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Revelation: The Cure

Revelation: The Cure

[Complete] A year after the assassination of one of its most prominent politicians, the city in the sky teeters on the brink of revolution. Those with foresight will do what they can to stop it, but will anything be enough?

1,913 readers have visited this universe since Kurokiku created it.

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Introduction

Please do not submit characters to this RP. It is complete, and the story is finished. Feel free to read it if you like, though. Thanks!

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The Skycity of Revelation is fracturing, and everyone can see it. Little over a year ago, the event that precipitated everything else occurred: Marquis Adam Goldwater, a prominent politician and supporter of mages’ rights, was assassinated, a taboo act even in a city where professional murderers are regularly utilized. While most turned their scrutiny upon the Assassins’ Guild, some citizens were privy to the truth, fragmented as it was. On the night they met to fit the pieces of this truth together, they were attacked, and there was no doubt that the fight that evening was only the beginning of their troubles.

In the year since, they have returned as much as possible to their lives, but even the limited peace they may have been able to find is too fragile to last. Seven nights ago, Dr. Prometheus Vanderbilt, Director of Marchfield Laboratories and brilliant scientist, stumbled across something that might better have been left unknown. In his pursuit of a cure for the lung disease that runs rampant in the city’s outer districts, Dr. Vanderbilt utilized Manatechnology, or the use of artificial magic, to create an agent that while indeed able to subdue the toxic lung pollution is also possessed of a number of unfortunate side-effects.

The bodies of most people are not designed to filter magic, artificial or otherwise, and thus any cure based on Mana would be useless without the intervention of a mage or some other way of bypassing a human being’s natural immune response to magic. Vanderbilt found a way to overcome this immune response- destroying it. As a result, anyone to whom his cure was given became sensitive to the workings of magic, able to sense the presence of a mage from a distance. So too, did they become susceptible to more than just the cure. All magic worked on them, benign or malicious, had double the effect that it would on a normal person.

But even more extraordinary was what happened when Dr. Vanderbilt tried injecting his magi consultant, Miss Pandora Elling, with the solution. Her ability to use magic disappeared, and her other symptoms were identical to non-mage patients. She did not regain the use of her abilities for twenty-four hours.

When news got out, the discovery was immediately seized upon by the majority faction in Parliament, and Vanderbilt’s invention was mass-produced as swiftly as possible, but withheld form the disease-stricken populace it was meant to serve. And why not? The men in power finally had what they wanted: a biological weapon that could lay low the thing they feared the most: magic. What was once a medicine was now The Cure, the solution to what so many saw as the greatest bane of Revelation’s existence.

It was not long before the Liberation Movement, an organization of mages and slum-dwellers ready to demand better lives, got wind of the discovery. Where once they had been limited to small armed robberies and skirmishes with the city guard, now they readied themselves to attack.

And standing at the center of it all were those who still hoped for peace.

-From the Journals of Amon Gregory, Assassins' Guildmaster





Revelation: The Cure is a continuation of the events written in Revelation: The City in the Sky, set a year afterwards. It will deal with the continuing repercussions of those events as well as entirely new problems, including the emergence of a full-scale class war as those citizens forced to live their lives in poverty and squalor rise up against the nobles who want for nothing.

Truthfully, though, even the class conflict is but a facade for a much deeper, older hate: the animosity between the government and the magi. Their history is long and storied, so much so that some wonder what could possibly have kept them from fighting each other for this long. Those caught in between may be forced to choose sides or suffer from both ends, and the prospect of a peaceful resolution was all but destroyed with the invention of The Cure, hailed by the upper class as a much-needed method of weakening the magi.




Character Creation Guidelines:

Though this is a continuation of a previous RP, new characters are encouraged and welcomed. The background information on what Revelation is and the people it houses can all be found here. Included is information on the city's layout and class system, notable factions, how magic and science work, and also a summary of information from the last RP.

When creating a character, please read through that information first. It's quite a lot, but a knowledge of the things it explains will assist you in creating a character that can successfully integrate into the setting. There are a few other general rules to keep in mind for creating characters, though:

-Because of the number of Assassin characters returning from the previous installment, I will only be considering truly exceptional applications for this faction, so keep that in mind.

-The storyline is written collaboratively between players, so it is not simply a matter of myself as GM deciding to do something and then going with it. So if you create a character with something unique to offer, chances are you'll be able to contribute more to the plot. Just keep this in mind.

-In the same vein, creating characters that have already thrown their lot in with one side or another is advised against, but not totally unacceptable. I envision the cast being relatively small and mostly neutral, though, so for ease of character interaction that is your best bet for now.

-I'm a nice person, I swear! What I mean by this is, I am absolutely willing to work with you through PM to come up with something. So if you like the setting but are stumped on what kind of character to create, let me know and I will help. In fact, I'd prefer you consult with me on your character. It doesn't guarantee acceptance, but it helps. If you have any questions that are not addressed by the info thread, tell me. I have spent more time than is probably healthy developing this world, but if I've missed something, I have been known to accept input gleefully.

-Your character application is perhaps my first chance to see your writing, so make sure it's exactly what you want me to see before you submit it.

-Players are allowed multiple characters, but let's keep it at two for now, and please don't submit a second until I've approved your first.

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[b]Name:[/b]
[b]Age:[/b]
[b]Faction:[/b]

[b]Appearance:[/b] Pictures are acceptable if you like them, but by no means required. A written description is required, however.

[b]Personality:[/b] What is your character like on a general basis? In times of duress? Do they have any odd quirks or prejudices? Balanced characters are far more interesting than than saints or bloodthirsty psychopaths. Plus, if you were a crazy murderer, the Assassins would have killed you by now.

[b]Equipment:[/b] Unless your character is completely homeless, they likely carry something around or to work. It doesn't have to be a sword or a gun to count as equipment.

[b]History:[/b] As this will be a collaborative story, any information that you would prefer to keep 'secret' should be PM'ed to me, so that I can make sure nobody inadvertently writes anything that clashes with it. Other than that, include what you see as relevant. Keep in mind that hierarchy and ancestry are pretty important in Revelation. A scientist or noble is not likely the child of someone in the outer districts, unless infidelity was involved. Also, any character older than about 50 is going to remember what it was like when magi were prisoners of the state. Anyone younger than that will not.

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Two weeks after The Cure was discovered, the repercussions were beginning to fully sink in. Already, manufacturing facilities were mass-producing it, and at first its creators could not have been happier. Finally, the disease that had long plagued the poorest of citizens had an affordable remedy, and in tandem with the new air filtration systems in place, it seemed that those in Delta might actually draw breath without fear of contracting an incurable malady.

Unfortunately, that promise was to be most egregiously delayed in its fulfillment. Under the orders of some of the most influential members of Parliament, shipments of the Cure to Delta were stopped, stockpiled instead on the private estates of anonymous individuals with enough money to buy all the goods produced. Only a few nobles and the odd wealthy merchant were able to obtain vials of The Cure for their own malady, and to these it was administered almost immediately, side effects be damned.

By the time Prometheus Vanderbilt came to understand why the delay was occurring, it was out of his hands. Everything on his end had been as perfect as science could make it: the formula balanced, the ingredients painstakingly catalogued, the proper tests run, symptoms categorized and mapped with precision, and all for what? That it might be used for an incidental purpose he came to wish he had never discovered.

-From the Journals of Amon Gregory





“This is terrible, simply terrible!” Prometheus Vanderbilt covered the length of his laboratory in shuffling, hurried strides over and over again. Pacing was a nervous habit of his, actually, and a frequent one when he was trying to work his way through a problem for which the answer was not yet clear. He wrung his bony, wrinkled hands, popping each of the joints in succession with the timing of his footfalls.

Joshua Blackwood, his senior lab assistant, stood against one wall, following the old man’s frantic pacing with brilliant violet eyes but otherwise not showing much of anything in the way of response. That was fine; it was clear that Dr. Vanderbilt was mostly talking to himself. Atalanza was there, too, of course; the three of them were those primarily responsible for the development of The Cure, after all, and the latter two did most of their work with the aging genius besides.

“We invent a cure, we’re poised to rid the city of a foul disease, and all Parliament wants is to neutralize mages!” The hunched man’s muttering had become increasingly more shrill, and it was obvious to those that knew him that for all his pretensions to gruff bluster on most occasions, he was now truly angered. Though his eyesight was beginning to go, his gaze seemed sharper than ever as it searched first Joshua’s face, then Atalanza’s.

“There has to be a way to stop this… a way to force them to see reason!” Joshua shook his head slowly. So brilliant, so unfathomably intelligent was this little old man, and yet for all that, he had not the foggiest idea of what such an inclination would put him up against.

“Parliament does not deal in reason, Prometheus. Nor in the greater good. Petitioning them to have the Cure placed back under Marchfield’s control would be a futile endeavor.” His statement was phrased with careful neutrality; he did not want to set off his employer any more than was necessary.

Unfortunately, such a degree of care meant that the underlying implications were completely lost on Dr. Vanderbilt. “So then we go higher! We petition the Crown. We have to do something, Joshua. Unless you would have us do nothing at all, and watch as Parliament starts a war!”

The taller of the two men ran a hand through his salt-and-pepper hair and sighed through his nose with a long-suffering air. He’d had a feeling it would come to this, and he didn’t like it one bit. When he’d gone into science, he’d forsaken all ties with his blood relatives, and had chosen to build his own fortune as a man of knowledge, not politics. He’d sworn to himself that he’d never use the connections that had once been his for anything. But now it looked as though he would have no choice. “Do not cast me the villain in this, Prometheus. The Crown will not likely help us any more than Parliament would, and I assure you that my sister and niece are likely more than aware of the situation already. However… if it will bring you some sort of satisfaction, I suppose I can try.”

“Fine, fine,” Vanderbilt agreed with a wave of his hand. “And what of you, Atalanza? Do you see perhaps some solution that misses an old man and his oldest apprentice?” Both sets of eyes, a cloudy gray and deep purple, swung to the room’s third occupant, and the sole female.




Duke David Gilgamesh was the sort of man who saw no harm in congratulating himself on a job well done, provided it didn’t interfere with anything that still needed doing. This was one such instance; his personal stockpile of The Cure was growing ever larger, and so were those of his allies, while his opponents still wondered where all the supply was disappearing to. Remarkable, how people could be persuaded to keep silent with the right incentive.

It varied from person to person, of course. Money was enough for most, and money he had to spare. His personal fortune, the product of shrewd investments and rather ruthless- some would say underhanded- business practices, was greater than the Crown’s, to say nothing of the rest of the city. Sometimes, when money was not enough, the disappearance of a child or ailing relative was enough to earn capitulation, and the safe return of the hostage of course. None would speak of it afterwards, and obviously he made sure that nobody ever saw his face or heard his voice when captive anyway. Sometimes, being free of the oppressive weight that was a conscience was quite beneficial.

This was certainly what kept him always one step ahead of that whelp of a princess and her little band of interfering fools. Assassins, scientists, even a mage, for Elisia’s sake- none of it was anywhere near enough to stop him. They knew it was him who sent people after their lives, but they were so incapable of proving even the faintest connection that to accuse him would be their defeat, not his.

The one thing that continued to rib at him was that they all so stubbornly refused to die. It was worse than some kind of pestilence, but the past year had convinced him that keeping them in their little ratholes was enough. The day Loki had won a seat in Parliament, he would admit he had been worried, but not enough had changed for it to affect his long-term plans.

And then of course Prometheus and his lackeys at Marchfield had finally made themselves useful and dropped the coup de grace right into his lap… it was quite nearly too good to be true, and so of course he had thought it might be and dragged one of those magic-slinging animals up from the hellhole they lived in and tried it himself. Not only was The Cure exactly as effective as Vanderbilt thought, but Gilgamesh had discovered that sustained exposure was fatal. It looked like if their little vermin bodies were kept from processing their abominable energies for too long, they simply up and died. Or maybe that was the dehydration. It scarcely mattered.

He was not so foolish as to believe he could have his plan enacted they way things were now- no, it was far too soon, the magi far too placid to convince those indecisive middle-ground bastards that they needed to die. It would take much more for that sort of measure to be sanctioned, but Gilgamesh was ever a forward-thinker, and he already knew what he was going to do about that.

“Tell my wife I’ll be out for the day,” he informed his steward, and the man bowed silently before taking his exit. “I’ve got business to attend to…”




Loki stepped out of the smallcraft, alighting on the staircase which led up to a rather impressive home. She’d let Zade have the day off, so it was only her old bodyguard Carlisle with her at this point, which may have seemed a little reckless for someone who’d dealt with four separate assassination attempts in the past year. She wasn’t too worried; the security at her destination was uniquely-suited to dealing with the same.

Treading up the stairs, she rapped on the large front door and stood back, smoothing her palms over the front of her obsidian-colored gown. Social calls still weren’t something she was terribly familiar with, but then this one had three purposes, only two of them actually social.

If the manservant who answered was surprised to see the Princess at the door, he did not show it, immediately dropping into a bow and ushering herself and her self-proclaimed human shield inside. The interior of the home was as tasteful and impressive as the outside, probably largely unchanged for quite some years. That ended to be the way of the older aristocratic homes, hers included.

She spotted one of the causes for her visit right away, apparently occupying himself in the way only children can by dashing about the foyer with his arms held out by his sides. She waited for the boy to notice her, then crossed to where he stood, crouching until she was at even height with her cousin. “Siri,” she greeted with a small smile, ruffling his hair. “How are you? Is your father up and about yet?”

Loki was not generally good with children, but this was her little cousin, and she liked him a good deal more than the older one. A reason among several why she’d chosen to bring him here rather than leave him in the custody of her aunt and uncle. The latter was far too busy with his work, and the former was just… well, no need to think about that too much. He’d been but a spare anyway, now he was heir to perhaps the kindest person the Princess knew, and one of but few friends she could claim to have.

It had only been a couple of weeks since Caelin had taken his dose of The Cure, and she’d also come to see how his recovery was going. Parliament was not in session today, so she’d thought a personal visit might not be too much of an inconvenience. Not to mention, of course, that there was some news she needed to pass on.

The setting changes from District Alpha to The Assassins' Guild

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#, as written by Smith
The room was hotter than most people would have been able to stand, although it's sole occupant paid it no heed. Within the torrid enclosure that was the fourth training room of the Guild Eos stood stark still. Sweat rolled from his body in beads, striking the floor with more force enough to cause an audible noise. Garbed in only breeches and a belt, the pugilist was exposed and glistening as he scanned the empty room. Eos stood in what was supposed to be a loose position, arms raised parallel to the ground and legs spread two feet from one another while leaning forward, but the dusky-skinned assassin trembled with exertion. His muscles corded against whatever force held him in check.

Slowly, Eos nodded and reached for his belt at which a thin oak wand was sheathed. Withdrawing the magical implement, he aimed the wand at his center mass and discharged the pre-cast spell stored within. A field of intensified weight bore down upon the assassin. The third such casting since dawn. The wand slipped from his grasp and was glued to the floor by the thrice-amplified force pressing on Eos. With a grunt and a sharp intake of breath he spun in place, shifting to a more linear position with arms raised above his head and standing on one leg with the other raised so knee met chest.

For twenty minutes Eos held this position, breathing shallow breaths. His body burned all over and muscles quivered in protest. Finally though, the compounded spell wore off and the world seemed to lift from his shoulders. With an overly-loud sigh of relief Eos straightened his back and stretched. He smiled upon hearing several pops between his bones. Damn that hurts...hurts pretty good though.

Eos turned on his heel and started towards the door when a junior assassin peered through. Her eyes widened, realizing she'd been caught staring. Eos smirked and put her under a questioning gaze. He struck an akimbo, allowing the dim light to reveal the forest of scars upon his form and the built muscle underneath. Barely a year ago most of it had hung slack on his frame, and now nothing was going to waste. Eos couldn't help but think: Damn...i'm a sexy beast.

"Senior Assassin," the woman caught herself and sketched a bow. "Second-Masters Hera and Nidhogg would like to speak with you." Eos nodded and dismissed the junior assassin. He still disliked the formality used within the true branches of the Guild immensely, but agreed to abide by their rules...as long as he took an active part in the protection of Pandora, Caelin and Loki. Eos had accompanied Pandora on several of her visits to the sickly noble's abode and shared words with the boy. In no time flat Eos decided that Caelin was of sterner stuff than most, and took a liking to him. He sorely hoped that Caelin would recover soon.

Minutes passed by as Eos returned to his room to clean up, don his armor and equip what weaponry he was permitted by Amon Gregory. The meeting was underway quickly as well. At the end of it as he bid Hera and Nidhogg good day, Eos was scowling. It was a habit that he was trying to break. There were whisperings of another attempt on Loki's life again? There had been seven so far...four that the princess herself was aware of, the other three having met a brutal end meted by either Eos or Amon. The former Hand raised his tattooed palm and stared into the black disk as he walked.

Selene...please let this be a good day. without realizing it, his other hand was toying with the sunburst pendant at his neck.

The setting changes from The Assassins' Guild to District Delta

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Pandora smiled and straightened, wiping a thin arm across her brow as she brought herself to her full (rather unimpressive, all things considered) height. Just an ordinary flu; nothing to worry about. Part of her rejoiced that she probably wouldn't be seeing many more cases of Wasting Lung cropping up; Mr. Vernazza's air filter was making the skies look so much prettier already. "He'll be fine with a few hours' sleep, Mrs. Worthing," she informed the hovering mother pleasantly.

She was visiting this particular patient in his home, as she had taken to doing lately. It wasn't so bad, all things considered, but she missed not having to carry all her supplied around with her wherever she went. Granted, she didn't have that many things, since she really wouldn't know what to do with alf the medical equipment that proper guild physicians used, but she did have bandages and painkillers, plus a low-strength disinfectant for scrapes. It was amazing how much more she was able to do when she didn't have to heal every simple thing with her magic. She wasn't exactly sure why the princess continued to fund her efforts, but she was grateful in the extreme for it.

Of course, the number of chronic Wasting cases she was dealing with wasn't improving that much, and she was worried. About a week ago, a rumor had reached Delta of a potential cure for the disease, but no serum had yet made itself visible in the district that would need it the most. Unlike most of the folk down here, Pandora wasn't able to wave away the rumor as nothing real, because she had been there for its creation. Dr. Vanderbilt was a bit strange, but she had thought him the kind of person who really wanted to see his invention distributed, and she wondered what the holdup could possibly be.

Declining Mrs. Worthing's offer of tea, Pan waved at the widow and her young son and saw herself out, padding along the street with her supplies across her back. She was presently staying with her grandmother and grandfather (not blood relatives, but they'd raised her, so that's what she called them), and the matron of the house was in serious need of a dose of The Cure. She hoped it would be made available soon.

Of course, it could not be so simple as to make that the only pressing matter on Pan's mind at the moment. Unfortunately, the reason she was not currently living at her clinic was because someone also wanted her dead for some reason. Not the cheeriest of thoughts to be having, but not really something she could avoid considering every time she made a house call. She couldn't not be available to the people here- they needed her, and she wasn't about to hide from them. Still, any stranger asking after the whereabouts of Pandora Elling was never given the truth of it, so she was probably pretty safe for the moment. At least her friends knew where to find her.



The Assassins' Guild

Zade arched into a back handspring, only narrowly avoiding the blow from the wooden shortsword. The bruises on her arms, legs, and torso would attest to the fact that she would be several times dead of this were a real battle, and even then she knew the Guildmaster was checking his blows. As humiliating as that had been at first, she had come to understand the necessity of it, and she'd be a fool if she denied that she was receiving what amounted to the single most effective combat crash-course ever devised.

This was what she did on her 'days off.' Sought out as much punishment as she could take in the hopes that she'd finally be able to land a hit on the old man who moved like water- always just out of reach and slippery as all get-out. It was a personal favor to Loki that he was doing this, she had gathered, but sometimes she was almost certain that he enjoyed teaching generally. She did not dare to hope that she was in any way an apt pupil, but she was learning fast enough, she supposed, for he never gave her any reason to think otherwise.

Unlike his weapon, her own was the real thing, made of metal and not wood, though not sharpened quite so much as to be fatal without deliberate intent. The steel bladed ring was about three and a half feet in internal diameter, and an odd weapon choice to say the least. Perhaps it made it less surprising that she had spent most of her life as part of a street act and not a fighting force. Not that the skills were too far removed when it came down to it; it was mostly a matter of being less showy and more efficient.

"All right, that should be enough for today, my dear," Amon announced, replacing his practice armament in a pile of the same. Zade didn't have the energy to do much more than nod. Generally speaking, she'd spend the next few hours in the archives below the Guild, learning battle strategy and history, the things that an essentially self-raised Gamma trouper tended to miss out on. It was almost like they cared... well, perhaps that was a bit too bitter. The both of them had done her much good, and she could appreciate an opportunity when she saw it, especially when it came with the understanding that certain past crimes would remain... overlooked.

The setting changes from District Delta to Marchfield Laboratories

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#, as written by Katryn
Atalanza blinked slowly, her pale irises steadied as she gazed directly before her. Eyes narrowed and unfocused, her surroundings barely registered in her consciousness. An insistent and spirited rambling hummed in her ears, thrumming her eardrums. Cocking her head to the side, she slowly lifted her gaze, her pupils refocusing themselves on the workplace around her. In immediate proximity stood Joshua, a few paces away with his back to her. His arms crossed his chest and his defensive stance told all that needed to be known about the scene taking place before her. The throng of ramblings from the professor needn’t be more than a redundant and pestering mosquito at her.

Her ears cleared and vision lost its last blur, bringing her back to reality the way in which one would surface from a pool of water. Senses quickly sharpening, Atalanza moved forward in one stride, her long legs carrying her efficiently to Joshua’s side in a single step. She hugged her black coat to her sides, a chill running down her spine as she turned her eyes to the older man beside her, Vanderbilt continuing his fitful rant. Scrutinizing his solemn features, Ata lifted her firm chin slightly and shifted her gaze to the elderly professor before them. The rant had suddenly ceased, a momentary silence ringing in the workplace before Joseph’s strong voice boomed from beside her.

“Parliament does not deal in reason,—”

Ata had to restrain herself from falling into a fit of her own spiteful laughter, tucking her arms further into her sides as she smirked. Damn me if it ever did. Her lips pursed as her eyes narrowed once more. Prometheus leapt back into his rambling and she released a short sigh. The poor man had worked his tail off—not to mention Joshua and herself as well—,slaving over his precious Cure. They all believed in it and what it could mean for the city. They had all fooled themselves into believing that they could have been creating a solution to the pain and suffering in the lives of so many people, far more desolate than they. She brusquely shook her head, clearing the distant imagery of the grimy district in which she herself had writhed for two years of her youthful life. Yes, they truly believed that they were doing something good; something benevolent; something compassionate.

And now, where was this benevolence? In the filthiest, most grimy hands of all, that was where. Ata despised most of Parliament, especially and particularly the Prime Minister. However, as a scientist she had hardly a right to opinion at all. Any opinion she might have had would be completely ignored by anyone with the power to put action behind their opinions anyhow.

Her eyebrows cinched together as Prometheus hurled an accusation at Joshua, who merely refuted with compliance. The pair of assistants were clearly aware of the elderly man’s anguish over the situation. He rarely—if ever—became so distraught over matters. The best thing either of them could do was sooth the professor’s nerves whilst keeping their own boiling anger at the sickening thing being done. Their hard work for good will having been distorted into something devious. Her stomach churned at the thought.

“And what of you?”

Atalanza’s eyes widened momentarily as the two males rounded on her, yanking her out of her reverie. She looked from one set of inquisitive eyes to the other, her mouth falling slightly ajar as her mind reeled. Prometheus’s gaze pressed further as the silence lengthened. Her brow furrowed once more.

“Solution?” she scoffed. “I’m sure the only true solution is to hogtie the bastards and give them a taste of their own medicine,” Ata muttered under her breath, half-heartedly hoping that the professor’s aged ears wouldn’t have picked up all of her sadistic comment. When the two men’s gazes continued to press in on her, she sighed, dropping her arms to her sides. “Look, Prometheus, I honestly haven’t the faintest idea how to manage politicians, but I do know that while our chances may look rather dim, we need to fight back in some way. I don’t know how just yet, but there has to be something we can do. We are the biggest brains Revelation has to offer. I suppose fighting fire with fire would be an effective road to take. Fight our own science with more science. Fight The Cure with…science.”

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It was once again time for Giacomo to come by Prometheus to deliver the process diagnostics of the air purifier. Using the mind mapping he had of Marchfield he walked to Prometheus office, wilst looking at the astonishing results on the paper. Who could have thought that just the centrifugal force of the intake would be enough to chemically break the majority of the polutants down. Such a simple addition, that he initialy had made to increase the airflow into the construct. As Giacomo tried to open the door, wilst still maintaining his walking pace, he slamed himself into the locked door. There was just one reason for Prometheus to be outside of his office at this hour of the day, and Giacomo knew it all too well.

He then walked to Prometheus laboratory, the place where the 'legendary' cure for the lung dissease was developed. The place where he delivered a few samples of the poluted air. Just as Giacomo was about to open the door he heard Prometheus rant on the other side. It wasn't unusual for him to rant about something, it almost was his signature skill to rant about... Well, just about anything. Instead of dropping in Giacomo decided to stay off-sided for a moment and listen to the conversation. It seemed that the cure wasn't getting to the right poeple, but even worse it was being used to neutralize mages. This was troublesome indeed, he obviously disliked the idea of using a medicine as a weapon, but what he disliked even more was that this selfish behaviour of the parliament was killing the innocent.

At the end of Prometheus rant Giacomo came into the lab. "Prometheus, the air purifier is a massive success. Polutant concentrations are dropping faster than a falling hamer, the air quality in Delta is almost on par with Beta's quality and the water distribution program makes the entire machine cost efficiënt. It's even better than I hoped it would be." He said with some enthousiasm as he handed the paperwork to Prometheus. Than as he changed subject so did the tone of his voice, turning a bit more serious and stern. "Oh, I overheard your rant just a moment ago and I may have the answer. Though we, scientists can do very little, you can do a lot as the head of Marchfield. You could change the method of distribution, from this open form to a more directed one. Simply use a distribute where necessary policy, that way one would have to have the symtoms to get access to the cure. Another option to hinder parliament is to recover the cure due to a suspected production flaw. My last option is to go underground with part of the production, but I personally would prefer the first option." He said calmly.

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#, as written by Shiva
The Assassin's Guild

The smell of waxed robes permeated the immediate close vicinity as the doctor moved through the building of the Assassin's Guild. Behind him, a short and rather bouncy girl followed after him, eyes wild and taking in every scrap of her backround. This was only the second time she had been in the Assassin's Guild. She still had to undergo formal training, but after some arm-twisting, her master had allowed her to access the building while on his supervision. Her eyes were still blindfolded as she was lead across the streets with a cane to the building, taking many false turns and going in many circles before reaching the place itself.

Victoria Steins stood at the entrance to the large book room, taking in the sights until Etzel turned around and gave her a pointed look through his mask. She snapped back to reality and followed Etzel to the sciences section.

"Victoria, you will be becoming an Assassin soon..."

She shook her head. "No way. I told you this before." She quipped.

"You know too much, you chose to come with me."

"How else am I supposed to get my inductment into the physicians guild?"

"You HAVE been saving up, right?"

"...Yes?" In reality, she had spent much of her given money in maintaining a small home owned by a elderly lady. She didn't really have much to live on when her parents died.

"No you haven't. Now, if you want to pass the exam..."

"Damn it, I don't want to become an Assassin!" She said, rather calmly.

It had been a huge argument between the two nowadays. However, due to the frequency of this argument, it's become rather half-hearted and it's mostly just a monotone back-and-forth between the master and apprentice. Etzel shook his head, and pulled a book from the shelf. "The guild offers you a measure of protection. You know how to fight, but once I'm gone you won't have somebody to watch your back." He said, making himself sound a lot older and decrepit than he really was.

"You wrestle rats the length of my arm, master. I think you're good." She retorted, puffing out her cheeks.

"You'll come to it eventually. Here, the book. 'One-hundred Common Maladies of the Body' by Glashkov". Etzel sighed. "Good reference for the most common sicknesses and how to treat them. Another," Etzel handed her another volume. " 'Flesh Workings'. A good collection. Study this. Sadly, some of the wounds depicted on the book we won't be able to practice- not in your life-time, hopefully."

Victoria sighed. More books. What her parents didn't tell her was just how much she had to memorize. "Right, right."

"Now, I shall be looking up somethings myself. Take the usual spot, and remember, if I don't see you when I return-"

"..I'm literally dead." Victoria finished, nodding. She moved over to a table, plopping down and staring at the volumes. She dejectedly looked to the side and saw a girl that looked about the same age as her. "Hmm. Didn't know they made 'em this young." She muttered to herself. "Means kids might be running after us with blades. Better not.... Would that seem suspicious, would they catch on? I don't know. At least I have this thing by my side. I can take 'em."

She tipped her hat down and began reading.




District Alpha

"Loki!" The child gasped, bouncing up from his running position. He ran over, about to give her a hug before he paused. He bowed once, and then latched himself to the princess briefly. "I'm fine! This place is so awesome- you need to visit more often!" He cried excitedly, hopping up and down. "Dad gave me this!" He held up a bulky toy cargo plane with a openable hatch. He remembered the Princess had another question and paused. "Uh, speaking of dad, he's been better. He can eat almost the entire bowl of food the maids give him now!" He beamed.

"Siri, what is all the noise about? Is a friend over?" Came a voice. Siri jumped, and turned around. He drew himself up to his full height almost comically and hid his plane behind his back. Taylor walked down the steps, looking a lot healthier than he had been in the past. His pale-gray skin tone was fuller in color, and he wasn't wearing layer upon layer of fur coats anymore. "Siri, I thought you were studying." He said lightly.

"But dad, Loki is here!" He said, running over and pointing out the black-garbed princess- it if weren't obvious enough. Taylor smiled at her, stopping at the foot of the steps before bowing respectfully. She was royalty, after all. "Princess." He greeted warmly, showing her to the parlor. A maid had already prepared some modest polished copperware filled with an eastern herbal tea. To be honest, Taylor liked the copper color. It was cheap, it was nice-looking, and it held.

"Siri, when you are finished with your work you can go and play with Loki if you want." He said. Siri jumped, saluted once again in an exaggerated fashion and dashed out the room. He had left the cargo plane on the table. Taylor drew out a seat for the Princess, waiting for her to take a seat before he did. "He's a good boy." He said rather fondly. He was nearly on his deathbed when Siri had arrived on his doorstep, and in his decrepit state the boy was rather frightened of him. He was glad he more-or-less accepted him now as his guardian. It was only for him that Taylor decided to take the cure. Why else would he end his suffering when people in Delta and Gamma were still afflicted with this disease? He'd rather have died- and that was saying something.

"You must visit more often. How are you? What brings you here today?" He asked, taking his own seat and holding the teapot gingerly in his hands. He filled the cups with tea- as customary from where he got the leaves from.

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#, as written by Katryn
Eyes darting to the room’s most recent occupant, Atalanza crossed her arms across her chest once more. Her face resumed its autonomic, scrupulous expression as she took in the familiar man. She had always thought Giacomo to be a fearsome specimen. Of course, she knew much better of his intentions, but there was something about his stern expression along with the glowing crystals in his skin that unnerved her on some level. Though her face never betrayed this wonderment.

Ata’s lips pursed, and she took a step toward the raven-haired man, scrutinizing him with pale eyes. “That’s all good and well, Giacomo, I’m glad your work is panning out for you—we may not have the burden of having people to provide The Cure to in the future. To say you’ve made quite a stride in Revelation history is quite an understatement. Not to mention the ravishing proposition to simply ‘take back’ The Cure inconspicuously.” Her mouth pulled into a smirk as she further narrowed her eyes. “And while that is all good and well, I somehow find it hard believe that the grimy little rats in Parliament who already have their hands on The Cure—mass producing it as we speak—are going to be willing to just give it back. They don’t care if there is a flaw in it. They are using it as a punishment; a weapon; a torture device. They’re not going to to give it back.”

A short silence allowed time for the atmosphere around the conversation to lose its bitter chill as Ata’s expression eased in ferocity. Her eyes softened for a moment. She was preaching to the choir. All three of the people surrounding her had nothing but pure intentions. Squabbling with one another over something that they all felt the same sentiments for was futile; a waste of time.

She backtracked. “Your ideas are good, just not entirely practical. We made the mistake of not putting the distribution policy on it in the first place—when the serum was first completed. We can’t go back and fix that now.” She attempted a sympathetic expression before regaining a serious composure. “However, going underground isn’t out of the question. We may not be able to retrieve the old serum, but perhaps we can create a new one. A better one. This time being to sure to keep it far out of the sight of any politicians.”

The setting changes from Marchfield Laboratories to District Alpha

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The sultry orange glow of the mid-morning sun glared through the windows and settled upon a woman whose wisps of pale-gold hair blew about the frame of her face. She was an attractive woman whose face was nonetheless marred by bitter regret. In moments like these, when she was alone in her rooms, sipping her tea and looking out over the beautiful estate gardens, Imogene did not feel the need to mask her sadness. After all, the only creatures present to see her current state were the bluebirds chirping cheerfully on the railing of her large veranda style balcony. It seemed as if they were trying to give her the promise of a peaceful day, but peace was a state of being which had left her alone for quite some time now.

Imogene gripped the delicate porcelain tea cup with more force and brought it to her pale lips, allowing the firmly set line to slacken enough to grant the entrance of the honey sweetened liquid into her mouth. She breathed in its smell, and the long wisps of steam coming from the cup. She liked her tea hot; nearly scalding. It had been her preference since she was still young enough for it to be alarming to her mother. Imogene had never allowed her to slip an ice cube into her drink, like her mother wanted to. It had been one of the few things she was firm on.

There was a knock on the door, and Imogene had the sudden urge to sob into her tea. But tears had left her almost as long ago as peace had. Tears were not a solution to anything. Her grief ran to deep for them.

“Come in,” she said in a more unforgiving tone than she had intended. Her maid entered: Katie. A red-headed slip of a girl who looked young enough to be her daughter. Her daughter. Imogene had promised herself she would stop saying that word. Each time it was thought, or uttered, it had the force of a knife plunging into her body, and all the pain.

“May I dress you, Madame?” Katie asked. The poor girl. She never knew if she was coming or going with Imogene. The Lady had changed her mind so many times about every small detail recently. She was surprised this girl was keeping up so well.

Imogene said nothing. She simple set down her tea cup and stood near her wardrobe with her arms outstretched and waited. The maid wasted no time in doing what she was wordlessly bid. She dressed her in a beautiful champagne colored chiffon gown, and dressed her hair in the way Imogene liked. The whole time, the Lady couldn’t feel anything but a sense of numbness in her body.

“Is my husband at home?” she asked finally in monotone.

“No, Madame. I believe I saw him leave earlier this morning. I was asked by his steward to mention that he would be gone for the entire day.”

It was just as well. The last thing Imogene wished to see most days was Lord Gilgamesh’s face. Each time she saw it, she though of nothing but the nights he would come home still smelling of alcohol and another woman’s perfume. Instead of going to his own room, he would first come to her. She would have thought his lust had been satisfied, but still he came to her bed. He was determined to torment her, she was sure. Especially now that she’d disgraced him by producing such a disappointing child.

Imogene was sure she never would have expected so much of love if her parent’s hadn’t given her such a shining example. Her life was not unlike the hundreds of other wives of nobleman who took what they wanted, damn who it hurt. Her parents were the odd ones; the exception to the rule. And because of them she had been so bitterly disappointed when her fairytale took such a sad turn. She would never experience the love her father had for her mother. No one would ever love her that way.

Her daughter had made the days worthwhile, until he took her away along with everything else Imogene loved. There, she’d done it again. She’d let her guard down and that beautiful little face enter into her mind. David had said it would be easier if she just forgot. Imogene had tried, but she never could. No matter what she did, Imogene would always have her memories, and the knowledge that her daughter was somewhere out there in the world; perhaps at the Facility, or somewhere in Delta. If only Imogene knew for certain. She was sure the knowledge would bring her some kind of closure, even if she could never have her Sigrun back.

The setting changes from District Alpha to District Delta

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It was a day similar to any other in District Delta. The air was thick with smog and the sun shone through a mild haze, the sky becoming cast in a fuzzy texture that was nothing short of normal. And on this day, as was the case most days, Felix Windsor wasn't around to see it, he was in Alpha, teaching at the institute. It was a job that never ceased to surprise him. He'd seen powerful mages come and go, from incredible healers to destructive war machines. He himself was born to lean towards the latter. And as genes could not be changed his ability remained the same as always. He was further along the combat magic scale than most mages and, though he rarely demonstrated it, was capable of dealing out quite obscene amounts of damage to anything around him. Coupled with his tendency for physical over metaphysical magic, he was a force to be reckoned with when he reached his limits.

