It was the temerity of these upstarts, of these thin blooded children, to insult those who had poured their blood, bodies, and souls into their work since before the nations that spawned their misbegotten clans even existed.

    Of Bellefronte’s disrespect and Rosenberg’s machinations.

    And now how this woman who by blood and tutelage was the closest thing to a sibling she had in this room saw no issue with announcing her family’s death sentence. Dolores had finally found a limit to her patience.

    “As it stands, my legacy, every single other Morello since before the rise of the Roman Empire, and the sum totality of everything we’ve ever tried to achieve… is ash. I am all that is left. Because I have not even been given the courtesy of having my parent’s bodies released to my custody for burial.” Dolores paused for a moment, a well of emotions roiling inside of her in a way she’d never experienced before, a connection to her kin she’d never known before.

    Her voice fell quiet. Heavy and pregnant with meaning.

    “You and yours have not just slighted me, Vice Director. You have slighted every single member of my family since Gwynn ap Nudd took Alicia Domitius Brittanicus, daughter of Caesar’s own haruspex, as his bride. And you have, in turn, slighted my bloodline in perpetuity." A fight between magi was a battle of pride, of shared history and pedigree and Dolroes was tired of pretending she did not have any of her own.

    "You have presided over an injury so great, so mighty, so terrible that my own life will likely end our Family. And you have the
    temerity to claim it is a mercy. So yes. I will kill myself, ruin this body and any chance you have of gleaming anything useful from it should that be what it takes to impress upon you the severity of my discontent.”

    At any other given time, Dolores wouldn’t have minded doing as she was told to avoid confrontation.

    There was a time to stand your ground and a time to leave things be.

    Yet this, she felt, was the time to take a stand.

    “If a Magus’s worth is the sum total of their family’s accomplishments then all that I have left is pride. Pride which you and Policies have trod upon time and again this day and before.”

    Her eyes burned with unshed tears.

    Memories of her life nearly being taken flashing before her as she met the Vice Director’s unblinking stare..

    “So if you want to take even more from me, then it is within my right to demand a price for it.”

    Only then, did she realize she could not move.

    The eyes she’d been staring at so intently flared with malicious intent, an unearthly orange similar to liquid amber as it began swirling around Barthomeloi’s iris. She knew at once what those were.

    Mystic Eyes.

    Of a kind she had never seen before.

    “We shall have words later, Lady Morello. But it is as I said, your cooperation was never a requirement.”

    Her breathing seized. Lungs constrained by an invisible chain as it coiled around her body like a serpent before squeezing. The sensation of her muscles giving out came first, as did the spasming of nerves as they struggled to make sense of what had happened. The burning sensation of prana as it passed through every fiber of her being before suddenly vanished.

    And Dolores knew no more. Without another thought, before the sounds of Magic itself could travel through the neurons firing in her brain - she fell. Like a puppet whose strings had been cut.

    Such was the folly of Alice, dancing merrily through Wonderland.

    After all… it is never wise to offend the Red Queen.


    Buster Route - Unlocked!

    “Oh fuck!” Dolores sat up so fast she cracked her head on a low hanging lamp above her. Crying out, a wave of vertigo washed over her and she only had a second to turn her head and vomit. Thankfully, it was mostly acid and spittle. “My head.”
    She whimpered, a throbbing pain deep inside of her skull only matched by a bone deep bruise she could feel in her abdomen. It was enough that the Magus could guess half of what happened, but had no idea how or why it had occurred - or why she was waking up at all. That was the one thing that worried her most of all.

    “Ah. Good.” Having collapsed back onto the cold, metal slab she’d been lying on, the verdette managed to angle her head enough to see her Master standing in a doorway, looking older and more haggard than she’d ever seen him before. “I’ll clean that up.”

    A twist of his fingers and several embers leapt out and reduced the sick to less than ash. Some of the sparks even leapt into her mouth, running across her tongue and teeth and leaving behind the slight taste of cinnamon after burning away the stomach acid.

    “Here, try to drink this.”

    The old man held out a water bottle, neither saying anything as the girl drank.

    “Thank you.” Her lips were still a little dry and her voice raspy, but now that she’d downed half a bottle of liquid paradise she realized her entire body didn’t feel quite so… hung over.

    Harfang’s only response was to give the girl a wry smile and pat her knee.

    Eventually, though, the need for answers won out over the lingering pain she felt and Dolores began to speak.

    “She had a mystic code ready?”

    “The whole room was one.”

    “Ah. I suppose I should have expected that. Suibhne? Dominika?”

    “Both were highly distressed, the former watching over your parent’s bodies and the later pursuing leads related to the information pulled from your mind.”

    “Understood.” She was glad she’d finally be able to bury her parents, but there was a… moroseness, a feeling that she’d burned a bridge with the Warden she didn’t realize was there to burn. And that whatever budding friendship might have existed, was probably broken beyond repair by both of her outbursts.

    “How long have I…”

    “Around ten hours. You’ve nearly missed dinner.”

    Ten hours. The realization hit her like a sledgehammer to the knee. She’d been out of commission for the entirety of a day, and likely lost her chances to speak to both the Animuspheres and the Summoning Department by this point.

    Then again, being alive was probably a mark of luck.

    Warranted or not, her temper had cost her a lot of time she could have spent investigating the attack of the servants and trying to uncover their next move.

    “What a disaster.” She sighed.

    Her master smiled bitterly, giving her an encouraging pat on the back.

