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Thread: Witchcraft Actors (IC)

  1. #21
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six SpoonyViking's Avatar
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    The Rover & DIOMIDIS
    Night (Phase 0)
    DIOMIDIS's Castle


    "But please, forgive my rudeness. Could you tell me your name first of all before we old fools have our fun later?"
    The Rover wanted to sigh, but didn't. Names. Mortals living and dead both placed a great deal of importance on names, didn't they? The Rover had used a few over the centuries, but could not remember if he had ever really cared about them. Blood by any other name would taste just as sweet, and shit would smell just as badly.

    Then again, he mused wryly to himself in an unusual bout of self-awareness, the fact his own name was reviled even centuries later might have had something to do with it.

    Names. Well, there was one name by which other bloodsuckers knew him, even if only as one of Altrouge's "envoys". He paused in his idle wandering and looked back at DIOMIDIS.

    "I am The Rover," he said simply, lending the "name" no more significance than any other would have received. "As for the 'heart of the discord'..." He shrugged. "I imagine it's London - it's where the mages congregate, after all. Or we can just tail this army that's about to come through here."

    He blinked; if his flesh still remembered how to do it, he might have even furrowed his brow in confusion.

    "We". Did he really propose to band together with this DIOMIDIS? It seemed he did, even if he couldn't understand why.

    Perhaps the companionship I sought was not that which is found among humans or beasts.

    The thought was... Strangely appealing. To wallow in the stench of living death, to share in the misery of another existence unfit even as one of the Corpse-Father's sacrifices...

    To confirm that which was already known.

    Spoiler:
    To sleep, to dream no more.


    It was almost enough to teach his flesh to smile again.

  2. #22
    So Many Ideas, So Little Time SleepMode's Avatar
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    Sahar Pneuma Artamenes
    Afternoon (Phase 0)
    The Judith

    Quote Originally Posted by The Charge
    "Alright, I've decided. I want you to escort our two guests into town for the night and show them a good time. Entertain them and make sure no harm comes to them, got it? I'm counting on you!"

    "Aye, sir."

    -



    — - What.

    It took several instants for the Captain's order to finally sink in. Too preoccupied foreseeing the impending storm, he failed to realize a proverbial vortex beneath his feet. Taking a quick breath to compose himself, the bubbling curse within Sahar was flattened to a strangled grunt and tightened fist. Though the three are thankfully preoccupied in discussion, the pilot was already mulling over the current state of affairs.

    By the moon, is this fool for real…

    Delightful. His charge's impulse has already derailed the mandatory dealing with the Clock Tower by significant margins. All to play escort with secondaries -- who said charge took in, no less -- he will likely never see again once reaching Oxford. Were it not for the mission and guise, Sahar would have given the Captain a good earful about entertaining such frivolities, but as if "he" would listen to anyone or anything, much less him.

    The Captain's orders were law, in the end.

    Having the chance to examine their guests of honor proper, their presence in close proximity does strike a clear if curious contrast. The red-coated one has a well-traveled air, traces of well-treaded earth and raw herbs faint but apparent. The bespectacled one, in contrast, had a familiar aroma between sugar and ink; a cloistered academic through and through. Honestly, the two couldn't be any more different.

    Sahar's mouth curled to a frown. A sniff.

    Yet something more peculiar stuck to him, its hint at the back of his tongue.
    The red-coated one has a certain clarity for all the cloyingness, not unlike the ocean air. And in the bespectacled miss… A dust-like staleness— –

    Quote Originally Posted by Red-Coated Secondary
    "So, Mister... uh, Sahard?"

    The mispronunciation of his name brought Sahar back to the deck, one of the duo's attention now on him. The pilot sniffed. Having been part of The Judith's crew for a reasonable duration, the struggle of the Englishmen handling a foreigner's name was hardly a new affair. At least the scholarly miss was known enough to correct her. Now that was a rare sight, one so familiar with his land's inflections. Didn't they mention her being a dealer of records? Makes sense of one with mercantile leanings.

    Relaxing his knuckled grip, Sahar faced the scarlet traveler in earnest.