In the classroom at the Facility, the door swung open in front of Felix without him touching it. A simple enough trick but also a key part of the learning process. For the kids here to learn how to control themselves they needed to witness control on a basic level every day. Which meant doing a lot of magic, turning teaching into an even more exhausting job than usual.

"Good morning class, are we well?"

He greeted them the same as always and they responded in the same ill-timed way as usual. There was actually nothing happening around him that so much as hinted at anything being different that day. But there was a lot going on, big news had reached the District about a cure for the lung disease that was running rampant and Felix knew several people who would directly benefit from such a thing. There were magi healers but their reign could only go so far, a breakthrough like this would save a lot of people.

"Today's focus will probably come as no real shock to you all." He looked around at the faces of the younger class and saw most of them knew well what he was speaking about. "After an incident involving a pair of our older students that has lef our usual room somwhat charred, we'll be moving on to control of combat magic."

The Facility was a prime source of teenage angst, high-running emotions and frayed tempers. As such the ocassional venting of steam or displays of bravado took the form of fights, something that must be witnessed to be believed considering the nature of the students involved. A particularly bad one the day before had ended with students near the scene getting a display of powerful healing magic.

"Everybody reacts differently to the same stimulus. Where one person might laugh, another might get mad. And anger is the most dangerous emotion for a mage, it makes us unpredictable. It makes us volatile. It makes us lose control. And we need control, that's why you're all here after all, but before we can control our magic we need to be able to control ourselves."

It was here, in this same complex, that Felix had learned the same lesson so many years before. He attributed his endless patience to his intructors back then, as well as his considerable power. But that was the past, what he needed to concentrate on most at the moment was the kids. They were the future and he was the one to shape them. But that wasn't to say he couldn't have a little fun while he did it.

"Now, I seem to recall everyone agreeing that they learned better with visual aids. So let's do a little roleplay." He pointed out a small kid from the middle row. "Jonathon, come down here, you're going to be an angry boy." The poor kid didn't have an angry bone in his body, he was shy and reserved, but a large part of effective use of magic was confidence as far as he was concerned. Jonathon obeyed, albeit grudgingly, and another lad was brought down to simulate his opponent. It was a technique he'd used many times. He gave them each lines and choices and explained each bit, making sure to really hammer home the point, which was that you had to do everything in your power to stay in control at all times.

It went well, as it usually did, and the class got a few laughs out of it before the lesson ended. They all made a run for the door and left Felix alone in the classroom, where he stayed for no longer than five minutes. His teaching for the day was done, it was a short shift today, so he decided to take a slow walk back to the station, in no real rush to get home. There would be no rush anyway, despite the commute being so bad there had yet to be a direct line between Alpha and Delta Districts which meant he had to change at least once each journey. Still, he thought it was worth it.

The setting changes from District Delta to District Alpha

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Joshua had caught Atalanza's under-the-breath utterance, and a sardonic smile tugged at the edges of his mouth. He'd thought so too- still did most of the time, as a matter of fact. But his bitterness had long ago subsided into a dull sensation that bothered him only infrequently. He had hermited himself here in Marchfield, much as the old man who mentored him. Though he had both a private residence and a family, he saw them much less frequently than he probably should, one of the first things his sharp-tongued niece had so helpfully pointed out to him when she had petitioned him to allow his younger son to be adopted by another.

Giacomo Vernazza, one of the few scientists allowed to come and go through here essentially as he pleased, entered rather suddenly, speaking about his air purification engine. A rather impressive accomplishment, and one that had earned the man respect from fewer people than it should have. Joshua personally had known the man for a number of years and was glad of his efforts, not that that was worth a great deal. He was opening his mouth to point out that because there had initially been only one conceivable purpose for The Cure in the beginning, they had not bothered to consider that anyone would want to hoard it when Atalanza saved him the trouble, and he inclined his head in agreement.

"Still," he pointed out thoughtfully, "the idea of moving production underground is appealing. The problem is, I know of nobody with that kind of capability who would be willing to assist us. It's not something that could be produced in the necessary quantities in a lab setting without more funding than out department gets in a year."

Prometheus's eyes lit up when his younger assistant mentioned bettering the formula. "Yes, yes, a new formula, a new patent. Try and figure a way to reduce side-effects... Have to find a willing mage test subject. I wonder where Pandora is these days? Ah, but it will take so much more time... time, time, do we have enough time...?" The old man shuffled over to one of his many stacks of notes and began flipping through them, muttering to himself. Those who knew him well recognized this state; he was fully immersed in his own thoughts and would probably only give terse replies to any questions directed at him.

He seemed to snap out of it just long enough to remember he was not alone. "Well, what are you waiting for? We attack on multiple fronts! The three of you go see the Queen, and I'll get to work!" He seemed to forget for a moment that Giacomo was not actually involved on this project, but at least Joshua didn't.

"Congratulations on your success, Giacomo. You are of course not obligated to come, though am I not correct in saying that you receive funding directly from the Crown? Perhaps your assistance would be more valuable than mine for this." He shot a glance at Atalanza and shrugged as if to say 'might as well' and opened the laboratory door, allowing both of the others to pass before he shut it behind him, leaving the mad genius to his notes and his calculations. Prometheus wouldn't fail them, and he for one had no intention of failing Prometheus.




Seth Gilgamesh, his father's heir and perhaps more importantly his unpaid labor, was presently trying to coordinate where in the considerable state to store the shipments of The Cure that were coming in. The cellar was probably the best place for concealment purposes, but he had no desire to inhibit anyone's passage to the substantial quantities of drink to be found therein, least of all his father or himself. His father because frankly a sober David Gilgamesh was even more dangerous than a drunken one, in many senses of the term, and himself because sometimes a life spent covering up evidence of such a man's methods of persuasion was enough to warrant a stiff liquor or three.

"Just... in the dungeon for now, I suppose," he told the waiting courier from one of his sire's factories. Technically, those were supposed to be sealed off; personal dungeons in noble houses had been outlawed by the Queen and Parliament alike a number of years ago, after all, but well... Seth had no doubt at least that the ones beneath the palace no longer existed, but he would not presume to lay good money on anyone else having actually regarded the ordinance.

There was still a mountain of documents to be sorted through, and Seth had the intense desire to burn all of them for a moment, which signaled that it was probably a good time to take a break. He spent a few moments deciding what to do before he thought it might be best to take breakfast with his step-mother. The term was rather ludicrous; she was hardly five years his senior, but then this wasn't necessarily so uncommon. Especially not with second spouses. It didn't change anything, either, not really. Seth almost felt sorry for the poor woman, but his pity would be wasted there, and he certainly didn't have a whole lot of it to go around.

Emerging from his office, he directed a passing maid to inform the chef of where he'd be taking his meal, and made his way to the east wing, knocking on the door to Imogene's receiving room. Despite the public nature of his father's career, neither Seth nor the lady of the house left it much- he was too busy doing his father's office work, and she... well, any inclination she'd had to leave would probably have vanished with his half-sister, he supposed. The two of them didn't converse because they much cared about each other, he thought, but rather because there was simply no other outlet for mutual frustration. He had probably already told Imogene more than she should properly know of her husband's career and character, but he'd spared her the worst of it.




To say that she felt awkward being hugged about the waist by her little cousin was to do a disservice to the sheer level of discomfort that Loki was experiencing, but she handled it with as much grace as possible, patting him somewhat stiffly on the back. People did not regularly touch her, to say the least, but then children didn't really have the same boundaries as adults, now did they? On some level, it was nice to know she wasn't quite so stony as to prevent Siri from doing so.

Actually, she'd softened a great deal in the past year, in certain ways. It was almost amusing, actually; what most took to be an increasing resemblance to her mother was actually quite different: a growth more in the direction of Amon, who was able to be both expressive and still inscrutable at the same time. Her expressions were not overt, certainly not bombastic, but they were there, a small sign that perhaps everyone really was capable of change.

She smiled at the boy's recounting of his experiences here, and she knew she'd done something right by arranging it. A moment later, a much-improved-looking Lord Caelin Taylor appeared, and she echoed his warmth- if not in degree, than at least in intent. "Surely we can dispense with the formalities in our own residences, Caelin?" She was ushered into the parlor and took the offered seat, observing that in here at least, simplicity predominated over opulence. Something easily-appreciated and quite befitting of present company.

Sipping her tea and finding it pleasantly-flavored, she contemplated her answer for a moment. "Truthfully, I came for a number of reasons, mostly to see how you fared. I'm glad to see that the cure has already done you much good." She had stumbled upon knowledge of his illness in a rather unfortunate scenario that had involved a meeting (thankfully only with allies) in which he'd had a coughing fit. When the episode had left blood on the table, Loki had seen red in more than one sense. She'd been rather upset to say the least at the fact that he had not told her of something with such important implications, but once she'd had a chance to cool off, she'd realized that it really hadn't been any of her business and had never mentioned it again, at least not until she'd been informed of just what it was that occupied Prometheus Vanderbilt's time of late.

"I also came to check if you were aware of the... other implications of it." She referred of course to the discovered side-effects as well as what had been uncovered about its effect on magi.

The setting changes from District Alpha to District Delta

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Pan hummed to herself as she wandered about her grandparents' kitchen. Up until about six months ago, she'd been absolutely hopeless with anything involving food, but now that she was practically in hiding, she was slowly starting to learn those skills that she'd really had no time for previously. It was just as well; without as much to fill her days, she would probably have otherwise driven herself crazy with nothing to do.

She leaned against some free counterspace and considered what, exactly, she should do with the rest of her day. She had no more appointments to keep today, nor was it her day to visit Loki at the palace. Those were always something of a double-edged sword. The princess herself was hospitable, albeit in sort of a strange way, but it was obvious she didn't really belong there. Still, who did they have but each other these days? It wasn't safe for any of them to keep that many associates outside of the others, after all, and she didn't, aside from her family and her patients.

The smell of baking bread filled the small kitchen, and Pandora grinned to herself. Maybe one day, when all of this is over, she'd be able to make bread and pastries for a living. It sounded like a nice, peaceful sort of occupation. She didn't think too hard about when one day would be, or if it would ever come at all, because really, practicality was never the point of dreaming. She left the practicality to other people. They liked it better than she did, anyway.



The Assassins' Guild

Zade was taking notes on a rather large (but not dusty- nothing in the Archive was ever dusty) leather-bound book when she heard someone take a seat not far from her. Normally, this was something she would simply ignore, but as it was, she heard muttering, and had the voice not been feminine, she would have sworn that the voice belonged to a doctor she'd met a few times in the past. He certainly had the habit of talking to himself, and the subject matter was somewhat similar also.

As it was, she glanced up and saw a blond woman pull her had down over her head and apparently bury her nose in a book. She'd never seen this woman before, which while not necessarily a reason for suspicion (she certainly did not know all the assassins around here, after all) was certainly of at least mild interest. As Loki was constantly reminding her, even those things which did not seem to have immediate significance could be important later.

It was perhaps along this line of thinking that Zade decided to inquire. "Glashkov?" she had to admit, that was an odd choice for an assassin's light reading. "You... don't live here, do you?" As if the clothes hadn't made that obvious enough; even she wore the standard uniform around the Guild itself, and she certainly wasn't an actual assassin. Close enough, she supposed, but not really.

The setting changes from District Delta to District Alpha

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Her daily dress and grooming finished, Imogene had dismissed her maid and commenced wandering about in search of a purposeful occupation which might hold her memories and her grief at bay, if only for a little while. For she knew, if she spent one more moment pondering ruefully about what might have been, or if there were anything she could possibly do to change the sad twist of fate, she would simply go mad. Gliding into her personal receiving room with enough grace to make it seem as if she were on a cloud, her eyes fell on the small but beautifully embellished writing desk beneath one of the room’s many windows. It was one of the few things she had brought with her when she’d moved from her family’s estate to her husband’s, which was infinitely more grand.

Imogene remembered that time well; back when David had still seemed as enamored of her as she had been of him. He had spared no expense, allowing her to decorate the rooms which would become hers after their shared duration in the estate’s own personal “honeymoon suite” as lavishly as she pleased. He told her she need bring nothing with her, but, on the desk, she had insisted. It had been a tradition on her mother’s side of the family to pass the writing desk from mother to daughter. Her mother had given it to her upon her marriage to David, just as she would one day give it to her daughter. Of course, she’d had no idea, no inkling that she would never be allowed that privilege…

Sigrun’s birth had been difficult. It put quite a strain on Imogene, and the doctor told her, after Sigrun, there would be no more children. Even as the news was being given to her--David a few feet away in a darkened corner of the room--she held her newborn daughter in her arms, never guessing that she would one day be stolen away. At the time, Imogene couldn’t say that she much cared if she never had another child. The perfect child, and the only one Imogene could ever want was already lying swaddled in her arms, suckling from her breast for the first time; her little body was so close that it felt like an extension of her own, as if she would be bound to this baby by an invisible string which connected their two hearts forever.

It had been true enough. No matter the distance which currently gulfed between them now, that cord still tugged at her like the phantom limb of a man who’d been unfortunate enough to lose his arm or leg. Though it was gone, he could still feel it at times, maybe in the middle of the night, moving of its own accord as clearly as the days when it had still been attached to his body. Imogene was inexplicably tied to her daughter and could still feel her with a sense stronger than sight, touch, sound, smell or taste. She had felt it the moment Sigrun had entered the world, and she knew it would cease only in the moment that she ever left it. It was stronger than any emotion could ever be, and it was how she knew, without having to be told, that her daughter was still alive and well somewhere just out of reach. It was also what made the urge to know where she was and with whom all the stronger within her mother’s heart.

But what was to be done? Even if she had an inkling, she would never be able to keep it from the watchful eyes of her husband, she was sure. He had made it quite clear that, in his eyes, Sigrun had never existed, and she would do well to adopt his view, because their daughter would never be allowed back into their lives.

Pushing thoughts which only intensified her grief out of her head, she made her way to the aforementioned writing desk and sat down. Perhaps she could pass the time by writing to her mother…

Dearest Mother, she began, but as soon as the two words were written, the pen she held gingerly between her fingertips could only hover indecisively over the page. What was there to say, after all? Their favorite topic of conversation--for Grandmamma Clarissa had doted on her granddaughter as much as Imogene had--was now a taboo.

Imogene put the pen down and crumpled the paper into a ball. Her eyes turned sadly to the fishbowl on the windowsill which housed two black fish with golden bellies. They swam in a repetitive circular motion, as if they were playing follow the leader. Imogene watched them: round and round, and round and round they swam until they were nothing more than an inky blur that bled to meld effortlessly with the water. She watched, little understanding why the sight was so captivating.

A knock at the door made Imogene’s body lurch forward automatically, and she was pulled out of her hypnosis. It was then that she understood. Staring at those fish, her mind had been unequivocally blank. There were no thoughts, no memories or feelings in those few moments, and it felt immeasurably good to be so numb--mind and body--that nothing was real for once. She was loathe to have her lack of thought interrupted.

Imogene knew who it was, of course. Only three people sought her company these days, and only two of them knocked. Her husband came and went as he pleased and Imogene was sure that knocking was not an action he housed in his impressive repertoire. Katie had already came and went, which left only one person: Seth.

“Come in,” she called, still sitting at her writing desk. Seeing as Seth was the only person whose conversation could take her mind of other, more unpleasant things, Imogene enjoyed his visits as much as she could enjoy anything in her state, with grief so close, waiting in the wings, threatening to pounce on her the moment she let her guard down.

The setting changes from District Alpha to The Skycity of Revelation

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#, as written by Shiva
Taylor Estate

Taylor gratefully accepted her concerns. "Well, Loki. I know how temperamental you can be." He replied. He left the cup of tea to stew, as he had imbibed copious amounts upstairs along with the meal his maids insisted on forcing down his throat. That was the thing if you ruled the household with a velvet hand- servants tend to be more vocal, but he knew the maids were only looking out for his health. He gave her a pointed look. The Princess, even now, never really did make house calls unless she had more than one reason to do so- and at least one of those reasons had to be of somewhat importance. His suspicions were answered when she asked about the implications of taking the cure Vanderbilt had created.

He chuckled. "What other choice did I have, now? I'm sure, that someday the Gray man on his horse will come back for me because I defied him. At the very least, I will then be strong enough to resist him instead of being on all fours and retching my innards out." His voice grew slightly bitter, but Taylor wasn't a man that could maintain that voice. It sounded more like self depreciation rather than cynicism. He hardly used such crude language, but it was a casual talk amongst friends- and he considered that the only time when he could drop this facade. Taylor wasn't the smartest man, and he certainly wasn't the strongest- so he studied hard and worked more than most nobles to retain his guise of intelligence.

Seeing Loki so angry that day had definitely spooked him. Though he didn't realize it at the time, it spoke of just how concerned she was for his health- and how she respected it even though she thought he was "killing himself". It was also why Taylor trusted her completely. It was an old man thing- despite the noble's relative youth. Like his own open honesty, he could decipher others. A trick often used by members of Parliament, "misused" if it was in his opinion.

"I am mending. I hope to be able to perform more activities by the end of the week. Sadly, the physician told me I had let myself rot for a little longer than he would have liked. Of course, I have to be here. For him, for you, for everyone else. You may be smarter and more powerful than I can hope to be, but you still lack experience." Even the dullest person would have caught on that he wouldn't live as long as most people, even with the disease banished from his body. "I feel like an old fogey saying that." He added, smiling. He picked the cup up delicately, and downed the entire cup so the maids wouldn't berate him again.




Assassin's Guild

The common treatment for infected wounds can be carried out in various ways, but can be very difficult without the proper antibiotic trea- Suddenly, the girl's sixth sense picked up, her hair standing on end. It never usually meant anything- the young lady had become so paranoid even Etzel has to ask her to calm down. The masked doctor's most recent attempt in pressing away the paranoia was working- as she wasn't flipping out on every man that happened to be holding something sharp, blunt, long, or short. She looked up from the shadow of her hat to see the young lady she was observing early to be right over her.

"Glashkov?" She asked, piquing Victoria's interest. Didn't assassins read these books? Or rather, were they not as multifunctional as she had thought? Well, her master seemed more focused on medicine than actual fighting. That would explain.

Maybe it was a ploy? A plan to draw her in before she planted a knife in her neck? No, no way- not here? She had her master's permission. Before she could go further and start talking to herself again, she quashed the anxious feeling and looked up with a wistful grin. "Glashkov indeed." She replied. "Yeah, I don't live here- Otherwise I'd have one of those snazzy suits you're wearing." She marked her place in the book, and closed it.

"I don't see many people like you around here, though." She commented. "Nothing like a fellow girl here to calm the nerves- everyone here makes me feel so stupid!" She extended a hand to the girl.

The setting changes from The Skycity of Revelation to District Beta

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#, as written by Ezarael
On most occasions the workshop was alike unto an inferno, the clashing of steel akin to the screaming of the furies, while the aging blacksmith toiled tirelessly for days on end constantly drawing, bending, and folding the blistering metal into all forms of blades, or shrinking and punching plates to be used for the Crown’s skyship repairs. The few strikers apprenticed to Garbiel would rush to and fro while heating metal, fetching coke, the traditional fuel of Forgefire workshops, disliking the cheaper coal, and performing whatever tasks the smith deemed them capable of managing. However this afternoon was different, but a more common sight over the past year since the brutal assassination of the Marquis Adam Goldwater, as the workshop lay silent with hungry furnaces aching to burn once again, a thumping sound could be heard echoing from the upstairs living apartments reserved for the blacksmith and his family, or it would be for his family had the man ever had one. It was the echoing of Forgefire's colossal boots trudging back and forth through his study, contemplating the events occurring within the previous week since the discovery of The Cure by Dr. Vanderbilt, and the unconscionable procurement of this medicine by persons overwhelmed with greed.

A simple steel goblet lay clasped within thin, nimble hands, twirling the glass slowly with a slight twist of the wrist, swirling the deep red liquid in tranquil circles. A horribly scarred arm crept upwards to touch the cool rim to parched lips, sipping slowly from the spiced wine, but only lasting for a quick moment, almost teasing the tongue with the taste. It was not his custom to drink heavily, and many know the dangers of being a drunk blacksmith, but dark days like these forced a weak soul to seek solace where it could, pondering the evils of a failing world. This was merely his first cup though; he would not begin to drink more heavily until later off in the night when the Blacksmith’s Guild was less stringent upon the workings of their members. Less is required of the grizzled old man with each consecutive year, and all the Guild mostly desires is for the Forgefire technique to be taught to the younger generation. They were using him like they did everyone, bleeding them dry until they were worth nothing, but this was his life and he loved working on the forge.

What the man could not grasp his mind around was how anyone could let this happen to those already suffering more than any human should bear, but what could he do about it? It had been his biggest regret to never use his influence for good when he could, and now with his political connections were slipping away slowly, drifting towards the easily fooled youth. Garbiel had not seen it for many years, but the magi used to be imprisoned within that so-called school, and only if the walls could speak would anyone know what truly happened there, and now they are under the threat of extinction. With a guttural sigh the wine vessel was laid on a paper-smothered desk as orderliness had never been the greatest concern of Garbiel. The newly emancipated hand then gravitated towards the crude blade gracing the leather belt around the smith’s waist, thumbing the length of the blade curiously, as the elderly man seated himself roughly behind the cluttered desk in a lush goose-down chair, the red-velvet cases embroidered with a fuchsia-colored stitch. The man may not squander much wealth on clothing, but he would not settle for less than the best in all furniture used for lounging.

“Oh well…” Grumbled the blacksmith quietly to himself, “Nothing much I can do about it, so best leave it be for the bureaucrats to solve for their selves.”

As if a dark cloud had lifted from his furrowed brow the look of the Forgefire smith’s countenance metamorphosed from that of a tortured soul to that of complete tranquility, looking much more comfortable on the bearded face. The sip teased the parched mouth, the spices tantalizing the palette, begging for more of the beloved nectar, and this increased desire was sated with one long draught from the vessel, emptying of its contents. A warm smile crept upon Garbiel’s face at the prospect of another glass, but with a longing look he placed the goblet by the flask of wine seated in a corner of his desk. Instead his lumbering frame turned towards a window on the other side of the room overlooking the bustling streets of Beta District.

“Maybe it would be best to traverse to city on such a beautiful day. Who to visit however…”

Speaking to their selves, was not an uncommon habit of blacksmith, mostly it was done in an attempt to hear you speak over the blazing fires of the furnace, of the clashing of steel. The bald man ambled off towards the thick oaken door separating the apartment from the staircase leading to the workshop, stopping momentarily the key that lay dangling off a hook to its right. The locking mechanism had been designed by one of his scientist associates, and he had crafted the parts himself, consisting of a design unique to most other locks within Revelation. With a resounding thud the door was shut, and the quiet click of mechanisms turning into placed signaled the security of his living quarters, as creaking steps whisked the broad man outwards and into the clutching maw of the crowd, transforming the large man into another formless wanderer.

The setting changes from District Beta to The Skycity of Revelation

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Arriving at the train station, Felix attracted, as usual, a variety of looks. His shabby suit and untamed hair gave him away as a Delta man and the main reason people ever crossed in from over there was as an instructor at the Institute. They may as well have given him a carriage of his own for all the people looking down at him. It was the same every day but it was still something he would never get used to. The way he could feel eyes burning into the back of his head, the contempt with which he was regarded, the cold hate in many cases was bad enough but he thought he'd be able to handle it if they just looked him in the eye when he turned to face them. But no, they turned their heads, like he wasn't good enough to meet their gaze. If he had things his way he'd blow them all to hell right there and then and be damned with the consequences.

Unfortunately things just didn't work out that way. And even if he felt strongly enough to commit murder, something he didn't know if he was capable of or not, he had the Institute to think about. The kids that would have to grow up with even more prejudice in the world just because he couldn't control himself. Indeed, the fate of every mage rested on the shoulders of each and every one of his kind. Which is why he bit his lip and climbed on to the train when it pulled in, taking his notepad from his pocket and jotting down some ideas he'd had on the way. There would be no one to read over his shoulder, there was not another passenger for half a dozen rows in either direction.


The journey to District Beta, aside from the usual distance he managed to keep from any other passengers, was uneventful. He hopped off here and waited for his connecting service, which today would take him all the way to Delta, rather than him changing again in Gamma. People here were less bothered by him, he didn't stand out quite so much and his purpose in the area was not quite so obvious, which was always a relief. So his wait passed quickly, he did not have to concentrate on keeping his mouth shut and his hands by his side.

Eventually, just over an hour after his first train, he arrived back in District Delta, back home at last. With no more to do with his time he considered just going home and getting his work finished, as well as some of those all important weekly chores that did no more than bore the arse off him. Unfortunately his Father was ill again. Nothing particularly bad but a man of his age could go from fine to Death's door in a matter of hours, no matter how much of a fighter he was.

Felix's Father had been retired for a number of years and now lived with him at home. He'd managed to hold on to his house even after the change in jobs that left him with a lower income and it was big enough for the two of them. But in recent times the old man had been getting ill more and more often, although he always made a full recovery, usually through the aid of an ex-student who had become a damn fine healer around the area, someone he'd need to stop by and ask for help from yet again.

Her Grandparent's house was on the way back to Felix's own home, barely out of the way really, and he knew that was where she was staying at the moment. Not many knew and he was careful to keep it quiet, Pandora had told him she needed to lay low for a while and he made sure to respect her wishes of being a little harder to track down than your average mage. His own suggestion of cancelling house calls landed on deaf ears. Whatever she was running from, it wasn't going to be enough to stop her doing her job and he doubted that anything would be enough for that.

At a leisurely pace he walked the half mile there and knocked the door briskly, stepping back and waiting for an answer.

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Giacomo nodded as Prometheus assistant basically undermined his primary and most preferable idea. True, they couldn't change it on the flick of a switch now that the stuff was out there, but through painstaking paperwork it should be possible. Then the thought without consious mind was put to the lips: "But isn't our job as scientists to see the possibilities and think about the future?" That these words left his mind was a shock to Giacomo himself. He then heard Joshua's counterword regarding the underground production. It was quite depressing to hear that such ammounts of money were spend without necessity on mage countermeasures. "Quite dissapointing to hear you need such funding to make medication that is meant for the poorest, but even worse is how the money is wasted now." He said calmly.


Then his ears picked up the muttering of prometheus, asside from his yelling this was the most annoying manner of speach Prometheus used, at least by Giacomo's books, it made it hard to know what the man was saying. He could hear it was about the comment about making a new better cure, but couldn't filter through it well enough to fully understand. Though he could deduct that he was already working on a new formula, which lead him to say: "If I might, I'd suggest to take a less chemical solution and look closer to nature. Even though the air purifier is standing for a short while, I've noticed bacterial growth on the filters, after a few basic tests I've concluded that these actualy break down the part of the mix that I was struggling to get under controll. Quite simply facinating. Wilst I do not know if these parts are the causes, nor I know whether these bacteria will cause harm to the human body, I suspect that this might be something to look into. Bacteria as a cure, doesn't that just sound like a leap for medical science to you?" He said with a certain and understandable enthousiasm.

Giacomo was walking to the door as Prometheus mentioned his royal funding. He paused his walk, turned to Joshua and with an unreadable smile he said: "You found me out, now my only choice is to send assasins after you." Before he bursted in a rather friendly laughter, which directly made clear that he was atempting to make a joke. As he walked into the corridor behind the door he, more or less into the room rather than directed to anyone in particular, said: "In any case, if room will play a factor in the necessary funding then I don't mind lending one of the empty storage levels under the air purifier to you as a lab. A few simple additions should be enough to turn it into a lab. And under the cover of the air purifier I can buy large quantities of mana at discounted prices, not to mention many other subtances and materials I need for operation, annalysis and research purposes." He said with a smirk covering his face.

The setting changes from Marchfield Laboratories to District Alpha

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#, as written by Smith
This was probably the worst part of being a mainstream member of the Guild. As a Hand, he had gone in without so much as a puff of displaced air to suggest his existence, donning his solid black leathers and disappearing. As a vagabond, tattered rags and stained pants was enough to keep him going unnoticed day to day. In his current occupation, Eos found the amount of costume changes vexing at times. As of this very moment Eos was dressed in gray and black formal attire suited for meeting friends and dining out. It still felt much too fancy and sifling for his sensibilities, although the vest and red tie did make him feel rather dashing.

As newly broken in leather shoes padded across the cobblestone, Eos adjusted the cuffs of his pristine dress-shirt and straightened the vest over it. He sensed the scrutiny of several Alpha-goers on a leisurely stroll, most of which could be traced back to members of the fairer sex. Imagined or not, their appraisal made him slightly uncomfortable. He was so used to being overlooked or people being oblivious to his presence that the feeling of others not simply noticing, but intentionally staring was unnerving. Eos was about to banish these thoughts and chock it up to paranoia when a passing lady and her daughters tossed a coy batting of her eyelashes his way and the latter two giggled.

Eos cleared his throat and adjusted his tie once more, continuing on his way. A short distance down the road the assassin's destination came into sight: The Gilgamesh Estate. He smirked and his thoughts grew clearer as his focus came to him. Ever since recovering from the rancid poisoning suffered from the well-aimed bolt of an enemy assassin a year previous, Eos had rigorously trained his mind and body alongside his former mentor. With Amon Gregory's help he learned to control his murderous impulses...although to say there was a flawless record on his attempts not to kill Amon would be a blatant lie. Still. Things felt better now. Sharper, more tangible.

The assassin slipped into the shadows between a gate and a neighboring estate and vaulted over once he was sure the coast was clear. The nearest three sentries were too focused on decorum and aesthetic appeal with their erect positions and unblinking stares into the distance that Eos was almost sure that he could have walked right past them instead of zig-zagging inbetween bushes and statues in the garden. As Eos neared the delicately engraved window, he contemplated what little information he'd been given on the nature of this assignment.

Six of the most likely candidates for the newest attempt on Loki's life had been listed for Eos and one other assassin to track down and interrogate, three each. As each had a relatively spotless record as far as politicians and bluebloods went, Eos's visit was more a formality and a veiled threat than anything else. Just to let them know that they were being watched. As for actual surveillance, that was up to whomever the Second-Masters had assigned to the task.

Silent as death Eos placed his foot on the lush carpet inside of the manse. The window closed with a click, it's picked lock resetting. Eos replaced the needle-like thieves tools on the inside of his vest and began walking as if all was normal. For all the servants knew, it was. High-nosed snobs and blackmailing politicians-to-be visited the Gilgamesh estate on a regular basis, so what was one more nicely dressed fellow wandering it's halls. Having memorized a bluprint of the structures earlier, Eos navigated th halls with ease. He smiled and nodded at each and every servant he passed, even tipping a silver or two to a couple of the younger ones. God knew they deserved it.

Eos pulled up alongside the younger Gilgamesh at the door to Imogene's room with a firendly smile. His sleeves had been rolled up and Eos's hand, black nail-polish and dark disks within the palms plain for all to see. An odd choice of decoration to most, and a sign of death to few others. "Evenin', lord. Mind if I join you for a chat? I represent the interests of several members of the aristocracy and parliament who would rather remain anonymous, of whom are interested in some possible activities your family may be involved in. Ludicrous, I know, Gilgamesh has always done so much for Revelation. But! Business is business!"

As the noble would enter, Eos would follow, keeping a polite distance and silence until properly addressed by the man or his mother. This first part of his mission was somewhat vague; The Second-Masters had said to draw information from any of the family at his discretion, as they were not completely sure of who--even if they were--planning to make a move.

The setting changes from District Alpha to The Skycity of Revelation

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The Assassins' Guild

After leaving Scheherazade in the care of the Archivist, Amon made his way back to his private office space, which was inconspicuously located amongst a row of similarly-furnished spaces on what was assuredly not the top floor of the building. It would be rather contrary for a master assassin to make his personal quarters ostentatious enough to be noticed apart from the rest, after all.

On his way in, he passed the apprentice doing duty as a receptionist of sorts and stopped. The poor lad was still new enough to look absolutely petrified of him, something that had Amon chuckling inwardly. “Should a man by the name of Garbiel Forgefire come by, do direct him to me.” The lad gulped and nodded quickly, a gesture which Amon himself returned with a good deal more poise before continuing on his way.

He had noted that Etzel and his apprentice seemed to be present also, though he had no idea if the physician-assassin needed to see him specifically or not. For the most part, he let Etzel go about his business as he would. Though he had tried to convince him that staying permanently at the Guild for a while would be just as safe as moving about and being in hiding generally, he could understand if that was not the way he wished to conduct his business. He was, after all, just as much a doctor as he was a professional murderer.



Marchfield Laboratories

"You found me out, now my only choice is to send assassins after you." Joshua shook his head. “And here I thought I’d escaped such dangers. Ah well, I suppose things must always be sacrificed for science.” A congenial smile crossed his face before he remembered their destination and it dropped into a frown. Oh, this was going to go marvelously. Good day, Minerva, I know it’s been almost a year since
I last bothered to come by for a chat, but I need you to run over Parliament for the sake of the poorest citizens in the city, none of whom will be a lick of defense for you when the repercussions come down on your head.
this was going to be rather unpleasant indeed.

He considered trying his niece instead. She was a member of Parliament, after all; it was possible that she might be able to mobilize enough other members to take care of this without his sister’s interference, was it not? Well, there was little point in hypothesizing now, not when they’d have their answer soon enough.

Joshua ushered the other two in the direction of his personal smallcraft and climbed into the driver’s place himself. The trip through the rather scantly-populated streets of Alpha was quick, and it was not long before they were able to unload in front of the palace gates. It was only the most dreaded kind of nostalgia that he ever felt when looking at the place, but at the very least there was a chance that something could be done here. It wasn’t the Parliament building, after all.

He passed his name to a few of the guards and eventually managed to get the three of them to Alia, the Queen’s personal bodyguard, who took one look at the group of them and ushered the lot into Minerva’s receiving room. The monarch herself was radiant for a woman of her age, having received her own dose of the Cure quite recently. Seated at a writing desk, she looked up as the three entered, gentle eyes lighting up upon recognizing her only sibling.

“Joshua! It has been too long.” The man addressed bowed somewhat swiftly, but she brushed all that nonsense aside and embraced him, stepping back to regard her other guests with warmth. “Ah, you must be the esteemed Mr. Vernazza,” she said of Giacomo, offering a smile. “I’m afraid I do not know your name, Miss, but you are all quite welcome. Please, do sit. My brother scarcely has occasion to make social calls, so I assume you must need something. I assure you, if it is so important as to lure this particular mouse out of his lab, it must be important, and you have my full attention.”

Joshua looked to the others; he was not a man of many words, and for him to ask this of his sister, he knew, would be to taint any future action on her part with the blood between them. He did not need her to be so unfairly regarded. “Well, I think Atalanza here could pose the problem as well as I could, and Mr. Vernazza has a few possible solutions, but we could truly use your help…”



The Gilgamesh Estate

Seth had just laid his hand on the doorknob when he felt someone behind him and swung around, instinctively reaching for a blade that was, he realized with a healthy amount of trepidation, not presently there. His father had never been the sort of figure who needed to worry about protection in his own home, and Seth himself was not in the habit of carrying a weapon unless he ventured elsewhere. He kept a concealed one on his person when entertaining guests, but this was not something he’d thought he’d be doing today either.

Despite the man’s excessively chirpy tone, Seth was not so stupid as to believe that this was a simple friendly visit. Gray eyes flicked to the man’s hand, and he immediately recalled something he was not supposed to have read in his father’s private documents. This man was an assassin, and not only that, but the personal lapdog of the princess. And, below the woman herself, Amon Gregory, and Caelin Taylor, number four on Duke Gilgamesh’s hitlist.

It occurred to Seth that this man might very well be here to kill them, in which case it would probably be best to yell through the door at Imogene to escape and try to hold him off for as long as possible (he did not entertain fancies of winning unarmed), but he swiftly dismissed both notions. If Eos of Tartarus had come to kill him, Seth knew he’d be dead already.

Instead, he simply inclined his head, but spoke before opening the door. “My father’s wife is not in the best state right now, and she knows much less of him than I do. If assassins are taught mercy, I ask that you exercise it upon her if not myself.” With that, he opened the door and admitted them both.