    “Chin up, my young apprentice. Though you might have incurred some punishment for confronting the Vice Director. She was not wholly unreasonable about it.” He helped her sit up, pulling her twinging frame to the edge of the metal table. “As payment for the information, Lady Barthomeloi obliged with one of your demands. Though in her usual roundabout way.”

    This caused Dolores to perk up.

    That was supposed to be a good thing no? Then why did her mentor look so… unnerved.

    “I ask that you do not panic, nor interrupt me until I am finished relaying the facts to you. As you may have guessed, after knocking you unconscious, the Vice Director had us move you to this adjacent workshop and with Lady Dominika’s aid, performed a deep scrying of your memories.”

    Dolores paled.

    ‘Mother’s workshop!’ Did they find out about it?

    She couldn’t afford to lose the altar. Not when she had yet to finish the summoning of her familiars!

    “Per our… insistence, however, she refrained from delving any further than your confrontation with the enemy masters and whatever vestigial remains of your visions there were.”

    That was… tolerable. Enough. She could live with that.

    “However, and this is something I objected to most stringently, her repayment came in the form of one of your family artifacts. Which she implanted inside of you. I don’t know what it was, but she said it was recovered from your mother’s body?”

    “I don’t - oh.” Dolores blinked. Taking a moment to realize what had happened to her while she was out. “It’s, well, it’s basically… not a crest? But kind of like a… storage… hive… thing. I can use it, but my training simply didn’t reach the point where it was ready to be transferred over from mom.”

    He held up his hand, the old master sighing for a final time.

    “Before we go any further, I most inform you that I have failed to defend you. While you were unconscious, I agreed to allow your mother’s relic to be implanted, but the Vice Director insisted on an insurance policy. That the object in question was simply being loaned to you and, should it need to be recovered, that they would have a way to do so. I am sorry, but I was not strong enough to overcome her without endangering you.”

    Closing her eyes, the Magus accepted what she wasn’t being told.

    “There a bomb inside of me?”

    “Yes.” The word came out strangled, almost smothered by self loathing and failure. “And a tracking device as well. A spell, I think, but I was not permitted to observe it.”

    Dolores’s breath caught in her throat, her chest seizing up and tears stinging at her eyes. That was when Suibhne reappeared, brushing against her mind with a feather light embrace.

    “The time for tears will come later, Kitten. Eyes are still watching and ears listening. Chin up, for now.”

    Somehow she managed to turn a hiccup into a cough, the young woman swallowing the knowledge that there was a magical explosive device now inside of her. Drawing on the well of raw, undiluted, arrogance that most true nobles had, she sniffed with disdain.

    “If they think such a thing is necessary, then I see no reason to oppose such a petty and wasteful thing.” Reaching over, she pulled her Master into a tight hug nonetheless. “Thank you for standing up for me. They didn’t hurt you, did they?”

    Surprised, and a bit misty eyed himself, the old man shook his head and returned the hug.

    “No my dear. Lorelei is strong, but ignorant of our ways. Her insistence on mastering only the basics leaves her uninformed of many of the more esoteric aspects of our arts. Her spells could not even scratch Grim’s scales. Not unless she wanted to do that Servant’s work from earlier and level the tower.”

    That was… encouraging?

    She knew the volcano spirit was powerful. As powerful as something that old hoarded by a family of shamans could be. And under a contract with her teacher, there was a chance the spirit was harboring even greater potential. That her mentor considered him strong enough to stand up against the greatest prodigy of a generation was... telling.

    “Please don’t level the Clock Tower.” She asked regardless, yet the old shaman's teasing smile did little to assuage her worries.

    “No promises, my dear. Now let’s get you out of here.”

    “Before that, mind if I try to activate the implant? I don’t think it would be wise to leave it to chance. Mother had so many... I shudder to think how any of those might react to my body.”

    “Hmm. Is this really the best place to do such a thing?”

    His implication was painfully clear.

    “Considering I have a bomb inside of me, if it’s going to go off whenever I use magecraft, I’d rather the Vice Director have to pay the cleaning bill.”

    Harfang grimaced.

    “And I can’t convince you to wait?”

    “After what I just did a few hours ago… I’m afraid not, Master.”

    Once more the old man sighed, nodding and acquiescing to his headstrong pupil’s demand.

    “Alright, this shouldn’t take too long. Just need to activate my circuits and -”

    Again, she fell to her knees, head throbbing and veins burning as burning ice filled her veins. From the tip of her toes to the ends of every strand of hair, she felt her body shifting.

    The Vessel is filled.

    The Vessel is emptied.

    The Vessel is shaped.

    The Vessel is overflowing.

    All is as it shall be.

    The words weren’t hers. Dolores knew that. In fact, they were almost like her mother’s. She had been a Vessel too, though not one so refined as herself. Her Element had been the Earth in an echo of its aspect of Gaia - one suited to be closer to the Mother than any true human. But close enough for a Magus to sire a child with her. And now, the green haired Shaman felt the rush of her mother’s Mana fill her up… and hollow her out.

    Harfang was stroking her hair, the strands damp and sweaty, and held the water up to her lips again. This time, she finished it off.

    “So what happened?”

    “I… I think it changed me.”

    Immediately, she noticed she could feel her Swarm. As in, every single homunculus insect that her parents had ever created. There were… distressingly few left. Though several dozen had somehow survived in the tunnels under London. She immediately recalled those.