    Quote Originally Posted by Secondary Gilbert
    " Virginia Gilbert. It looks like we'll be walking together for a bit."

    Not letting the gesture linger, the pilot accepts the outstretched hand with a stiff, if uneasy, smile of his own. If he were to accompany them for the duration, best play the part of the cooperative aide if only for convenience. Now to recall this nation’s etiquette…

    "Just Sahar. As my captain wills, I shall be of assistance to the best of my ability, mistress Gilbert." Glancing to the bespectacled one, Sahar added, "And who should I address towards, noble madam…?"
    Last edited by SleepMode; June 13th, 2022 at 02:39 AM.
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  3. #23
    Flying Fairy Sunny's Avatar
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    Virginia Gilbert
    Afternoon (Phase 0)
    The Judith


    The dark-haired sailor didn't seem half as outspoken as his Captain, that was for sure. He was quick enough to give his assent to her orders, but after that, he was the quiet sort and seemed lost in thought while Virginia and the others talked.

    There was nothing wrong with the quiet sort, mind, but it felt like he was using that quiet to size them up, and no mistake. His eyes were as alert as anyone's, which made sense for someone in the crow's nest, but hmm. Right to work as an escort, maybe, or perhaps feeling a bit put upon...

    Well, he did just get saddled with a job outside his usual responsibilities. Virginia supposed not even the ship's crew--especially not the ship's crew--were safe from the Captain's sudden changes of direction. It was a wind that blessed her, Virginia knew, but it could just as easily be a curse for him.

    There were some sorts who welcomed any excuse to slip off and cut loose and some who wanted to stay on task, where they feel they are needed and where they need to be. Not much question which kind this fellow was, then.

    He wore it so clearly that Virginia couldn't tell if he was actually trying to hide his disagreement or not.

    ...Either he wasn't, or he wasn't very good at it, she thought.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sahar
    "Just Sahar. As my captain wills, I shall be of assistance to the best of my ability, mistress Gilbert."
    ...But he was willing to take her hand, stiff as his grip might have been, and that made his manners kinder than many gentlemen she'd dealt with.

    Well, Virginia realized too late that because of that, she might have been overenthusiastic shaking his hand, and she’s forgotten to restrain herself, but no sense worrying about that after the fact.

    He seemed well-muscled enough to take it.

    In the meantime, he had turned his attention to the noble lady behind her.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sahar
    "And who should I address towards, noble madam…?"
    "Jane Nowell, and well be with you, Master Shipman," her companion remarked, lifting the hems of her skirt lightly as she curtseyed. "Just Jane would be fine, if it pleases you. Truly, I've gotten accustomed to hearing my name unvarnished from Virginia already."

    A cough. Her cheeks still faintly flushed, Virginia scratched at the side of her face and made a low grumbling noise. "Ah, I said I would, uh, try to speak more properly, if you prefer..."

    "It's fine, it's fine," Jane waved her off quickly, giggling into her hand before turning back to the sailor. "I'm but a daughter carrying out her father's business, so pay me no special mind. My father is a scholar and antiquarian, so you can consider me merely a humble bookseller on his behalf on my way to do business in Oxford. It's a pleasure to meet you, Master Sahar."

    As Virginia understood it, that was underselling matters somewhat. Of course, traveling to deal with the University of Oxford as a bookseller was the official story for Jane's travel to Oxford, but that cover story only worked because the books and manuscripts she dealt in were important enough to make it believeable.

    ...But then, Virginia was only particularly versed with one Book, so that was the extent of her knowledge on the subject. Codexes and manuscripts were quite beyond her.

    Apparently though, Jane's collection and knowledge was valuable to the Holy Church, so Virginia wanted to make sure she arrived safe and sound before setting to work on her own assignment. Their meeting had been happenstance, but kindness should be paid with kindness.

    Looking back to the Captain, then to Sahar, Virginia’s smile brightened up again.

    ”This will be my first time in the city, so we appreciate the kindness, and I’ll treat your lad well! We’ll have him back safe and sound!”

    Not that she seemed aware of it, but Virginia’s tone seemed to have already taken on that of a visiting big sister or aunt.