“Lady Imogene, I apologize for the intrusion, but it appears that we have a guest. He wishes to… discuss my father, I think.” He shot something between a glare and an inquiry at Eos before seating himself across from his sire’s wife. He would allow her the discretion of choosing the pacing of the interrogation (for he was sure that was what this would be).



District Delta

A pair of plainly-dressed individuals were presently making a beeline for the residence of one Pandora Elling. Frankly, both believed the slaying of a simple healer a bit below the threshold of their skill, but as their employer had reminded them, nobody had yet succeeded in what should have been a simple task.

They were stymied by the arrival of a person not in their dossier of Elling’s known acquaintances, though, and they decided to wait until he was admitted. Hopefully, the man would leave soon and they could slip in after him and slay the healer. Otherwise, they would simply have to kill both.

Elsewhere in the city, some of their colleagues were poised to do much the same to a number of other priority targets.



The Taylor Estate

Loki could not say she was pleased to discuss Caelin’s death, but she appreciated the frankness with which he was able to do so. Perhaps her company was not as awful as some had accused it of being. Or maybe it was and that didn’t really matter to him. Either would do.

She shook her head at his joke. “Well, you might feel like an old man, but I assure you that your experience dealing with Parliament is most valuable. As is your conscience.” The last was more true than she cared to admit- Loki was well-aware that she had a less-than-perfect method of trying to figure out when she was taking things too far. She liked to think that she had the best interests of the city in mind, but she did not believe that all means to an end were equally valid. Unfortunately, this knowledge alone was not always enough to differentiate the acceptable means from the too-ruthless ones, ones that would have made her scarcely better than Gilgamesh himself.

It scared her, the possibility that she might end up like the Prime Minister. It was assuredly one of the reasons she kept Caelin’s counsel- unlike her, he was actually a compassionate individual with a discernible moral compass along some axis other than efficient/inefficient.

She was stopped from saying anything further by a noise from outside the door. “Did you hear that?” she asked quietly, calmly setting her teacup down on the table in front of her. It sounded quite a bit like someone was out there, but trying not to make any noise. Silently, the princess rose to her feet, stooping for a second to withdraw a knife from the side of her boot. She’d dealt with too many attempts on her life in the past year to take any possible threat less than perfectly seriously. Nobody was supposed to know she was here; she’d been so paranoid that she hadn’t even told Carlisle where they were headed until they were in the smallcraft.

A second later, the answer to her question was irrelevant, because the door burst open to admit a pair of assassins (though obviously Guild renegades). Carlisle followed, but she shook her head. “Find Siri and as many of the staff as you can; look out for others. Keep them safe.” Just two? Gilgamesh underestimates us… again. Frowning, she drew the one on the left to the far side of the room. They’d probably snuck past Caelin’s security… certainly more comforting than the possibility that they’d killed them.

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#, as written by Ezarael
There was nothing more capable of showing the long-lines lengthening across the blacksmith’s face from the years of grueling, hot labor than the light of day, casting light upon the wrinkled face to unearth the shadow thrown across it by the dimness of the workshop, yet this fact never hindered Garbiel from strolling through the city of Revelation in all his years, and was not about to stop for as many as he had left. It had always been an obsession for him to examine the city in all its amazing contradictions, where benevolence and malevolence went hand-in-hand, some had everything while others had nothing, why life contradicts itself none would know. His thoughts had not always strayed into this intangible-kind of pondering, and it seemed as if only a day ago the only thoughts to cross his mind were that of merely making a name of his own, but dreams and aspirations had slipped away into thoughts of death and trepidation.

The sights of District Gamma had begun to meld themselves within the metamorphosing city, the brighter colored clothes of District Beta giving way to the browns and blacks of District Gamma, as the quality of the cloth degraded to that of a rougher-type. With this change of garb as came a shift in the populace as the shops gave way to carts and the markets to performing troupes, while the cutpurses flitted through the unsuspecting crowd to sneak away with as much coin as their bags could carry. Despite the growing unease most wealthier citizens of District Beta would feel the smith became more somber at the signs of suffering that began to sprout forth.

An idle-hand reached upwards to paw the trimmed beard encompassing angular jowls, while tranquil eyes surveyed a pair of performers juggling with flaming hand-axes. The man and woman were frequenters to the Forgefire workshop who always asked for eight pair made of only caste-iron, and afterwards would douse the heads in kerosene while tossing them back and forth with leather gloves for grip. The heat and flame can break anything down to nothing given enough time, whether it was made from caste-iron or steel, as it had begun to do with Garbiel Forgefire, and the flaming, axe-juggling couple would come back every month to purchase new axes so they could earn their living.

Time began to slip away from the elderly man whose thoughts began to wonder of other things, that is until a sharp tug wrenched it back into the present. The smith’s free hand darted forth to snatch the cutpurse’s frail wrist with an iron grasp, yanking the child upwards with a yelp as his shoulder’s socket bore the weight of his entire body; luckily the child was not plump, while ferocious-eyes scrutinized his scrawny frame. A quick-glance would suggest the child was underfed, but upon closer observation round cheeks revealed it was just a natural disposition for slenderness, with a ragged mop of tangled hair hanging limply down casting a shadow over the child’s eyes. If it were not for this fact the thief would probably have been able to see the string holding the coin-pouch was actually a stout, steel chain.

Aggravated features twitched at the outrageous thought of thievery, and a flick of the wrist tossed the child brusquely to the side out of disgust, only to collapse limply to the ground with a good arm grasping at the dislocated shoulder. The disgusted blacksmith stalked off quietly until the Assassin’s Guild began to emerge from the depths of District Gamma, appearing as if it were bursting forth from the earth itself, and that it had only been hallowed out afterwards. This sight of this ominous abode jarred the smith’s memories, recalling why he had set out for this particular district in the first place, besides avoiding his duties; Amon Gregory had requested a conversation concerning the purchase of several weapons for the Assassin’s armory. Without a moment to lose the lumbering form of Garbiel quickly paced to the Guild, almost setting out at a run in hopes to reach there sooner, but knew it best not to be seen huffing and perspiring on such an occasion. The figure of a uniformed sentry blended with the obsidian-like stone wall behind him, and began chuckling slightly at the sight of the familiar blacksmith; all of Amon’s meetings with Garbiel were scheduled for the same day and time each month, and had become more of a ritual than business affair for the two aging men.

The discomfited blacksmith hurried past without speaking to the waiting Minstrel, only acknowledging him with the briefest of nods. The Guild almost seemed like a cavern upon entering its interior, and a brief moment was called in order for the aging eyes to adjust to the long expanses of torch-lit corridors in-between thin-slit windows, more alike to archer slits than proper windows. The interior of the Assassin’s Guild had always seemed as quite as a crypt to Garbiel, a man accustomed to the hammering of steel and crackling of fire, while silent uniform-garbed figures rushed to and from on silent feet, performing whatever duties necessary, whether they be for work or leisure. He almost rushed past a seated apprentice had the man not squeaked like a mouse, "Are you Garbiel Forgefire?"

The words caught the hurrying man as if they were a net, stopping him to respond tersely, "Yes I am son, now get on with it!"

The harsh remark alarmed the already nervous receptionist, forcing his voice to squeak in an even higher pitch, "Master Amon says he will be expecting you in his study sir."

The instructions urged Garbiel that much faster, and hoping not to embarass himself even more than he already had by being later than he already was the man set off at a quickened pace, forcing the aging man to perspire slightly and gasp for breath. As a calloused hand motioned to knock on the door thick, oaken door a calm voice spoke out from the neighboring room, “You may enter Garbiel; I believe the entire Guild heard you coming,” as the door swung open to allow the blacksmith to enter the diminutive figure of the Guild master came into sight, seated perfectly erect on a simple cherry wood chair examining a rather cumbersome stack of papers and motioning towards an empty chair with a free hand, “Please have a seat.”The panting, aged man took a seat across from the gray-haired individual, taking a moment to regain his composure before beginning with their meeting. A grizzled hand swept across the top of a shaven head with a cloth that had been tucked away into a shirt pocket to wipe away several beads of perspiration that had gathered during the travel, while the other mused with his ginger beard in an attempt to conjure an apology.

“My sincerest apologies Sir Amon, I was lost within one of the street performances when I lost myself in thought. I only just remembered the time and rushed here as quickly as possible.”Icy-blue eyes raised themselves to meet the sparkling emerald gaze of Garbiel, contrasting as much as the rest of their countenances, while an understanding smile crept across the Assassin’s face.

“Neither of us are the shining examples of the yester-year that we were, time will have its way with everything Forgefire, no matter how it was forged, as a blacksmith you should know of that all too well. Do you have the necessary documents with you?”

Amon’s cool stare went back to the desk before him, placing the papers in his hand neatly in their respective pile, while a quill pen and jar of ink were brought from a door on its side. Garbiel brought forth this month’s bill tucked away in a sleeve, this business could have been handled by children, but both men were accustomed to the formality of their meetings and the image that it portrayed, and had grown slightly accustomed to each other’s presence throughout the years. It had been many such years since they had first met when Amon requested that resplendently simple-short sword, and Garbiel almost laughed in his face at the thought.

“So the years have been weighing on the infamous Sir Amon Gregory as well? May the sight of a day without your guardianship be long off indeed. I fear this city needs you for a while yet.”

A quizzical look crossed Amon’s crisp-features at the odd-statement spoken by the blacksmith; he had been known to speak with a grim-tone at times, but to voice such a foreshadowing of events was uncommon for the practical man. The assassin’s look was not met by the gloomy eyes of Garbiel that appeared to be looking into nothingness, almost as an uncommon look to the questing countenance usually portrayed as those of anger, almost disquieting Amon’s soul with their gaze. A signature was jotted down hastily, a rather unnaturally quick gesture by Amon, as a question was voiced.

“Garbiel you do not sound yourself this day. We shall end this meeting prematurely so that you may rest. I will send a messenger with this bill after a copy is made and the ink dries.” The sound of Amon’s voice seemed to wrench the drifting smith back to reality with a slight start as a second’s pause was used to comport himself quickly.

“I think I shall take your advice and take my leave of you then. However I should like to visit the Archives, there is a volume I have been searching for and hear tell that your library may house a copy, and if so I would dreadfully like to borrow it for the time being. It’s something by Glashkov, I’ve forgotten the tile for the moment, but when I’ll remember it when I see it.”

A small hand waved in acquiescence at the large man’s inquiry, while attention was already placed back into the pile of papers seated to the side of the bill, scanning through countless pages of whatever it may be. As the blacksmith proceeded out the door the rustling of paper was heard coming from behind him while Amon dug through the pile in search of specific subjects. More dark-robed figures whisked past during his travel towards the Archive, giving this structure symbolic of death the façade of life and energy, some nodding in acknowledgement at the passing outsider. Many assassins had come and gone during his years of dealing with the Guild, and most of the faces were known to a man that put such attention to details, yet there were still the younger faces of the future that crept in every year to replace the aging ones of the past, and the numbers kept shifting year that past.

Eventually his footsteps brought him within the confines of the all-too-neat Archives, where it was joked that even the dust was catalogued by its keepers. At a nearby table there was a young lady standing, engaged in conversation with another, who seemed to be around the same age but neither was more than a child, which had a color-faded tome in her hands. Hoping to catch a glimpse of what was written on the cover of the book Garbiel walked around the backside of the standing lady, using his peripheral vision in hopes to spot the name without interrupting their conversation, hopefully he was not being overly conspicuous with his actions. Luckily he glimpsed the letters “Glash-, “ on the cover, and proceeded to seat himself nearby the pair, not wanting to interrupt them.

The setting changes from The Assassins' Guild to District Delta

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Pandora had just removed her bread loaves from the oven when there was a tapping at her front door. Knowing that both of her grandparents were out today, that left her the only one to answer it. Wiping her hands absently on the hand towel on the counter, she tried to make herself look slightly presentable (being a rather untidy cook, she was presently covered in quite a few white swaths of flour), but eventually gave up the effort as mostly useless. It wasn't like the people who came to see her generally cared much what she looked like anyway. The self-consciousness was hers alone, but it was a futile effort next to the compulsion to be polite and do things in a timely manner.

Pan pulled open the door, but it was not any of the people she might have been thinking it would be. "Professor Windsor," she greeted with obvious puzzlement. It was not as though she never saw him, of course, but she was pretty sure the last time had been about three months prior. Blinking overlarge blue eyes slowly for a second, she remembered her manners and shoved the rusty-hinged door open wide enough to admit him. "Oh, I'm sorry, please come in!" She smiled brightly and moved out of the way so he could enter, and then forced the door shut again behind him. Something of a feat for the slightly-built mage, but one she was well-used to. To say that everything in Delta was broken or malfunctioning would be a bit dramatic, but certainly her house wasn't in the best of shape. She had been considering asking Eos to take a look at it, before deciding that no, she was not going to do such a thing. He was an assassin, not a manual laborer.

"Uhm... I can't really offer you much, but I did just finish making some bread. Oh, and I have tea!" The thought was cheering to her; it was the same kind that Lord Taylor had, procured perhaps because of the sheer amount of delight she'd professed upon tasting some of his once. Moving a standing pot of water onto the stove, she lit it with a spell. Physical magic, and not her area of expertise, but something so simple that she was capable of it all the same. "Help yourself, if you'd like," she offered, indicating the hot loaves.

"Oh, right... you're probably here for a reason, huh? Is someone sick? You don't need me immediately, do you? Because I can go right now if-" Pandora cut herself off and cleared her throat awkwardly, shaking her head. "Sorry. Rambling." She took the pot off the flame and ladled it into two cups, both old and hers chipped, but useable. The tea leaves were added, and she handed one across to Felix.



The Assassins' Guild

Zade snorted, rolling her eyes, though not at the woman specifically, more at the mention of her rather obvious uniform. "Oh yes, nothing quite so tasteful as an apprentice's uniform. No better way to say, 'I'm new here, please throw sharp things at me to test my reflexes.'" All the same, she smiled, for it was indeed a joke- well, mostly. Only one person had thrown something sharp at her without warning thus far, and she had a feeling that was more to do with his personality than any actual training procedure here.

"Scheherazade," she said, taking the proffered hand and shaking it. "Well... Zade if you'd rather avoid the mouthful. Don't let any of them make you feel stupid; I'm pretty sure part of being an assassin is coming off like you know more than you actually do." She shrugged; at least that was how she chose to think of it. Well, except Amon. Zade was fairly certain he did know more than any man should. Occasionally, she thought she could see glimpses of it in his expression. Bah, and now I think I'm reading too much into things. Next thing I know, I'll be seeing sadness in someone's eyes or something. She wasn't much of an empathetic soul, and thought that most things of that nature were rather unreliable and frivolous.

At about this point, a rather large man with a shaven head, obviously not an assassin judging by his attempt to be subtle, passed behind Zade and sat not too far from the two of them. What he wanted, she had no idea, and it certainly wasn’t any of her business, but all the same she could not resist the ascension of her eyebrow, as if to ask the girl across from her if the man was serious. Being schooled relentlessly in looking out for people who might be after your employer’s life had the fringe benefit of attuning her to things like this, and it was actually because he was so clearly no trained the same way that she did not either move away or attack immediately (well, that and the fact that her charge was not actually present). Chances were, he wanted something relatively innocuous. Perhaps he knew the blonde across from her or something? Hell, he could be her father for all Zade knew.

The setting changes from District Delta to The Skycity of Revelation

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#, as written by Shiva
Taylor Estate

"I hardly think you will need it for much longer. You've changed, though you may not be aware of all of them." He replied as the Princess interjected. Indeed, something was outside their room. He didn't remember any maid cleaners up here at this time- usually they tried to remain invisible. However, such footing- even the newest servant was quieter than that. His face darkened slightly, his amicable face torn away as if it were a mask. Such persistent attacks had lead to changes in the young noble as well. He unclipped the Epieu from his belt, holding it by his side as two men entered. His thoughts immediately darted to Siri, who was undoubtedly in his room completing his studies. However, the Princess put his mind at ease as her bodyguard went to take care of him. He trusted the old man, though sometime he worried about his age. He dared not mention it, as some assassins had that damned pride like he had.

It had been a while since the last time they had been able to corner him like this. Most of the times, his guards caught them breaking an entry and quickly subdued them. They could hardly catch any prisoners. Those who did get caught committed suicide, the rest were killed or escaped. His guards, over the course of a year had been very vigilante, as their lives depended on their lord's health- and assassins would compromise that tenuous balance. Loki had drew one of the renegades over to the far side of the room. It was very lucky the room itself was fairly simple with very little fragile aesthetics, otherwise there might be glass danger.

The second assassin focused his attention on the young noble, who readied his short spear. It wasn't like he hadn't been practicing as much as he could as he started to mend, but his body still protests against extended periods of hard combat. Even now, the adrenaline rush is kicking in and causing him to break into a slight sweat. The Assassin drew a short sword, single edged hard-corner blade similar to a wakizashi. Very fitting for the stereotypical assassin- easy to draw, wield, and very quick. This was going to be difficult- but just a two-man squad? They had to be tougher than they looked if their assailant was that confident. Or stupid.

He did share Loki's suspicions that Gilgamesh was behind this, but as a devout upholder of justice, Caelin had always believed one was innocent until proven guilty. With no proof, he still nursed a weak doubt that the man may not want their heads. Suddenly, the Assassin darted for an opening in Taylor's guard, strafing left and jabbing toward his right side. Taylor dipped his spear, catching the sword and parrying it away, moving free from the chair. He sidestepped another jab and raised his spear to block the following slash from that position. He suddenly ducked, slamming the man's foot with his spear before attempting to gut him- however the assassin had hopped away, shaking his foot out. With a sudden flash, Caelin charged in, slashing and stabbing in a methodical yet rapid fashion at any open spots. This sent the Assassin on the defensive. This normally would have defeated any other fighter, as Caelin had the advantage of being able to use the entire length of the shaft to outdistance the wakizashi. His eyes continually tracked the Assassin's movements, attempting to diverge some pattern that he could exploit.




Assassin's Guild

Now it was the young apprentice's turn to laugh. "You seem to be doing all right so far." She commented. Her countenance went slightly stone-like when she introduced herself as innate thoughts of paranoia ran though her head. Is it sudden for names? Does she want to win my confidence? Is she really going to slip a blade in my ribs? Should I give a fake name? I don't have living relatives- would she be able to link me to Master? Fake name? Traitors? It took her nearly ten seconds of internal struggle before she decided to be honest with her. She was rather tired of coming up with false identities, it didn't pay to lie to nice Assassins, and she couldn't think of a convincing name.

"Victoria. Victoria Steins." She said, shaking. "Scheherazade, was it? I hope I didn't butcher the name." She did not like getting names wrong, as it shows poor friendship. However, it was nicknames she was terrible with. She shifted slightly as a very burly man sat down near her. Her head was instantly wired, and more thoughts ran through her head. She had consulted her Master about this, as she normally did not suffer extreme bouts of paranoia before. He had written it off as close contact with himself for too long, and suggested that she leave.

"Aghh, how am i going to get that physician's inductment without going mad?" She muttered in a soft voice before she realized she had been talking to herself. She flushed red instantly, embarrassed to be caught doing that in public. She looked at the man and gave a sheepish grin. "Sir, can I help you? I, uh, don't work in this place so you shouldn't be asking me." Maybe he mistook her for an employee due to her different uniform.

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"Professor Windor"

It was almost a question, such was the apparent surprise at his visit (And the white patches of flour she had missed only gave evidence that he had called at a bad time). True, he didn't frequent the doorsteps of previous students as a habit and it had been a number of months since he had seen her, and even then it was only a brief encounter... Ok, so perhaps she had every right to be surprised. And he had every right to feel just a little bit guilty about arriving out of the blue like this. So he did, though he hid it well.

"Hello Pandora!" he replied with a smile, somewhere between exhuberant and reserved. He enjoyed her company as much as anybody elses, perhaps more through nostalgia than common ground. She had been a joy to teach, always willing to learn and not in the slightest bit angry about having to be there at the Institute. His thoughts had been that if she was given the choice she would have been one of the very few to attend of her own whim. This lack of resentment towards the staff had led to easy raport and Felix had watched the girl grow into the good natured healer she now was.

She invited him in, apparently shook back to reality by him speaking, and closed the door behind him. Instantly the smell of fresh bread drifted into his nostrils and his mouth started watering, suddenly telling him just how hungry he was. Unfortunately for him, he had a strict exercise schedule to stick to and running on a full stomach was never pleasant. Not that it all seemed to be helping, each year seemed to add another few pounds to his increasingly ample frame and no amount of jogging could really shift it. At best he was slowing the inevitable process of age.

"Uhm... I can't really offer you much, but I did just finish making some bread. Oh, and I have tea!"

Cheery as ever, she set about preparing.

"A tea would be lovely, but I couldn-"

"Help yourself, if you'd like,"

"Well, if you insist." He shrugged his shoulders and found a breadknife on the kitchen counter to set about cutting himself a slice, realising that he was never going to shed weight at this rate. But nothing beat fresh bread. He was just about to ask how she was doing and get some small-talk out of the way before he cut to the chase but she beat him to the bat.

"Oh, right... you're probably here for a reason, huh? Is someone sick? You don't need me immediately, do you? Because I can go right now if-"

Pandora excused herself from her ramblings and left Felix to speak, also leaving him feeling just a little awkward, something he attempted to cover by taking a bite of his bread and pulling the cup towards him.

"Well," he started, finishing with a gulp. "Wonderful bread by the way - there was something I was meaning to ask you, yes." Here it came, the same as ever, dropping in unexpectedly to ask a favour. "You see, it's my Father again, he's a little under the weather and this time it looks a bit more serious. There's no rush, of course, I know how busy you are these days. But if you'd be able to give him a once over I'd be very grateful."

He took a sip of his tea and pulled an approving face. He could see why she'd got so excited about it.

"There was something else too." Something he wasn't quite so hesitant to bring up. "You're a healer so I thought you must know something about this cure for the wasting lung that people have been talking about? Apparently it was supposed to arrive sometime soon, if it hasn't already, but the details are a little sketchy. Professor Leyton, you remember him? Well he got struck with a pretty bad case of it a while back and he could really do with a dose of the cure."

The setting changes from The Skycity of Revelation to District Alpha

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Sitting under the open window, Imogene was able to feel the fresh air on her skin. The smell was calming and she breathed it in deeply. With a twinge of guilt, she thought of the stories she’d heard about the quality of air in the Delta District where her daughter most likely lived now. She had heard that the living conditions were awful, and that the air was no better then a poison. Of course, Imogene had never been there herself, and the suffering of the occupants of District Delta was not a popular topic of conversation in the crowds she frequented--or use to. She decided to shut the window with a snap. Imogene was suddenly very angry with the fresh air.

When Seth didn’t enter immediately after she called for him to come in, she turned her head to the door expectantly. She couldn’t be sure, but she thought she heard two voices outside her door: Seth’s and a stranger’s, however, she couldn’t make out what they were saying. After a moment, the door finally opened, and Seth walked in, closely followed by a man Imogene had never seen before.

Seth explained that this mysterious man was a guest who wished to discuss her husband. Imogene had to admit she was confused: by the man, by what he wanted. Not to mention that she knew immediately that he was no ordinary guest. His features were normal enough. Imogene scrutinized him. He had a pleasant enough face, but perhaps it was the scar above his lip that seemed menacing. No, that wasn’t it. The scar even seemed to add to the attractiveness of his face. The dark tone of his skin, his black hair, the way he stood: there was nothing out of the norm there. Ah, it was his eyes--rather, there was something mocking behind them. It was also his finely cut suit which seemed to be wearing him more than he was wearing it, as if it were not his usual form of attire. Overall, there was something about the way he carried himself-- the way he entered the room that made Imogene realize he was a man of whom she should be nervous. She looked in Seth’s direction. Her stepson certainly seemed as if he were.

Imogene didn’t know very much about assassins or their place in society. It was not something that noblemen’s wives in general need concern themselves with. There were many other things with which they were allowed to occupy their time, but the vagaries and workings of the assassin’s guild was not one of them. As far as she knew, she had never met one of their kind, yet even with her limited knowledge, she could guess who this man was, and the moment she did was the moment she began to feel anxious.

Ever the perfect hostess, Imogene could be nothing but cordial to him, despite who he was or what he was doing there. It was unthinkable for her to treat a guest of her household rudely. She smiled then, and put on the mask of hospitality.

“Forgive me,” she said to the man, “I did not think we would be entertaining anyone today or I would have prepared myself. Let me ring for tea, and please, have a seat and make yourself comfortable.” Imogene stood, walked to the wall and pressed the button which rang down to the kitchen. A servant answered immediately, as if his only job was to wait by the intercom to receive the Lady’s call. Imogene ordered the tea and sat herself down in the center of the room where six Victorian style chairs were facing each other across a wrought iron table with a glass top. She smiled congenially at the stranger.

“I don’t believe I have had the privilege of meeting you before. May I ask your name, and what business you have with my husband?”

The setting changes from District Alpha to The Assassins' Guild

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#, as written by Ezarael
It did not take long for the two young women to catch on to his attempt at being inconspicuous, he should have known better than to try and fool the assassin, even if she was an apprentice, and more so judging by the look that the apprentice had tossed his way that seemed as if she were ready to pounce with what was probably one of his own weapons that had been forged for the Assassin’s armory. The child seated on the other side, however, turned and let an embarrassed-grin spread across a rather attractive face and rounded cheeks; she was definitely much more amiable than the other one.

"Sir, can I help you? I, uh, don't work in this place so you shouldn't be asking me."

Garbiel acquiesced to his failure with a heavy sigh, causing a ginger-bearded chin to tilt downwards, exposing a shaved pate to the sunray bursting in through the one of the window-slits across from where he seated himself. After a slight shaking of his head the smith proceeded to stand up slowly as worn-out joints crackled and popped in protest to the movement, almost screaming in protest at being torn from their restful position. A few quick, shuffling steps brought the man next to the table where the amiable girl was seated and proceeded to sit on the edge, slightly away from the mean one that seemed ready to skewer him at any minute.

Upon closer inspection Garbiel noticed he had been wrong in his previous assumption that they were children, in fact they were just babies to him, young enough to be his granddaughters had he ever sired a family. How the time seemed to fly by as the years progressed, he had always regretted not living life while there was the time to do it, and now the days passed like flowers only to be enjoyed for such a short time before they withered away. It took a slight shake of the head to bring the blacksmith into the here and now, cheeks blushing slightly from the embarrassment of sitting there without introducing himself while the babies were staring at him quietly, the mean one almost digging holes into his soul by now.

“My deepest apologies children, there’s no cause to be nervous. My name is Garbiel Forgefire, and I was hoping to inquire as to the title of that book. I have a particular one in mind that I was hoping to find here and borrow for a short while.”

A broad grin enveloped his plump cheeks, moving up in such a way that they almost covered his eyes, in hopes to lighten the mood slightly. The tense air between the trio seemed to slacken, at least that’s the way it seemed to him anyway, as a resonant voice spoke his intent.

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Pandora pinked slightly at the compliment- baking and such was all still new to her, and she was glad it seemed to be going well- and smiled, though her mouth took a decidedly downward turn when Professor Windsor explained his reason for being here in the first place. It seemed his father was ill. She'd seen to the older Mr. Windsor more than once in the past, and there was little mistake that the man was slowly ailing with age. Try as she might, there was nothing she could do about that. High doses of magic could imbue someone with energy and strength, but she could not reverse the process of time, and such aid would always wear off eventually. Still, sickness she could cure, though with no promises that it would not return eventually.

"Of course I'll come and see him," she replied without hesitation. "I didn't really have many other things to do today anyway." She had been planning on making a trip up to Gamma to visit the Guild, hence the bread loaves. Though she was the furthest thing from an assassin, she knew quite a few, and the Guildmaster was kind enough to tolerate her presence, especially because her skills meant that for a few hours at least, practice could be a lot more... intense. She didn't really see what good it did to slice each other open instead of leaving bruises, but she considered repairing such damage a form of repayment for the safety and chance to stop glancing over her shoulder that the Guild offered. She wasn't really savvy to the irony of feeling most secure in a building full of impeccably-trained killers.

Professor Windsor's next question caught her off-guard for a moment. People down here were not usually aware that The Cure even existed at all, but then he worked at the Facility, and that was all the way up on the outskirts of Alpha. It made sense that he would have heard some form of whispering about it somewhere closer to Marchfield. Pandora debated how much she should say one the matter, chewing her bottom lip in an unconscious nervous gesture. In the end, though, she knew she was a horrible liar, and she didn't like it besides. With a small sigh under her breath, she lifted her eyes from her hands to the Professor's face.

Somehow, that made it easier. It was almost like she was back in class, explaining an answer she'd come up with. "There is a cure," she said with certainty. "I consulted on some of the research, actually. Dr. Vanderbilt wanted someone who knew something about magic, so... well, anyway, they invented a cure. It was Mana-based, though, so they wanted to test it on a mage to see what would happen." Here Pan paused, trying with little success to mask her discomfort. Though for anyone else it would have been nothing more than a simple injection, something about the formulation had made the minutes after its administration to her extremely painful, and she shuddered involuntarily at the memory.

"It... burns, for a while, and then everything is just... numb. They only gave me a bit, but I couldn't do magic for an hour afterwards. Dr. Vanderbilt hypothesizes that larger doses could make me- us, I suppose- unable to work magic for a day or more at a time. I don't exactly know what the delay is on getting it to people with Wasting Lung, I can only guess that maybe something is holding up production." The healer didn't really understand the nuances of how the government ran things, having never been taught of politics and Parliament, so any supposition on her part was entirely speculative.

"But anyway, I do have time to see your father now, as soon as you're-" she stopped abruptly again, but not because she was rambling this time. Rather, she had heard something outside, and listened intently to try and figure out what it was. She didn't need to wait long; one of her wards triggered, alerting her to the presence of someone she did not know. She was torn between actions; it could very well simply be someone looking for assistance, but she did not deal much with strangers these days.

She was also aware that someone, somewhere, wished her dead. By what she assumed was sheer luck, the last time they'd found her, Eos had been visiting, and naturally those out for her life hadn't stood that much of a chance. The time before that, she'd held them off with a shield over her doorway and snuck out the back. That had been the day it became necessary to close her clinic for good. The small blond woman swallowed audibly, deciding that she should probably go see who it was when the choice was removed from her discretion. She hadn't locked the door behind her guest, and the handle turned.

Assuming the worst now, she readied a shield and turned to her once teacher. "I'm very sorry professor, but I think it might be best if you- get down!" she very rarely shouted, and even this hardly qualified, but it was probably justified given the projectile aimed for his head. Apparently, these people didn't really care who they killed, as long as they got to her, and this upset the diminutive healer in a way few things could. With a terse word and a sharp flick of her wrist, she manifested the shield right in the path of the thrown dagger and it bounced off harmlessly. "Rogue assassins," she explained quickly. "You can try for the back door; my wards only picked up the two."

And indeed, the two inconspicuously-dressed individuals, a man and a woman, were both in her doorway now. The man drew a longsword, the woman a morning star, and Pan gritted her teeth. A heavy enough blow from either of those might have a shot at shattering a shield, though she had been practicing with them whenever she wasn't completely exhausted from healing all day.

The setting changes from The Skycity of Revelation to District Alpha

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#, as written by Smith
Eos smirked faintly and made an 'after you' gesture to Gilgamesh's whelp. Havingbeen trained to read every subtle inflection in facial features, Eos could see the glint of recognition in the other man's eyes. Eos figured that there must be someone interested in him after all. It was not a hindrance that Seth somehow knew his identity though. Hell, it may have even been a boon. Being privvy to the identity of an ill-reputed killer would make one wary, if not downright terrified for their life that such an individual would take interest in them. Eos moved to follow Seth into the room and stopped dead.

Wow... Eos had to force himself to move further into the regal space. He stared a little too long at the Lady Gilgamesh, feeling as if he was a teenager back at the Tower again. Except this time around, there was no jealous partner to punch his arm or pinch his ear. Eos screwed his face up in thought for a moment and took a sidelong glance before returning his gaze to Imogene. They were not blood relatives...something he could have read in the dossier, but had deemed unimportant. What should have been an irritating mistake quickly fled his mind however as Eos took a seat directly across from Imogene.

He flashed a charming, very genuine smile at the Lady of the house before inclining his head. "Please lady, think nothing of it. It is my fault for not scheduling an appointment ahead of time, but alas, such matters do not always make themselves known in such a professional fashion." it had been years since Eos was required to talk like this, but his tongue flowed over the honeyed words like liquid silver. Perfect tone, the utmost difference and a faint trace of flirtation. That last part was unintentional. Probably. "A third cup will be unecessary, lady Gilgamesh. I've never been a fan of the stuff...it's always either too flavourful, too bland or just plain watery." he shrugged and smiled, "Maybe I'm just picky?

Ah. My apologies once more, I am easily distracted by..." Your beauty? Elegant bearings? Pretty women in general, but angels in particular? Don't say breasts Eos. "Elegance. Permit me one more word of apology for my candor. I am a representative of several members of Parliament as well as the Crown. You may call me Dawn." he would have kissed Imogene's hand in a more familiar greeting just to get his point across, but the slight stumble in what would have been a perfect verbal cadence spoke volumes in and of itself. Plus, he was unsure if Seth would draw steel on him. Instead Eos leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers behind his head. "I only require a few minutes of your time, Lady."

Asking the boy to leave was out of the question. It was all too likely that Seth would report Eos's presence to his father or something equally unpleasant, and that would not be a desirable action until Eos was walking out of the house. No. For now, he would dance. "Are you aware of your husband's business outside of the political square? There have been murmurs of his dealings with some rather...unsavory characters. Would you happen to know anything about this?"

His eyes, sharp and almost predatory never left those of Imogene. Eos pointedly ignored Seth and focus his entire being on the woman. While they conversed and waited for tea, he took the time to study her more closely. Not that he needed any excuse. The lady of the house was the definition of regality. Divine, was the first word to come to mind. It was like she was more a creation, sculpted to be perfect rather than born into such a state. It had been too long since he had met anyone like her...well, maybe he had never met anyone like her at all. How did Imogene get attached to a bottom-feeder like Gilgamesh, Eos wondered idly.

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The Gilgamesh Estate

It was all a little bit surreal for Seth. Eos of Tartarus, Amon's favorite pet, was sitting in his father's house, ogling his stepmother. Well, the people-ogling-his-stepmother bit wasn't exactly new, he was used to that (though that didn't mean he thought it decent). What was more confusing to the man was that she was being asked about his father's... less pleasant activities. Seth supposed the man had no reason to know that she was largely innocent of such knowledge. Not completely, of course- nobody stayed in this household for any length of time without acquiring some tarnish from it- but he personally had endeavored more than he probably should have to keep her in the dark.

Ironically, it was all for just this situation. She could claim ignorance (though he privately wondered if she would) and the assassin who was so profoundly uninterested in the actual source of the information he sought would leave none the wiser. Seth did not know if he had set things up this way out of the kindness of his heart (for he suspected on occasion that he didn't have much, if any) or perhaps pity. He did feel sorry for Imogene, all things considered. Though her life was made of luxuries others could scarcely imagine, there was more than one kind of hardship, and she had endured several.

The tea arrived, and Seth took his with a small nod to the servant who had brought it, gesturing for the man to be dismissed. He promptly was, leaving the room with but three occupants again. He would have to consult that man later, to try an prevent word of this meeting from ever reaching his father. He did not believe that his father was a violent man personally, but he did have easily-raised ire, something that his child had forced himself to be milder as a compensatory measure. For this reason, he did not allow the fact that he was being ignored to faze him in the slightest.

Instead, she took the opportunity to learn what he could of the man he was dealing with. By no means was Seth a brilliant observer, but he did tend to notice useful things every once in a while, especially with regards to speech patterns. He was torn between amusement and annoyance at the obvious stare the man had assumed. Annoyance mostly because it happened so often and he imagined she must be sick of it by now. Amusement, because well, there was nothing quite like watching a fish out of water.




The Taylor Estate

Loki's assassin seemed almost... amateur, which was something she did not quite understand. Certainly, he was dressed to fit the bill, but there was no real fluidity to his movement, no visible weapon in his hands, but nor did he carry himself with the familiar catlike tread she had come to associate with pugilists. Then again, the only two people she knew who ever fought that way were both very, very good, so perhaps she was expecting too much.

The heavy scrutiny born of years of constant suspicion was what saved her life. Well, that and her acquaintance with Pandora, because she recognized the words he spoke as belonging to the magi's language even as the fire sparked to life at the man's fingertips. His arm thrust forward, expelling the projectile with a great deal of force, and it registered somewhere in the back of her mind that she had not trained against a mage before. She ducked to the side, and luckily for her, it seemed that he had no more control over the flames after they had departed his grasp than she did a throwing knife.