    More confusing, though somehow comforting as the thing felt almost like her mother had, was the now fully and properly integrated Hive inside of her. An organ, not totally dissimilar to a womb, that was capable of using the fat reserves of her body along with her od to rapidly assemble additional familiars. Weak ones, considering her lack of training and practice, but theoretically infinite. After they were created, they would travel through the pseudo-arteries she felt thrumming with a low level of magical energy inside of her limbs, the exits to these passages located on her shoulder blades, wrists, and near her tailbone.

    There were other changes too, things she couldn’t identify through the mixture of pain and magical fire still simmering inside of her, but she somehow instinctively knew what to do.

    “It feels untampered and a bit like Mom. I'll be ok though. I just need a minute.”

    Harfang nodded.

    “I understand. Take as long as you need. After that, where would you like to head next? Back to the Department or would you like to try and swing for that meeting with the Animuspheres?”

    Choice Time!

    Spoiler:
    Dolores finds herself in dire straights. Saddled with a relic she knows little of and a failsafe which could trigger at any time, she has precious little time left to accomplish her goals and higher stakes than ever before. What should her next step be?

    1. The Department of Summoning:Tracking and learning of these servants takes precedence. We cannot waste time in finding them before they attack again.

    2. The Animusphere Family:
    One of our current suspects. Perhaps we would be able to glean some information on the attackers if we interrogate the family on their sudden interest in Heroic Spirits.

    3. Retreat to Mother's Workshop: Being given a dangerous implant with no way to ascertain its failsafe is bad. Being without her family familiars is even worse. Dolores cannot progress if she doesn't know how short her leash is and what sort of surprise the Vice Director left her.





    Congratulations! You have unlocked a Familiar Implant!

    Spoiler:
    A familiar implant is the bread and butter of Dolores' family from her mother's side. The ability to interface directly with their created familiars through specialized organs like the communication implant used by all members of the family. The implant given to Dolores is a valuable relic of the Morello family, though it appears to have been tampered with when implanted.

    Usage: Pay 5 units of magical energy for a small swarm of 10 insects. Continous usage WILL cause Dolores' health to deteriorate over time.
    Last edited by Wyvern; September 25th, 2020 at 12:41 PM.

  7. #167
    死徒 Dead Apostle zikari8's Avatar
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    1. The Department of Summoning:


  8. #168
    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.

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  9. #169
    love warrior <3 world-0 the god of world-0's Avatar
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  10. #170
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  11. #171
    1. It may be more prudent to go back to Dolores' workshop to investigate what's happening to herself, but hmm... She's already pretty distressed and stressed out, and her entire day has been ruined. It may be gambler's fallacy talking, but trying to fish out at least some progress or clues to not make the day a total catastrophe could maybe help.

  12. #172
    吸血鬼 Vampire Wyvern's Avatar
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    Magus Profile!
    Origin: Vessel
    Element: Vessel
    Sorcery Trait: ???
    Crest: Second Foundation (Entomopathy)
    Circuits: Core
    Foundation: Shamanism
    Mana Output: 400 Units


    Inventory!
    - Linchpin (100%) - Rechargeable
    - Mana Jewels (5 / 100%)


    Relationship Index!

    - Suibhne the Bronze: Ally
    - Harfang B. Kingsworth: Ally
    - Berserker ???: Enemy
    - Caster ???: Enemy
    - Master 1: Enemy
    - Master 2: Enemy
    - Dominika von Martinitz: Ally
    - Linus Rosenberg: Enemy
    - Victorio Bellefronte: Enemy
    - Bram Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri: Ally
    - Marcus Rosenberg: Ally
    - Penelope Damnatia: Ally
    - Animusphere Family: Unknown
    - Lorelei Barthomelloi: ???- Department of Summoning: Unknown




    Day 1 - The Department 1

    “You’re quite the cutie, aren’t you?”

    The homunculus chirped, a wave of affection coming from the small, soulless abomination currently resting on her finger. It was the first, and so far only, creation she had spawned. And while watching it crawl out of her skin, wriggling through her body, shaking off the fluids that left a numb trail through the muscles and tendons it had pushed out of the way as it crawled within her, she couldn’t help but feel a bit of affection for it too.

    “In a strange, horrific way.”

    After stepping into a bounded field created by her Master, she’d run her energy through her body. Just to make sure she wouldn’t explode at the mere exposure of her body to magic.

    Once they’d ascertained that, that alone wouldn’t turn her into a finely ground paste Harfang had insisted they run through a few drills. Just to make double sure. After all, if there was anywhere in the world she could be put back together in case of sudden… disassembly, it would be the Clocktower.

    As for the rest of her swarm, less than a hundred insects in total, she’d gathered them and allowed them to hide in various parts of her clothing. Suibhne had been annoyed, of course, but they were smart enough to know not to bother the cat. She was, after all, not above squishing them if they annoyed her. And while not intelligent, their programming was advanced enough to know not to piss off something that their master didn’t want dead.

    “Be careful you don’t play with yourself too much, you might go blind.”

    Dolores sighed, accepting that, yes, the bronze spirit was going to insist on making these jokes. And that, yes, everyone else found them funny. At least going by the way the passing magi chuckled. Though, admittedly, it might be more at how she still stumbled every time Suibhne decided to make a comment.

    “Let her be, furred one, every Magus goes through a time in their life when fooling around is all they think about. It’s natural.”

    Glaring at the two chuckling traitors, she ultimately gave up on plotting revenge and just accepted she’d not get them a Christmas present.