    ”Ah, say, you don't have a curfew, do you?” She wondered aloud and questioned the sailor, inclining her head to the side. "If I need to have you back at a certain time, I'll do my best!"

    …Yes, she certainly had.
    Last edited by Sunny; June 19th, 2022 at 10:41 PM.

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  4. #24
    後継者 Successor zikari8's Avatar
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    Nomine Aeve-Retinansia
    Afternoon (Phase 0)
    Aylesbury – Outskirts

    Quote Originally Posted by Nomine
    "Yaaayyyy~! Courtesy is how you get into Empress Nero's good side! Keep it up and I guarantee you will quickly rise through the ranks smoothly!"

    "Oh my, you should save this kind of thing to someone more deserving, such as the charming Queen this kingdom had. Don't waste it on a common folk like me. Besides..."

    "You want to play this secretly, right?"
    Briefly, Giovanni’s eyebrow rises at the Empress remark, but he quickly lets it go – either deeming it a simple mistake or just considering it not worth a comment.

    When Nomine fails to follow his lead and take his hand, though, he sighs and awkwardly retracts it.

    “I have no need of courting the favor of Empresses and Queens. The only royalty I believe in is our Lord in Heaven. But I guess you wouldn’t understand something like that…” He mutters in a resigned manner.

    “I suppose you have a point, though. The darkness is our ally as much as it is theirs.” He accepts before stepping back into the unnaturally dark carriage, the door closing behind him without either of them touching it.

    He plops back down on the cushioned seats and folds his arm in serious expectation of Nomine’s plan when—

    Quote Originally Posted by Nomine
    "With that in mind, we better choose the darkest place and most accessible area we can find to stay. Places with a lot of alleyways and sewer access will be ideal."
    “… huh?”

    Giovanni tilts his head at her suggestion, the surprised confusion evident on his face even in the dark. After a few more moments of trying to wrap his head around his words, he finally realizes what she means and immediately cringes.

    “Oh, right… I forgot how backwards you are.”

    He groans as if having a migraine before lifting his head back up and shifting back into reprimanding mode.

    “Idiot, this isn’t Rome. They don’t have sewers in this country anymore, at least not the type you’re thinking of, and definitely not in a town like this.”

    He quickly wonders just what other parts of the owl’s knowledge were outdated. Could it be that this birdbrain still thought that Britain was part of the Roman Empire? Surely not… right?

    “Anyways, putting that aside, you make a good point. Let’s look for a place out of sight and with lots of avenues of escape.”

    With that said, Giovanni knocks on the back of the carriage wall to notify the driver – an ally who had been charged with bringing them here but would not be joining them in the fight.

    “My apologies, dear fellow. Before we go, could you tour us around the town a bit? We’ll get off once we find a suitable place to stay – one nestled in the shade and far from a watchful eye hopefully. Thanks!”

    The driver readily obliges, and the carriage start moving again into the town center.

    It happens in but an instant, but it is a rare sight for Nomine. For just a moment… Giovanni had been smiling.

    As he addressed his fellow man, his voice shifted from its usual harsh tones to a gentle, friendly hum. His perpetual frown melted away to reveal a soft smile brimming with warmth and care. But the moment he finished talking and turned back to Nomine, all there was to see was the usual stern grimace that seemed to always plaster his face. As if that smile had been a lie the whole time.

    But just like that, the carriage continued onwards, and Giovanni faces his partner with his usual countenance as he likely always would…




    Nomine Aeve-Retinansia
    Afternoon (Phase 0)
    Aylesbury – Town Center


    Riding the carriage, Nomine and Giovanni enter the town of Aylesbury under the cover of the carriage’s dark interior. From within, the two can look through the windows and get an – admittedly dim – glimpse at the lively town.

    As expected of a market town, traffic is heavy even after midday. Carriages like theirs enter and exit the town at a constant rate while pedestrians of all sorts run about the sides of the stone-paved road with a spirited pace.

    A merchant yells at a customer trying to haggle for a better price on the textiles being cold. A child loading a carriage drops the basket in their arms and lets the apples within roll onto the ground. A woman hauls a heavy bucket of water from the well and glowers at her husband for not helping her.