The fireball hit the wall behind her, scorching the stone but sputtering out. Unfortunately, he was clearly not out of ammunition yet, and two more flaming orbs were lobbed in quick succession. The first missed, but the second caught Loki in the shoulder, searing her gown and the flesh beneath it, and she barely retained her grip on her knife, shifting it to her other hand as quickly as she could. She grit her teeth hard to prevent the scream that threatened, and blinked back the involuntary tears that gathered in her eyes.

Not about to wait for him to get another one of those things together, Loki charged, a bit too recklessly, but seeing as how the threat was obviously not from what the man could do physically, it was worth it. His eyes widened as he knife sank into the soft flesh of his stomach, and the smell of blood joined the acrid scent of burnt skin in assaulting her nose. She realized immediately that the fabric of her gown was still aflame, and she darted across the room, grabbing the pot of water and upending it over the offending area, not really caring that the water itself was still on the too-hot-for-comfort side.

Her left arm (the dominant one, no less) hung uselessly at her side, and she was torn between the desire to do something -anything- to the blistering flesh of her shoulder and the knowledge that touching it would only make the agony unbearable. So instead, Loki did what she did best- she smoothed her face over into impassivity and turned to figure out what had become of Caelin.




Marchfield Laboratories

As soon as his assistants and Vernazza had left, Prometheus had buried himself once more in his notes, trying to figure out where he had gone wrong, to inhibit the function of the very thing that whether most people knew it or not, he believed sustained Revelation. That the Cure harmed magic-users was something not lost on him. Though Miss Elling had worn a brave face in the aftermath, he knew that he had caused her pain when he injected her with it, and now he wished he had not. Not simply to spare her the pain, but also to spare the world the knowledge. But it was too late for that now, and the best he could do was try and rectify his mistake.




When next anyone sought to find Dr. Prometheus Vanderbilt, they would discover that the answer to the problem posed by the Cure had most likely died with him. At the time, the details were considered to horrendous for public exposure, but there were those of us who knew even then. By writing it down now, I suppose I technically violate the shroud of secrecy that seemed to pervade it for quite some time after the fact, and indeed if ever this is made public record (as I am afraid these things are only ever done posthumously), I imagine the account will be quite new for some of those who read it.

Put in the baldest terms possible (for I think it necessary to do so), Vanderbilt was tortured and crucified. He was found upon his lab table, a single five-inch nail driven into each of his feet, and another one to each palm. This was only to be the beginning of the man's ordeal, however, and as the medical examination indicated, he was ritually inflicted with numerous blade wounds, designed to be very painful but not bleed so much as to cause him to pass out before each an every detail of his torment was made clear to him. Struggle would have been an even more painful prospect than acquiescence, but if he had stopped struggling, it would have doubtless only been with the acceptance that he would not survive.

Those of my forebears who had less reservation about such things than I do have written with a great deal of certainty that no anguish is greater than that caused by knowing one is to die, and wishing for nothing quite so much as death to hasten. For Dr. Vanderbilt, it did not. He was forcibly kept awake and made to watch as even lines were inscribed into his flesh and muscle, to watch powerlessly as he bled. When this was done, his bones were broken, beginning with his brittle digits, all by blunt force. When they were done forcing him to watch himself being torn apart, they cut out his eyes, too.

It was when he lingered so close to the cusp of death that even the chemicals could keep him alive no longer that the final nail was hammered in- directly into his forehead. His assailants had not simply killed him, they had destroyed everything he ever was. They broke the hands that had written so many important discoveries into the pages of human knowledge, they broke the feet that had shuffled about his office or the classroom as he lectured his students, they severed the tendons that had allowed him even in his old age to make the precise, dexterous movements necessary to imbue his methodology with exactitude. They had torn out the eyes that seemed to see everything with a sharpness that even I have little trouble admitting I envied, and with the final stroke, they broke the most brilliant mind the world had ever seen. His notes were burned, and the last traces of his legacy, too, were destroyed.

Perhaps it was fitting then, that the skies tore open that afternoon, and the entire city was assaulted by a deluge not often seen as close to the center line of the earth below as it hovers. It was something that only became more poignant as more information came to light.

-From the journals of Amon Gregory

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Many women would blush under such concentrated direction of mind, such candid compliments, such an obvious attempt at flattery from such an attractive man. Imogene could say, without any hint of conceit or vanity, that she was not one of those women. How could one be, when they were groomed for that very purpose? Groomed to be appealing to the opposite sex in order to secure the right place in society. The looks were an added bonus which she’d been born with; what she’d had to learn was the charm, the wit, and the manner with which to secure a husband. It was what he’d married her for, after all: to be nothing more than a pretty accessory to his status and career. She’d done her job well, and now she was left with nothing but a pretty face and an empty heart.

The tea was brought in and she took her cup as Seth took his. She blew away the steam and sipped from her second cup of the morning as the guest introduced himself and stated his business. "Would you happen to know anything about this?" he asked after mentioning the rumors of her husband’s sordid dealings. She had no doubt that they were more than just rumors. Imogene glanced to meet Seth’s eyes with an unspoken question. She wondered if she would be able to see recognition in his eyes. If he would know instantly what their guest was talking about. He was busy watching the guest as he spoke, however; the man who’d asked her to call him Dawn. Was it his real name? She doubted it, but given no other option, it was the name she would know him by.

Imogene took another sip of her tea. She wished that she did know what her husband was up to. She hadn’t exactly been feeling any sort of loyalty to him lately, or any reason to keep his dirty secrets. Perhaps that was why he no longer confided in her, if he ever had. Looking back on the early stages of their marriage, when they’d shared a bed and lay together quietly late into the night and he whispered in her ear, she couldn’t help but wonder if any of those “secrets” had been real--if they’d mattered to him at all, or if it was all just a pretense.

A thought fluttered around her mind suddenly. It was a pretty thing that she couldn’t quite shake. The more the thought lingered, the more enticing it became. She wondered, if she could provide this man with the information he wanted, since he represented important people, whether he’d be willing to repay her for her efforts. The people he represented would no doubt have the ability to secure information for her--information that she would never be able to acquire otherwise. Imogene wondered if she should ask as much in front of Seth. If it came to choosing sides, and she had chosen to oppose her husband, she didn’t fancy her chances when it came to the side Seth would choose. David was his father, and no matter the connection they’d found in each other recently, he would no doubt choose loyalty to his family.

She had to know, though, if it were possible.

“Dawn, you said?” she asked, knowing full well the name he’d given. “I cannot say that I’m surprised at the rumor. My husband isn’t exactly what one would call a saint. But if I did have the information you require, why should I be enticed to give it to you? Would I get anything in return?”

She sounded like a greedy, money-hungry woman, but she didn’t care. It wasn’t money she was after.

The setting changes from District Alpha to The Skycity of Revelation

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Thankfully Pandora was willing, as ever, to come and help him out. She was too nice for her own good, he'd always thought it, and he couldn't help but wonder why she'd thrown herself into some kind of exile as he chewed thoughtfully on the bread.

"There is a cure"

This did not surprise Felix at all, he had heard from a reliable source about the cure but he knew very little about the details. All he knew was the name and the function: It cured the wasting lung that plagued the city. What came next however drained the colour out of his cheeks. It seemed the cure was not all it was supposed to be and could be used to rid a mage of their ability for a seemingly indeterminable amount of time. This could hold outrageous repercussions for the entire magical community. Felix frowned, not hearing the wonderful news he had quite hoped. To throw more confusion into the mix he also found out that Pandora had had some part in testing this cure, something he would never have been able to guess. It had turned out to be a very strange visit indeed

"But anyway, I do have time to see your father now, as soon as you're-"

Good, he thought, we can talk more on the... He never got a chance to finish the thought.The student-that-had-been stopped mid sentence again, but this time it was not to avoid a habit of talking too much, she looked concerned. He opened his mouth to speak but the seriousness of the situation seemed to have dawned on Pan's face as she gulped and he closed it just as quickly, eyes flicking towards the front door, following her own gaze just in time to see the handle turn. In his mind the worst thing that could have happened at that moment, should he have considered it, would be for Pan's grandparents to walk in. As it was, he had not been considering anything of particular note to happen and so what occured caught him completely off guard.

A second later there was a shield up, not his own of course, he was not quite so good at that sort of thing, and he wheeled around to ask what was going on, only to be greeted by hurried words that were strangely apologetic in the circumstances. And then she shouted. That was a rare enough thing to hear, though even whoever was just outside may not have heard it such was the volume, and the suddenness of it yielded the result of his immediate submission to the order.

He dropped to the ground, falling like a bag of rocks, and landed hard on the kitchen floor, bringing his cup of tea with him. It smashed on the floor and sent shards of china scattering all around him. He heard the distinctive sound of metal landing no more than a second after the smash and he looked behind him to see a dagger on the floor. Before he could even ask his question about who these people were, for now he could see two forms making their swift way towards them, he was answered, only to be met with another question as he hauled himself to his feet.

"Pan, what the hell have you gotten yourself into?!"

He had no intention of running off and leaving the girl here. He may not have had much combat experience but he had a clear view of the pair and a body full of destructive magic. So he ducked out from behind the shield while raising his arm and muttering a few harsh words, sending a small ball of fire swirling through the air towards the oncoming assassins. He had no intention of killing either, nor even causing any serious harm to person or property, but he planned on slowing them down a little at the very least. He clasped his hand around the back door handle and pulled it open, aiming another fiery blast towards the open front door.

"Run, Pan, get the hell out!" He stood holding the door open with one hand, the other raised to send another attack should the moment call for it.

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#, as written by Shiva
Taylor Estate

Caelin traded blows once more, trying to get a good hit off on the enemy. However, he jumped back, starting to play a little more defensively. Through the robes, he could see his eye blazing in concentration. He pondered briefly whether he saw the same. Suddenly, a wave of heat stroked the room, as he looked back to see a fire ball dissipate against the stone walls. Mages? Unexpected. He turned, just as the second assassin charged him, nearly cutting him up with two deft slashes. Taylor jumped back, watching as energy gathered in the man's hand. Suddenly, the assassin turned, raising his palm toward his fellow assassin- but before the pulsating flow of power released, the man was tackled by Loki and killed. The assassin swore, the energy disappearing from his hand.

So, he was the medic of the two. No wonder he was stronger in fighting- he had to learn how to defend himself since metaphysical-passive magic did not do direct damage. He took advantage of this, pressing in on the individual. Taylor whipped out a wand from his belt, one of many he had been carrying since they discovered magic's powerful effects on himself. If it had been him who was hit by the fireball, he would have burnt to a crisp. Flicking the wand in a pattern similar to a six-edged star, the man who had begun approaching was suddenly engulfed in a plume of hissing smoke. A personal invention of his, with the help of Mr. Vernazza. It had only six uses, the most the scientist could squeeze out of this want that used the surroundings to blind the enemy with dust. The assassin started coughing and rubbing his eyes, flailing his sword out. Taylor rushed in, sliding under the swinging blade and stabbed the epieu straight up the man's torso- punching through the diaphragm, lungs, and heart. The man jerked twice, then went still. Throwing the limp corpse off his body, Taylor got up and looked for the Princess.

His eyes widened in shock as she just finished putting out the fire on her arm. Rushing over, he plucked another wand from his side. An injured guest was a massive blow to his pride- especially with a friend like Loki. He noted that she had used the tea to put out the flame- but that just worsened the burn as the water was nearly boiling. He could almost feel the angry flesh as he refused to step back and pointed the wand at her arm, flicking it in a simple cross-pattern. The flesh immediately began to rejuvenate, luckily the burns being fresh there was no dead meat yet- just the dying kind being revived. He patiently healed the wound on her arm. Usually, this wand was only meant for him- as they were rather expensive to be healing mid-degree burns that quickly. They only had about three uses, though this was the first time he used it.

But that wasn't on his mind. Taylor called for a maid, one arriving within five minutes. She had been hiding earlier, but after she had listened to the sounds of fighting fade she answered her employer's call. She was no fighter- though now she was seriously considering it. "Esmera, please check our guest over, she might have burned herself." He said.

Assassin's Guild

Victoria was rather taken back by the old man's politeness. Usually ones like him were grumpy and impatient. He also seemed genuinely old- rather than the geezers that would chase after you, slapping your thighs with their walking sticks and beating you if they caught you.... nevermind. She quickly quashed her surprise and returned a smile. She quickly looked over a Scheherazade, who seemed to be rather hostile to him. Adopting a hesitant tone, she answered the man.

"Well, this book by Glashkov is about medicine... One-Hundred Common Mala... wait." She cut off, wondering if she had heard the blacksmith earlier. "Forgefire!? THE Gabriel Forgefire!?" She exclaimed. She admired all of the Forgefire products- her Master's twin fighting daggers were of Forgefire make. "What're you.." She stopped again, flushing again. "Er... sorry. 'One-Hundred Common Maladies of the Body' by Glashkov. Is this, uh, the book you were looking for, Mr. Forgefire?" She secretly enjoyed saying his name, as she never really met one of such high repute often- even more so now that they were on the run from renegade assassins. Maybe she could convince her Master to get her a Forgefire sword one day.

Drat. That would involve joining the Assassin's Guild. Her countenance visibly depressed as she took the book and showed it to him.

The setting changes from The Skycity of Revelation to District Delta

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Stupid, stupid, she was so stupid! She had wards designed and cast for this sort of thing, and if she'd just remembered to reactivate them after she let Professor Windsor through, they'd be holed up safe in a completely impenetrable house with shields over every window, door, and decently-sized rat hole. But no, she had thought that surely nothing would happen in these few minutes on this particular day, and she had not wanted to make her teacher uncomfortable by activating magic of a complexity resolved for fortresses and buildings with more important people in them.

And now she was paying for it, but not just her. That was the worst part, that her foolishness had put someone else in danger too. Pandora concentrated a shield and threw it against one of the assassins, pinning her to the wall. It would not last forever, though, and she carefully stepped over the shattered remains of what had been her only un-mangled teacup. She darted out the door, but not before she attempted to push professor Windsor out first. "Wards- keep them trapped!" As soon as both of them were out, she muttered the words and watched as the doorway sealed over with translucent blue-white light. Unlike the spells that magi slung around in a fight, these were sustained, and would last until she removed them, or the energy sustaining them ran out.

The second wouldn't happen for a few hours, yet, but she didn't want to take any chances. Well, that wasn't exactly true- what she wanted to do right now was to lean against the side of her house and try to steady her racing pulse, but she didn't have the time for that right now. "I'm very sorry, professor, but those two came to kill me, and I think it might be best if you came with me to the Guild. I need to tell Sir Amon what just happened." The strangeness of the fact that she referred openly to the most enigmatic figure in the city, a man who for most people was somewhere between rumor and reality, with casual familiarity, was lost on her, but she did know that the man beside her had little reason to be happy with her right now.

"I would tell you everything, but that would only be more dangerous for you," she continued sincerely. "But I think... they saw you, so you might want to stay somewhere safe until they've been caught. The guild is safe, I can promise you that." Assuming he would see her logic and follow (probably not the safest of assumptions, but then she didn't really know that), Pan led the way through the maze of Delta streets, over the crossing and into Gamma, flitting about at a pace that might have been difficult to match were she not so small.

The building she stopped in front of was large and obviously important, but bore no other distinguishing features. It could have been anything, but it wasn't. The only thing it was was the headquarters of several of her closest friends and the man that she personally thought watched over all of them like some kind of boundlessly patient father-figure. Some might have been disquieted by the notion; Pandora found it nothing short of comforting.

Her passage here had not been unobtrusive, exactly- she had intentionally gone by several checkpoints that would alert the watchmen to her presence, and they all recognized her well enough by now. The strained look she wore was probably enough to suggest that not all was well, and indeed Amon himself was on the ground floor when she entered. "Another attack?" he asked quietly, and she nodded.

"I um... I trapped them in my house. Wards. I'll have to go back and release them so that whoever you send can get in."



The Assassins' Guild

Zade realized that she had unconsciously shifted her body language to something closer to intimidating than neutral, and wondered at that for a moment. She had not meant to do so; perhaps it was an unconscious instinct of some kind. She was a bodyguard now, after all, it only made sense that she should be good at it. Even so, because it had not been her intention, she forced herself to relax, though she could do nothing about the sharpness of her stare. The color of her irises was rather disconcerting at first, something she played to her advantage whenever possible but was just inconvenient otherwise.

Forgefire... she was certain she'd heard that name before, and Victoria's outburst was enough to confirm it. The smith. Zade's own preferred weapons were... unusual, to say the least, and most smiths did not make them. She had no idea if this one did or not; both her rope dart and her bladed ring were inheritance from her days with the troupe. The man who'd taught her to use them to perform had not told her where they were made. She had since discovered that there were a few too many similarities between her act and fighting for it to be pure coincidence, and so she had no doubt that they were the work of a weaponsmith, and a good one, but she didn't know who. One of many things that Amshel had not specified.

When he mentioned looking for a specific Glashkov title, Scheherazade shrugged. "If it's not that one, the others are two rows back, middle of the shelf, I think." She spent quite a bit of time in here, and those texts happened to be alphabetically close to works by Florina Golburn, who had much interesting work with pyrotechnics and combustion mechanics, something Zade had a personal interest in.

The setting changes from District Delta to The Assassins' Guild

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#, as written by Ezarael
The smith observed the changing of the young girls quietly after revealing his name, watching for any signs of recognition in their manner, when the realization began to dawn on the one that seemed out of place in the Assassins' Guild that he was more than some random stranger. It had always been some strange obsession of his to notice when he had been recognized by another person, and much more so when it did not happen on sight, a much more common occurrence in the last few year; being raised in the blacksmith’s trade naturally led to this desire in its craftsmen to be assured of their works quality, and know how long-reaching the fingers of their skill truly are.

"Well, this book by Glashkov is about medicine... One-Hundred Common Mala... wait." She cut off, wondering if she had heard the blacksmith earlier. "Forgefire!? THE Gabriel Forgefire!?" She exclaimed. She admired all of the Forgefire products- her Master's twin fighting daggers were of Forgefire make. "What're you.." She stopped again, flushing again. "Er... sorry. 'One-Hundred Common Maladies of the Body' by Glashkov. Is this, uh, the book you were looking for, Mr. Forgefire?"

Obviously the child was pleased with meeting him, and he was pleased by this reaction as well, being assured that his stature had not fallen completely out of sight as of yet, and lightening his dismal mood from earlier brought on by one meagre glass of wine, although it had been a very fine one now that he thought about it twice. The apprentice even had a flicker of recognition sprout across her face after the book-carrier assured the assumption about his identity by repeating it thrice. More than likely she knew him for his signature weapon designs, that seemed to be the most common one for anyone not associated with steamship production and maintenance.

When he mentioned looking for a specific Glashkov title, Scheherazade shrugged. "If it's not that one, the others are two rows back, middle of the shelf, I think."

The austere elderly man bowed his head forward at their assistance in gratitude, taking the book politely from the one to peruse the first few pages briskly. He had once owned a copy of the same book, but it had suffered water damage from a leak that had worked its way through his ceiling during a terrible thunderstorm, along with a large segment of his library, forcing him to attempt and recover his lost literature. Most of the time he would copy from the pages himself, every so often a scrivener was paid to perform the task, but that was very seldom indeed, Garbiel enjoyed practising his penmanship through the menial task. While glancing over the text the large man paused briefly, just to mark his spot as he glanced upwards so that his progress was not lost in his words.

“The assistance is much appreciated ladies, and this does seem to be for what I have been searching, but I must say I cannot properly thank you as I have not had the pleasure of your names.”

An almost-embarrassed grin spread across the large man’s face with the point being voiced, he had not actually heard their names spoken earlier, and did not want to appear a dullard if they assumed he had, but had no choice in the matter. In hopes to cover this little expression his eyes quickly darted back down to the yellowed-pages of the old Glashkov title. This tome was indeed the correct one; in fact it was the best title that had been in his possession in concerns to healing certain common illnesses. Pneumonia and heat exhaustion was a particularly common occurrence among blacksmiths from the exposure to such extremes of the heat and cold. This was another situation that Garbiel preferred to solve on his own, only calling for a doctor or healer whenever it was a necessity, but a quick thought crossed his mind, and the man gave way to his curiosity, voicing a question to the previous reader.

“Apologies for the inquiry miss, but do you happen to have any knowledge in the field of medicine?”

The setting changes from The Assassins' Guild to District Alpha

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#, as written by Smith
What's your game? he wondered with a slightly quirked eyebrow. Eos realized he was smirking somewhat as he sized up the lady of the house. From what he could tell, Imogene's porcelain doll appearance belied a keen intellect that many of her beauty and status did not possess nor care to possess. She was analyzing Eos as much as he was her, and then the woman suddenly switches objectives? Curious. Eos decided he was not inclined to play such a game at this very moment and screwed his face up in confusion. "Milady, I do hope you are not proposing that my superiors bribe you for cooperation?"

He suddenly laughed and waved the notion away. "A jest, a jest, of course. How foolish of me, but how could I have known one such as you would also have such wit? But honestly, if you did not know of any such activities all you had to do was say so." Eos set his elbow against the arm of the chair and placed his chin in his palm. For the first time since entering the room, the assassin looked to Seth. His demeanor seemed to cool and his eyes grew sharper. "What of you, sir Gilgamesh? Is their any information that you would allow me..."

A minor heat and buzz formed in the breast pocket of Eos's vest. With an aplogetic smile the dusky skinned assassin retrieved a piece of vellum and unfolded it. The product of a new wand, a spell that allowed for a short message to be relayed on paper was scrawling itself out on the parchment. It only allowed for thirty words or less, but it was more than enough to get a point across. Eos allowed the act to melt away as he read the alarming message. His eyes scanned over the paper once more to make sure what he had read was correct before folding it and replacing it in his pocket. The assassin sighed, looking to both nobles with mixed emotions.

"Several prime targets have been attacked. Simultaneously, and not too long ago." Eos spread his arms and indicated not only the room, but the estate itself. The Gilgamesh estate lies unsullied, however." suddenly Eos was on his feet, straightening out his clothes and making sure everything was in place. The mock official inclined his head to both Seth and Imogene. "Your family was marked as both a high-priority suspect and possible target of the same degree...the fact that you remain unscathed does not bode well for the Gilgamesh."

With a quick movement Eos produced two small cards with identical information inked upon them, one from each pocket. He handed the first to Seth, "Please, feel free to contact me if you should find any information of relevance to the investigation." Eos moved over to Imogene, making sure his back was to the junior Gilgamesh and handed over the business card. "The same goes for you, lady. I beg your forgiveness for cutting our meeting short, but duty calls." with his front concealed from Seth's view, Eos made a small gesture with his finger indicating that Imogene should flip over the card. This second set of cards was made specifically for those who, at the assassin's discretion, may be counted on for some sort of information. They provided a second address on the back, unlike the parchment given to Seth.

With one more quick bow Eos exited the room and made his way out of the estate. There were more servants visible this time, most hoping for some of the generosity he previously displayed. None was there, however. Eos was looking beyond the low-level workers and even the walls of the manse wondering what to do next. The last portion of the missive had specifically stated that the situation was under control...but what if it wasn't? There would always be lies to keep valuable soldiers from rushing into danger.

As Eos passed the doorman, who looked rather befuddled about seeing a man out whom he had not seen in, Eos immediately began to run at top speed towards the Taylor Estate. It was a much shorter trip and he would arrive their much faster than Pandora's clinic. Hopefully the petite medic had enough protection that his assistance would be redundant anyway.

His thoughts suddenly flickered back to Imogene. He wondered how she would react...by tommorow, he would know. The note on the back of the card held the directions to a dilapidated tower in the Gamma District, the very top level. Quiet and secluded, a good place to meet. Would she show?

The setting changes from District Alpha to The Royal Palace

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It seemed as though Joshua were content to throw her to the wolves and let her try and explain to the Queen why it was that their science was not getting to the people it was meant to help, and, more importantly, why something needed to be done about that. Well, fine; it wasn't as though Atalanza was afraid of stepping on people's toes or anything. She had taken the offered seat, but didn't partake of the refreshments. What they were trying to accomplish here was far too important to waste time treating it as though it were pleasant. "The Cure has been appropriated entirely for the private use of members of Parliament," she stated bluntly. "Their factories, their manufacture, their property. Marchfield has neither the equipment nor the funding to produce it ourselves, but we never thought they'd hoard it like this."

The bitterness in her tone caused the Queen's shoulders to slump slightly, and Minerva stared down into her tea for a long moment as she considered it. "So then, the treatment that I- that a few people received; it's not making it to Delta?" The fact that Minerva herself had also been ill enough to warrant a dose of the Cure was still not common knowledge, and she had no intention for it to be. Appearing in any way weak or infirm was just throwing herself upon her own funeral pyre, she knew that well enough. With opponents like David Gilgamesh, one did not take much time in the learning.

She looked to her brother, and Joshua nodded solemnly, apparently deciding that the same attitude that made Atalanza so useful in the laboratory was not going to make her an apt representative of their cause, at least not to his sister. His niece would probably appreciate it more, but Minerva was a gentle soul in the end, and inclined to treat people in a way that reflected it. "Yes. There is no singular culprit, but you should know that all of those we have identified fall under the majority faction. Mr. Vernazza here has offered us a way to circumvent the need for their facilities, by making production more... local to those who would benefit from it, but we are still going to need funding, and even then it might not be enough to meet demand, if it is to stay hidden."

The Queen pursed her lips for a second, then drummed her fingers on the side of her ceramic teacup thoughtfully. "I think you may be missing one possibility. If I recall correctly, Lord Caelin Taylor owns a chemical enterprise, and he is most certainly not a member of the majority faction. I can understand the desire you may have to bring the production to Delta itself, but to ask the crown for funding so directly is... it places me in a rather delicate position, you understand. I am not the most powerful of monarchs, to the endless frustration of my only child," she admitted with a gentle smile, "but I think that there is a solid enough connection between Marchfield and Lord Taylor that he may be able to assist where I cannot. I do believe you re personally acquainted with him, are you not, Mr. Vernazza?" All eyes in the room swung to the inventor of the air purification engine, as though waiting for him to confirm that it was indeed a viable option.



The Gilgamesh Estate

Seth might have responded to the assassin's inquiries, but the man apparently had urgent business to attend to, and shoved a card at him. The young Lord Gilgamesh stared at it for a few moments, long enough to completely miss anything Eos said to his stepmother, before tucking it away in his breast pocket. By all rights he should have thrown it away immediately, but for some reason he could not. If his father knew he had it, he'd be lucky to be disowned; Duke Gilgamesh took familial loyalty very seriously, and played his games too carefully to tolerate loose ends. All the same... some of the things Seth had seen bothered him to no end, or at least none in sight.

One might not be able to guess by his lineage or his demeanor, but Seth was actually a decent person, bordering on a good one at times. For now, he would not act, but he did not discount the possibility of there being a time in the near future when he must.

It was only when Eos was long gone that he spoke. "Well... that was a most interesting visit, I must say," he commented with a hint of wryness to Imogene. Then, turning the conversation back to where it would have been had the man never showed up, he continued. "So, may I inquire as to your plans for the day, Lady Imogene?" That question was something of a ritual, spoken every day between them at breakfast, sometimes the only honest-to-goodness human connection one or moth of them had in the hours that followed.



The Assassins' Guild

Amon had taken one look at Pandora's face and known exactly what had happened. The poor thing was, despite all the logic to the contrary, usually smiling and cheerful, but right now she simply looked scared. She confirmed his suspicions, and only then did the man behind her come into view. Amon was instantly wary, but she did not seem to be exercising caution around him, and he could only come to the conclusion that she had led him specifically here. A solid instinct, if this man too had been about when she was attacked.

"Please, both of you, come in. Were either of you injured?" He suspected that if they had been, Pandora would have taken care of it herself by now, but it was only courteous to ask. He led the two up to his office and ushered them in, insisting that each take a seat, before he sat behind his desk. Food and water were not far behind, and once both had taken whatever they wished, Amon reached for a clean sheet of parchment and a writing implement, dipping th quill in an inkwell before turning to fix them both with a steady light blue gaze. "Please, recount for me in as much detail as you can exactly what happened. Starting with you, sir, if you please."



The Taylor Estate

"Caelin, what are you-" Loki spent a couple seconds in confusion at her friend's sudden determined proximity, but she figured it out quickly enough, unable to stifle the relieved sigh that left her as the burns healed over. "Now that is a useful talent," she remarked, more to herself than him, as he was busy calling a servant. When the young woman entered, though, Loki shook her head. "I'm fine; the wand took care of it, thank you. I may have made something of a mess of the carpet, however- my apologies." Upending hot water over things wasn't likely to do them any permanent damage, and miraculously, she had enough dignity that it remained intact as well. Apparently decorum lessons were good for something after all. The blood was another matter altogether.

Of course, now that it was over, there was something of a lull, one that she was not precisely sure what to do with. The occasion hardly called for simply resuming the visit with two dead mages in the parlor, but so help her, that was what she really wished she could do at the moment. As it was, she'd need to do a thousand other things in the wake of this entire mess. Carlisle reappeared, assuring them that Siri and the staff were safe and had been left with the guards in the study awaiting Lord Taylor's direction, which Loki thought was frankly a good thing. The less people that saw the corpses, the better.

What exactly did one do when confronted by assassins in another's house? Leaving so suddenly didn't really seem appropriate either... so much for decorum lessons. "Carlisle, please inform Amon of what has transpired here. Take the craft if you need to." So saying, she knelt next to the body of the man she had killed and turned him over. "It's strange... these people are dressed in the manner of those same rogues that have plagued us for a year, but never once have they been mages before." Was it possible they'd thought to try this now that Caelin had received the Cure, hoping to target his new weakness? that would mean they had been sent for him specifically, but it was quite the coincidence that she happened to be here also. Loki did not believe in coincidence. Besides, if that were the case, the combat-oriented one would have made a beeline straight for him, but it had been a simple matter to draw him into combat with her instead.

"This makes little sense..."

The setting changes from The Royal Palace to The Skycity of Revelation

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Arm raised and ready to hurl another blast of power back at the advancing assassins (Something that hadn't quite settled in on him yet), Felix was close to being tackled out of the back door by Pandora. By close, his bulky frame was attempted to be shoved out the doorway by the slight form of Pandora. It wasn't successful in the way it was supposed to be but he got the message and turned tail to sprint out first, soon followed by his ex-student who conjured up a protective ward, ironically trapping the assailants inside the house. He did not doubt the charm's efficacy, Pandora had always been on the opposite end of both scales to him in terms of magic and even from a young age had been more adept than most at casting shields. But the time did not call for reminiscing, it called for running.

And as they started off she explained briefly that those people had come to kill her, without delving into any more detail, before suggesting they go to the guild for safety. His first thoughts was that she couldn't possibly mean 'The Guild' and must be referring to a lesser guild than that of the assassins that she had contacts with, but instantly he knew it not to be true. People just didn't make that mistake. And of course her reference to Sir Amon confirmed that she had in fact either gone insane or got wrapped up in something far over her head. Such was the shock that hit the man, he almost fell to the floor, stumbling on her words.

"The guild? Are you insane?! They're assassins! There's assassins trying... To kill you!"

Already he was running out of breath, Felix was not built for running. But he heard her well enough over his own heavy breathing, her guarantee that the guild would be safe. Considering he had just witnessed an attempt on her life and her quick thinking had likely saved his own, coupled with years of knowing each other, trust came only too easily to the large man and he nodded as he ran, silently agreeing to follow her, although cursing his own mind as he did. He could not see this ending well.

Soon enough they stopped outside a large building with no distinguishing marks. It was more well kept than most in Delta and clearly held some significance but he'd never really paid it much mind before. It was off his route most days and he had no reason to investigate why the guards stood sentinel outside. And they cast upon him disapproving glances as he followed Pandora inside, where she was met by perhaps one of the most well known men in the city. And he spoke to her as though this were a common occurance. From what he could tell by her reaction to it, it was. And her reaction affirmed this, she only told him where the attackers were and how they were held.

The circumstances now were far stranger than Felix had ever known and it was all he could really do to stand there in the entrance hall and look around as he tried to catch his breath while the gravity of it all settled in on him. He was inside the assassins guild, after just having run from ... Assassins. While escorted, and saved, by a former pupil who he had thought was nothing other than a healer who could not possibly harbour a grudge, let alone a nemesis who would send trained killers after her.

"Hmm hmm." Clearing his throat to be noticed.

"I don't suppose anyone could tell me now why I had a knife thrown at my head, could they?" His shock was subsiding, slowly being replaced by anger, yet he kept his voice calm and steady. Someone had tried to kill his friend, and he had very nearly got in the way. And he had no idea why. He wanted answers.

The setting changes from The Skycity of Revelation to The Royal Palace

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Giacomo listened as the conversation took place, as the female spook he was surprised by the directness and the blunt tone of voice. Did she even realise that she was talking to the queen herself? Asside from the fact that prometheus knew where to stop his directness, the girl was an obvious apperantice of his, she even picked up his personality it seemed, or had she been chosen for her personality? Questions so many and in so many forms, all trying to analyse and identify the inner working of the husk that was her body. The reaction of the queen was not entirely unexpected, only the word I, which he could catch due to his trained awareness, seemed odd and yet... Could it be? Had she been suffering from that malicious dissease all along? As Giacomo's mind drifted into the past meetings where he had catched a glimpse of the queen he noticed subtle diferances in her appearance, she too had shown the deteriored state that he had seen with other victims. He of course knew that this knowlege was a secret that was forbidden to ever leave his lips before it would become public knowlege, especialy not with a snake like Gilgamesh around. A by the mana generated spasm tapped his index finger against the hidden metal construct in his jacket, a reminder of how far that snake was willing to go.

Then the conversation turned to Giacomo with the queen asking about the connection between Lord Taylor and himself. The eyes of the surrounding pryed into his heart as he, for the first time was completly uncertain what to say. Of course he knew Lord Taylor, he was the major supplier of chemicals to both Marchfield and his air purifier, but that wasn't the type of relation she was pointing to. It was the connection as partners in the case of Goldwater, or even closer perhaps. This wasn't common knowlege and even though David must have known about it by now it still held some value to keep it a hidden conection. Most troubling was the question of how much danger he would place Taylor in should he confirm the connection and make use of it for the current cause. Lord taylor was already on Gilgamesh's hitlist, but adding this might just give him the number one spot, a place he wouldn't wish for anyone to have... Exept Gilgamesh himself of course.

In the complete tirade of thoughts trying to overrule eachother in a discussion whether to or to not confirm his connection to Lord Taylor, his mind was made up, not by solid agruements and reasoning, but by tme running out. One can just stay silent for so long when asked something before it starts to generate suspicion, something that by all means should be avoided, especialy around contact he might need once more. Finally his lips began to move and slowly the first words rolled out of his mouth gradualy picking up speed to his normal talking speed: "Well, from the bussiness point of view Lord Taylor and I are aquianted, that is for sure. Taylor chemicals is the main source for all the chemicals that I can't create on site, and the two of us have been around the table a few times for the bussines proposals. But I assume you mean the personall contact that has been build up by our closely related work in the investigation of Goldwaters death. He may be willing to help us both in valuta and in materials. In any case I think it's a good idea to inform him on the plan." His voice sounded as he calmly reasoned through his words hoping that he had made no verbal slip-up and told something that he wasn't planning on telling.

The setting changes from The Royal Palace to District Alpha

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Imogene’s heart sank when the guest took her words for a joke. It was not often that she fumbled over her intentions or made them come across unclearly. She didn’t have to explain herself or reiterate to anyone. Perhaps this was the curse of the privileged. They were seldom misunderstood, and when it happened, it was irritating. She’d meant what she said. She wanted to know what the price of any information she could give would be. But, he brushed away her question like an annoying fly which buzzed in his ear. She was about to explain herself more clearly when then man pulled something from his pocket and seemed to read it as if words were written on it. Something about his eyes in that moment told her that he was reading bad news.

He explained that people had been attacked, though he didn’t say who, and Imogene became alarmed. She wanted to ask if everyone was okay; if the people who’d been attacked were still… alive, but she didn’t get the chance. After making a veiled accusation about who was behind the attacks, she supposed, he took his leave. Imogene rose to see him out when he turned to her with a card in his hand. He gave it to her, along with a knowing look, and gestured for her to turn it over. She did, reading the back of the card with a quick glance. His back was very obviously turned to Seth, so she guessed that he did not receive the same consideration she had. This was intriguing, and Imogene felt a jolt of something she had not felt in a long time as her guest exited her room: excitement.