    ‘Or perhaps curse it so it swapped their genders? Yes. That sounds funny!’

    Course of action decided, the greenette simply smiled beatifically and marched along.

    “Hmm. Master, are the defensive wards still up?”

    “No, I don’t believe so. Why do you ask?”

    “Because I can’t find the hallway to the Department Head’s office.”

    “That’s… odd. Oh. That could be why,”

    Frowning, the young woman turned to her master and asked several unspoken questions.

    “Well, there are a number of passive defenses. And, well, you’re a bit… explosive, right now.”

    Energy primed for a Gandr danced around her fingers, Dolores suppressing a groan of embarrassment as she really, really wanted to curse her currently chuckling cat. And her highly amused Master who at least had the decency to only chuckle.

    Rounding another corner, Dolores couldn’t help but notice how… restrained the Department of Summoning was in comparison to her own

    Rather than the borderline reality warping powers which the shamanists kept in their company at all times, the Summoning Department kept their secrets behind closed doors. If anything, the place felt more like a labyrinth, with its twisting turns and forked hallways. Multitudes of doors adorning the walls.

    Some were genuine.

    Others were false.

    Both could be booby trapped with all sorts of nasty surprises.

    From what little she knew of their members, they did not care for establishing long lasting contracts with singular entities, but rather prefered to conserve the means through which they actually summon them. Like the Altar at her mother’s workshop. It wasn’t about the entities summoned, but the ability to bring them forth.

    As well as preserving those means.

    So their department was by contrast… mundane.

    Oh, she had no doubt that behind closed doors she would find wondrous altars and magical circles made of the most expensive and exotic materials, as well as incantations and sacrifices. If there was ever a place as dedicated to finding ways to invite the unknown into the world, then it was the Summoning Department.

    ‘Not impressed.’ Suibhne scoffed.

    Because of course her opinion was wholly unbiased.

    Finally, they came upon one of the nondescript doors. Though this one seemed older, its hinges were worn though the handle looked brand new. A telling sign that the wood itself had been kept for a reason.

    This seemed to be the way members distinguished themselves from each other. And this, being the oldest and most ominous of them all, could only belong to the cryptic oldman who ruled this haunt.

    She would know, every old magus, her master included, loved his antiques.

    “Let me knock. I doubt he locked us out on purpose. Though I do imagine we might have to meet him in a containment room. Until you’re cleared at least.” He paused for a second, frowning. “As of right now, I doubt that Lorelei truly suspects that you’re a traitor. However, it seems extremely likely she does suspect the department of housing one. By implanting you, she exerts leverage over me, ensuring that I will endeavor to root out such an individual without her having to actually ask me to do anything.”

    The older magus sighed, looking every bit his own age.

    “I do apologize, Dolores. It was my fault for not planning for such an outcome.”

    Taking her Master’s hand, the young woman gave him a small smile.

    “It’s ok. I’m sure we’ll figure something out in no time. And she’ll eventually have to take it out. That or I’ll ask one of the Trio to do something about it. If nothing else, fusing with a spirit and detonating it is an option.”

    That seemed to appease her mentor, a small smile quirking along his aged face.

    “We’ll be saving that for last, I think.”

    Giggling, she agreed, even as a doorway seemed to grow out of the wall in front of them.

    Modern and sleek, it bore the kind of simplicity they’d come to expect of the Summoning Department’s few official functions, and they stepped inside without issue. Somewhat more disorienting is that when they stepped through they found themselves inside of a sitting room, the middle of it in fact, with the closest doorway being several feet away and quite firmly shut. Sitting in a stiff backed armchair, drinking a cup of steaming tea, was the man they’d come to speak to.




    Rocco Belfeban.

    A veteran Clocktower player, who dabbled in politics following the onset of the previous Grail War and the fiasco that ensued.

    At first glance he did not look very impressive, hunched over the papers on his desk, dressed in clothes a number too large for his frame. The man seemed more interested in studying the reports than looking at them. Something a man of his standing would normally not have been able to do before two people of higher standing.

    Only his office told a different story.

    From the nascent Hydra corpse preserved in a jar on top of one of his shelves, to the very rare tomes which lay underneath it, Dolores could tell at a glance that the man before him, while old, was well connected.

    Always be wary of old men in positions where others die young.

    This went double for the man who spent his entire life chasing the various subcategory offshoots of the grail war. One of its most well informed specialists. Some say that the man had even participated in some just so he could study the ritual in practice. Given how he was here, alive and well, those rumors were either fabrications or the old man war far more willy than the placid smile on his wrinkled face let on.

    “Rocco.” Her master started.

    “Evening, Harfang. I see you are well.” The Department Head returned the greeting, gesturing towards the chairs in front of his desk.

    “Please, take a seat. I expect there is something you’d like to ask me.”

    Dolores followed her mentor’s lead, taking the seat to his side. Finally drawing the elder’s gaze.

    “Ah, and you must be one of Harfang’s understudies. Heiress Morello, yes?”

    “It is Lady Morello now.” She corrected him, politely but firmly.

    The man’s eyes crinkled in amusement.

    “Congratulations are in order then.” Belfaban leans back. “Should I call for a pot of tea in celebration?”

    “I’m afraid we don’t have much time this evening, Rocco. Not that you didn’t know that already.” Her mentor cut through the pleasantries with practiced poise. Something only a man who’d played the game as long as the Department Head could do without accidentally insulting him.

    The Department Head chuckled drily.