    From their carriage window, all these sorts of people minding their own business fill their view.

    After a while of silence, Giovanni finally decides to comment on it.

    “… we’re being watched.”

    Nomine is able to feel it too: the distinct, indescribable feeling of eyes on you. It is an unshakeable sense that someone is watching them. But at the same time, it’s weird.

    The gaze isn’t consistent. It isn’t like someone is following them and constantly keeping an eye on them. Instead, the feeling just pops up randomly and then disappears after a while. After travelling a few more yards, the feeling comes back but this time the gaze is coming from a completely different direction. The sense of being watched just keeps coming and going arbitrarily at about every other street they go down, making it difficult to track where and who it’s coming from.

    After some silent contemplation, Giovanni turns to his partner.

    “What do you make of this, Nomine?”


  5. #25
    Cuthbert Ronwedehouse
    Afternoon (Phase 0)
    Westminster – Collegiate Church of St Peter

    Leaning towards his interlocutor with his head resting upon his right fist, Cuthbert was politely listening to the story being told to him. Or considering its content, maybe it should rather be considered as a report… a fable ? … He didn’t quite seem to fit the definition despite certainly including a particular moral lesson when it came to his new comrade here.

    Of course it may be that already calling him ‘new comrade’ was being a bit too forward but if anything, wasn’t sharing stories one of the most traditional ways of bonding with someone ? Nearly as much as sharing a meal in one’s home, even if he feared that opportunities to share such a communal occasion couldn’t be afforded until they were all done with those hard times.

    Or may never be afforded to happen, of course.

    But as this thought was far too dispiriting to consider and as such, it was better to focus back on the story that despite not being particularly cheerful was at least cheerfully told !

    And it was an interesting look into the first impression his interlocutor wanted to give him. Or maybe into the kind of person that he simply was, even if in the Lord’ experience people were rarely so helpful as to give him a clear perspective into ‘who they are’ on a first meeting.

    But his new friend here seemed intent on putting him to the test, maybe even trying to test what his limits and those of his authority were ? Under a certain light it was quite nostalgic, reminding him of a certain number of star students and teachers both that had wanted to see how far they could push the Lord of their new department before he pushed back.

    Oh, well ! He knew what his own demeanour was and how it could inspire such attitudes so he had just learned to enjoy the back-and-forth that usually came with it !

    Quote Originally Posted by Altis
    “Therefore, Lord, the only thing that I want to know is if you have the proper mindset for this expedition. Ah, sorry, but it seems I’ve answered your question with a question of my own. But don’t worry, I have confidence in your ability!”
    “ Ah ! You are not bothered by starting with the hard ones, are you ? “ Thoughtfully tapping and stroking his beard as he contemplated the question, a grin on his face. As much as the timing was inconvenient, this type of back-and-forth was still familiar and thus enjoyable.

    “ If you are worried that I would censor actions such as those you told me about, I would see little point in doing so. If you would forgive me for the comparison ! If you were to ask a famous singer to compose a ballad for a feast you were hosting, it would be gauche to oversee how they are writing every verse wouldn’t you say ? “

    “ But ! “ Clasping his hands together and offering a bright smile at the man in front of him, Cuthbert was straightening his posture in an elan of enthusiasm. “ This is not yet ‘answering your question now’, is it ? So let’s just jump straight together into the matter ! “

    Quote Originally Posted by Altis
    “If that’s the case, please tell me what you would like to do first. A play requires more than a single actor, and a battle is no different. If I could make a suggestion, it would be to put a face to the name of your enemy as quickly as possible. It would allow me to better serve the Clock Tower’s mission that way.”
    “ I do agree with you here if not for one caveat: our first effort should be to assemble with our fellow magi recruited from the Clock Tower and sister organisations to work as a true hunting party. To pursue the metaphor, we need the crew assembled and the stage set before the play can truly start. “

    “ And if you would believe me, those words are not simply those of a dreamer seeing cooperation as an innate moral good. Rather it is guided by my own vision of the situation in this conflict. “