The back of the card had directions to a place in the Gamma District. A meeting place? Obviously, Imogene was supposed to go there. Why else would Dawn have given her the address. She would go, but she would have to be smart about it; she would have to be sure her husband didn’t find out, which meant keeping it from practically everyone else. Perhaps there were people she could trust, but she would have to choose them wisely. Maybe Katie? A ladies maid was nothing if not loyal to her mistress.

She was brought out of her planning when Seth spoke. It seemed as if he was determined not to let the strange encounter effect him. He changed the subject back to their normal course of conversation, asking what her plans were for the day. The sheer ordinariness of his question made her realize just how unordinary her morning had been. She was overcome by an urge to know the truth, whatever it was. She had been so sure that she couldn’t think any less of her husband than she already did, but now she was not so sure.

“Is it true? What that man implied?” she asked, countering Seth’s question with one of her own. Her question hung in the air. She wondered if she would get an answer. “Seth, I know that you think I’m fragile. You think that I can’t handle the truth, don’t you? But… I have a right to know. Is David trying to have people killed--for what? Opposing his politics? Has he succeeded?”

The though was unthinkable; despicable, but she couldn’t honestly say whether she’d be surprised if it were true.

The setting changes from District Alpha to The Assassins' Guild

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Pandora took the proffered seat in Amon's office. Though it was not her favorite of places, she could not deny that there was something about the deadliest man in the city that made her feel... well, safe wasn't exactly the right word for it, because sometimes, she was certain she was never safe, but, well, reassured. It was interesting, actually, that the only two people who could cause her to feel thus were both more similar to her assailants than she cared to contemplate too closely.

Her world-view was not quite so simplistic as to cast everything in black and white, but the thing was, she trusted easily and often. As soon as she did trust someone, they were quickly thrust into her own personal inner limelight, and she chose to put their faults behind her. Whether it was the healthiest way to look at a person was very, very debatable, but it had served her well enough thus far, and it meant that, when all was said and done, she could continue to grin and bear the weight of everything else that might otherwise have crushed her. She was not a strong person; she could not endure the full force of such blows, but some strange idiosyncracy of her skewed perception allowed her to turn them aside, divert them and send them careening off into empty space. Thus, she weathered those things that by all rights should have broken her.

Rather than answering Amon's businesslike inquiry, Professor Windsor countered with a question of his own, and for a moment Pan was awash with guilt. She felt horrible that she had dragged him into this- all he had wanted was treatment for his sick father and instead he'd been attacked by rouges that seemed to appear ever more frequently out of the woodwork that was her entanglement with certain people far more important than she. She transferred her glance to the Guildmaster, silently entreating him to please explain as best he could, for the information was surely something that the teacher deserved, and it was something she could only give in fragments and incoherent ramblings.

Amon seemed to understand the message, for he nodded solemnly and seemed to accept the implicit level of regard she showed for the stranger. Though he was not so unwise as to put his faith somewhere for the sole reason that she had done the same, he did understand that unless he first provided answers, he was likely to receive only incomplete ones in return. Reciprocity was a system he had played at and with for most of his life; now could hardly be expected to be an exception.

"I expect very much, sir, that you had a blade thrown at you because you were intended to die. As I am sure you have surmised by this point, Miss Elling is on occasion the target of assassination attempts by those working outside of my purview. Mercenaries with stealth training, not assassins," his voice was laced with just a touch of condescension, though that was perhaps understandable. One almost needed to differentiate Amon's people from others with a capital letter these days, much like the one the Guild got. "This is not because of any crime she has committed, but rather, I think, her associations, including with myself. I do not know if you heard much of Marquis Adam Goldwater's death a year ago, but suffice it to say that Miss Elling was in some measure responsible, along with several others, for the truth of that incident coming to light. There are those who did not take this interference in their affairs well."

Amon stopped here, and Pan picked up on her cue to speak, explaining the incident in as few words as possible, rather a feat for her. It was obvious, though, that she'd had practice delivering the essential information, for it was almost by rote. "Two men. They tripped my wards beforehand. I... I left my door unlocked, since Professor Windsor was visiting," she sounded mildly ashamed of this, but quickly moved on. "One had throwing knives, the other was a pugilist, I think. Only the two, though. I activated the long-term wards on my way out, and sent a message to my grandfather. He'll know not to come back for a while."




Zade tilted her head sideways slightly; it was not like her to forget to introduce herself unless she did so intentionally. She supposed the odd circumstances of this particular encounter were to blame. "Scheherazade," she repeated for the second time today. "A pleasure, but I fear I also need to attend to some reading." Dipping her head, she excused herself from the conversation, which was ranging towards medicine now, a topic she had only a cursory knowledge of. A selectively-good one (burn remedies were something of a specialty of hers), but a cursory one all the same.

Perusing her way through the stacks, she eventually found the archivist, a tiny old woman with a wizened face and a deceptively-friendly face. She was an assassin just like the rest of them, but did not and had never ventured into th field, choosing instead to fulfill an almost-parallel role to Amon's- keeper of the guild's extensive records and stored knowledge. Without a word, the wisp of a lady handed her a tome, her assigned reading for the day, as it were. Frankly, Zade was lucky she'd known how to read- many recruits come to the guild not knowing how, but all of them learned. That, at least, had not been necessary where she was concerned, which allowed her to learn the important things that much more quickly.

Hefting the book in question- this one on architecture, with a specific bent on how to take advantage of varying types in infiltration and combat situations- she settled into an armchair in one corner of the area. Whatever else might be true of the place, the Archives had no shortage of two things- books and comfortable seating. She had a feeling that not falling asleep when reading was some kind of sick test they used on the recruits.

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#, as written by Shiva
Taylor Estate

"N-n-no, not at all milady!" The maid fumbled, staring at the floor once, then at the princess before dashing out of the room to fetch cleaning supplies. She had left the medical supplies on the coffee table. As she did so, Taylor looked at the bodies somewhere around the time Loki began examining them. Mage-assassins? Very unheard of. He couldn't say it himself, but assassins never really were the ones to kill others magically. In history, there were no recorded killings he had heard of that had gone unresolved due to magic. Even assassins can turn fire-bombings into clueless murder scenes. They had most of the strings.

These renegades must have been something special. He knew that if he had been alone when they struck, he would have been forced to engage one in combat while the other could shoot fireballs at him at leisure. They would have found a corpse so burnt not even the carrion birds would eat them. He turned his gaze on Loki and sighed. One more favor he owed the Princess, whether or not she knew it or if she would call him on it. Thinking about it, healing the burn was only a small repayment to what she saved him from. Taylor wasn't took keen on being burned alive.

The nobleman quickly went out into the lobby, gave Siri a quick hug, and told him to go back to his studies. It was just another fire drill. He smiled when the child started complaining- they had acted like a real fire had started. By they he meant the staff. The maids and servants looked around sheepishly. By now, they felt they should be used to this. However, Caelin didn't blame them. He told everyone not to enter the parlor for the time being, as he and Loki needed to discuss important matters. Only Esmera was to come in for cleaning.

Going back inside, he saw the Princess still examining the bodies. She kept going on about how things just didn't add up. Caelin agreed. Strange they would attack today, when the princess decided to make a spontaneous visit to his estate. However, with only two assailants, the nobleman considered the most likely conclusion and voiced it.

"The way I see this, they weren't expecting you to make a visit. I do remember that surprised look- which means you probably haven't told anybody you were visiting, am I correct? If so, then these assailants were here specifically for me. With the realization of the Cure's side effects, our enemy might have hired some mages to finish me off rather than defeat me with blade. Two would have been enough. As strange as this meeting is, I think we might just have to admit that this fiasco was a coincidence, and that you saved my life once more." He sighed, rubbing his head. "For that, I thank you."

Esmera had returned, throwing down two black bags- bodybags. "Er, if you're done milady, I shall begin disposing of the bodies." She stammered.




Assassin's Guild

Victoria smiled as she looked at Gabriel. "I-it's Victoria! Victoria Steins, sir!" She said, forgetting to consider making a name for once. Not that she would have- as Hera had already heard her name and would question her if she had brought a new name up. Was her nickname Hera? She couldn't remember. Either way, she had already excused herself, and Victoria gave her a wave goodbye. Suddenly, the old man asked her another question.

"W-well yes sir, but I am only an apprentice and-" She began

"She's my apprentice." Cut in a recognizable smooth voice. Etzel seemed to have appeared out of nowhere, and Victoria had jumped nearly twelve feet into the air at his sudden arrival. "Strange you should be here, out of all placed Mr. Forgefire. I was just going to see you about some new orders." He said. He paused. "My apologies, Grand Smith. I do believe I was interrupting a conversation."

Victoria gulped several times. "W-well, yes." She said. "My master is teaching me the art of medicine. I want to... uh, be a physicist." She finished lamely. Of course most of her studies were concentrated on fast thinking, developing salves and medicine, the analyzation of poisons, and the development of anti-poisons. Not so much on the physical injuries such as internal bleeding, broken bones, or whatnot.

"I can confirm this." Etzel interjected. What he really wanted was for Victoria to become an assassin. She already knew how to fight under his tutelage, and create deadly toxins. It was a lot of wasted effort if she didn't, really and just became a doctor. However, he couldn't contain such a wild spirit. At some point, she'll take the Physician's guild test and become a doctor. And that would be that.

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#, as written by Ezarael
"Scheherazade," she repeated for the second time today. "A pleasure, but I fear I also need to attend to some reading." Dipping her head, she excused herself from the conversation…

Victoria smiled as she looked at Garbiel. "I-it's Victoria! Victoria Steins, sir!"

The young apprentice had taken her leave rather hurriedly after Garbiel had made known the object of his search, leaving him to wonder if it had been something he said that had spurned her on towards other pursuits. For some reason the blacksmith had always been very touchy in regards to conversing and interacting with other people, appearing to most as an over-accommodating man that seemed too apologetic and giving with friends, or supposed friends, but in the same instant always seemed to infuriate and insult almost everyone in his vicinity. He hoped that this was not one of those times again.

“Apologies for the inquiry miss, but do you happen to have any knowledge in the field of medicine?”

"W-well yes sir, but I am only an apprentice and-" She began…

The answer came very conciliatorily from the young girl, clueing in the observant smith to some pertinent information after hearing the quality of her remarks. She was obviously being trained by a professional, despite the obvious “apprentice” comment, that wanted her to know she had much to learn, and by the appearance of her interest in medicine, muttering to herself, and what seemed to be paranoia, that could only be from the combined teachings of Etzel Vasili, or The Physician as Garbiel relished calling him. The elderly man only just pieced this thought process together when the light cast itself upon the all-too-familiar guise of The Physician approaching from behind an unsuspecting Victoria.

"She's my apprentice." Cut in a recognizable smooth voice. Etzel seemed to have appeared out of nowhere, and Victoria had jumped nearly twelve feet into the air at his sudden arrival. "Strange you should be here, out of all placed Mr. Forgefire. I was just going to see you about some new orders." He said. He paused. "My apologies, Grand Smith. I do believe I was interrupting a conversation."

Raucous laughter burst forth from the smith’s bearded mouth as the young girl leapt upwards almost like a frog would when caught unawares. A large calloused hand grabbed the tangled mass of hair that was his beard and stroked downwards, attempting to smooth the unruly facial hair somewhat, and failing miserably in the process a brilliantly white set of teeth beamed forth from between thick lips. The presence of so many trained killers under one roof never bothered the blacksmith much, having equated the members of The Guild to the same materials and tools used in a forge. Many of these items may cause harm in some way and cause catastrophes if ill-used or un-used, but under the control of a few true craftsmen the basic elements are manipulated to create a beneficial end result.

“Greetings Physician, so what is it you would like this time? I just finished the usual transaction with Sir Amon concerning the Assassin’s armoury, but you know I can manage all special requests; as for the other business, don’t even consider it an interruption, I was just asking of her knowledge of medicine. By the way dear, what was that you wanted to say?”

Victoria gulped several times. "W-well, yes." She said. "My master is teaching me the art of medicine. I want to... uh, be a physicist." She finished lamely.

“I can confirm this." Etzel interjected.

The aging man pondered momentarily upon the matter at hand, weighing the options that were presented before him. This young Victoria was under the tutelage of The Physician, so obviously the master was hoping to forge her into a weapon such as he, but what was to happen next was completely up to her. He did not know WHY he desired a doctor to practise on his apprentices and journeymen, with a few pieces of literature Garbiel could do most of the healing himself, but it did cut into his production, and the Gods only know how the apprentices manage to hurt themselves with such frequency. The offer would probably be denied by a man of such stature as Etzel Vasili, and the girl most surely would decline so as not to hinder her training, but the offer in itself was a compliment to the duo and almost customary to the blacksmith.

“Well with this man as your master you are sure to become one soon Miss Steins. Actually Physician I was also on the search for a practitioner or two that may be able to help. My apprentices seem enjoy the smell of singed hair and burnt flesh, along with several other problems that occur with tools, and with the damage to my collection of medicinal volumes I have not been able to tend to these wounds as I could. If either, or the both, of you are interested in helping me the reward would be more than gracious.”

The setting changes from The Assassins' Guild to District Alpha

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#, as written by Smith
Keeping up a brisk pace, Eos arrived at the Taylor Estate in less time than he thought the trek would have taken. Maybe it was the thought that his friends could be in danger that spurred him on. It was then the Eos almost stumbled, retracing his mental track. He thought of these people as friends. Then, as the assassin neared the gates to Caelin's manor, he shrugged. It's a good thing. Stop dwelling on it like a character in some badly written drama. Hmm...I should really check out the theatre. Haven't seen a good play in ages. Ah! Wait, job, focus!

Upon knocking on the door Eos readied himself to begin scaling the wall for entry or to pounce at whomever opened the door. Suprisingly, one of the senior servants answered and promptly ushered him in. The house was disturbingly orderly for one that had been subjected to an assassination attempt...had there been any at all? Was the information wrong? No. Eos shook his head and followed the servant to where he said his lord was. The Guild's information was rarely ever wrong, and definetly not with something as trivial as knowing whether or not someone had been attacked or not. Still...there was a laxity in the air that was unnerving.

As Eos was ushered into the room holding both Caelin and Loki, he passed Carlisle. With a quiet announcement of his arrival the servant excused himself. His gaze moved from the corpses which were being covered for disposal, to the princess, then Taylor and back to the corpses. Eos opened his mouth to speak, glanced at Loki, and closed it again. The assassin shifted uncomfortably looking for the right words to say. Finally, he scratched the back of his head and stared at the floor just in front of the princess's feet. "I am sorry. I should have gotten here sooner, I might have been able to..." he noted the pink tinge marring the perfect alabaster skin of Loki's arm recede. "Magic? So, you are unhurt?"

His stance suddenly changed to one of a whipped dog to that of a a man relieved. It might as well have been his arm that was saved just now. With a quick wave and shallow bow to Caelin, he smirked and steepled his fingers behind his head. "Looks like my assistance was not required, lady Blackwood, lord Taylor. But...why only send two if a pair of fluffy nobles could bring them down without any trouble?" Eos patiently awaited a response, sticking out his tongue to diplay the silver stud on it and trying vainly to touch his nose.

The setting changes from District Alpha to The Royal Palace

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Minerva sipped delicately at her tea, ever the standby for entertaining guests, but also something she actually enjoyed, as she listened carefully to Vernazza explain his connections with Taylor Chemicals. He was more guarded, she thought, than strictly necessary, though of course he would not necessarily have a way to know this. To them, she was the monarch of Revelation, and she was not unaware that however unassuming and pleasant her demeanor might be, the wise would not forget this simple fact. However much she might wish they did.

"I think approaching him on the matter might e a very wise idea indeed," she replied with a smile, as though that had been her plan all along. she did not elaborate though, so whether or not it had been was largely something that remained up in the air. "If funding for this production becomes a prohibitive issue, may I further suggest that you inquire of my daughter? She has earned herself a substantial private fortune, and may very well be willing to assist a friend." That way, Crown money would not be used in the creation of any alternative Cure-manufacturing operations. In fact, the Crown itself never would have been involved at all, merely two members of Parliament and some good-willed scientists.

Joshua understood the implications almost immediately. "I see. It is a shame that for all the power granted her, even the Queen cannot help us." There was something inscrutable on his face, and it made Minerva sad. She withered tangibly, until it became almost glaringly obvious that she had recently been unwell. This was true; she herself was without recourse for an obvious injustice. She could not move the legislature, and Crown funds were less than one might think, certainly not enough to spread over as many areas as currently demanded them.

"A shame indeed," she offered by way of response, albeit too softly. "Well, gentlemen, miss, it has been a pleasure, but I am afraid my duties call me elsewhere." Not precisely true at this exact moment, perhaps, but more to release them than herself, since she suspected they would wish to get to the rest of it as quickly as possible. "Please, send Dr. Vanderbilt my regards, and please remind him that he is welcome to visit at any time he likes." She smiled wanly and watched them leave, slumping back into her chair only once they had departed her company.

Sometimes, she wished she had had the same courage as her brother, to refuse the crown and take up something else instead. It weighed so very heavily at times.




The Gilgamesh Estate

Seth Gilgamesh set down his light repast and leaned forward. The last thing he needed right now was Imogene confronting him over this. But... he had to admit, the idea of sharing it with someone else was tempting. Was it not true that a burden borne by many was lighter? It would certainly help alleviate some of the pressure he felt, knowing things and having nobody with which to discuss them.

But that was a sort of weakness, the need to do so, and though he on some level could accept that, he did not want to divest the knowledge onto her specifically. His stepmother was one of the few people he dealt with regularly that he did not dislike; quite the contrary, in fact. Which while simultaneously making her perhaps the best person to speak to also made her the worst.

Leaning forward, the man pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes, sighing with resignation. She knew enough to know to ask; unless he outright told her, he had no doubt that she would probably attempt to find out on her own, and her chances of getting caught by someone who would respond unfavorably (Elisia forbid it be his father) were great. "It has nothing to do with weakness, Imogene, and everything to do with plausible deniability. The second I tell you about any of this, you may be seen as just as guilty as he is, and just as guilty as I am for knowing and doing nothing all the same. If you are so determined to know, however, I suppose I cannot tell you that you may not."

Dropping his arms and leaning back against the back of his chair, the man cast his eyes to the ceiling. "I don't have any specifics, and no solid evidence. Just the occasional mention of something or another on a bit of paperwork here or there, and... I may have read a few of Father's personal correspondences." He paused for a moment, just to make sure she didn't stop him from continuing knowing that the evidence would be so sparse. When no request to halt was immediately forthcoming, he angled his head down to look her in the eye.

"If my suspicions are correct, my father did not get his position by honest means. I believe that he has, in the past, gone so far as to kidnap the children of his opponents to make them his allies. I also think that he had Marquis Goldwater murdered last year. But there's no proof, Imogene, nothing. Not so much as a shred of anything but implications. That's the gambit though: everyone can know, as long as nobody can say anything definitive."




The Taylor Estate

"Think nothing of it," Loki replied, shaking her head to Caelin's thanks. The way she saw it, whether or not they'd been sent for her was largely irrelevant. she'd acted for her own life as well as his and Siri's and the staff's, which merited no particular gratitude. "It still doesn't make sense, though... certainly, exploiting the fact that you've had the Cure is a possible explanation, but this reeks of an amateur job. The one that burned me should have known to go after you instead."

She shook her head again. There was another possibility, but it was one she did not like in the slightest. What if the attack was related to the Cure, but in a different way? Most mages resided in Delta, and she knew by now that there had been no shipments to that district at all. What if this was misaimed revenge for that? Those without an understanding of politics might not be able to discern one noble from another, and Caelin did run a chemicals company... it certainly merited further investigation.

"Oh, yes. Just one last thing," she told the maidservant, kneeling beside the corpse of her foe to check through his pockets. She found a single slip of paper, and placed it in her own pocket for further examination later. Presently, she stepped back to allow the woman to do her job even as Eos entered the room.

A single eyebrow ascended at what appeared to be concern, or at least the closest thing she'd known him to show. "I am uninjured now, yes. But mages are... unpleasant... to fight." She did not bother to resist the urge to roll her eyes at his next question, as well as his rather juvenile behavior. "Perhaps because they were expecting to be dealing with fluffy nobles, and got us instea- of course. It has to be. There's no way this is the same mastermind that has tried before. It explains everything different- the magic, the poor knowledge of the target, the fact that they thought they only needed two. This seems different because it is."

The implications of that were unpleasant at best. Somehow, Caelin at least had managed to get two separate groups of people after his life, and he was the single most inoffensive person she knew, with the only possible exception being Pandora. But what if...? "Eos, what is the status of everyone else?" He would know the group to whom she referred, of course. The chance was slim that all of them would be likewise targeted, but slim or not, it was there.

The setting changes from The Royal Palace to District Alpha

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“It has nothing to do with weakness, Imogene, and everything to do with plausible deniability.” Imogene realized with warmth that she believed him. So many men of his status and entitlement would pass her over as weak. That would be just the sort of thing they would say, but what they meant would be quite the opposite. Seth, however, was a different sort of man; a good man who meant just exactly what he said, and he never said anything to her with condescension. He never looked down on her or thought of her as just a pretty face. How he had managed to become such a good person considering the source of his DNA, Imogene could not know. By all rights, he should be and entitled little brat with the same greed and thirst for power which defined his father--perhaps more. Who had taught him to strive for something more in his character? Who had shown him what dignity meant? Imogene thought of his mother, wishing she had known the woman. Perhaps she was much like Imogene: trapped in a marriage in which she never could have comprehended just how unhappy she would be. Perhaps she was the one who showed her son how to be a better man then his father. Imogene did not know.

She held her breath when, for a moment, it seemed that Seth would not answer her question, but then he did, and Imogene was left with mixed feelings. She couldn’t quite say that she was sorry she’d asked; for so long she had wondered, hated being left in the dark. For that reason she was glad to finally know, even if it meant that she would never be the same. The infinitesimal part of her being that still loved her husband, still wished that he could return to the man she’d fallen in love with--for it had always been there, no matter how small--died in that moment. She was left horrified, her worst suspicions confirmed, and a sick feeling rose within her. She felt as if she were going to break down into tears, or vomit, but she did neither, just stood very suddenly and crossed the room to stand by the window, looking out and wishing she could simply fade into the sky.

He kidnapped children? Had someone killed? Imogene was loathe to find that it was worse than the dark imaginings at the back of her mind. She honestly never thought that he would stoop so low; be so utterly evil. Or, perhaps she had been blinded, refusing to let herself to believe something so awful about someone she’d so admired and loved. Even when he’d disowned their daughter, as unforgivable as it was, she could find it in herself to understand. Though she would never understand how a father could do such a thing to his child, she understood how a man, whose status in the political world meant everything to him--a man who based his career on his anti-magi platform could so cruelly deny a child who turned out to be one of those loathed creatures. With Sigrun, David had been a man and not a father, and Imogene understood that, no matter how much she hated him for it. To be capable of such atrocities, however, as kidnapping innocent children to get to their families, and murder men for posing a threat to his career, was unthinkable--and sickening.

“Oh Seth…” she managed, finally, her fingers to her lips as she looked out the window. The urge to vomit was still present within her, but she suppressed it as she thought of the terrible burden which had been Seth’s for Elisia only knew how long--a burden, she realized, in which she known shared. She hoped it would be some comfort to him: sharing that burden. For Elisia’s sake, no man should ever have to know such horrible things about his father.

Imogene crossed the room, once again, to stand beside her stepson’s chair and laid a gentle hand on his shoulder. She had never had the notion that she was anything like a mother-figure to him. She would be kidding herself if she had. Being only five years his senior, she was hardly mature enough to be considered anything close, but she could, at least, consider herself his friend, and it was for that reason which she now ached for him. What could she say? I’m sorry you have to know that your father is a monster seemed harsh, and woefully insufficient. “Thank you… for trusting me,” she said simply, squeezing his shoulder and once again taking the seat she had vacated only moments before, smiling across at him in a sad way. She probed no further, deciding that it was best to change the subject. She wasn’t ready to know anymore just now, anyway.

“…I think I might go shopping. One can never have to many gowns, I always say,” she said, answering his question from earlier. It was a lie, she would be going somewhere quite different, but she could not tell him that. He would worry; he wouldn’t understand, and Imogene could not bring herself to saddle Seth with yet another burden that was not his to carry. It wasn’t fair to him.

Imogene smiled, hoping the act was reassuring. She had never deliberately lied to Seth before, as she was sure he’d never done to her, and she had an awful taste in her mouth which had nothing to do with the bitter tea she was drinking.

The setting changes from District Alpha to The Skycity of Revelation

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#, as written by Shiva
Taylor Estate

The nobleman hadn't considered that. True, if they were professional killers, they would have had the mage engage himself first- while the combat-oriented man kept the princess occupied. However, they weren't expecting the princess. Perhaps they lost their nerve- after all the Princess had a very frightening death stare. He did not voice this, and did not notice the piece of paper being slipped into her pocket as she examined the body. He was busy examining the other. He took a cloth from the table, and wiped down the blade of his Epieu. The short spear was quickly examined, and he sheathed it back into his belt. He stood up just as Eos entered the room, dressed in gray as always.

Eos had been introduced to him soon after the mass assassination attempt back then. At first, Taylor in his decrepit state had thought the man would consider him a liability. However, appearances was not as they seemed. Eventually, he began to trust him, as he seemed to have the lingering scent of street and alcohol about him. That in itself, isn't bad, but paired with the fact that he was an assassin, worried him. That is, until he got to know him.

He didn't doubt that he came with all due haste, but Taylor wished that he would have arrived sooner. He quickly placed his right hand over his heart and bowed to the senior assassin respectfully before waving his hand at Loki- allowing her to explain the situation. She seemed to come across some sort of conclusion, though Taylor was not too sure what.

He thought about it. She had claimed that this was the work of an amateur- one that had no idea what they were dealing with. It made sense, when he thought about it from her perspective. But if it was the work of an amateur, it could not possibly have been from their main enemy- one who had been coordinating assassination attempts during the past year. The use of mages reinforced that. So far, he had only dealt with assassins trained only with the sword or bow- nothing even remotely similar to the fire-slinging mage and healer partner. Does this mean there is some sort of third-party against him?

He didn't know. He had little information on the Magic Academy, and he was more preoccupied with ensuring the safety of his own estate, staff, and more importantly- Siri. "Care to elaborate, Loki?" He asked tentatively. If she had information on the third-party that was after his life, he had to prepare appropriate counter-measures for that as well.




Assassin's Guild

Etzel gave the smith a slight grin under the mask as he gave a booming laugh. The Master Smith gave his own greetings, and asked what Etzel had wanted. Etzel merely raised his hands. "Nothing much, I was wondering if you still have the iron syringe casts- I need two more produced, as well as two fighting daggers to be produced. This is low-priority, of course. I will pay your full price- no need to lose sales because you want to maintain good relations with me, Grand Smith." He said.

He slowly cocked his head at Forgefire's offer. Victoria looked like she was about to jump from chair, looking up at her master's mask with wide eyes. She definitely wanted to do so. Etzel cupped his chin in one hand, and thought about the offer silently. It certainly was an intriguing offer- an transfer of his student to become a impromptu doctor of the forge.

She would certainly gain experience from that transfer- dealing with real-life situations such as burns, cuts, and broken bones. Smithies were never short on injuries, despite all the care they take into forging and keeping the area safe. Just as well, working as a medic in Forgefire Smiths would most-definitely give her some good weight when the physician guild considers her resume. Not that being his apprentice was leverage enough. This would probably make Forgefire happier, and Victoria was more than willing. If she had not been willing, he would have refused. After all, what use is there for a unmotivated physician that did not like his/her surroundings?

However, this would expose the smithy to danger. Though Gabriel surrounded and associated himself with the Assassins, Victoria was still a target on the Assassin's hitlist. Unless they took great care to try and confront her in the dead of night, the blacksmiths and apprentices and servants were in grave danger. He debated hotly within him, the exchange of thoughts taking around three seconds before he answered.

"Interesting proposition. My apprentice will join you for as long as you need." He said softly. He certainly would miss having an extra set of eyes, but he managed well enough on his own. After all, there were periods where he scared off his apprentices and had to run the shop on his own- sometimes for months on end. Victoria silently cheered, trying desperately to maintain her slightly impassive face. Etzel wasn't quite sure he had made the best choice, but it would divert the assailant's resources to split up and spread out his targets. And most likely, Victoria wasn't too high on their hitlist (in his opinion) so she would have the least amount of priority taken to her.

"A-all right, master." She said, containing her joy. She was extremely excited to be working with the great master smith, but leaving behind her Master, even for a minute left a certain emptiness in her heart. With her parents dead, Etzel had become her psuedo-guardian. While he may not see or treat her as family, she saw inadvertently saw him as a father figure. Probably why she began picking up his habits and mentality. "When do I go?"

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#, as written by Ezarael
The items specified by Etzel clicked away in Garbiel’s mind, while a quick inventory flashed before his eyes, there were definitely several daggers available that would suit The Physician’s preferences, but the syringe casts were a different story. In order to properly forge those he would need to forge those entirely without the help of his apprentices, simple weapons and objects could be trusted to the students without much worry, but the more delicate and specialized parts, such as the syringe casts desired by Etzel, needed to be handled by professionals with years of experience at manipulating the curves; many blacksmiths preferred to forge individual pieces to be welded together at a later time, but the Forgefire technique was utilized to create the object completely from one piece, a very tedious and time-consuming method that took time. No matters though, with all the apprentices running around to manage the much simpler tasks it should only take one day for each cast if all his time was put into it.

After voicing his inquiry Victoria seemed as if she were ready to squeal from excitement, bouncing around in her chair with the same frenetic energy as a dog wagging its tail, excited by the attention shown by its master. There could be no doubt as to the girl’s desires, but Etzel was another matter altogether, and the momentary pause signaling his hesitation to reply spelled out volumes to the aging blacksmith. That there was something more to this situation was not doubtable to the perceptive elderly man, and the years of associating with Assassin’s, guild officials, and politicians had accustomed him to this typical intrigue, yet for the moment he knew nothing of what truth lay behind the veil, but with time he might be able to decipher the puzzle.

"Interesting proposition. My apprentice will join you for as long as you need."

The answer came with little surprise to Garbiel despite previous misgivings, it had been a beneficial proposition for the two parties after all, and once again a large smile bedecked his moderately wrinkled face. The small, close-set eyes of the smith once again shifted to the child Victoria, matching the smile with a friendly, but observant look.

"A-all right, master." She said, containing her joy. "When do I go?"

“Well I very much expect you shall need time to collect whatever belongings you deem necessary. I need to return to the workshop henceforth as your room must be prepared and several other tasks must be completed, but everything should be ready within the next few hours. If you so desire I can send an apprentice or two to help move your luggage tonight, and that way we shall have dinner to discuss wages and rooming and you will have the entire day tomorrow to settle.”

The blacksmith waited patiently for the girl’s reply to his offer, slowly assembling the tasks for the next several days into a neat list. First he must take the train to the stop near for expediency where the servants would be put to preparing dinner, preferably lamb now that he thought about it, and cleaning one of the spare journeyman’s apartments, more than likely one closer to his own quarters now that he thought about it. It’s not that he didn’t trust his apprentices, but a few of the lads liked drinking and were known for being a little rough around the edges, and it was better not to tempt the fates.

Afterwards he must file the copy of the bill Sir Amon would have sent to him and draft the other needed for the transaction with Etzel, even though it could wait until he finished the casts he preferred for everything to be ready when he was to have the items delivered to The Physician. By the time these tasks were accomplished it should be about time to send the apprentices, Garth and Daeron would be the best choices, if they were needed, and give him plenty of time to wash and change for dinner.

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Zade's vision blurred slightly, and she realized she was zoning out. With a frown, she gave her head a little shake and tried to refocus on the overhead view of the city sketched out in the book she was reading. Actually, when looked at this way, it almost had something of a pattern to it... or maybe not. She supposed it depended on how you looked at it. She'd never been one for maps; they tended to confuse her more than help, but of course she had to study them so that if she ever found herself alone and pursued in the city (which had happened before), she'd know where to go.

In addition to the main Guild, there were several ancillary buildings scattered about Revelation that were essentially assassin safehouses, and each was staffed by two people. Most of the time anyway; they didn't have quite enough personnel to manage it all the time. But people always slept there at night, just in case someone should need help escaping notice or pursuit. It was rather ingenious actually, and she wondered how long they'd been operating like that. One of the safehouses was ironically in her old tenement building, and she hadn't even known about it.

She turned the page to find a discussion of building materials, along with several sketches of bricks or masonry cut to shape and stamped with what she assumed must be the respective guild seals of the builder's and mason's guild. There wasn't much new construction in the city, but there was always maintenance. Any new stone had to be retrieved by long-distance expeditions in proper skyships, she presumed from the earth itself, dangerous as that probably was. It made sense that people would want to identify the materials- if a building went down, the correct guild could reclaim the materials and use them elsewhere.

Recently, masons have taken to hewing their stones as smoothly as possible, so climbing such walls by hand is nigh impossible. The use of grappling hooks is highly recommended... She couldn't really bring herself to pay attention to what she was reading. Perhaps it was fortunate, then, that the man who worked usually at the front of the third-floor corridor was currently speaking to the Archivist in a low voice, but not so low that she could not still hear. "Apparently there were several simultaneous attacks on targets within the city. Carlisle just got here- said Lord Taylor and the princess were among the attacked."

Zade sat bolt upright in her chair. Loki and Taylor both? Dammit, why did this stuff have to happen on her day off? "Are they all right?" she inquired, a bit too loudly for the space, and the Archivist sent her a disapproving look which she ignored completely. The man blinked for a few seconds before he recognized her and decided that telling her was the best option.

"They're both alive. The Princess was injured, but it's nothing life-threatening. Pandora trapped her assailants in her house, apparently, and she's fine too." Zade's eyebrows furrowed. Why those targets? She knew that Loki's itinerary today involved a visit to the Taylor estate, which meant that they'd been attacked there. Why attack he and Pandora, though? The mage especially was probably low on the priority list. Taylor was higher, but...

"Dammit. None of this makes sense." Zade wasn't stupid, but she also didn't have much cause to understand how politics worked. She'd never needed to, which left her clueless basically all the time as Loki, Taylor, and Amon figured things out. One thing she did know, though: if they really were in for another round of attempts on their lives, she needed to warn the odd doctor and his apprentice. Backtracking through the Archives, she soon found the blacksmith and Victoria where she'd left them, only now the doctor was with them also.

She was hesitant to speak with Forgefire there, if only because he didn't already know, but if Amon let him wander around in here as he pleased, she supposed what little she was going to say was fine. "Doctor, Victoria. Loki, Lord Taylor and Pandora were just targeted again. You should be careful." For her own part, Zade knew that she needed to do so as well, but she was presently less concerned about that than she was with getting back to her employer and getting the full story of what had happened. She wasn't one to get too emotional or attached, but she could not deny that working for the princess had given her a sense of purpose that she had sorely lacked before, and she owed her for that.

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As Felix stood and watched the exchange between the two people he felt an increasing sense of alienation. Not just from them but from everything. The suddenness of it all, the events that had just transpired, was overwhelming. He had never once before considered Pandora to be the kind of person to get mixed up in anything like this and to watch her talking with one of the most feared men in the city scared him. How little he knew about someone he ahd known for so long. He could not help but think how much else went on around him that he may never know, what mysteries remained unravelled, what events went unnoticed. Who knew what secrets lay behind the slightest movement in the corner of one's eye on a dark night. Even the most innocent of people could find themselves dragged into a world in which they never knew existed. Of course he was not referring to himself in these thoughts. He was hardly the most pure-minded of people; sinful thoughts, imagination fuelled by bitterness that threatened to cross into the realms of hate at any given moment, threatened to topple him towards violence every day. It was only by not knowing that he managed to hold back.

And now he was being given the news that he was inches from death at the hands of another, a non-magic assassin (There was no beating around the bush in his mind, the distinction was far from clear even in the words given to him). And then news was passed back from Pandora to Amon and that seemed o be it. What came next was no business of his, he only wanted to be gone far away from that place, back home where he could fool himself into believing he was safe.

He stood awkwardly in the corner of the room, a casual observer with a worried expression, and said very little, only nodding when his question was answered in the bleakest and most clinical terms he could fathom for the situation.