    “Yes, so I’ve heard. Interesting times we are living in, yes? Why, imagine my surprise when I heard that a Servant of all things had attacked the city just yesterday.”

    At this, Dolores tensed.

    This was the reason they had come here. To see the one person who knew as much about Heroic Spirits as the Shamanism Department knew about their own. Someone who had seen his fair share of action and knew the signs to look for in this very tense situation the Clock Tower lived in.

    “Nasty business.” Harfang agreed. “The Vice Director saw fit to address the situation herself. Which, of course, means we are all on a tight schedule.”

    “Some tighter than others.” She did not mistake the man’s quick glance towards her.

    Fortunately she knew better than to let her temper get the best of her. A lesson well learnt.

    “That’s why we’ve come to see you, Lord Belfeban.” She interjected before her teacher took issue at the remark. “If our enemy was able to summon and sustain not one, but two servants, this means we might be dealing with a sub-category grail war. Something we hear you are more than knowledgeable of.”

    The implication was there. Help them, and you will be rewarded.

    “It is our hope that one as knowledgeable as you will have learnt of some method to locate these interlopers through your vast experience.” She continued sweetly. “It might very well prove to all naysayers that your rumored reputation is not all hearsay.”

    “And that by aiding you in this… ordeal assigned to you by the Vice Director, I would be liable to receive her favor in turn?” The man’s grandfatherly smile took a turn for the sly. Like someone who’d finally noticed the answer to a puzzle others were struggling with.

    “That is… only if you live up to her lofty expectations, Lord Belfaban.”

    The older magus seemed to consider her words. Mulling through them as he seemed to try and come to a decision. It wouldn’t do to appear too eager to accept a deal offered to you, after all. He needed to make it look like the two of them needed him, rather than hiring him for a price like a common mercenary.

    ‘Humans are frustratingly stubborn, it seems.’

    Dolores bit back on the chuckled at her familiar’s jab.

    ‘I’m afraid you are preaching to the choir, Suibhne.’

    “Yes. I suppose I do have the time to lend you my expertise. Though I should warn you that my services as a counsel are not cheap.”

    Hook.

    Line.

    Sinker.

    ‘We have him.’ Finally something was going according to plan today!

    “First, we will need to collate all the information we have. And while I already strongly suspect the identity of the Berserker of Red, as I’ve designated him, the Caster of Red is far less identifiable. While the rituals needed to create the flaming child spirit are very specific, that knowledge could likely be found in any of the Pheonician colonies and their descendants. Romans, Greeks, Carthaginians, Egyptians, and a dozen different Semitic and Mesopotamian cultures could be using a variant of such a thing. The clothing narrows it down to the east, but, well, we just don’t know how powerful she is.”

    He was frenetic, pouring over a list of notes that were very blatantly taken from Dolores’s recent brain scan.

    “In truth, finding out such a thing should be easy. The wards for the underground would have recorded such information automatically. However, some idiot chose to deactivate most of them. Luckily for you, young miss.” Once more he glanced at her, this time his gaze calculating and cold. She did not shiver, even as Suibhne gave the man a stare old enough and distant enough that he understood he was to continue.

    “Incompetency, instead of treason Lord Harfang. Unfortunately for your investigation. But we still have a few traces of the homunculus that fought the undead down there. Once more, that is outside of my purview. All I know is that it was strong and efficient, if crudely built. The kind of thing to be used as a weapon and nothing else.”

    “So, how should we proceed?”

    “Why, Lady Morello, I’m glad you asked. You see, the easiest way to figure out who we’re dealing with is to determine the Saint Graphs of these beings. Though, if I’m correct, this is most definitely a Warped Grail War. In part because the spirit our dear Vice Director challenged was a divine one. And you most definitely encountered an antihero or, perhaps, and Alter Ego down in those tunnels. Powers that dark might be found in many types of Heroic Spirits, even some Riders and Assassins, but the willingness to use the particular ritual I believe was invoked would not be found in anything approaching a ‘hero’.”

    “What does that mean?”

    Master Harfang was frowning, clearly disturbed at the thought of any of his apprentices confronting such a thing.

    “No idea.” Rocco shrugged. “Maybe they used a catalyst, maybe they had a high compatibility. Maybe the ritual was corrupted, or something intervened, or they just had really, really awful luck.”

    “We’re not asking for guesses.”

    He grinned.

    “Then get me a scan of those Saint Graphs. Here, use this.” Fishing out a small metal rod, he placed it on the desk. It seemed like a ridiculously clichéd magic wand. The sort you'd find in any undane custou shop. Only the gem on its handle and the clear rune carvings along its length proved its legitimacy “Just point it at them and run some od through it. It’ll detect the composition of their spiritrons and, given time, allow me to tell you how many Servants have been summoned, what type of spirits they are, and even the nature of the Grail War. I may even be able to tell you outright who, or what, they are.”

    Reaching over, Harfang picked the device up, clearly running his own Structural Analysis on it.

    “Thank you. I’ll keep track of it myself.”

    Harfang gave the man a nod, shaking his hand with a firm grip, and preparing the step outside.

    “I’m sure there’s a few things you’d like to ask my apprentice about what she saw. You know what will be done to you if you attempt anything… untoward?” The mad scientist chuckled for a moment, before smoke began to curl out of the old man’s nostrils.

    “Very well, very well. I’ll be quick about things. And no dissections.”

    Dolores’s hand went to her abdomen, still a bit tender, and could only wince.

    “See that you don’t.”