    “ Which is that simply by fighting it, we are losing. We cannot afford a prolonged war in the shadows against those invaders and monsters because every battle to be fought changes this island, from the dominion of the Crown and backyard of the Clock Tower to contested lands. Unless the victory is a crushing one, we will show that we have to fight to keep foreigners from acting in our home and that the idea of them coming here without invitation isn’t purely ridiculous. “

    “ Every folly committed by the Dead Apostles will only strengthen the faith of the Holy Church that they can and have to come here as missionaries and protectors ; every one of us that falls in battle will excitate the appetites of those same Dead Apostles, thinking what is chaos for us will be a banquet for them. “

    “ So here is my trouble: speed is of the essence when it comes to acting but we need every action, every effort to be nothing less than overwhelming if we are to retrieve our peace. “

    “ Of course. “ Clapping his hands with a small sigh, he still doesn’t let go of his smile. “ I may have the vision but what you do seem to have in troves compared to me is experience and I would be a fool to not use it. “

    “ So here if you were to indulge my curiosity: what are your talents best used for ? “

  6. #26
    wwwww Spartacus's Avatar
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    Nomine Aeve-Retinansia
    Afternoon (Phase 0)
    Aylesbury – Outskirts


    "Oh... right."

    Her smile slowly fades from her lips.

    Normally, Nomine is carefree enough to not be bothered by cold treatment and unkind remarks. Neither does she holds a firm stance whenever her belief is insulted by someone. She always chooses the path with the least conflict available to her, just like thousands of worthless plebians like her once were.

    But-

    You wouldn't understand. Backward. Not Rome.

    "Ahaha... you are absolutely correct, what am I thinking?"

    Indeed, why would she be deluded by the time she always sees, when no one on Earth is capable to share that distant but nostalgic view? Just like the third time is the charm, she can't handle reality more than three.

    The stone road was made without care?

    The brick houses make the town monotonous?

    The buildings were made with a lack of care?

    The woods? The blocks? The people? She can't help but sneer at what she sees.

    "How unsightly."

    Her eyes remain shut for the rest of their travel.




    Nomine Aeve-Retinansia
    Afternoon (Phase 0)
    Aylesbury – Town Center



    "..."

    Nomine can't care less about the trip they are currently having anymore. Whether it is the outskirts of Aylesbury or its noisy center, she no longer can recognize them as what they aren't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Giovanni
    “… we’re being watched.”
    "Mhm."

    Her life experience has certainly honed her sense that she can instantly feel the blatant attempt to watch over their movement. But she has never been a hunter, she can't detect anything her eyes can't see. Even after she opened her eyes again to spot where these watchers lurk, she can't locate anything obvious around the town.

    If there is something that she noticed, is the fact that these observers need to be close enough to them for their presence to be felt, they need their vision.

    Then the obvious answer is to rob them of that vision.

    "As long it can't be traced at us by the public, anything fine, right?" She give a smile to Giovanni, as it wasn't an actual question for him to answer. "Expand. My shadow."

    It happens in an instant.

    One could say that it's like a flash, but what's currently happening is the far opposite of it.

    Not just the light that enters the carriage but also the city lights and sun rays. Not just the carriage interior but also the exterior. Not just their carriage but also the dozen or even hundreds of carriages in that town. Not just Nomine and Giovanni but also the merchants, women, and children around them. All of it, either inanimate or animate, without any exception, has now been drenched in a town-sized pitch black.

    She can't contain her monstrous grin, clearly enjoying the situation.





    "What are you gonna do?"

    wise-up!
    Shadow Manipulation
    Type: DA Ability
    Rank: ?


    She is very proficient in controlling her shadows. She can extend her shadows to more than 50 meters, and she makes the area in complete darkness whenever there is light to be around. (One-Line / 40 Prana)
    Last edited by Spartacus; June 22nd, 2022 at 04:06 AM.

  7. #27
    後継者 Successor zikari8's Avatar
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    Ella Alderman & Hanserl Albenheim
    Afternoon (Phase 0)
    Clock Tower – Spiritual Evocation Department

    Quote Originally Posted by Ella Alderman
    "What is our compensation for our labor. We are not slaves after all, surely they do not expect magi of all people to work out of the kindness of their hearts?"
    Perhaps already expecting this kind of question, Ghislaine answers it coolly and immediately, without any need for thought.