"So what happens next?" he interjected, trying to keep his voice level as he chewed on his fingernails. "Those... mercenaries, back at Pan's house, what happens to them?" He looked over at his former pupil. "And what happens to you? You can't go back there." He had not even thought it until he said it. The realisation that her whole world was on the brink of collapsing, if indeed it already hadn't, was only now hitting him. He felt certain she had already given much thought to this by now. If they, whoever they were knew where she lived then she couldn't possibly return home. He felt a twinge of guilt at having worriedso much for himself when she was clearly the target who had now been forced elsewhere on two ocassions... That he knew of.

The setting changes from The Skycity of Revelation to District Alpha

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#, as written by Smith
As Loki ruffled her feathers at his little diatribe, Eos was taking in the scene. He had arrived much too late to witness the actual combat styles of the offending party and could not accurately judge if the princess was correct in her assumption. It was always a possibility; Too many parties were interested in hacking off the limbs of the aristocracy, a pack of ravenous jackals gnawing at the arms and legs of the Crown before locking their jaws around the throat. That was one of the few things Amon Gregory had taught Eos and Selene in the Tower. Power is the only thing that ensures obedience, and therefore law. Power is also the most absolute and pure form of corruption man has ever known, and despite knowing this, every man, woman and child wants a piece of it.

Eos looked up sharply when Loki's voice changed from slightly rankled to thoughtful. What was on her mind, he could not say. The sable princess was an enigma that Eos had neither the guile, nor the energy to even begin to contemplate. That wasn't to say that he had not tried though. At Loki's inquisition of the status of those he had been sent to investigate brought a brief nod from Eos.

"The first family, investigated by another member of the Guild had not been attacked according to the inquisitioner's message. This would have made them prime suspects, had the members of my own investigation target had been attacked. I had a brief discussion with the duke Gilgamesh's wife and son, during which several assassinations--yours included--were set in motion. The Gilgamesh Estate and those within remain untouched." Eos waved a hand lazily as if forgetting something, "Which brings me to my first point, that the first family is all but exempt from suspicion. They are great supporters of the duke, and although they are inwardly ditrustful of the Crown, they have a relatively spotless record in regards to outspoken acts of rebellion."

Halfway through the report Eos found himself glancing at the window more and more. Something was nagging at the back of his mind, something that had been put off for some time now. With a sigh, Eos figured that it would come to him soon enough. At that he winced and took a step back from Loki, feeling rather embarassed. Despite his well-groomed appearance, Eos had skipped on bathing in his hurry to be on the mission. Cologne was the predominant scent on the man, but underneath was the smell of this morning's exercise. It probably wasn't noticeable...hell, it probably wasn't even offensive. Upon passing Zade in the Guild halls a couple days ago, Eos heard her comment on how he smelled of coffee.

Coffee smelled nice.

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The Gilgamesh Estate

Trust? Seth wasn't sure that was the right word for it, but if she wanted to think of it that way, he certainly wasn't going to stop her. The thing about Imogene was, she was still fundamentally a good person, for the most part powerless in the grand scheme of his father's design and thus tainted by it much less than he himself was. He nodded in response but did not say anything. The urge to divest himself further of the things he was not supposed to know or care about was a bit too great, and thus he could not trust himself to speak.

That word again. It was funny; he'd grown up without much of a concept of what it even was. He knew what it represented of course, but members of the House of Gilgamesh did not trust. They held in confidence and apparently they also held hostage, but they never said anything without material assurance that it would not be misused. Trust was far too intangible a currency for those purposes, now wasn't it?

It was really rather sad, that he still felt enough filial loyalty to not immediately take what he knew to someone who may be more at liberty to act than he. Well, it might be loyalty. It might also be fear. Had he incriminated himself too much already with knowing what he did and holding his piece for this much time? Perhaps, perhaps not. Either way, he didn't really want to find out. Hmm... he'd have to add "cowardice" to the list of his traits, and maybe "self-awareness" also.

Imogene spoke of her plans for the day, and he nodded along politely. If he'd thought about it a bit more, he would have found her answer a bit odd, as she had never been the overly vain sort. Certainly, there were appearances to be kept up, but there was also such a thing as too many gowns, and on reflection, he would have known she knew that. As it was, he was a tad too absorbed in his own thoughts for it to register properly, and so he gave his excuses a few minutes later and bade her good-day.



The Assassins' Guild

Amon moved his eyes from the mage he knew to the one he didn't, and he regarded the younger man with something approaching concern. ranted, his profession had hardened his edges considerably, and he wasn't really capable of true pity or even empathy (for what use was empathy to a man who killed to make his living?), but he did not make a habit of wishing misfortune on strangers, and he knew very well that what came next would be more difficult that what had gone before.

"Professor Windsor, was it?" Pandora had called him that. Amon supposed that he must be a teacher at the Facility, to earn such a title. "In answer to your queries, I can tell you that I will be sending a recovery team comprised of my own assassins to... deal with the mercenaries. If we can take them alive, we will. If not..." he let the rest of the sentence hang in the air, perhaps a tad more ominously than he would have liked for the young woman's sake, but surely she understood the necessity of his position by now.

"However, we do not know if these particular mercenaries were alone, or if there were others with them. For that reason, I am going to ask you for a list of relatives and close friends. If by chance, word reaches whomever sent these people after Pandora that you were present and assisted her, there is always a chance that retaliation would be close at hand, if for no other reason than to damage us or demoralize her. It is not a great chance, but it is there, and I would very much like to know who these people are so that I might send people to look after them for a while, or move them to a secure location, just until we can confirm that those two were the only ones sent." Be that by interrogation or something close but worse. He'd have to insist that at least one was taken alive, now that he thought about it more closely.

"For now, I must insist that both of you rest as much as you are able. Pandora knows which areas of the Guild are public and which are not, so you may wish to follow her. Otherwise, you have only to ask anyone in a uniform."



The Taylor Estate

At the request for clarification, Loki shook her head. "My apologies, Caelin; I don't have much in the way of specifics. Only... last time I visited Delta, things seemed different. As though... perhaps it was nothing, but I have heard some rumors of a faction of discontents forming there. They say a mage leads it, but I don't have anything else. I was actually going to visit Amon to see what he knew, or maybe if he could put someone on it-" and here she glanced in Eos's direction- "but I admit I did not think it extremely pressing, all things considered."

Mage attackers from such a faction would make sense, but surely such an effort would be horrendously-funded? how then would they gain the resources to even be able to set foot in Alpha without drawing immediate negative attention? And why would they target Caelin Taylor of all people? That was really the rub here, wasn't it? It was always possible that they simply did not bother differentiating one person from another, or thought to kill him because he'd been dosed with the Cure, but-

"We need more information. I'm going to see Amon." Her tone suggested that this was happening now. "I don't know how much help any of this is to you yet," she told her fellow aristocrat, "but be careful. While I'm down there, I'll find Pandora. She should be able to cast some wards for extra security, I think. Unless you want to come yourself?" She imagined he'd probably be busy trying to deal with the aftermath of all this. Were it any other situation, the City Guard would have been called already and there would be fifteen miles of red tape, but as it was, she'd learned not to report the attacks and deal with them herself. She'd gathered that the others were much the same.

Eos's report did not say much she had not already been expecting, and so she did not comment on it, instead gesturing for him to follow. He probably had to tell Amon the same thing anyway, and much as she did not care to admit it, the fact that she was going to Gamma without her usual disguise was bound to place a large target on her back that she really didn't want to deal with at the moment.

The setting changes from District Alpha to The Skycity of Revelation

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The Royal Palace
With a: We'll be off then." Giacomo walked out of the room and swiftly left the palace. His hastily steps confirmed his own suspicion. He wanted to settle this as quickly and as smoothly as possible. Though he had no other projects currently on his hands it was true that if the plan would be executed he would have a lot of work to do before the lab could be build up. The underground facilities were littered with machinations that he would rather keep a secret, not to mention that almost every resource he needed was stored there in bulk, and the last thing he wanted is for someone to accidentally step into the aggressive compounds that he used to clean the glasswork. In other words he had plenty to do when he was back in his trusty air purifier.

The Taylor Estate
After a quick pased walk Giacomo finally reached Lord Taylors Home, and not a moment too soon it seemed. From within the house Giacomo faintly could hear the voice of Princess Loki. A very fortunate situation he it thought to be, it at least meant he wouldn't have to go back to the palace for another meeting. Giacomo quickly made his way into the building. Inside the situation looked far difrent from the outside, clearly something had happened here. As he set a step forward his foot kicked against a swords grip and was swung over the floor, making quite a loud scraping noise as the tip slid over the floor. Not knowing that the attackers have already left Giacomo thought: "This could be dangerous, there could be some hostiles left in the building. Even though I'd rather hide this for my fellow scientists and the public, I now have no choice. I must use my weapons."

He looked at joshua and wispered: "Step back a bit, this could be dangerous." And not a moment later a strange machine with five trident claws fell out of Giacomo's left sleeve and covered his hand in metal. He looked around to see if there was nobody there exept them and then loudly said: "Lord Taylor, are you there?" Slowly Giacomo Pulled the Monocular from his head as he waited for a response of any kind, though he knew that no response would also be a response, although a quite more grim one.

(OOC: Sorry for the sort of small post, I have a bit of a writers block at the moment)

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They were, in short, ushered out of Amon’s office, but not before Professor Windsor was told that he was effectively going to be under surveillance for a while. She felt a pang of guilt, but as she was constantly being reminded, it wasn’t really her fault. Technically, it wouldn’t have happened if not for herself and her choices, but… well, it wasn’t like she asked to be chased around by hired thugs. Hopefully this would be nothing worse than the usual case and he could go back to his ordinary routine in a few days or so.

“Um… there’s plenty of places to rest or eat if you need to. I’m headed down to the Archives. It’s a really interesting place, if you can get yourself in the right mindset anyway.” She knew from experience that this sort of thing was not one that a person got over instantaneously, so she offered a sympathetic smile and waved, disappearing down an adjoining hallway in search of the stairs.

The Guild, for all its openness, was actually something of a labyrinthine building. She supposed that made sense; were it ever attacked, there would be plenty of places for its denizens to hide in, strike from, and otherwise use to their advantage. Of course, Pan herself was not the best with directions, and occasionally wound up lost even now.

Not today, though, apparently. She found the winding staircase easily enough and passed a few landings before she reached the one she wanted. Granted, she probably appeared to be handling this a lot better than she actually was. It was hard to tell, but she was pretty sure that the sharp-eyed Amon had not missed the fact that she was shaking a bit. Really, though, she just needed to do something useful to calm her nerves and she’d be fine. Whether that useful thing was reading something that might help increase her knowledge or dealing with the more egregious practice injuries sort of depended on the day.

She’d check the infirmary later, just to be sure, but the apprentices didn’t have combat training until late in the afternoon usually, so it’d be a while yet. Either way, she was rather fatigued at present, mostly from the earlier battle and then a headlong, tense flight through Delta and half of Gamma. She really needed to consider moving closer to the border between districts.

She rounded a corner in the Archives only to come upon a most strange assortment of people. It looked like Scheherazade was here training again, but the Doctor (she still didn’t know his name, and by now doubted she ever would) and his apprentice were there also, along with someone Pandora had seen at the Guild maybe once or twice but never actually spoken to. She stopped in her tracks and blinked slowly, but they were definitely still there, and so she offered a too-bright smile. “Hello, everyone. I hadn’t expected to see most of you here.”




Zade regarded the mage with a level of puzzlement that the latter obviously did not understand, and crossed her arms (not aggressively, just out of habit). “Weren’t you just attacked?” She found it somewhat difficult to believe that the woman would just be wandering the Archives, right as rain, after such an event, but then maybe it wasn’t so unexpected after all. She had always seemed to be rather foolishly optimistic.

“Oh… well, yes. I trapped the mercenaries in my house. Why?” Apparently, she was not aware of the circumstances surrounding this, and Zade decided she might as well inform her, too. They were all going to find out eventually anyway.

“Loki and Lord Taylor were, too. They’re fine, obviously, but Carlisle was apparently just here.” This was clearly news to Pandora, who had just assumed it was a solitary thing, as they usually were.

“I don’t suppose… were their any other targets?” Zade shrugged as if to say ‘beats me,’ and Pandora’s face took on a troubled frown, but she didn’t say anything further. She didn’t really know what to ask, actually; knowing the right questions wasn’t exactly her business, unless it was regarding some form of injury.

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#, as written by Shiva
Taylor Estate

Taylor bobbed his head several times. There was no mistaking both had a better grasp of this situation than he did. He inwardly debated beginning to look into this matter, but tossed it aside. He had more pressing issues to worry about. How would he handle something like this in court? He could bring it up, humiliate the client the assassins worked for, or he could stay silent, continuing with his work as usual. As of now, the shadowy client probably wasn't even part of parliament. It was well know that mages even remotely linked to the nobility would be exiled completely from Alpha. His thoughts were interrupted as he took notice of Eos' rather pungent odor that clouded him.

Taylor considered himself a man that took things in stride- choosing to note Pandora's attack for last. "It is a dangerous time for us." He muttered redundantly. Everyone was well aware of that. "I am glad she is fine." He slowly shook himself from his state of thought, ushering both of them out. "I shall handle things here and in Parliament." He said quickly to the Princess. "For now, the most important thing is that you deliver the information to Sir Gregory as soon as possible."

When he made sure that they were out, along with several armed guard that would escort them to at least the edge of Alpha, he relaxed slightly. This was still a dangerous area- Assassins, even the greenhorns, had backups. Nobody wanted a target that was alive, after all. He had moved them through a back exit, which would tunnel down and lead out through a nondescript house within Alpha. All nobles had one of these- known as escape routes. Several would be hidden in each mansion- from convoluted flying machines to sloping minecarts tracks to simple passageways. Not a moment later, he could hear the movement of something. Metal dragging against something. Was it the Assassin's backup? How did they get past his guards- which were now on full alert? He took a deep breath, preparing himself to be roasted until he stepped into the room and saw a familiar scientist.

"Giacomo. A pleasure to see you. You... did come at a poor time however." He greeted warmly. "Sir Blackwater." He turned, regarding Vernazza's companion. Esmera, his maid had returned to the room, preparing the bodies to be disposed of. She quickly greeted the two men, silently working on the bodybags. They would be shipped back to Delta, and dropped off in an alleyway. Taylor felt this would send a stronger message, should they be found- and besides, burning the bodies or leaving them here was distasteful. As usual, the maid dropped a single gold coin in each bag. Barely enough to pay for expenses regarding a funeral. He was well aware that this might be going to this unknown faction's bank, but Taylor was not one to stoop down to their level. A dead man was a dead man, and they deserved respect. If they were decent human beings, they wouldn't dare use the money for anything else.

"Begging your pardon, sir scientists, what brings you here to my estate?" He asked, as if the bodies weren't even there. If they could take a cue, they would understand that Taylor would explain the situation a little more later.




Assassin's Guild

Victoria grinned eagerly. "O-of course sir! I'll be right on my way!" She jumped up from her seat and bolted out before the masked doctor could stop her. Etzel shrugged once. In her haste, she'll forget about remembering where the Guild was located- which was much better than leading her out by blindfold. Less effort. And of course, he was right- as the girl stopped at one of the safe homes, she stomped once in exasperation before disarming the traps at the door and entering.

Etzel looked at Forgefire, noting his slight observing look. Cold Reading was an essential skill for Assassins, to read the faces of others like a book- no matter how discreet they were. It was how the masked doctor could get a slight hunch of what the Princess was thinking, despite her brilliant poker face. He knew the Smith was old and wise- he would come up with his conclusion, and the physician wouldn't be surprised if his assumption was right on the dot.

At this moment, the familiar face of Miss Elling rounded the corner. Happy as ever- compared to Etzel's more recent string of cynical mutterings. His mask betrayed nothing as he greeted the medic back. "Miss Elling." He said smoothly. He fell silent as the quick exchange commenced between Scheherazade and Pandora. He took in the information. Taylor and Loki as well? This was getting very interesting. He had no input, however. He didn't know who else might have been targeted, and how narrowly he himself might have avoided death. A pang of what might have been worry for his apprentice struck Etzel, but he remained quiet otherwise.

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#, as written by Ezarael
"O-of course sir! I'll be right on my way!" She jumped up from her seat and bolted out before the masked doctor could stop her. Etzel shrugged once.

That girl is going to forget how to get back the way she’s scurrying around. Garbiel calmly calculated while watching his new resident physician rush to wherever she needed to gather her possessions, anxious about her new position, while The Physician watched the both of them patiently, appearing very knowing and confident, but a slight sense of dis-ease or uncertainty permeated through his composed façade. He remembered one conversation long ago that the two of them had pertaining to their innate abilities of observation that Etzel had referred to as “Cold Reading” in the Assassin’s circle, a very crucial aspect that was ingrained upon their psyche regardless of their own capabilities, but this term changes in the world of a Blacksmith. It is simply known as “Divination”, where the blacksmith in question is supposed to “feel” the entire process of forging; trying to discover strength and weakness in any piece of steel. Oddly enough the two men sometimes did this for such long periods of time people thought them dead, crazy, or senile in the Smith’s case, and on one occasion a soon-to-be VERY unlucky apprentice Assassin asked if he could join their staring contest.

"Dammit. None of this makes sense."There called out an all-too-familiar voice approaching the two men from the other side of the Archives, apprehension lurking in the dark recesses of her eyes. By the look in her eyes Garbiel knew this was not the first time something had happened, but to show even minutely on an Apprentice of The Guild it had to have been dangerous. A dark sense of foreboding crept upon the aging man, and some voice in the back of his mind kept tugging him to the death of the Marquis Adam Goldwater a year prior."Doctor. Loki, Lord Taylor and Pandora were just targeted again. You should be careful."

The Smith sat impassively as the rather blunt, and foolish, statement was made; even here in the Assassin’s Guild under the protection of Amon they were not necessarily safe. The events after the death of the distinguished Member of Parliament were unbeknownst to the man, but he was aware of the rather tenuous situation within the Parliament and just how far that was disseminating within the Guild. The semblance of a labyrinthine puzzle formed within his mind before a rather petite girl approached the trio, one he had noticed several times around the Guild for her blue eyes.

“Hello, everyone. I hadn’t expected to see most of you here.”

"Miss Elling."

A short dyad soon followed between the youth, detailing multiple assassination attempts on this Pandora Elling, it must be her name because there was only one Lord Taylor, an old acquaintance of his none the less, the Princess Loki, which was a matter of conjecture but probably true since it was mention in conjunction with Lord Taylor. What in the pits of hell has that man gotten himself into? The two children soon grew more apprehensive nearing the end of the short exchange, and the previous hint of dis-ease on Etzel’s countenance showed as fear in the briefest of moments through his body language, but otherwise words did not pass lips, nor mask reveal truth beneath.

“Excuse me miladies, but may I ask for a momentary pause here? Physician, do not assume I doubt security, but is there somewhere else things of this nature may be discussed? I know that I have heard more than is healthy thanks to these children so I might as well understand what is happening.”

Long, thin fingers probed into an inside coat pocket, extracting a rather elaborate silver pocket-watch from the aperture, the emblem of the House Forgefire inscribed upon both sides. His right hand rose upwards to flick the latch with the thumb, while calm eyes gave a rather cursory glance at the time, and quickly snapping it shut to refill its place in his pocket.

Whatever he was getting himself into it was not going to be good, and he was definitely not getting any younger. He had always tried to avoid these dangerous predicaments, but when you make weapons for a living it seemed to come as a side-effect every now and again. This would probably take more time than he thought, so it would be best to send word out beforehand so that the house will be prepared should he arrive after Miss Steins.

“I believe I have some time left before Miss Steins is prepared with her things, I will send a raven with the necessary instructions to my steward. Now is there somewhere else a little more secluded?”

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Zade sighed. Sometimes, she did get rather tired of being referred to as a kid. Granted, she was only just an adult, and compared to Forgefire, she probably seemed a child indeed, but she'd been as responsible for herself as most adults were for the better part of her life, and she had enough pride, foolish or otherwise, to not be able to forget it easily at times like this. He did have a point about the privacy thing, though, and Zade wondered if it really was okay to tell him everything that they knew. She didn't really see a reason not to; he was obviously acquainted with Amon, and wasn't Loki always lamenting their lack of decent allies in this whole thing?

"Of course; excuse me. There's a room with a door down here, let's go there if you don't mind." She didn't know if the doctor would be inclined to come, and frankly, that was his business. She at least felt she probably ought to take care of this before she went back to Loki; her guess was that the princess was headed here anyway, and this might actually save time in the end.

She asked Pandora to ward the door against eavesdropping, which the diminutive mage did before excusing herself. She didn't know half as much about present circumstances as any of the others, and frankly she didn't want to think too hard about any of it right now. Instead, the blonde woman grabbed a random book off a shelf and ascended to the ground floor again, taking up a post near the entranceway. There was always a chance somebody would come in injured, after all, and she wanted to be there if they did, given what seemed to be a multitude of attacks today. She looked down to see that the tome she had selected was ironically enough on the art of hit-and-run warfare, and decided an understanding of such things couldn't hurt.




Zade, meanwhile, had squared herself away in a reading room, sparsely decorated with loose sheaves of parchment and the occasional abandoned quill. The space was dominated by a table, which she sat at one end of, with her back to the wall. She studied the smith, trying to figure out how best to explain what had in the course of a year become a rather convoluted situation. Tilting the chair back with her foot, a bad habit which she didn't do anything to avert, Scheherazade stared at the ceiling for a few minutes before she decided on a decent place to start.

"I'm sure you know that about a year ago, Adam Goldwater was assassinated?" She paused, to let him affirm this if he wished; she hardly expected him to deny it. "Well... that was a ploy to make several people look responsible. The blame was pinned by turns on the Guild as a whole, Eos of Tartarus in particular, even me, in a way." She decided not to mention that she had been stealing things in the vicinity on the night in question, deeming it largely irrelevant. "Well, as it turned out, Loki, Caelin Taylor, Eos, Amon, the good doctor-" and that was said with just a touch of irony, but not a great deal- "a scientist named Giacomo Vernazza, Pandora who you just met, myself, and a couple others were all somehow related to the incident, though none of us perpetrated it. Loki figured out who had what information and called a meeting, which was subsequently attacked by renegade assassins. We think they were under the employ of Duke David Gilgamesh, but there isn't enough evidence to implicate him, you see. Most of us have dealt with at least two or three more individual attacks on our lives in the year since. There's never any proof of who was behind it- most of the assailants commit suicide if we take them alive."

The image of one such man, frothing at the mouth after biting on a cyanide pill, swam into vision, and she grimaced, fixing the smith with a knowing look that did not belong on the face of someone her age. "The thing is, Loki thinks something else is going to compound our problems soon, and given what just happened, I think she's right. We've never been attacked by magi before..."

"And that, Mr. Forgefire, is the long and short of what Pandora and I were discussing. I'd not discuss it too openly were I you." That statement was not a threat, but a genuine warning. It was dangerous for any of them to associate much with anyone, just in case they became targets, too. Here, in the guild proper, they were relatively safe, but she knew the doctor was in hiding, and even Pandora didn't run a clinic anymore.

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#, as written by Smith
District Alpha

"Hm. Alright, off to see Amon then. Come come." Eos bid Taylor farewell and wished him well on his own battles. God knew that the deadly dances that were political games was a different game entirely. For one trained in a more martial sense, having an enemy you could bring force to bare against was much more preferable than having to jaunt around rules, regulations and practiced smiles. With one last sympathetic glance at the noble Eos made his way out of the estate and into the streets of Alpha. The trip was rather quiet, with Eos mostly absorbed in the sights of Alpha. Even after his formal induction into the Guild and being granted relative freedom, Eos was still getting used to the wider world. It was shiney to say the least.

"Do you mind if I hail a carriage? If this is as urgent as you and lord Taylor made it seem..." Eos regarded Loki with a level gaze. He was going to wave the vehicle over regardless, and he was sure that the princess knew it. Still...there were formalities that had to be upheld. With a shout and a couple waves the carriage driver that had been about to overtake them slowed to a halt. Passing by the horses with no small amount of interest, Eos entered the box carriage first and offered his hand to help Loki in. "To the corner of Justice Court and Melianth Way please, post-haste."

Afterwards they were off to the Guild and making good time. As they passed through Gamma Eos felt that he should make conversation. How to start it though, was the question. Aside from speaking about the nuances of modern politics, some of the more prominent heads of house and what part Eos had to play in this brewing war, the two had nothing in common. At least, that's the way he saw it. Whenever these subjects did not come up in conversation...well, they simply did not talk. "How often do you make forays into Gamma? You look a little off today...eh. Well, I suppose I would feel under the weather too if someone made an attempt on my life."

What a lie. You would be grinning like a mad man. thankfully both he and Loki were spared any further awkward conversation due to the short ride. The pair disembarked, Eos leading the way into the Guild perimeter. After passing through a few checkpoints within the outer building, they were admitted into the lower levels of the Assassin Guild proper. On the way in they passed Pandora, to which he smiled and waved. Before they reached the Guildmaster's office, Eos slowed down and waved the princess onward. "I'm sure you can relay what little information I have provided, and have important things to discuss with Amon...things that would be wasted on a brute such as myself. Good day, Princess Blackwood."

That said, the assassin spun on his heel and returned down the hallway. He ascended the stairs with predatory grace and made not even the slightest nois despite the expensive, thick-soled shoes he wore. Like a wraith moving through walls he appeared at Pandora's side without so much as a whisper. "Good day, lady Elling." he said suddenly with a demure smile. Eos indicated his fine state of dress and looked at her with something approaching curiosity. "You don't look particularly happy."

With unexpected speed--although not threateningly--the assassin grasped the petite mage's arm, lifted it and inspected the other side. He quickly released the appendage and bent over to examined her legs. Finally, the dusky-skinned man stood erect once more and fixed Pandora with a questioning gaze. "You are unhurt, as far as I can tell. You've been doing well with your work and are well protected from what the logs tell me. Erm...I mean, it came up, not that I was looking for you in particular. You okay?"

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The Assassins' Guild

Loki could only barely give Eos credit for trying, though she had to admit his talent for understatement rivaled anything she’d ever heard. One of her sable-colored sleeves was charred beyond all recognition and the flames had definitely singed off a few hairs on the same side. She still had reddened skin where there had once been a third-degree burn, and she’d managed to get quite a bit of blood on her clothes (which was now beginning to dry), and she looked a bit under the weather. That was a lie, and they both knew it. She smiled wryly and shook her head.

“You don’t have to try making small talk, Eos, I hate it almost as much as you do.” She rolled her eyes pointedly; they both knew that half her life was spent in such meaningless conversations. There were very few people she actually enjoyed talking to for one reason or another, and though the blunt, often vulgar assassin was one of them (for the entertainment value if nothing else), she didn’t expect him to do so all the time.

The carriage ride was mercifully short, and spared her the indignity of being publicly visible, which was an excellent idea as far as she was concerned, and in short order the two were within the Guild. Loki nodded when the former Hand excused himself, and stepped into Amon’s office. Their meeting took close to an hour, after which she retrieved Zade and left in much the same fashion as she’d come, but not before stopping to ask Pandora to stop by Caelin’s at some point in the future and ward his home, for which she would obviously be well-compensated. “If you could… be extra-careful about Siri’s room, would you?” She would not deny a measure of affection for her little cousin, and unlike Caelin, he was not able to defend himself.




The Next Morning, Streets of Revelation

Sometimes, Aram wondered why Ishtar had married him. The two seemed to butt heads on just about every issue, and she was currently not speaking to him over what he was about to do. Make no mistake; his wife was of singular importance to him, but sometimes, one had to take drastic measures that risked what was personally important for the sake of that which was universally so.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make. Part of him had always hoped that eventually, the government would see sense. He was not as misinformed as many of his compatriots; he knew there were those among the upper class who attempted to make reform, but he also knew that they had accomplished next to nothing. He made no attempt to enlighten his fellows. To introduce that knowledge would be to introduce doubt into their minds that what was needed was a complete revolution, and right now, he couldn’t have them entertaining doubts. Not anymore.

Up until this point, the revolution’s actions had been little but small skirmishes with the city guard, incidents of vandalism, and always in small groups. It was so underscaled that very few people were even aware that there was a rebellion, and that had to change. Nobody was going to take them seriously unless they did something significant. He’d received word that, independent of his own direction, two of his people had undertaken an attempt to kill Caelin Taylor yesterday, and he knew exactly why. The man was known to have received a dose of the Cure, but frankly Aram himself thought it a little misdirected. Just because one had taken the stuff did not mean one was hoarding it, but he supposed in the end it made little difference. One member of Parliament less wouldn’t hurt his cause much, not when he was intent on removing all opportunities for compromise. Either the mages would have everything everyone else had, or they would all die and take half the city with them.

It was frustratingly difficult to make some of them see this. But surely, after today, nobody would have any choice but to choose a side. And if not today, then eventually. Soon, even.

It was time. With a gesture to his men, Aram headed for Beta. He and his were making no attempt to hide their presence; stealth would only be detrimental right now. Instead, they marched as a grim promenade, stony-faced sentinels over the slums, a people oppressed for far too long, who had finally realized that their teeth were perfectly suited for ripping into the underbelly of their tormentors. Predators, held captive for so long by mere prey that they had forgotten their own natures. No more.

The eerily-silent, but fully-visible parade marched through the streets of Gamma, and Aram noted with satisfaction the number of grimy windows that opened, occupants peering outside at what had to be the strangest thing many of them had ever seen. These people though were still close enough to the worst to know what was going on, and while several shut tight and locked their homes, others- magical or not, joined the march, trailing along behind the mages or walking beside them, and Aram’s ranks swelled from but fifteen men to a good fifty.

And still, none broke the stern moratorium on noise, the only sounds the thudding of boots or the slapping of bare feet on cobblestone, the clinking of metal here and there from the new additions, inexorable, steady, constant.

Their destination, the barracks of the City Guard, was a building wedged between the Blacksmith’s guild and a small inn on the other side. The guards, apparently alerted to their ghostly coming, were all milling around outside, watching them with wary eyes. The march swiftly became a standoff; such rabble as they were not welcome here, but nor were they prohibited by law. It was the strictest of social convention, but there was no real power in it if one refused, as Aram did, to be cowed by harsh, condescending looks and scornful cold shoulders.

In the end, nobody would have much of a read on how long it took for something in the air to change, but (and this was to Aram of paramount importance) it was a guardsman who lost it first, the tense silence and deliberate invasion of his space becoming too much for that soldier’s discipline he was supposed to have, and first blood was theirs.

After that, pandemonium erupted. Each of the fourteen others Aram had brought with him was a combat specialist, and bitterly resentful of his or her lot in life. Even as reinforcements poured out of the barracks, Aram’s troops fell back, slinging magic from a distance while those who had joined in Delta and Gamma occupied the forefront. It was Aram himself who set fire to the barracks, and it would soon spread to both the guild building next door and the inn. Let it. This whole city deserves to burn.



The Assassins' Guild

When the march had passed an entirely different Guild, Amon Gregory had observed it with a burgeoning sense of dread. No good would come of this, not for anyone. There was no mistaking the looks on those marchers’ faces: they were out for blood, and they would not be satisfied until they had it. It was an expression he worked daily to scrub out of his recruits.

Reacting immediately (for he had suspected something like this would happen eventually, just not so soon), he ascended the stairs to the student’s quarters, where Pandora was presently making use of a spare room. Knocking urgently, he spoke through the door. “Miss Elling, I require your assistance, if you would.” So saying, he waited as long as was needful for her to join him, then set about in pursuit of several of his own people. Not so many as to constitute a major force, but enough to survive if the march reached the end he thought it would.

He was unsure if Etzel remained within his walls, but if this was the case, Amon sought him particularly, offering no more or less explanation than he afforded the mage-woman. His last stop was Eos, and once he had about seven people in total gathered, he finally explained himself. “A group of mages and some disgruntled citizens just marched brazenly past our doors. It is not difficult to tell that they intend to attack something. I need you all to run interference in whatever way you can. Allow me to make something perfectly clear: you are not to choose one side over the other unless the selection is obvious. Rather, stop whatever it is that is about to happen, by any means necessary. Defend bystanders, treat the injured, talk down both sides if you can. But if it looks like someone will not stop until everyone else is dead, end him.” They could not afford for this incident, whatever it was about to be, to engulf the city any more than it already was going to. Containment was key.



The Royal Palace

Loki appended her signature to the end of a document approving extra funding for an independent Cure-production facility. It wasn’t as though she had to think about it too hard. The news yesterday of the gruesome death of Doctor Vanderbilt was only fuel on the fire, so to speak, especially since she had it on good authority that the man had wanted something similar himself. Her personal financing would allow for the construction of such a manufacturing line within either the grounds of the Taylor Chemicals building or alongside Giacomo’s air purifier, whichever the two decided on beside themselves.

Most of the time, she scarcely paid heed to the fact that she was the single most independently-wealthy woman in the city, but other time, she was glad of it. The next document was not nearly as easy to deal with, nor as appealing. Gilgamesh was calling a special meeting of Parliament, which unfortunately he could do as prime minister. It was set for that afternoon, and she wondered exactly what he was planning on doing. Calling the legislature meant that he was going to force a vote on something, and that meant he knew he had enough support to do it. She wasn’t sure why- the moderate faction had been increasing in number ever-so-slightly recently (and that was with no small effort on her part of Caelin’s), so he should actually be fearing that his own base was weakening. Maybe that was the point? He felt he had to act now, while there was still a chance he’d win? He certainly wouldn’t be one to roll over and die.

Which reminded her: due to a rather fortuitous arrangement of the day before (which she’d insisted upon attending once she learned of it), she was scheduled for tea with the Duchess Gilgamesh in about an hour. Loki smiled to herself: Amon was a sly dog when he wanted to be, and she had little doubt that Eos had relished in arranging this right under the nose of the Duke and his son. She didn’t know much of the younger Lord Gilgamesh; the Prime Minister’s progeny tended to keep out of the obvious realms of politics, which was probably wise.

Turning to Zade, who stood behind her, Loki reminded her of this much, and raised a black eyebrow. “Are you going to be fine with this? I know meeting nobility is not exactly your preference?” There was much more to it than that, of course, but she knew and Zade knew, and neither of them had explicitly ever discussed knowing. It was simply part of the nature of their arrangement- such things could be touched upon, danced around, and silently confirmed in the absence of denial, but they would not be explicitly talked-about. The princess didn’t mind.

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Pandora was nose-deep in her book (military strategy was really interesting if you conveniently forgot the part where it was designed to maximize the number of people you killed in most cases) when Loki and Eos burst through the front doors. Burst really wasn't the word for it, but there were sparse ways to describe the impact with which the princess's presence tended to hit a person. Who knew; maybe it was only her, but Pan was a bit in awe of the woman. She understood intricacies that left the mage baffled and never lost that air of effortless ease. It was intimidating to say the least.

Of course, right now she didn't look so well, as though (and here Pan's brain finally caught up with her eyes) she had just been in a fight. She looked uninjured, though, and was off in the direction of Amon's office, Eos in tow, shortly afterward, leaving the mage with scant opportunity to say anything. This might not have been so bad- she still didn't know how to talk to nobles. Or most people, for that matter. It never stopped her from trying, though perhaps it should. Shaking her head, Pan lowered her eyes back to the page in front of her.

"Good day, lady Elling." Pandora's eyes widened, and she jumped in surprise, a small sound of alarm accompanying the obvious proximity of the voice. When had-? Oh, right. She was in a building full of assassins. Hardly anybody made that much noise when walking. She quickly contained her alarm and glanced up and smiled upon identification of the person who'd nearly given her heart palpitations.

"Eos? You look... different." It was kind of odd, actually. He was dressed almost like a noble himself, but for some reason, she was having trouble reconciling it. Maybe because she'd known him first as a virtually penniless vagabond, which was a much more normal sight for someone in her position. She wouldn't say it, but she was a bit relieved that he didn't look too natural like that- it meant she wasn't the only one. He mentioned that she didn't look all that well, and the grin faded self-consciously. "Oh, yes, well... I'm just a little worried is all. You know me." Either he knew about the attack on her house or he didn't; she wasn't going to draw attention to it.

Loki exited Amon's office some time later, and requested that she pay a visit to the Taylors at some point and ward the Estate. Pandora agreed immediately, a tad surprised by the slightly-halting manner in which the Princess made her request a bit more personal. The bewilderment blended swiftly into a gentle nod, though, and she didn't ask any unnecessary questions about it. She'd see to it tomorrow, circumstances permitting.