    “So, Department Head Belfeban, I have a few questions about what the current situation actually is. Perhaps we could trade a question for a question?”

    “Why yes, that sounds delightful my dear!”

    Shaking his head, Harfang gave Dolores a small smile and Rocco a nod of the head and stepped out of the room. Time waits for no man, after all, and there was much to do.

    Though she wondered what to spend her first question on. She knew for a matter of fact that the man would help them until he saw no further advantage in doing so. Meaning they had to get the most important information out of him without making it appear to be so. If the old coot thought they were using him, he would clam up and go back to just giving them half assed cryptic warnings.

    So what to ask first?

    How to summon a Servant? Most people knew of the ritual involved. But few had an active interest in performing them. Perhaps go into the details of the enemy servants and their identities? The man had her memory scans, meaning he probably already knew more than either one of them about the enemy.

    And then there was the nature of this Grail War. Two masters working together to attack a party outside their supposed self-contained conflict. If they could figure out what they were after, it would go a long way on finding them.

    Choice Time!
    Spoiler:
    1. What spirit am I most compatible with?

    2. What do you think the identity of the Berserker was?

    3. What do you suspect the target of this Grail War to be?



  13. #173
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    Coffee would be nice, though.

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    Now Revamped!

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    Mm... 3.

    1 will seem too much like getting something out of him, and 2 he might not be forthcoming about. 3 is starting with a hypothetical, which helps ease in.

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    Magus Profile!
    Origin: Vessel
    Element: Vessel
    Sorcery Trait: ???
    Crest: Second Foundation (Entomopathy)
    Circuits: Core
    Foundation: Shamanism
    Mana Output:400 Units


    Inventory!

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    Mana Jewels (5 / 100%)


    Relationship Index!

    - Suibhne the Bronze: Ally
    - Harfang B. Kingsworth: Ally
    - Berserker ???: Enemy
    - Caster ???: Enemy
    - Master 1: Enemy
    - Master 2: Enemy
    - Dominika von Martinitz: Ally
    - Linus Rosenberg: Enemy
    - Victorio Bellefronte: Enemy
    - Bram Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri: Ally
    - Marcus Rosenberg: Ally
    - Penelope Damnatia: Ally
    - Animusphere Family: Unknown
    - Lorelei Barthomelloi: ???- Department of Summoning: Unknown



    Day 1 - The Department 2



    Dolores bit her lip.

    Negotiating terms would have taken a while without her mentor. Her master having left the room part way through the process was as much a test for her as it was a favor to Belfeban. She was now a Lady, and couldn't rely on him to do all the talking. Meanwhile, his fellow Lord wouldn't have to worry about disclosing information to a third party that was not Dolores herself.

    Although she would have very much wanted his imput on this exchange of information.

    As much as she’d like to satisfy her curiosity as a magus, it wouldn’t do for her to waste the first question on something that didn’t directly affect them. There would be more chances to learn about human compatibility with heroic spirits at a later point. For now, they needed to focus on their biggest concerns.

    Namely Berserker, Caster, and their masters.

    Which she doubted the old fox would talk about.

    Information was king in a battle between magi, so there was no way someone as old and experienced as the Head of the Summoning Department wouldn’t have at least an educated guess or two about the real identities of their assailants. As well as what their goals might be.

    Unfortunately, prying that out of him would be difficult.

    Too difficult.

    Knowing the identities of those servants did little to help her personally as she lacked the means to combat them without a servant of her own. And since she hadn't suddenly gained any new markings or tattoos on her body, that meant she wasn't a Master, and thus unable to bring one forth. Probably due to some inherent bias of the creators against shamans. One of the many reasons why those of her kind normally didn't participate in subcategory Grail Wars, well that and the entire taboo about not dealing with spirits of human origin.

    Knowing the plans of the enemy, however, would give her a chance to bargain with the information more readily than just knowing who they were.

    “I suppose I shall be careful, then, and ask something which could be more easily parsed.” After having seen the sheer… inhumanity of some of the servant’s creations, Dolores would admit to having been seriously perturbed by it. So for now, she would keep from inquiring about them “Do you have an inkling as to what this enemy might be planning, then? Or at least what black ritual was used to create something like the burning child I faced on the sewers?”

    The old man grinned impishly.

    “Oho. Starting off with a big question? You’ve got a good eye, my dear.” Stroking his chin, he eventually came to a conclusion. “Before I answer though. How much do you know of the seven regular classes? Of the Holy Grail ritual in general?”

    "I know of the basics. Seven classes, seven servants, seven masters fighting for a wish." Dolores nose wrinckled in distaste.

    “Good. That saves us time. To answer your question, it all comes down to who our enemies are and what they want.” The man turned on his chair looking off in the distance as if trying to recall something.

    “We know our enemies to be Masters associated with the servants of the Caster and Berserker classes. Now, all magi have ways of ranking such entities, but, personally, I consider the cavalry classes the most dangerous. Of the rest, their danger depends mostly on the particulars, but they’re all usually dangerous in some way that relates to raw, unbridled power. The problem of being a blunt instrument, however….”

    “Is that every problem becomes a nail. But sir, with all do respect, wouldn’t only the absolutely strongest beings manage to become Heroic Spirits like that?”

    The older magus smiled wryly.

    “Indubitably. But that doesn’t really apply to the Servants. Not only is their mindset shaped by their class container, that is the artificial construct which shapes their manifestations, but their Masters also tend to inordinately focus upon the power and… prestige of being in command of one of the three main classes.”