    “Of course. You will be monetarily compensated accordingly for your labor and risk.” She states before taking out a quill and parchment to quickly write something down. “We can offer you each this much for your involvement in the conflict.”

    She slides the piece of parchment over to the two of them to show them the sum of money that they will receive. It is a substantial amount, but not a fortune by any means. To put it in relative terms, it is about equal to four months of salary for a second-grade lecturer.

    “The Clock Tower’s resources are spread a little thin due to the war, so this is the most that we get.” Ghislaine dramatically sighs, throwing up her shoulders.

    Then, with a slight smirk, Ghislaine closes her eyes and starts speaking slightly louder than before.

    “Ah, but now that I think about it, I had heard a rumor that the higher-ups are paying a lot of attention to the merits of everyone who’s participating in the war. Well, with the chaotic scrambling and tragic deaths from the battle, it is true that quite a few seats and titles have opened up. I reckon those who make big contributions to the battle will probably be the first on their minds when choosing who to fill those seats.”

    Her smirk shifts into an assured smile. Opening one eye, she gazes at the two other magi with a wink.

    “Well, that’s just a rumor. Would be nice if it were true, don’t you think? I’d be happy if I could come out of this war with a cozy, secure position.”

    Then, just as smoothly as she started her abrupt addendum, she shifts back into her previous professional grace as if it had never happened.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hanserl Albenheim
    "... Very well, if that is all you require of me then I have no cause to refuse. When are we expected to depart, and for how long should we expect to be occupied with these preparations? I may need to make some arrangements."
    “Glad to have you onboard, Mr. Albenheim.”

    Ghislaine gives him a confident nod without any emotion or hesitation, as if his participation had already been a foregone conclusion.

    “We’ll be departing for Oxford by boat in four days’ time. Including travel, the estimated timeframe for completing the base is two weeks. As for preparations, you are free to make your own and take whatever you require, but we do ask that you refrain from bringing any luggage too large or heavy for naval travel.”

    With that, Ghislaine makes one last sweep through the two magi’s eyes to see if there were any more concerns before continuing.

    “Well then, if that’s everything, I think we can call this meeting here. Thank you both for your time. I do have another meeting I have to head to, but I’ll keep in touch with further details and if you have any other questions. Other than that, I’ll see you two in four days at the dockyard.”

    Saying that, Ghislaine heads picks up her stuff and heads for the door… before suddenly turning on her heel and facing the two of them once again.

    “Oh, right. I almost forgot one thing. Your question of compensation just reminded me, Ms. Alderman. I should inform you of something before I go.”

    She turns her gaze to Ella with completely stoic expression, making it clear what she was about to say was not the result of her own will but the orders of someone else.

    “You may already know this, but the Atlas Institute is lending us their assistance in the war with the Holy Church. Due to their expertise in creation, they are also sending some of their agents to assist in the construction of the base.”

    “I’m mentioning this because they were actually the ones who specifically requested that you be added to the construction team for this mission. They even offered to cover the cost of your compensation. So, if you wish to discuss further compensation, you may be able to do so with one of their representatives.”

    With that final piece of information, Ghislaine leaves the meeting room.

    Only Ella and Hanserl remain in the room now, unsupervised. Whether they choose to return to their residence immediately to make their preparations or stay and speak with each other was now up to them.


  8. #28
    後継者 Successor Bugs's Avatar
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    Altis Laramie Falstaff
    Afternoon (Phase 0)
    Westminster – Collegiate Church of St Peter


    Quote Originally Posted by Cuthbert
    “ So here if you were to indulge my curiosity: what are your talents best used for ? “
    Altis laughed, then, a tinkling wind chime to stir the tepid church air. He couldn’t help it, his new bearded friend was as entertainingly earnest as he’d been led to believe.

    Surely he wasn’t actually this naive. No, that can’t be it. A lordship presenting itself as a cushy job for elderly do-nothings was exactly that: a presentation. Smoke and mirrors. Though the battles may have been bloodless, it’s no doubt Cuthbert had probably experienced his own white-collar battlefield in the past. And if he was truly this green…Altis would take the liberty of introducing him to the real world.