Pandora awoke the following morning to a knock on the door of her bedroom. Or wait... this wasn't her bedroom at all. It took her a second to realize where she was, and another to remember how she'd gotten there, but as of last evening, her grandparents had been hidden away in one of the Guild's safehouses and she given a guest room here. She wouldn't lie and say it wasn't a bit strange to be sleeping in the same hallway as naught but assassins or assassins-in-training, but she wasn't going to complain. The Guild (and the people in it) made her feel safe, and there were precious few occasions when she knew that feeling these days.

It was Amon, and Pandora mumbled a hasty affirmation of her consciousness before muttering a quick sanitation spell and throwing on the first clothes that came to hand. She was out the door in less than five minutes, and followed Amon silently as he rounded up more people, some of whom she knew and a few she didn't.

When the Guildmaster explained the situation, her stomach immediately flopped over, and she was glad she'd had nothing to eat this morning. Several times in the past, she'd been approached by members of this disquiet force of people; most if not all mages living in Delta had. She'd turned down their offers of membership every time on sheer principle: she was friends with some of the people they claimed to hate (though she was smart enough not to say as much), and refused to hurt people as a matter of course. Unlike some people, she took the vows magi were made to recite upon leaving the Facility seriously.

Now, it seemed that she would have to try and convince some very angry people that they really shouldn't use their magic for personal gain or to harm another, as those promises specified. She didn't think she'd have much like, and judging from the composition of this group, Amon didn't either. Like as not, she was supposed to patch as many people as possible up afterwards. As the group of them left the Guild, she wrung her hands apprehensively, wondering just what this might mean for the fragile balance the city currently maintained.




Zade took her duties as sentinel very seriously, and even times like now, when she desperately wanted to be sleeping (yesterday had been eventful enough that she had not been able to return to the palace until late in the evening), she did not move except on those rare occasions when Loki did, or when it was time for a brief break.

As it was, she often occupied herself by reading documents over the Princess's shoulder. Loki didn't seem to mind, but she clearly knew, because every once in a while Zade would make a sarcastic comment about something written, which would usually be met with much the same from her employer. This was probably a good deal more liberty than most bodyguards would be allowed, but then Zade wasn't most bodyguards, largely by virtue of the fact that Loki wasn't most people.

She was reminded of this again with the veiled reference to her dislike of nobility in general, and the young woman grimaced emphatically. "If you think she's going to help you get one over on Gilgamesh, then by all means do it. I certainly don't envy the woman- he's a right bastard." She shrugged and willed the matter to drop. The hate was old; she'd only recently come to relax her prejudice enough to accept that Loki, the Queen, and Taylor weren't bad people, and she honestly still didn't like addressing people formally all that much, but would for the sake of her job.

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#, as written by Shiva
The Nexus

"Mr. Taylor. You seem livelier than usual." A voice called. A member of Parliament- an agreeable man by the name of Sakai.

Taylor stopped jogging, turning around with his arms occupied with a stack of paperwork. "Yes. though I usually am not aware of these changes." He replied smoothly. "Mr. Sakai, what brings you down to the Nexus?"

"I was doing some work myself. Tell me, what are those papers you hold?" He asked, looking curiously at them.

"It's another legislation." Taylor replied, reddening slightly. He knew what was to come, and pushed down his annoyance. Sakai gave Taylor a mediated stare, before smiling slightly.

"It's not another attempt to push a reform through, is it? Taylor, I know you're smarter than the rest here- I know that you know that there's no way this can go through." He said reasonably. They all said it so damned reasonably. Of course, that wasn't Taylor's true motive.

In the past, Taylor had been pushing for these legislations, new reform calls that would maneuver the trade system so that slaving would play right into the hands of the businesses- and thus slowly do away with the accursed highway. However, it would be voted down immediately and constantly. Sometimes Taylor tried putting just two front pages and then a stack of blank papers, and not a single comment would be made before the documents would be shot down. It was rather amusing. But amusement was not what Taylor was looking for- It was distraction. While he kept most of Parliament busy with documents- as law dictated that proposals must be read through before voting (something that they only half-heartedly do), they had some time before Gilgamesh could move. A small fraction of time, but good time nonetheless.

He also nursed the weak hope that one of these might go through. "Yes. I understand that, but it doesn't hurt to try- these reforms can change Revelation for the better." He replied, and Sakai looked visibly disgruntled. He didn't want to read through a stack of papers either. That was the thing- if change came to slowly, the things needed to change would increase in number to the point where they just abandoned change altogether. It was a cycle of laziness that Taylor abhorred. After Eos' life story told years ago, Taylor decided to look into the matter of slavery. It had very well encroached on all branches of trade, even his chemical factory had bought a few slaves to lift chemicals under his nose. They suffered terrible burns and Taylor felt so guilty he saw to it that the slaves were given optimal medical aid. He could give them their freedom- not yet. No man was willing to take the dangerous jobs of transferring chemicals. In a way, he was just as bad as the slavers.

Caelin and Sakai exchanged a few more words, before both of them bade farewell. The young nobleman submitted the legislation, sealing it in a bag to avoid tampering and grabbing his stamp and marking the envelope with his sign. He had come here without a bodyguard, as the Nexus was a finicky building. It could concoct a reputation and destroy it. If he were seen here with armed guards, the other members that happen to see him would immediately assume something had happened- and rumors would fly. Loki and his own staff probably wouldn't approve of this personally, despite these reasons. That alone forced a tender smile from his facade.




The Assassin's Guild

"It is as they say, Master Gabriel." Etzel confirmed softly. He bowed once. "I'm afraid I'm a little less important when it comes to these matters, and I must see to it that my apprentice reaches you safely. I will see you tomorrow, to pay and receive my equipment. Then we may speak more in depth." The masked doctor bade farewell to the motley group assembled in the archives, and moved to the safehouse. He helped his apprentice pack her things, which wasn't much seeing as Victoria had packed most of it already.

"You know what to do in your free time?" Etzel asked.

"Yes. Studying and practicing." She replied.

"Your suitcase?"

"Set with all necessary chemicals and herbs, Master."

"Very good. Stay safe girl, I cannot have years of work kill you when I'm not looking." Etzel said, something that might have been humor poking about in the second sentence. Victoria rolled her eyes, hefting the suitcase up. Time had flown while they packed and chatted, it was night already and Victoria was already out the door. Etzel looked about the safehouse, completely sure it was clean. He laid a single hair near the door, as a measure against intruders. If he came back and the hair was missing, somebody had broken in and he was to abandon the safehouse immediately.

He went back to the Guild, where he found a spare room to sleep in. One would ask where all the mad Doctor's chemicals and equipment was stored, and how he accessed them so quickly, but that was a secret Etzel himself would take to the grave.

So, as the next morning came he was awakened by a Assassin apprentice, noting that Amon had a note for him. Beta was in an uproar- Mages from Delta had stormed over and began attacking the military barracks. Amon had ordered him to come and dispel the riot by stopping the fighting. If mages had the guts to come and assault Beta, Etzel highly doubted there would be some sort of cease-fire. Nevertheless, he obeyed orders and set out for Beta.

He reached a battlefield, mages slinging fire and soldier shooting or stabbing with their own weapons. Etzel didn't see any other assassins, but he knew assassins would be discreetly disguised- while he in his brown waxed robes certainly made quite an appearance. Few doctors got involved in a streetfight mid-way through, after all. Etzel wasn't one for diplomacy, and most men who have been hit by magefire were already burning all over. He patched a wounded mage up as best he could, noting that after being hurt the fire had died from his eyes somewhat. He was able to convince him that he should back out.

Suddenly, the Barracks exploded into fire, beginning to lick at the Blacksmith guild next to it. The masked doctor's eyes glinted once. "Steins!" He roared, barreling straight into the guild even as the fire began to eat away at the structure.

The setting changes from The Skycity of Revelation to District Beta

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#, as written by Ezarael
Garbiel followed the young Scheherazade down the cavernous hallways of The Guild to a reading room that seemed swallowed up by a massive table, seating himself opposite the young woman as The Physician followed them in shortly thereafter. Upon taking his seat the elderly man sighed heavily after another lengthy walk, while the years of toiling with a blazing furnace and burning coal had grown much more visible upon his aging brow, and a shadow loomed over his shoulders until the young woman’s voice seized him from the grips of his thoughts.

The discourse could have started nowhere else except with the death of Marquis Adam Goldwater the year prior, and that it was an infamous ploy to undermine the authority of The Guild. The mention of a certain devilish Member of Parliament named Duke David Gilgamesh forced the hackles on the back of the Smith’s muscled neck to stand at attention, and also made perfect sense for the man to be linked with these events, but to go so far as to order the traitorous assassination of a noble would not be syllogistic for a man of his standing. The end of the short narrative comprised of a rather blatant, but altogether sensible warning about the danger they were all facing in these uneasy times.

Only the hair’s breadth of a moment passed before The Physician bade the Blacksmith and Assassin’s Apprentice farewell, conveying a slight feeling of parental anxiety towards the young Miss Steins with his hurried pace. The Smith soon lost himself in thought, only murmuring a goodbye to the girl seated before him, striding off once again on aging legs, sore from the day’s trials; not wanting to tread the impossibly hard stone streets again he veered off towards the nearest railway station that connected with Beta District. At this hour the cars were very much crowded as the many pedestrians desired a reprieve from their long day’s walk enjoying the revelry of Gamma District, and the Smith found himself seated uncomfortably with several small children playing “Assassins and Magi” all around him.

Nevertheless the ride proved harmless with its expediency, and what would surely have taken him two hours to walk took only twenty minutes out of the day, leaving him ample time to return to the Blacksmith Guild and prepare for Miss Steins’ arrival. Fortunately he happened upon a Butcher’s Shop on the way back to the workshop, and upon locking sights on a particularly plump capon the meal was all but decided. The kitchen should have all the other amenities needed for such a delightful meal, more than likely it would be stuffed and roasted, drawing out dinner to a slightly later time than usual but should not be too inconvenient for Miss Steins since she needs to unpack, while being glazed with a garlic-honey sauce and served with grilled onions, peppers, and potatoes.

A now brisk walk, after being revitalized somewhat from the ride back, lead the aged man to the front gates of The Forge, the term used by its inhabitants. The Blacksmith Guild was more alike unto a marketplace “compound”, and in that the Ten Manors were given individual lots so that they may sell their wares, giving each master an equal opportunity amongst his competition. The first six Manors were lined up with three on either side of the gate, forming a walkway to the Central Square and the last four Manors comprising the back wall of the “compound”, with The Forge placed in the epicenter of the Guild. This was the only Guild that had organized itself in such a manner, as most other Guilds allowed their members to open up their shops wherever they may choose, but the Blacksmiths had chosen a different path.

For a long period of time, twenty years ago thanks to the efforts of Garbiel Forgefire and several other prominent Guild Members, there had been no royal legislation concerning the operation of the Guilds, and the necessity of them, allowing anyone to take a trade and open shop wherever they wished, but The Blacksmith’s Guild knew that there were better ways to operate. The masters of each of the Ten Manors set out on a deliberate attempt to promote Guild-friendly legislation through Parliament that allowed for stricter regulations and requirements to operate a workshop. Much of this was targeted towards independent owners specifically requiring royal permits that could only be obtained through the Guild itself, and even implemented excessive tariffs aimed towards independent sales. This soon brought the large number of blacksmiths under the wing of The Forge, but after only one month all the newcomers were consumed with glee as their sales skyrocketed and prices were raised by the new monopoly.

As Garbiel strode through the wrought-iron entrance to his Manor several apprentices and journeyman, all varying between the ages of twelve and thirty, were seen hustling by one of Forgefire’s sweltering forges completing all necessary orders, or producing their own wares for practice and surplus items, but one stopped at seeing his aging master to remove his gloves and apron, striding towards Garbiel with outstretched arms to embrace the father-figure before him. His name was Danterus, and he was the successor to the Forgefire Manor.

“Welcome home father. How has your day been?”

Danterus had been worrying about his adoptive father the entire day, pondering on what could happen to the aging man considering his melancholic bouts and a recently developed drinking habit. It seems the old man had been out conducting business with the paperwork that Sir Amon had delivered several hours previously, and for some reason brought another capon back for supper, he could understand once a week but these meals had been going on for far too long as far as he was concerned; of course they were going to have those damned onions as well, hopefully he doesn’t breathe on me. Garbiel returned the hug with equal fervor and proudly raised the capon in his left hand for Danterus’ inspection, but with a strange look hiding behind his eyes, obscured from vision by the fake smile planted across his mouth.

“Business as usual Danterus, but I need to send this to the kitchens for preparation, and I want the two youngest apprentices Aeryk and Jeorg to clean the spare apartment, I have found a healer that will be staying with us for some time. We will be dining in my quarters to speak more of her stay, remember to behave yourself.”

The young man knew better than to question his father on such matters, especially when he had the almost-worried look in his eyes that he had right now, or when there was a capon that needed to be rushed to the kitchen, but sometimes both. He watched The Smith hurry towards the kitchen, limping along the way, very indicative of how much walking the old man had done today, only for a moment before he stepped towards the youngest apprentices, both twelve years of age, and sent them on to clean the vacant apartment, which was probably in need of a good dusting and sweeping, while the mats and drapes needed beating, and the bed must be lumpy from ill-use. Dinner would be ready after only a few hours, but he should be able to work the forge for a little while longer before he needed to bathe for dinner.

Several hours flew by while the young man sharpened and polished his current project, a rapier hammered so thin that it resembled a long needle, but in fact is dual-edged with an elaborate hilt with the metal shaped as intertwining serpents, each eye socketed so that it could be fitted with precious gems. Night had fallen in earnest amongst the quiet Beta District, as the apprentices finished cleaning for the day and rushed to the kitchens, and the City Guard at the station next to the Blacksmith’s Guild began changing with the night’s watch, lighting lanterns on their way home to ease the burden on the patrols. Without warning soft footsteps began trudging heavily from behind Danterus, the rustling of fabric and grunting signaling they were carrying a load, and the man commented calmly without turning to address the stranger fully.

“If you came back to buy this rapier you should not have wasted your time. It is not for sell, but I will be more than willing to forge a different one should you desire it.”

“Well it is pretty, but I kinda need to speak to Mr. Forgefire right now. I’m supposed to be staying here for a while.”

At the sound of the breathy voice shoulder-length, shock-black hair flew uncontrollably as his, sometimes referred to as small, head spun around to put Victoria in his vision, the tiny, yet perky, young woman standing resolutely with a large grin on her face and two large suitcases in her hands. Danterus did not stand as tall as his adoptive father, nor was he as stocky, but at 24 years old, 6’ tall, and 190 lbs. of lean muscle he made just as impressive a sight as Garbiel, and coupled with his wit and charm has become a very capable young leader, and often noticed for his skills with the forge and diplomacy. None the less he was somewhat taken aback by the woman standing before him, as out of place in a workshop as ice, in fact she needed to harrumph to catch his attention and clear his smooth-shaven face of his puzzled stare and slightly gaped mouth.

“Oh apologies miss, just a little shell shock from the labor today, of course father did mention that someone would be coming, please allow me to take your bags. He’s upstairs in his office, I’ll point which room it is if the door’s not open, and I’ll take these to your apartment.”

After having to bend over slightly to reach the bags long, slender hands grasped the handles, hefting the heavy luggage as easily as he would a book, pleased that he had a chance to speak with the young woman. Danterus had accumulated somewhat of the reputation as a womanizer over the past half-decade, no doubt thought of as a rouge by any fathers, and earning the jealousy of his fellow journeyman. A sly smirk spread across his thick lips as he looked over and down at the woman walking next to him, he thought he could hear her mumbling to herself, but could not hear distinctly enough to tell, and her fidgeting manner denoted high anxiety.

“My sincerest apologies Miss, I forgot to introduce myself, I am Danterus il Forgefire, Successor to the Forgefire Manor…Oh you see the door all the way down the hallway on the right-hand side? That’s your room, I’ll take your bags there, but my father’s office is this middle room here on the right, he likes the view he has over the road, knock and go inside, I’ll be back shortly.”

Danterus walked down the hallway quietly, peering off to the left down the length of the hall perpendicular with this one, the upstairs hallway was horseshoe shaped with outside rooms were used for various reasons, with the northern, inside wall used for journeyman and apprentices, while the southern, street-bound side was reserved for however Garbiel sees fit, and the middle section used as a kitchen/dining area. Walking the length of the hallway to the south-eastern room, a well lit room with its two windows one over-looking the street and the other focused on the City Guard’s barracks, seemed to take forever as the young man listened for the sounds of the girl’s eager knock, the subsequent door opening, a throaty welcome, and the door’s closure, when all of a sudden Aeryk came perspiring out of the freshly cleaned apartment, breathing heavily as Danterus set down a briefcases inside the door to pat the young boy on the back, and urging him off towards the dining area with the palm of his hand.

“Please Miss Steins, come in and have a seat, dinner will be arriving shortly. I hope you had no problem finding your way with your luggage. If Danterus isn’t still toiling away at the forge he should be cleaned up and here soon.”

The delicate girl sat down at one end of a round, oaken table placed in the center of the room, each chair placed so as to make a triangle if connected by a line, as Garbiel placed himself in the chair to her right, and facing the window overlooking the street. Three glasses were sitting on the table, each filled with water at the moment, but in the center of the table sat two decanters of liquid, one with wine and the other with tea, which The Smith summarily poured himself a glass of tea to sustain him for the moment, it would be in ill-taste to drink before the meal, and he must take care not to over-drink while in the lady’s company.

“Oh no I didn’t have any problems finding my way here Mr. Forgefire. Thank you so much for letting me stay here, I promise I won’t be a burden on you. Did you say Danterus? He took my bags to my room, but he hadn’t cleaned up yet.”

“He had not washed yet? Well it certainly will be some time before he is able to join us. Well I guess that gives us some time to discuss business matters. I will furnish you room and board while you stay here and help take care of our medical necessities. You will be given an allowance of 10 gold pieces per week to spend as you see fit, and any supplies that you need I shall pay, or reimburse you later however you see fit. Unless I have been running errands all day and am late I dine in the room adjacent this one with my pupils and tenants, and you are welcome to join me either place unless I strictly desire to not have company. Any questions?”

The young girl shook her head quietly at the unexpected inquiry, he had been quite clear and concise in his monologue, detailing the most rudimentary of details out expediently like the businessman he was. A sharp knock sounded at the door as it burst open to the smell of roasted capon, the delightful bird lain on a platter, with fried potatoes, peppers, and onions forming a bed for the dish, as a giant grin spread over Garbiel’s face.

“I do love capon with potatoes, peppers, and onions. I believe Danterus is growing tired of the dish, but he won’t chance offending me over such a small thing.”

The duo proceeded to dine quietly for several minutes until their missing dinner-guest finally arrived in a flurry of wind and clothes, soapy water still spotting his coal-black hair. A nervous chuckle sounded from between chattering teeth, his bath had been much colder than he anticipated when he jumped in without checking, and the shock left him slightly numb in some parts of his body. The makings of a slight frown creased his brow upon sight of their dish, but a half-cocked grin flashed quickly to cover the momentary lapse.

“Well father dinner certainly looks appetizing.”

The small group finally dined in peace, making introductions as they conversed over daily routine in the Manor, and denoting which rooms and areas were used for whatever their purpose. Their relaxed demeanors could have been no less antithetical to the next day’s happenings, ignorance and bliss always precedes danger, especially for the innocent.

*Time Lapse: The Next Day*

The night had given way quietly to morning as the Forgefire Manor awoke to their daily routine, the apprentices lighting the fires and preparing the workshop by placing orders for materials, fetching requests, and laying out the wares that would be on display for the day. Garbiel went about beginning the syringe castes requested by The Physician, a task that would take the entirety of the day to complete, while Danterus organized the tenant journeyman with their daily tasks, each one skilled in the Forgefire technique. Victoria went about arranging her new living quarters how she desired, confiscating a rather large desk from another room to place her supplies and equipment.

They all continued, oblivious to the reality of the world waiting just outside, with their tasks for the day, until unusual shouting emanating from outside drifted upwards through Victoria’s open windows. Outside was a battlefield as the City Guard battled with rebels on their very doorstep, their fighting stifled by the calamity from downstairs in the workshop, the beating of hammer and blazing of fire masking the sounds of steel clashing and fireballs bursting. A fireball flew forth and smashed into the helpless barracks, as large chunks of the building were launched outwards, a large section of the roof coming down on the adjacent Forgefire Manor, shattering windows, catching the roof on fire, and sending an avalanche of flaming debris cascading down onto the unprotected masses.

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The sheets, pressed, warm and soft as could be were wrapped around the dozing assassin in a comforting embrace. Eos slept in an infantile curl with only the edge of his face visible past the beddings, his scarred body hidden within. He was enjoying sleeping in on his day off. Or, rather, he would have enjoyed it had a certain Guildmaster who he was not on trusting terms yet with not knocked on his door. With a loud groan of protest the assassin surged up from the bed and swung open the door to his room, ready to lash out should an opponent present themself.

That would have been preferable to the merry band of morning-goers that awaited him just outside. Eos immediately perked up and regarded the others for a long moment...in the nude. Out of the many times he had gone against sleeping bereft of clothing, letting his better judgement take the back burner on this one had not been one of his best calls. "One moment, if you would."

The assassin turned, shutting the door behind him and grabbing some comfortably middle-class traveling clothing. Once dressed, the Hand strapped ona belt, hid his weapons in the appropriate compartments and exited the room to join his fellows. Hopefully their glimpse of 'The Trouser Titan' would not traumatize them too much. A disturbing thought crossed Eos's mind just then: Had Selene been joking about that nickname? The thought was brushed away as easily a cobweb. Of course she wasn't. Before he could inquire as to the nature of Amon's summoning, the Guild Master divulged the method behind his madness.

Eos listened on with growing interest, in the situation as well as the unease apparent in Amon Gregory's voice. He must have been getting old...the Amon Eos knew would never have shown any outward signs that the situation was anything but under control. Amon had always been the player that was seven steps ahead of the competition, equipped with two back-up plans should the first go awry. As the meeting was adjourned, Eos cast one last inquisitive look at Amon before making his way towards the streets.


It only took a couple tries to get the location of the steadily growing mob and a few minutes to catch up. Dressed in nothing too fancy, Eos blended in with the disgruntled marchers fairly well. He shouted occasionally and raised his fist in the air for effect. He refrained from gathering any intelligence from any of the stoked marchers, as blind faith and mob mentality often muddled the truth of the matter. Even then, Eos thought with a wry smile, the truth is hard to come by.

Instead the assassin began picking out targets that were stoking the flames of these fool's misguided fervor and went to work. One by one a preaching man or a rallying woman dropped to the cobbles to become pebbles that the river of marchers broke around--or merely stepped upon in some cases--and Eos was lost in the thick procession. With each pass he jabbed a target in the solar plexus or the soft spot in the back of the skull, making sure to be as discrete as possible. In all honesty, he might as well have saved himself the trouble of discretion and just went all out. Nobody was paying any particular attention to the man next to them, seemingly intent on the unseen objective ahead.

Eos scowled and waved the front of his shirt in a vain attempt to get some cool air on to his skin. The press of the mob overwhelmed his senses with a torrid, musky air that threatened to make him wretch. The Hand noted, with a hint of displeasure, that the throng of people replenished itself faster than his meager efforts thinned it out. He hoped the others were having a better run of the situation.

The sound of crackling flames and roaring spell-craft carried over the cacophanous drone of the rioters, prompting Eos to direct his focus to the more readily detrimental individuals; The mages.

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#, as written by Shiva
The structure began shuddering from small explosions, as the flames licked at the storage areas that held the fuel for the massive the Forgefires hosted for their smelting. Plumes of fire ate away at the wood, and all the while Victoria was only just coming to. She sniffed once, coughed and shot up from her bed. Smoke clouded her vision, and she looked around desperately. She understood the situation perfectly- the entire smithy was on fire and she needed to get out. In the back of her head, she remembered her Master's chemical fires being even worse to control, and threw herself at the window. Looking out, she immediately knew that the structure was too unstable to climb down, and straight-up jumping off will end up with both her thin legs broken, and unable to get away if the building was to explode or collapse over her. No, too chancy.

Why? Why did this have to happen now? She finally managed to meet a celebrity she swooned over, and now this. She disregarded the suitcase full of her own belongings- those could be replaced. However, Etzel's smaller case of chemicals needed to be saved- who knows what would happen if she just left them there for the chemicals to burn. Inhaling poisonous substances wasn't much better than drinking them. She dragged the suitcase out into the hall, where the effects of the fire were even more disastrous. She dashed down the hall, making her way toward the stairs and exit. Suddenly, a dark shape shoved her out of the way as the archway collapsed, sweeping her into the flaming main hall. The masked doctor looked at her once, his posture relieved. "Go!" He ordered sharply, and Victoria went with Etzel trailing right behind her. Suddenly, the floorboards snapped, weakened by the flame sending the Doctor crashing through the floor, snapping the ankle and cracking the humerus. Pain lanced up the man's leg, as he collapsed. Victoria whirled around, trying to pull the Doctor up and just barely succeeded in forcing him to his feet and helping him toward the exit.

His gloved hand shot up at his mask, undoing the latches and forcing the mask into the girl's free hand. The pale physician's face was drenched in sweat, contorted with pain, and his eyes blazing with clarity. Just before they reached the door, the Physician's eyes went wide.

"Live. You have graduated, Victoria." He whispered, twisting from Victoria's arm and pushing her through the exit just as the roof caved in, blocking off the entrance.




The girl was thrown off her feet, into the courtyard with her cushioned suitcase slamming near her. The mask flopped to the ground, a little distance away. Victoria whirled around, staring in numb shock at the building she had so barely escaped.

Live

She picked up the suitcase and mask with shaking hands, scuttling a few yards before picking herself up and running. Far away, she didn't stop running for miles. She reached an old safehouse, fumbling at the traps and unlocking the door before entering. She understood why her Master was so distant from others now. He was aloof, alone, and more importantly- could not be touched. Over the years, the only apprentice that had stuck with him for so long grew on him, a girl that wouldn't give up no matter how insane he acted. It was his final connection, he had loved Victoria- and to save his apprentice he pushed into a burning building to make sure she got out. Locking the door behind her, she dropped the suitcase, sat down against the thick wooden entrance, and began sobbing.

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It didn't take too long for Aram to catch on to the fact that the confrontation no longer consisted solely of his men and the guardsmen from the barracks. The compound next door had already caught fire and was burning away at an alarming rate that only magefire could produce, and the barracks itself was not faring much better. Guards spilled out into the streets, in different states of armament, but all were carrying some form of weapon. All the same, more plainly-dressed figures attacked his supporters and the guards alike, apparently trying to contain the conflict.

That said all it needed to say. Assassins. For some reason, his wife insisted on maintaining a cordial friendship with the Guildmaster, but it appeared that the old man had chosen his side at last, and in some sense, this was a relief. It meant there was one more clearly-drawn line that he could point to and funnel anger towards, never mind that the old man's agents seemed to be just as intent on putting down guards who attacked with a little too much fervor.

All this was put from his mind, though, when he caught sight of a slight blond woman that he recognized. His cause had aggressively sought the assistance of Pandora Elling on several occasions, only to be turned down repeatedly. For a moment, he thought that the aid of the city's most talented healer might be theirs after all, until he noted that she was studiously healing someone wearing the uniform of the city guard. So that was how it was to be, then. Well, if her talents would not be put to the right use, it was better they were not used at all. Lightning lanced from Aram's fingertips, headed in an unmistakably-directed arc straight for the small woman.



The Royal Palace

Loki shuffled through several more documents until she reached the preliminary report on Vanderbilt. Flipping through it, her brows descended over her eyes and she frowned. There was just something not quite right about it, aside from the obvious. Such a method... someone had been making a very clear statement. But it was not one that she believed Gilgamesh had any cause to make. The problem was, she could think of very few people with both the motivation to kill the scientist and the inclination to have it done in such a provocative manner.

"Scheherazade, I want you to pay a visit to Marchfield. The body's gone by now, but I need some keener eyes on what is left. If you see anything strange at all, I want you to let me know."

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In the last year, Pandora had done so much emergency treatment on assassins with gaping wounds that she'd almost completely killed her embarrassing... well, embarrassment at seeing people without clothes. Almost. She abruptly swiveled on her heel to face in the other direction when Eos opened the door, though she could hear a couple of the others chuckle or make some form of snide comment. One of them dragged a hand down her face and shook her head.

They were all professionals, though, and so when it was time to move out, they did without complaint or comment, and Pandora followed after them, feeling very much like the child at the end of a very adult procession. She understood why she was going, of course, but that did not help her feel any more like she belonged. She blended with the crowd like the rest of them did, mentally keeping some form of tally on the dead, whispering quick spells to curb excess bleeding here or there. Unfortunately, as much as she wished she could say that this was out of nothing more than a respect for human life, it was also, in part, an effort to conceal the workings of the assassins, many of whom she considered her friends, for as long as possible.

In short, what happened at the end of the line was pandemonium, and she was busy from the get-go trying to help those who got caught in the crossfire. The victims of the assassins, she would leave alone for as long as she could, and focus instead on those who were hit by mage or guardsman. She spotted several people she knew amidst the carnage, including some she never would have thought could possibly belong to the violent group she saw before her. Fellow students from her years at the Facility, even a teacher or two. A few were healers like herself, but with enough skill in alteration to be useful in a confrontation.

Kneeling by the side of a fallen soldier, she unbuckled the leather chestplate that had been mostly burned off anyway, and murmured small words of soothing in between her more practical spells and his raw-throated yells of agony. It was with good reason that he screamed so; much of his skin was charred and blackened. She doubted there was any saving his left arm, so she simply dulled the pain and tried to repair his torso instead.

The hairs on the back of her neck pricked, and Pan's head snapped up, her arm following it in just enough time to raise a shield to deflect a bolt of lightning. The silver-blue field of energy dissipated with impact, and left Pandora a clear view of the person responsible. "Mr. Azazel?" The man was not unknown to her, nor to anyone in Delta. Considered a benefactor of the poor masses, he lived amongst them while somehow accumulating more money than any of them could hope to have and then giving it away as though to do so were nothing at all.

His face was contorted into a grim snarl, and her eyes widened. Something was very wrong with this situation, a fact which was affirmed when he shot another attack at her, this one an orb of fire. His destructive capabilities were markedly impressive, and rather than trying to meet this one head on, Pandora bent her next shield so it completely encased the flames, causing them to gutter out from lack of air. "Mr. Azazel, what are you doing? Surely you can't-" she was forced to dive to the side to avoid another gout of flames, and they were coming in quicker succession now. It looked like she had but two choices: fight, or die.

Of course, it was never exactly that simple; "fighting" for Pan required a good deal of creativity. Whispering a string of words under her breath, she materialized two more shields, small in size, but expandable at will. "I'm sorry, Mr. Azazel, but I can't let you do this!" One of the small orbs of light grew and flattened until it was a disk about the size of Pandora, and with a motion, she sent it flying at him. A flame broke it on its way, but by then she had hardened her resolve and called three more to replace it, and eventually one of the made it to him, slamming into the other mage much as a heavy pane of glass would. It bowled him over temporarily, but shattered on impact.

Please, just give up! There are people who need my help!



District Alpha

Zade nodded at the command. Once, she would have asked if Loki was truly going to be fine without a bodyguard, especially in the company of someone so close to David Gilgamesh of all people, but she had learned a while back not to question her employer's ability to defend herself. That lesson had ended with Zade on the floor with Loki's knife at her throat. It was only more humiliating because the princess had managed it in a rather confining dress. She'd tried wearing one once, out of a morbid sort of curiosity, only to discover that yes, it really was hard to breathe in them.

So instead she took her leave, feet carrying her across the rooftops in search of Marchfield, which was on the outer edges of the district. She passed by the Facility on her way, which was something she normally would not have paid much attention to, except for the fact that there was something... off about it. Weren't the mage-children usually allowed out for a little while this time of day? She hadn't thought it was that late yet...

All such thoughts immediately ceased when, out of nowhere, she felt a tremor beneath her feet. Her eyes shot to the building proper, just in time for her to see as well as hear the windows blew out, followed by another tremor and an explosion. A plume of black smoke was loosed into the sky, and Zade could only watch as the structure fell, piece by piece, into a heap of rubble. As if by- of course it's magic, you idiot- the smoke began to form words, and she watched in some form of morbid fascination as a message was spelled out into the sky.

We will not be caged. Well, damn. Scheherazade had a feeling Loki was going to want to hear about this, so without hesitation, she reversed direction and headed back to the palace.

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As many times before Giacomo was drawn to the blacksmiths guild. With a briefcase full of blueprints in his possesion he walked to the blacksmiths guild. When time and situation allowed Giacomo favored walking over machine assisted travel, it allowed you to earth with your surroundings better and it gives you a better view of what happens in the city, afterall in a skyship you could barely see the citizens below let alone see what plays between them. Though Giacomo's focussed exterior didn't show it, his mind was doubtfull about how the blacksmiths guild looked at him. Afterall he had very high standards with his metal and he had refused parts that he felt weren't good enough more than once, but he also was one to pay royally for the delivered quality and he always needed loads of parts. Though the blacksmiths guild has learned to deal with his high standards over time, there have been some firey arguments in the past due to it.

As he the blacksmiths guild came into view Giacomo was confronted with what at first glance looked like an out of controll fire. As fast as his legs could carry him he ran towards the guild building, only to see the more horrible truth, a rebellion. His monoculared eye shot over the entire situation, jumping from person to person. Clearly the guild was already making effort to stop the rebellion, but neither city guard nor the rebels seemed to have any intent to stop fighting. Through the crowds he could see that mages were involved, strong ones too, even Aram was involved... No, he was leading them, only he could mass poeple together for something like this. He put down his briefcase, knowing it's mechenics would destroy the blueprints if anything but the key was used to open the case. he sighed and mumbled: "I never thought I would use these againts the poeple I want to help." And from his sleeves came two contraptions, one being the trident system from before, the other appeared to be something between a cannon and a crosbow, having a barrel and a bow at the same time.

Giacomo lunged forward into combat intending to aid the assasins. But as he came closer he noticed Pandora in combat with aram himself. Though he knew little about magic compared to the mages he knew that there was a balance, healers had weaker combat magic and vica versa. As far as he knew they were on opposite ends Pandora being a healer and Aram a fighter. A worse match-up wouldn't have existed, she would need help to defeat someone like Aram. He ran towards Aram brushing all other combatants( exept Pandora) in his path asside with the flat parts of the weapons. As soon as there was nothing more between him and Aram his right arm raised towards him and the bow shot. Out of the barrel came a steel ball on a long chain, the ball went straight for Arams abdomen and due to the range Giacomo had left Aram with only a split second to react to the threat.

(OOC: I am not saying Aram is a fighter, but I'm saying that Giacomo percieved it that way)

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Well, isn't this fun? the riot had rapidly degraded into no less than a full-blown melee. Eos and several other assassins he had caught wind of during the mass brawl were working tirelessly to put down key figures, but the effects of their efforts went unnoticed. It was too easy for the next fool to step up and incite the next wave of fanatics--or zealous guardsmen--to fight for their cause with fevor. The smell of smoke, charred flesh and unwashed bodies did not help at all. Eos feared that he would not be able to stem the tide at all if lethal force was restricted.

"Help me! Oh please, whatever mercies look upon me help!" a woman who was quite literally a living fireball ran past Eos at screaming bloody murder. Frozen in shock, the assassin watched her advance all of six steps further into the uncaring mass of people before crumpling into a blackened heap. Eos slowly traced the dead woman's sooty footsteps back towards a great scorchmark on the side of abuilding where she must have been standing. From there, a stocky young man slinging fire caught his eye. Limitations were set in place in order to keep lids on potential outcomes. When such outcomes have been achieved regardless of the precautions set in place, then the very same limitations were nothing but hindrances.

Eos began a calm and steady walk towards the mage. His eyes burned from the acrid smoke and Eos had to wipe the tears from his eyes several times as he drew closer to the burning structure. The trigger happy magic-slinger was too preoccupied with a trio of guardsmen that had failed to sneak up on him to notice the approaching assassin. Even when Eos's heel came drove into his spine with an audible crack it still took the man a second to realize he was being attacked on two fronts. The mage cried out in pain and sunk to the floor in a manner not too different from that of his burn-victim. With wild, rolling eyes the mage made several futile attempts to summon the concentration required to conjure another spell while Eos looked down with dull eyes.

After a few moments of stunned silence the remaining two guardsmen converged on the wounded target and ran him through several times over with pikes. They immediately turned to regard Eos, gripping their weapons warily but nodding thanks none the less. Eos ignored the pair and sprinted towards one of the intact buildings, ascending the brick structure with the grace of a spider.