    “So they get lazy.”

    “To a degree.” Shrugging, the old man continued his casual lecture. “The issue is that it is much, much easier to simply apply your hammer to every possible nail. And we as magi tend towards laziness so as to better pursue our obsessions.”

    “Meaning those with the so-called weaker classes, need to use strategic insight in order to win?”

    “In most situations, yes. Take, for example, the Rider Medusa. To be frank, the sheer number of skills her saint graph possess that rank as high thaumaturgy from the Age of the Gods or surpass the Mysteries of the modern age can be counted in the dozens, the dozens. On top of that she has no less than three separate confirmed Noble Phantasms, along with reports that some of her classes are in posession of the legendary Harpe, either in the form of a scythe or a nail of some kind. While its abilities are normally sealed, it is most certainly not a 'nameless dagger', but, I think, 'the chain that binds Medusa'. Perhaps a manifestation of a pseudo umbilical cord attached to her distant children. Add on to that her own divinity, ability to drain the magical energy of targets, and not inconsiderable skill… and you get a C rank servant. Three stars!”

    “But.. .but… that’s absurd!” As a shaman, such a familiar would be ranked amongst the highest and rarest. The stuff that made even her mentor's volcano spirit seem tame by comparison.

    To have such absurd power yet rank only as C?

    The man chuckled at her boggled look.

    “It’s the truth. While someone like the Fair King Arthur, has been recorded in multiple instances as manifesting as a teenage girl in an armored dress, wielding godlike power. Her Excalibur could destroy cities. While her skills… are mundane. Her personality is awful, she has a massive chip on her shoulder, lacks the ability to handle high level emotional situations, and generally has none of the emotional maturity we would expect from the real Artorius of Camlan or, more generally, the original King Arthur.”

    Dolores snorted back a laugh. There was most definetely a story behind the Lord's disdain for the lauded King of Knights. But she wouldn't pry.

    “However, even I know she’s considered a first rate Servant. Why, our records of her presence in a japanese subcategory war point to her wielding raw power beyond what most Japanese servants without high levels of Divinity could possibly call upon."

    "Is that really just the difference of class containers?” She couldn't help but ask.

    “Somewhat. Some of it can be chalked up to the existence of six distinct King Arthurs whose existences have been recorded. I wouldn’t actually be surprised if the truth of the situation is that the grail system or perhaps even the Throne of Heroes stores individuals who fit the legend of the ‘King Arthur' to prevent them from overlapping into a singular entity. Considering that the English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, French, and Spaniards all touch on his legend, to one degree or another, the original Arthur’s possible time spent in service to the Roman Empire, or fighting it, along with the Welsh legends that ascribed to him the ability to command gods, demons, and men alike… well, I don’t think I even need to explain how much damage someone so firmly fixed in human memory could cause as opposed to just a shadow.”

    “So their power is largely consensual, then, shaped as much by their Master’s means of summoning them, the belief in their power, and whether or not some higher being hasn’t interfered in their existence up to this point as it is by their actual power levels?”

    “Ufufufufu. Such a clever little Shaman. Maybe, when you graduate, you can come work with me. Even when I try to explain this to some of my students, they just don’t get it. As to what all this means for our enemies?… They are strong. Caster in particular from what your memories have witnessed of her work. A woman in actual reality or someone who assumed a feminine role so strongly their saint graph is shaped by it. Either way, her ritual was one that worked upon the law of Inversion.”

    The young shaman's eyes went wide.

    “She burned her own child alive!?”

    “Breaking taboos is a definite way to strengthen magic.’

    The casual dismissal of her outburst, and of the fact he just waved away a piece of magic that required a woman to burn her own child to death, was normal for a Magus. There was, after all, nothing they could do to change it. And shedding tears was wasted energy. Better to just shrug and record it.

    “As to the exact means, I think her ethnicity is perhaps arabic or semitic. Maybe Mesopotamian, the clothes the zombies wore were too varied to narrow it down further, but definitely bronze age. Phoenician, maybe, but if she is what I suspect, then I would go so far to mention that Moloch was honored with burnt sacrifices. Especially of children.”

    “So a strong priestess, or at least a worshipper, of Moloch, from the Bronze Age, roughly the eastern mediteranian. And wealthy, based on the amount of beaten gold jewelry that was identified, meaning she was highly placed within the temple or nobility at the point in time she was made a heroic spirit.”

    Rocco shrugged.

    “Maybe, maybe, maybe. Of course, none of this is confirmed. None of this can be confirmed with the data we have. Her ethnicity can’t be confirmed without an analysis of her facial structure, her economic station can be disputed many ways, and all of her dress could be affectation.”

    “Meaning it’s possible she’s a modern occultist.”

    “If unlikely in the extreme.”

    “A man as clever as you has a solution, of course.” Dolores tilted her head, matter of fact, but not hesitating to stroked the man’s ego. With Magi that only sometimes hurt.

    “I suppose so. But such a thing would be difficult to explain. After all, we just don’t know what they’re after.”

    “Indulge me?”

    “Hmm.” His lips turned downward. “It’s unlikely to negatively affect my plans. But you will owe me a favor.”

    “On top of the one I already owe you?”

    “Heh. Clever girl. No. We’ll call it one even.”

    That, of course, meant he was doing her another favor and Dolores would owe him one 'real' favor and one 'not really a favor' favor. She simply snorted in a most unlady like way.

    “Understood, sir.”