    Unfortunately, speculation of his own teammates was not why Master Dee had called him out here. Another glance exchanged with the calm man all but confirms that fact. It was time to lay the appropriate cards on the table. Clearing his throat, Altis made a show of adjusting his posture to match Cuthbert’s in a pantomime of the situation’s seriousness.

    “Pardon my outburst, Lord, I merely believe that the specialties of those labeled priest hunters like myself should go without saying.”

    “Therefore, I would like to inform you of the kind of weapon you’re receiving. I would also like to present some issues of my own, after which I will be looking forward to getting started.” The blonde man held up two gloved fingers as he illustrated his point.

    Altis sat back, briefly playing with a piece of his chopped fringe as he considered the best way to present himself. Though he was on loan, he was still a magus in his own right. To reveal too much, even to one’s friends, spelled potential death on an intergenerational level

    “Let’s see…if we were to hypothetically use the pieces of a chessboard as a temporary analogy, I suppose you could call me a knight. Do you understand, Lord?”

    The knight. The only piece capable of moving through others, of instantaneously exchanging locations in order to gain a beneficial position. One might be surrounded on all sides, but the unorthodox movement of the knight guaranteed that neither defense nor offense would ever be as simple as either would appear. An incredibly cliche metaphor, but Altis still hoped Cuthbert would find it satisfactory.

    “Frankly, I was never worried about either the Department of Spiritual Evocation or its illustrious Lord condemning my actions. If your faction was worried about appearances, I daresay any consideration of hiring me for the job would have been met with some objection. I can consider the situation desperate–by your own admission, no less–but not so desperate that the mission cannot forgo its original clandestine nature.”

    “But the last thing I wish to do is repeat information of which we are both aware. A dog I might be, but I fail even at playing the faithful, unquestioning hound by way of my insatiable curiosity. My greatest wish at this moment would be for you to find a suitable outlet for this energy, Lord. I do not believe your expectations will go unmet.”

    “I am a simple hunter, Lord, with an appropriate skill set that matches the others who enjoy my occupation. I gather all pertinent information regarding my prey, after which I track my quarry until a viable shooting opportunity presents itself. I will track my prey to the ends of God’s Creation, at which point–and perhaps this is a little embarrassing!--I am quite confident I will never miss my target.”

    “That being said, your explanation still leaves me with questions. Questions that I will need answered one way or another if I am to perform at max capacity, so that we might both expedite this conflict.”

    Altis paused, searching Cuthbert’s face for a sign unknowable. Apparently satisfied with what he’d seen, the blonde man continues.

    “Dead Apostle…if I’m not mistaken, this is the first time that title has ever come up in our conversation thus far. I am not accusing you of concealing information, Lord, but the inclusion of the bloodsuckers into the equation has me wondering a few things. Specifically, the nature of the factions I am to believe we are up against. ”

    “Up until now I was under the assumption that this assault was not being administered from multiple angles. That may still be the case. It might not. The particulars of any conflict between the Church and the Dead Apostles alone are something I don’t care to ever know. If the bloodsuckers are simply feeding off the dead left by the Church, so be it. The fact remains that both are threat enough to this country that you have sought my help. I need only as much information as you have gathered on the foe, the remainder of which I shall find for myself in the course of this hunt, at your leisure.”

    “With all of that in mind, I have two favors to ask before I lend you the power of my bow.”


    “The first is that in the event of an encounter with a Dead Apostle, you allow me to end its life.”

    Altis’ expression remained unchanged, but the tension in the room had definitely undergone some kind of alteration. It might have been an illusion, but for the first time that day something approaching anger had crept into Altis’ voice at the very fringes. A glistening wine bubble of ephemeral rage, one that disappears the moment it’s put under any manner of scrutiny.

    “The second is, well, how do I put this…can I call you Gramps instead? The word ‘Lord’ is already beginning to sound unpleasant, like a toad squatting in my throat. Hahahaha!”
    Last edited by Bugs; June 24th, 2022 at 01:40 PM.

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