    “Excellent! Then, I suppose, the only possible target of this Holy Grail War is… the Clock Tower!”

    She inclined her head, waiting for the man to continue.

    “A pity, I was hoping for more of a reaction.”

    “If you like we could try that again….”

    Waving her off, the man continued.

    “No, no. Too late now anyways. But yes, I strongly suspect that whoever or whatever invoked this conflict specifically wants to use it to destroy the Clock Tower. Maybe. Possibly. I don’t really know. But that’s what I told the Director, and I do mean the Director, who then requested I inform the Vice Director. Her response was a bit less polite, but thankfully there was the divine spirit flying around out there for her to take her poor mood out on.”

    'Lucky' was not the word Dolores would have used. Not when she'd been there to watch as they clashed.

    “But I suppose that’s another hint, isn’t it? A divine spirit and a spirit from the bronze age. Both of them would be difficult to summon at the best of times, never mind maintain in a combat situation, implying either extreme resources or immense raw power by whomever enacted the ritual. Meaning, in turn, that it can only be an overt move by such an individual or, more probable, group. All of that boils down to a lot of effort going into this, meaning the payout must be proportional to the risk, further increasing the scope of such a ploy… never mind the almost infinite risk.”

    The Lord chuckled.

    “That is always the catch with rituals like this. If they go wrong, well, you’re a Shaman. You know even better than I do.”

    “Perhaps.” Warnings and descriptions could do little to communicate the horror of what fates could await the unwary. Never mind the overambitious. “But that still stands, why target the Tower and why do it now?”

    The Head of the Department hummed in thought.

    “In all my years studying sub-category grail wars I have always come upon two distinct types. Imitation and Alternative. The former was easier to study by virtue of the ritual following the original as closely as possible down to the number of servants and participants.”

    Dolores could see why. If only the original framework was being used, that meant you could predict the results based on the participants and draw conclusions through simple observation.

    “And Alternatives?” She prompted him.

    “Alternative is the term for a Grail war which has been modified to fulfill a purpose beyond its original scope. A fake grail meant to lure unwitting participants without any of the pre-established rules.”

    Extra Classes.

    Multiple summonings.

    Faction conflicts.

    The original Grail War was established as a free for all between seven masters paired with servants of the standard classes. Anything which went against that was a deviation which corrupted the purpose of the ritual.

    “You believe this might not be an Imitation, but an Alternative Grail War?” She concluded.

    “Wouldn’t you? Having faced not one but two servants working in tandem for a synchronized strike against the Clock Tower? Not to mention that had a system been set in London, the Clock Tower would have noticed.”

    “Don’t you mean YOU would have noticed it, Lord Belfeban.”

    “Potaytoe Potahto.” The man waved her off. “The signs are clear to those who know how to read them. This was not the first battle of a chaotic conflict but a premeditated strike from one group seeking to weaken another.”

    “And we cannot act against their plans without knowing what their aims are….”

    “That is the crux of the matter, my dear. If they intended to crush us, they would have needed more than a single servant, as evidenced by the scuffle you’ve witnessed. Otherwise they would have just unleashed Berserker on the city and watched the fireworks from a safe distance.”

    Dolores suddenly snapped to attention as if struck by lightning.

    “Because the Vice Director intercepted him.”

    Looking at her curiously, the older magus watched as the young Lady seemed to come upon a conclusion.

    “And they did it anyway. They knew it wouldn’t work but attacked. Because the attack… wasn’t meant to be an attack, but a distraction! Berserker’s rampage was to throw the entire city into disarray, while giving the impression that it was a genuine attack.”

    Meaning that whatever they meant to accomplish was happening at the same time.

    Just elsewhere.

    And then Dolores had rushed headlong into their base due to a vision and exposed their hideout when she escaped. Mayb

    “Who knows?” The older magus smiled wrily. “There’s a good reason I locked down my department. We’ve taken every defensive measure possible, even erecting bounded fields which should block out any and all spiritual entities. Once you and your familiar are gone, we’ll raise them again.”

    And then, as if prompted by his words, the building shook. Not from an explosion or a blast or anything so direct as that. No. It was the deep, rolling, booming sound of thunder that rattled every glass fixture in the office. A wall of sound that passed through the building without issue again and again as bolt after bolt of lightning echoed outside.

    “In fact-” He turned to look up at his false window, displaying a black sky outside. “I think it'd be best you leave now.”

    Dolores hedged a look and nearly flinched back as she caught the flash of lightning as it arched through the clouds as it made an unnatural curve at an angle, its light illuminating the clouds enough for her to see a familiar shape amidst the shadows.

    “Berserker.” She breathed out.

    Suibhne had been less well mannered, letting out an expletive too old and unrecognizable for the current day and age.

    “Dolores.” Suibhne broke his silence, eyes trained at the slowly swirling funnel on the London skyline. “We need to go.”

    Choice Time!
    The enemy has started to move once again while Dolores is isolated from her allies. What does she choose to do?

    1.
    Stay in the Department: Find Harfang before leaving. As her closest ally, he couldn't have gone far.

    2. Go back to the Shamanism Department: Your other allies might have already returned.

    3. Head to the Clock Tower: Berserker's attack is a sham. Head to the Clock Tower to warn them of what might be a trap.

    Last edited by Wyvern; November 1st, 2020 at 06:38 PM.

  20. #180
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six SpoonyViking's Avatar
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    Nov 2015
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    Rio de Janeiro, RJ - Brasil
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    Hmmm... 2, I think.
    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.

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