Eos lost track of time as he leapt from building to building. Every few minutes or so he would spot a mage causing property damage and come down upon them like a swooping hawk. Three out of the sick had come out of the encounter unconcious, concussed and sporting a few bruises or broken bones. The other three...not so much. He caught sight of Pandora's spell-duel and thought of helping several times, but had to content himself with the aid that the others were providing. He could not put an individual above the needs of the whole.

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The appearance of the scientist with the unconventional weaponry was almost enough to throw Aram off his target. Almost. He had not been training for this war, a war that hardly anyone knew was coming, for years only to be bested by a single man with a strange projectile launcher. No, indeed. Rather than attempt to erect a shield, which may or may not work depending on the force with which the ball and chain had been launched, he reacted instinctively, meeting it with a blast of pure, concussive kinetic energy, which turned out to be greater than what was provided by the man's device, and per the laws of physics, sent the intended punishing weapon spinning off at an angle opposite the one he'd hit from.

He lobbed a few orbs of fire at the man, well aware that he still had Pandora to contend with. He'd never seen metaphysical magic put to such a use before, but he would admit that being slammed into by a shield hurt like hell, and she was strong enough with them that it was not a simple matter of meeting force with force, not if he wanted to last more than a few goes without tiring himself out. Still, he knew this slight woman by reputation, and chances were, she wasn't willing to throw everything into this confrontation, either, for fear of running out of magic when the time came to heal people. Her words only confirmed his suspicions, and he would use this to his advantage.

He only needed a bit more time, anyway. All around them, his followers were falling unconscious to the ground, but even that did not matter, because this was not the main force, only a specialized unit designed to distract for as long as necessary. And the others, they wouldn't need much more time now. It was not without much consideration that he had chosen this day, this time, this place for his first major assault on the powers-that-be. This in mind, he decided it was safe to let loose on the waif of a woman who thought to stand against the force of his conviction.

Taking a cue from what he had used on the scientist, Aram sent out consecutive bursts of kinetic energy, intending to shatter every shield she could muster until he reached the woman herself. With every hit, he advanced a step closer, until there was little more than five feet between them, making reaction time of critical importance. He would not cease until she was hit. Traitors to his kind would be destroyed with the rest of them, and this healer was no exception. If it looked like she was killed by the guard, even better.

He was raising his hand for a killing blow when the shout of one of his comrades drew his attention. The forced was loosed instead at a guard, and, taking stock of the situation, Aram made a sweeping gesture, signaling his troops to pull out and melt back into the districts below. Those who had joined the march understood well enough, and in the space of a few minutes, all was quiet wreckage, the mages gone as swiftly as they had appeared.



District Alpha, Sewers

Ishtar could only shake her head slowly at the message writ across the sky. She might have made a jest to her husband about his taste for the dramatic, but they were surely beyond levity now. This... the destruction of the Facility and the removal of each and every child within would be seen as nothing less than an act of war, and she knew that was exactly how he had intended it. She wondered if that nobleman who whispered honeyed lies into her husband's ears knew he would take it so far.

Delta's most infamous madam held the small, scared child to herself, stroking the poor thing's hair as she and those who had made a show of the building's destruction wound their way through the underground sewer system, the only sure way to get from Delta to Alpha and back again without being noticed. Of course, the fact that the city guard was preoccupied with Aram's assault would help, and the chaos surrounding the Facility would likely be distracting enough on its own. By the time anyone would think to look for them down here, they would all be back in their homes, the children hidden away in those parts of the slum district where they would not be found.

And when the soldiers came for them... well, Ishtar could only hope that her husband's confidence in his people was justified. She knew the fearsome power that a mage held, but unlike Aram, she also knew that there were people in this city that you could not afford to trifle with. She would pray for Amon Gregory's neutrality, and prepare as much as one could for his vengeance.



The Nexus, Three Hours Later

Loki resisted the urge to shift uncomfortably in her seat. It would not do to seem disconcerted by anything that had happened. Truly, though, she was. She could not say with any degree of truthfulness that she had been expecting anything this extreme this soon. Either whoever was running this little mage uprising thought he had an insurmountable advantage- which she found hard to believe- or he simply didn't care how many people died in what was to come. That supposition made her at once enraged and nauseous, though of course neither inclination would make it to her face.

She could not help but feel that this was now a very conveniently-timed meeting of Parliament. Gilgamesh had called everyone together for an immediate vote on something (most people correctly assumed it to be the mage issue), and lo and behold, not three hours before what would have been a mockery of the Prime Minister's powerplay was to begin, something momentous enough to give his ridiculous, inhumane measures a chance had actually occurred. Loki did not believe in coincidence, else she would have for a very long time have considered David Gilgamesh the luckiest man in the world.

She'd sent Carlisle to check in with Amon, though Scheherazade remained with her. With both herself and Gilgamesh involved in a matter so volatile, she wanted to be absolutely certain that if it came to something more than heated rhetoric, she was ready for it. In fact, she was almost hoping it would. She was tired of skirting around the man like she needed to be walking on eggshells. She was the heir to the entire city, damnit, and one could only swallow one's pride for so long. It was time for him to make a mistake, even if she had to goad him into it, and if she had to sacrifice a bit of her credibility to do that, fine. It was not as though they could remove her from her position as Princess, even if they thought to try removing her from Parliament itself. The only thing that was currently staying her hand from doing worse in this way was the effect it would have upon the reputations of her mother and Caelin.

It would be a balancing act, but a necessary one.




As soon as all the members of Parliament (even the elderly ones who honestly probably hadn't much longer for the place, all told) had filed in and taken their seats, David Gilgamesh rose from his own and moved to the podium from which he most often preferred to speak. With the customary (if terse) acknowledgement of the presence of the Queen, he began his assault on all his opponents had been working for in exactly the way she'd thought he would.

"Gentlemen of Parliament," he intoned, and the room fell completely silent. Privately, Loki was already irritated, because she was quite comfortable in the knowledge that she was nothing of the sort and therefore took it as the slight it was intended to be. "But a few mere hours ago, my worst fears for the fate of this city came to fruition. Unbidden, the magi of our outer districts marched on two fronts into the heart of our city and laid waste to symbols of the order and protection that the government of Revelation has long promised its citizens. Those slum-dwelling rats and their allies attacked, without an ounce of provocation, the barracks of the city guard and the Facility itself, the very institution that our forefathers erected to educate them. In the process, not only did they wipe out large sections of the barracks, the blacksmith's guild, and several local businesses, they also killed members of this city's legitimate police force, not to mention bystanders."

She did not miss the slight emphasis on legitimate, and wondered at his ability to make digs at other opponents even while lambasting his main target. It was as if the man was born to lie. Though... truthfully, she had no idea yet if there had been any civilian casualties in either the attack on the barracks or the demolition of the Facility. His words on that subject at least were a complete falsehood. The place was always meant to be a prison, not a school. How easy it was to forget, to say that there was no provocation when in fact the impetus of this act went back hundreds of years. That did not make it right, of course, but it was not the completely unprovoked slaughter that he was making it out to be.

"In the destruction of the Facility, the mages removed from its protection several of their own kind, children with no control over their powers yet, dangerous to all and now without the guidance necessary to keep themselves and others safe." A deft mix of truth and falsehood if ever there was one. It was as though he'd planned for just this, now wasn't it? "It is this aggression which their freedom has engendered. In the age when magi were properly contained, there were no rebellions, there was no mass destruction on the scale we have seen today. Elisia and her descendants recognized the dangers of these men who would be gods, why is it that we today lack the wisdom of our predecessors? Could it be perhaps that there are those among us who have grown sympathetic to their 'plight?' Those who are so soft that they forget that wild animals should be caged? It is an easy thing for a soldier to lay down a sword, gentlemen, but a mage cannot lay aside his magic. They are dangerous every moment of every day, and a fit of temper that would pass as nothing in one of us can in them produce results the like of which we have only just glimpsed.

"That is why I call this meeting. Though tragedy has struck sooner than I would have anticipated, those among us with the most foresight knew that this was only a matter of time. I propose an amendment to the constitution of the city: that all mages be placed once more in containment, for the good of all of us. For any who resist, there is now a new tool available to us, one provided by the late Dr. Vanderbilt, and with it, we can make our city safe once more. I propose also, therefore, that until such time as a permanent solution can be found, that all magi be dosed with the Cure, that they, like us, might lay down their violence and live lives of peace."

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"Mr. Vernazza, get down!" Pandora had noticed his assistance, and while she was grateful for it, it also made keeping all her attention on the magical duel between herself and Azazel quite difficult. She managed to deflect two of the four spheres of flame directed at the scientist afterwards, but she didn't even have the time to figure out if he'd survived or not, because her opponent was after her with a vengeance now. Those few summoned shields he did not shatter with force trembled and wavered under the heavy assault, and she knew she wouldn't be able to keep it up for much longer and still be of any use later.

Simply put, he was willing to put more into this than she was, and she did not recognize until it was too late that this would turn out quite as badly for her as it did. She was conjuring protective barriers as quickly, as she could, but he was breaking them even faster, advancing with every successive strike, until there was no time left for her to react. Azazel threw both arms forward, and Pandora was hit with a wall of invisible force that propelled her backwards at least ten feet. Her head slammed into the cobblestones of the road, and a nausea-inducing crack informed her with grim certainty that he'd broken most if not all of her ribs.

Breathing was painful, and red and black spots flickered over her vision, swirling in random phantasmal patterns. The speed of her thoughts slowed to a crawl, blocked out on all sides by the agony spiderwebbing from the back of her head forward, and from her ribcage out. She registered only dimly that the other mage was standing over her, and she knew rather than supposed that he was summoning another crushing burst. It occurred to the healer that she was going to die, and her eyes, clouded with trauma, struggled to focus on the face of the man who was going to kill her. Ironic, perhaps, that she had had professional killers after her for the better part of a year, and in the end, it was going to be someone who wanted the same things she did that would end her.

She may have been naive and stupidly helpful on more than one occasion, but she was not actually an idiot. Pan knew that it was wrong to keep people with the gift excluded from society, just like she knew it was wrong for everyone in Delta to live in the conditions that they did. Unlike these rebels, though, she had always thought that the means to an end were even more important than the end itself. Had that been foolish of her, too? It was certainly the reason she was lying here.

Azazel turned and fired the magic elsewhere, and before she could figure out why this might be, the pressure on her head became too much, and she succumbed to beckoning unconsciousness.



The Nexus

Zade was reciting ingredient lists for flammable solutions under her breath as she stood behind Loki's chair in the Parliament building. Not because she was afraid she had forgotten them, but rather due to the fact that she was desperately seeking any method that she might use to keep herself from using said chemicals to immolate half of these people. It was hard to grow up the daughter of a Delta whore and one of these bastards and not have at least some bitterness. She didn't bother trying to reduce it all that much. Individual exceptions were just that- exceptions to the rule.

Actually, Loki hardly ever made her go to Parliament, because the woman knew how much she loathed it. She wondered why today was different. It would have been a simple matter to send her in Carlisle's place and let him deal with this, which was what usually happened. Maybe it was some kind of test; gods knew the Princess was cunning enough to employ such things. Though, honestly, if Zade could guess at the reason, that probably meant whatever she was thinking was not it. Sometimes working for the world's most inscrutable woman was annoying.

The other members of the legislature were slowly filing in, and the former street-rat watched them with hawklike eyes. Unlike other instances she could name, this time she really was trying to look unfriendly, and if at all possible, intimidating. A special level of hatred was reserved for David Gilgamesh, not least because he liked sending people to attempt to kill her. They both knew it, and surely he was aware that she understood that he was responsible, and so seeing him right there and not being able to lift a finger in his direction was a special kind of infuriating.

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( negated)

The setting changes from District Beta to The Skycity of Revelation

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#, as written by Shiva
The Nexus

Sitting through one of Gilgamesh's very biased speeches was something that was rather painful for the young nobleman to do. This emergency meeting did have some urgency to it- the mages had struck sooner than he had hoped and begun fanning the flames of rebellion. This was bad- as this now gave the man that spoke before him leverage to bring down the city's wrath down on the mages. There was no getting around it now, he had to cope with the situation, as he had done in the past. If worst came to worst, he would be forced to filibuster the vote.

Taylor was through with it. Loki hardly told him anything about her plans when it came to politics, and deep down, Taylor had held a slight bitterness about it. Recent events, combined with that fact had molded together. Was he less important? Did she see him as little more than a tool now that he helped her attained the seat in Parliament?

No. It couldn't be. Taylor forced himself to calm down. He was getting too ahead of himself. How long had it been before he had met the princess? He just wasn't used to trusting other politicians. His early years in holding his father's seat had seen to that. He quickly raised his hand in objection. If Gilgamesh was irked by this motion, none of it showed on his face.

"You propose chaining these people down because they resist oppression, Mr. Gilgamesh?" Caelin asked softly. Caelin knew he was disliked by Parliament. Perhaps he even disliked himself. "You ask of things that would bring the ruin of this city. You ask that to solve a problem, you toss aside and lock it up. You ask, that the actions of few must dictate the will of many. You ask, that the basic human rights that every man, woman, and child is granted be defiled, spat on, and chained." He looked around the room. He was met with careful neutrality. "You regard the mages- simple human beings blessed with a power that could help us, with a total contempt and lack of empathy that astounds me. You completely disregard any attempts of diplomacy, intent on bringing them down. What choice do they have? I see only two- sit down and accept your vile abuse or rebel against your corrupt laws fueled only by classist hatred."

It had been awhile since Caelin had this been angry. He didn't have the strength to while he was sick, but now that he was healthier he felt hot fury flow through his veins. Fury similar to that of when he was just a boy- a boy that would lead his guards around the city beating the homeless and the poor for pleasure.

"I refuse to support this notion. This is not the solution to our problems. This will only add fuel to the fire- give the mages that have not yet made a move a reason to begin a full-scale uprising. It will not be the mages, no. Soon the desperate from Delta, the poor, the hungry will take up arms as well. Can our forces hold up against an entire population? Can we fight a guerilla war? Can we afford to lose our laborers that risk their lives doing the jobs that you would never do?" His eyes flashed defiantly. "This is no time to hold on to prejudice. We must look to the future, not the past. We cannot meet anger with more anger!"

Elisia help me. Caelin thought. He was caught between the hammer and the anvil- if he (or Loki as a bitter afterthought) succeeded, he would be a target- highest in priority for Gilgamesh. He would become a credible threat to his plots, whatever they may be. If he failed- the uprising that would certainly follow would consume him. No noble would be safe. He would be captured or killed by the mages. However, he had no other cards to play. Words... words were his only weapons at this point.




District Beta

Heaving sobs shook the Victoria Steins' small frame as she sat against the doorway for Elisia knows how long. Every single damned memory- even the ones of backbreaking labor. As long as they contained a trace of the masked doctor's presence, her tears flowed anew, as if another dam had crumbled. She sat, knees to her face, staining the new clothes she had worn in preparation for working in the forge.

It was a lull in her tears when she decided that there would be enough grieving. "Ohh pull yourself together Tori." She whimpered, motionless. "What did he always tell you? 'An idle moment is a wasted moment.'" She rubbed her eyes hastily, standing up and nearly stumbling from the sudden motion. The safehouse was nearly cleaned out- her stuff had been moved but the masked doctor's remains still dotted the space. She walked over to the late doctor's desk. It contained several items. A note, which read "abajo de tienda". An old language from before the collapse of humanity that had been turned into a secret language between the master and apprentice. There was a thin belt, stocked with metal canisters of medicines and poisons. She belted that on, amazed at how easily it fitted and how secure it was. The last, was a small wooden box.

Picking it up, she fiddled with it until the latch opened and produced a small golden ring. As her heart swelled to the point where it felt like it would crash through her chest, she noticed a note was attached to it.

Congratulations.

The setting changes from The Skycity of Revelation to District Beta

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#, as written by Ezarael
The darkness was impenetrable, terrifying, and suffocating, but the astounding thing was how peaceful it all seemed. It was almost as if there was an absence of the proverbial mountain on the Smith’s shoulders, freeing him from the inescapable responsibilities from life that were slowly draining him of vitality, yet for some reason the experience seemed so foreign to the contemplative man, like some other force had manipulated his entire being into this current predicament, almost as if the reaper had come and shown him the future. A burning sensation began to fill the entirety of his lungs, the flames licking at their epicenter with a vengeful fervor as fiery tendrils snaked throughout his thick, barrel chest, but something was wrong, and the realization of where he lay blossomed in the depths of his psyche, forcing powerful limbs to writhe and dig into the loose debris covering the elderly man, slowly forcing the earthen tomb to open for its unwilling captive.

Just as his lungs screamed from the fiery torment that intensified with every thrust of the body, yearning for the precious life source that resided so close, yet so unreachably far away, the barest traces of a cool breeze were felt trickling through the earthen ceiling. No matter the relief felt by exhausted limbs the trickles of air were not sufficient to enliven dying man as the darkness began creeping back in through the darkest recesses of his mind, a flood of unconsciousness sweeping over the elderly blacksmith as a brilliant ray of light burst through a small hole very far away. It almost looked as if a hand were thrusting itself through the shadows, reaching out for some unknown target with a passion almost as bright as the light emanating from behind.
Yet just as the hand grasped its target the reaper came back, sweeping over the unfortunate soul with a black-hearted vengeance, encasing the entirety of his existence with the ever-stifling blackness of the abyss.
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The calamity that had ensued after the collapse of the Garrison was incomprehensible for the nine inhabitants of the former Manor Forgefire, killing the two apprentices, busy fetching coal from the far, inside-corner of the workshop, instantly along with the three members of the house staff and Garbiel’s two resident Blacksmiths after the ensuing collapse of the back-half of the Manor. Large pieces of the City Guard’s Garrison jarred loose the large, timber columns that supported the top-half of the Forgefire Manor; the startling affluence with which the Mage-fire consumed the tinder-dry building was unnoticed by the occupants, stunned by the concussion of the impact.

The immediate damage had been less extensive on the front-end of the Forgefire workshop, where Danterus had been polishing the rapier he had been working on so diligently, and Garbiel labored near the smaller forge, kept in between the storefront and main-forge room, that was reserved for smaller, or especial, orders for Garbiel. The first impact had been rather large sections of the City Garrison that tumbled down into the not-walled-in workshop, sending a large tidal wave of coal and masonry cascading towards the two unsuspecting Forgefires, engulfing them in its deathly embrace before the fire could devour the supporting beams of the roof. For Danterus escape had proven nearly simple had it not been for an empty armor display that had been forced down onto the hapless individual, impeding his direct route upwards, and forcing him to dig sideways away from the large piece of furniture.

Several Guild members that had wandered outside from all the noise had rushed over towards the now crumbling Forgefire Manor, digging furiously for Garbiel Forgefire, entombed within a sea of coal, masonry, and debris. Nethanial Ironarm, the current Blacksmith Guild Leader and longtime friend of Garbiel’s, was one of the first to leap forward into the danger, having seen Garbiel before the avalanche he knew best around where he was located, and was the one man to save the endangered Blacksmith’s life. Just as Nethanial was able to pry Garbiel’s stout frame from the earth and drag him away from the burning building the supporting beams succumbed to the fire’s maniacal hunger, killing everyone who had not been saved.
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By the time that the Forgefires had been taken to safety the conflict outside the Compound had died away, the mage-led mob dispersing into the catacomb of streets that formed Revelation while leaving their dead to rot and wounded to die screaming, hopefully die lest they be tortured and questioned for any information with which they may be aware. Danterus, thunderstruck by the sudden chain of events, wandered outside after seeing to his father’s well-being with Nethanial to catch a glimpse of what lay before him. The extent of the damage was shocking, the entire top-right half of the City’s Garrison had collapsed into the now completely destroyed Forgefire Manor, with most of the insides of the Garrison burned out from the devastating mage-fire that thirsted for every hint of wood that it could. Even now the fire-crews were barely responding to the raging inferno that engulfed both buildings, and was dangerously close to grasping the building surrounding the first two.

The entire scene infuriated the young man, a man who already despised mages for the murder of his parents, with death rattles being sounded every few seconds from other unfortunate individuals unlucky enough not to die immediately. This was only the first atrocity that would be committed by the filthy mages if they were so bold as to attack a City Guard Garrison, in Beta District none-the-less, and if something was not done then this would get out of control, but before he could stop and think of seeking out David Gilgamesh, a man he knew was always promoting harsh regulations on the lowest-class of citizens, if they could be called that, he caught sight of Giacomo Vernazza, a rather pesky scientist who could very rarely find another blacksmith to forge his trinkets. This was probably one of the last people that he had wanted to see at this trying time, the little man was always so particular with his cruddy-little jobs and cheap as well, he didn’t know why Garbiel put up with the impossible scientist, but what more the slight man was standing next to a woman with a worried look on his face.

“Mr. Vernazza! How long have you been here? I see you have had enough time to test some of the parts my father made for you…”

It was not an appropriate greeting, and he knew it, but this was not exactly what a civilized person would consider being an appropriate time and place. Regardless he headed towards the annoying scientist, and the prostrate woman lying nearby that seemed on the verge of death. The sudden realization that he was bleeding dawned on the exhausted Danterus’ mind, looking down to see a cut the length of his hand across the right side of his torso, in between two ribs and covered in coal and masonry. He cupped his left hand over the wound, stemming the flow of blood from the already filthy cut, as he kneeled down next to Giacomo Vernazza, grimacing from the pain.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The darkness seemed to last an eternity for the aging Garbiel Forgefire, it seemed hours dragged by in the hour between the Garrison collapsing and his waking in the Guild Headquarters, the building located in the epicenter of the Compound and the residence of Nethanial Ironarm. The sudden change of scenery startled the Garbiel, abruptly opening his eyes after last seeing his workshop standing around him, the first thing the struck his mind was to look out the window next to the bed he lay in, conveniently placed on the front-side of the building, and saw the wreckage that was his Manor, the fire-crews still battling the fierce flames. Besides the pain of his heartbreaking from the sight of his Manor in flames a blinding pain burst through his thigh, almost as if a red-hot poker were being dug into it through his bone. Looking down he gazed upon the sight of his left-leg bundled up in bandages, soaking wet with blood oozing from a wound that had only been half-healed by a wand that lay nearby.

The may be able to accomplish many tasks, but the wands can never do as much as a healer, and breaks in bones are even more difficult for the fragile tools.
No one was occupying the room besides the Smith currently, they probably set out to find a doctor to help with his leg, and the thought that they might send for a healer-mage was certainly out of the question at this time. He knew the look of mage-fire very well, and what was currently devouring his Manor was no normal fire, or one created by the coal and coke he used for his workshop. This was definitely the pot boiling over from the last year’s events, yet this was only the first surge before the lid floated off the side and allowed all the scum to ooze out. This was definitely an orchestrated event, but who would do such a thing? Gilgamesh was certainly involved in this; he needed some kind of project to occupy his time since his recent backslide of involvement in matters of Parliament.

It’s doubtful he would be directly involved with a scandal of this proportion, but he is definitely pulling some strings, and this would be a perfect opportunity to push for regulations… He may even go so far and ask for The Imprisonment.

Forgefire pondered quietly on the larger matter at hand, his Manor could be rebuilt after some time, but if something wasn’t done about this problem now then his Workshop would never be back open.

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#, as written by Smith
This work was becoming tedious. Eos pounced upon another unsuspecting pyromaniac, bearing her to the ground and snapping the older woman's neck without so much as blinking. Eos sat there, straddling the corpse for a long while while the chaos roared around him. After the mage had willingly immolated one of his 'comrades', Eos had lost the will to keep sparing their lives. Today, he had killed more people than he had in the past year alone. It did not help that most of them lacked proper martial training(and were too shocked by his sudden appearance to react in time).

After an indeterminable amount of time had passed, Eos pulled himself up off of the body and looked down the street. Most of the rioters were disappearing into allyways or rallying and marching away. He observed the carnage they had wrought through lusterless eyes, distantly wondering if any of the extremists had given any thought to what they had just done. A rueful smile found it's way to the assassin's lips then, followed by the thought: A man who kills for a living finding death abhorrent. Is that ironic, or just hypocritical?

Eos began making his way back to where he had last seen one of his comrades. Every couple minutes or so he would meet up with another assassin and deliver a brief report on their indivdual success, or(more often) pass by a wailing victim or crying people. Eos tried his best to ignore them as a whole, but ended up euthanizing a severely burned child and helping a newly crippled father into a makeshift medical facility already rife with patients. Still, he made good time to the location he wished to be.

The first thing he saw was shattered cobbles and cracked pavement surrounding Pandora's inert form. Eos felt a pang of alarm, his eyes growing more lucid and widened with panic. Where was the scruffy man that had been helping her battle earlier? What was with the other...Vernelli? Why wasn't he helping? Where had the other assassins been?

"Pan. Pandora, can you hear me?" without realizing it, Eos was kneeling beside the unconcious physician. He vaguely recalled overhearing some steps to dealing with the unconcious when Pan was helping a family deal with their narcoleptic son. Eos cursed, realizing he couldn't remember much of it at all. First, the assassin checked her pulse, followed by her breathing. Ok...she's alive, and no airway obstructions. Eos quickly pressed his index and middle finger against several spots along Pnadora's ribs, arms and legs. Nothing broken. Alright Pan...upsy-daisy. Oh. Wait...

Repeating the procedure, this time with his doctor-turned-patient flipped on to her stomach, Eos frowned. He had noted the look of uneasiness on Pan's face even in her forced sleep, and was almost positive he heard a faint groan when he probed the slight woman's ribs. With a nod, Eos looped his arm under her neck and the other encircled her waist. Taking care to keep her torso against his for support and not to jostle her too much, the assassin began carrying Pandora back towards the Guild.

It was only then when the last of the adrenaline of battle made it's way out of his system that Eos realized how fatigued he was. His breaths were loud and ragged, sweat rolled off of his dusky skin in waves and he was sure that there was a burn just below his ribs on the right side of his abdominals. Still, Eos trudged along with his snoozing cargo in toe.

Amon and Loki had a great deal of explaining to do.

The setting changes from District Beta to The Nexus

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It was with a mounting sense of dread that the princess listened to Gilgamesh. Honestly, she scarcely heard the words- they’d danced across this floor before, she knew the steps- but the horror spawned instead from the looks on the faces of the other members of Parliament. Was it really that much easier to believe the honeyed lie than the bitter truth? Were they truly that weak?

She knew it had little to do with weakness, or at least only of a kind. No, it was more because of their strength that it was so easy to herd them into his mindset. The magi and everything they represented threatened to overturn the settled power structure. A full-scale rebellion would disenfranchise most of these people, and they likely knew it. The ironic thing was, she alone probably stood to benefit from it; if she so wished, Loki could allow events to march along as they would and emerge the reasonable authority figure at the end of all this chaos. If played right, she might even be able to do away with this sham of an institution altogether and restore complete monarchy to the city.

If it hadn’t meant so much loss in the meantime, she might have been tempted. But that was something that she presently could not bring herself to even consider seriously, let alone resolve to do. She could not claim to be goodhearted in the manner of Pandora or Caelin; she looked always for the implications, the impacts that actions would have on the threads linking people to power structures, and like it or not, they influenced her decisions. She forced herself to look at the big picture, always, and in doing so individuals became by necessity faceless. It was why she was ill-equipped to fight Gilgamesh’s line of reasoning. In order for Parliament as an institution to retain its structural integrity, it would have to give up what little moral integrity it had left. Truthfully, she doubted her ability to act otherwise in their position, and it was the ugliest of thoughts.

But she was not in their position, she was in hers, and pragmatically, she would just have to be glad of that, as it placed her in a position as to be able to take a stance that was both to the benefit of the Crown and also to the people she had come to see as more than faceless numbers. Few as they might be, they would stand in well enough for the rest, and this, she knew, was what she had been missing scarcely more than a year ago. She had been blind to the trees for the sake of the forest, and though her vision was still shrouded in this respect, at least she remembered that there were individuals, and that they had importance. Something that it would seem her fellows forgot.

Well, most of them. She watched a few of those countenances so sure after Gilgamesh spoke waver when Caelin took his stand, and though the fact that he was clearly upset caused his words about anger to ring a tad ironic, he was doing something that she was not capable of- changing minds. Loki could manipulate, coerce, and force with the best of them, but she rarely won allies. Even their faction in this house of governance was almost entirely the result of the efforts of Lord Taylor and but a few others. The tragedy of being raised to rule alone was that you never learned how to cooperate in a lasting fashion.

She would give no speech; she was ill-suited to such things. This did not mean that she had no plan. Of course, the plan was rather risky, and full of holes that were obvious enough that both Amon and her mother had tried to actively discourage her from going through with it. She’d kept it from those few other people she could trust (Caelin included) because it was simply far too risky to involve them. Even the girl standing behind her, so honest in her bitterness, did not know what was to come.

At the conclusion of Caelin’s speech, the rest of Parliament went into something of an uproar as various members of it began shouting at each other and aides ran to and fro attempting to collect for the record everything that was said. In was in this chaos that Loki stood, but before she could ask the room for silence, someone else demanded it.

“Silence!” The Queen, most often nothing but a mere spectator in these events, was nevertheless immediately obeyed. Loki took her seat with wide eyes out of respect for her mother’s position, but she had no idea what she was doing. They had discussed nothing, and it was only when Minerva continued that her daughter grasped the intent of her demand.

“Clearly, this is a contentious issue for all of us, and I think the two sides most dominant here have stated their positions clearly enough. Because I have no desire to see my city fall into ruin, I feel it necessary to bring up the point that nobody else will.” Loki swore quietly under her breath, a rather colorful expression she’d taken directly from Eos. “Duke David Gilgamesh, Prime Minister of Parliament, at this time the Crown brings formal suit against you for corruption. There has been some evidence come to my attention that your dealings with other members of Parliament and the citizenry as a whole have violated the bylaws of this city and the constitution besides. I’m afraid I cannot allow you your vote in this legislature until the matter has been officially investigated and set to rights, one way or another.”

Damn. She’d taken the words right out of Loki’s mouth, only it was so much worse for the Queen to do it, because in the (likely) event that the evidence could not be mustered in enough time, Gilgamesh would have that much more on his side. There was a difference between the Crown refusing to try and prosecute him and the Crown failing to do so even with their best efforts. Failure would mean the death of the Queen’s political effectiveness for an ineffectual stall. It seemed that Loki had miscalculated in the spot closest to home, and unless the right evidence could be unearthed, and quickly, everything would be lost.




Gilgamesh sneered up at his old adversary. She had no right to look so… righteous up there on that dias. His disdain for the Queen was an old hate, and it ran deep. The woman was too sentimental, too afraid to take the drastic measures that in his mind were both necessary and justified, simply because she did not wish to dirty her hands. Her, her damnable daughter, and that whelp Taylor were all the same.

Outwardly, he looked properly mortified, but gave the dias a lavish bow all the same. “I am saddened that someone thinks such a thing of me, Your Majesty, but I will endeavor to demonstrate my innocence, that this urgent matter may more swiftly be brought to its close. As I am no longer in a position for the moment to call the Constitution into question, I still recommend a temporary measure, instigating a curfew for the outer districts, and increased guard presence there, and the outfitting of the guard with doses of the Cure, that they might have adequate defense against future actions of this… rebellion. Surely even my opponents can see the need for this much?” Having been formally accused of corruption, his special capacities as Prime Minister were for the moment frozen, which would buy his opposition some much needed time.

There were general murmurs of agreement, and though a decent number of people voted nay for the measure, it passed. Loki’s knuckles were bone-white where they gripped the arms of her chair. Gilgamesh swept out, escorted by a few members of the Queen’s personal guardsmen, and the rest of the Lords followed, their business concluded abruptly for the moment. Loki attempted to make eye contact with her mother, and received a small nod in return. Shaking her head, the Princess moved a few seats down and tapped Caelin on the shoulder. “Would you mind coming with me?” she asked. “I believe my mother has some explaining to do… as do I, and I think you should hear it.”

Turning to the girl behind her, she gave no chance for Zade to say anything. “Go, now. You know what to do.”



The Assassins' Guild/District Beta

When Eos arrived back at the Guild, Amon took one look at him and immediately had both the man and the healer he carried sent to the infirmary for emergency treatment. With Pandora out of commission, the in-house physicians were about to have more work than they knew what to do with. Unfortunately, Etzel did not appear to be there either, and that did not bode well. He probably wouldn’t have gone directly back to his safehouse, not without checking in.

Grim-faced, Amon left directions with the apprentice at the desk and headed out himself to observe the aftermath. What he saw upon his arrival was not pretty, and it seemed that the damage had extended past the barracks and to the Smith’s Guild complex and the inn on the other side. The area was almost completely empty now, and Amon recognized two of the few people still remaining. “Mr. Vernazza,” he greeted, cordial as always despite the obvious carnage around him. The other man’s name did not immediately come to mind, but he did know where he’d seen the youth before. “You’re Garbiel’s boy, yes? Did he make it out all right? What of the rest?” He gestured towards the still-burning building, the response teams (such as they were) now working to combat the unnatural mage-fire that still licked at the structures.

He needed to find Etzel and hopefully also his apprentice, since the volume of injured, while not great in terms of his own personnel, did seem to be rather more than his physicians would be able to handle, and now was not the time to be making distinctions between “his” people and people in general. Even so, Garbiel was as close to a friend as Amon kept, and he would not deny that he did wish to know of the smith’s condition.

The setting changes from The Nexus to The Assassins' Guild

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#, as written by Smith
Eos found that he was much less angry than he should have been at being so quickly dismissed by Amon. He attributed the lack of irritation to the urgency of Pandora's condition. The question of where Loki and Caelin were crossed his mind, but the assassin did not bother to voice it.

Well, that went better than expected. Eos sat on a stool across from Pandora's current bed with his chin resting on steepled fingers. He had only breeches on, with a large andslightly stained-through bandage wrapped across his midsection. The burn had not been as severe as the physician had first suspected, but it blistered over quickly and burst several times over causing the nurse to groan in frustration at the need to change the assassin's bandages five times. Yellowish and blood-stained bandages lay in a heap inside a nearby waste can. Eos sighed, staring at Pandora and wishing he had given into his previous urge to run to her aid.

"Sorry." he whispered. Eos creased his brow trying not to give in to anger again, but the effort required more and more willpower as he thought of what was happening to the world. Nothing in books had prepared him for this. For most of his life, the assassin had lived inside a small bubble, just in different forms. At first it was the Tower. Then, it was in Selene's arms. After that and the death of his former life, the slums of Delta and it's familiar locales served as his area of influence. Dark, dirty and simple. What became of his life after that though...

Eos shook his head and sighed. The world was much to large. Too much was happening, too much that he could not control. If he could fight away all of his problems(and even he knew that was not possible), things would be much simpler. Yet, political games were not something one could beat into submission. Indeed, attempting to do so almost always backfired horribly. The mages were a variable that he could not quite grasp either. In a fair fight, most combat-oriented mages would reduce him to ash in moments. Now they were flooding the streets...hadn't they just gotten their second-class citizen status finally revoked a few moments ago? Why ruin that already?

With another sigh, Eos leaned back and put his left arm behind the head of the chair. The world was way too complicated outside of his bubble. He looked at Pandora's sleeping face and wondered what on earth posessed the little woman to get into such a one-sided battle in the first place. Then, he could not help but smile. "We really need to stop doing this. The whole, you being unconcious and me sitting on my hands thing. It's getting old."

The setting changes from The Assassins' Guild to The Nexus

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To say that Zade had a full grasp of the peculiarities of the situation at hand would be to make quite the mistake. It was the difference between art and science, the distortion between what she perceived and the underlying mechanisms of politics. She would remember the day’s events in the hasty splotches of impressionist color, not the finely-tuned machine with cogs and gears that perhaps the others saw.

Her world turned red when she tried listening to Gilgamesh. To her, it didn’t sound like deft manipulation or playing on the fears of the nobility, it simply sounded like hate-filled spume without a purpose or a lick of truth to it. She could not claim that she saw the magi’s situation as any more unfair than the lives of anyone who lived in the mass of ratholes and warrens that was Delta. She certainly didn’t think that their campaign was going to be successful, not in a world where people less hated than they were allowed to live amidst the filth of industry.

Still, she couldn’t help but be a bit pleased that they’d actually done something. They’d been given an inch, but they were taking the mile that they had a right to, or at least should. Even if such an effort were doomed to fail, she couldn’t help but enjoy it for the fear it was putting into these aristocrats’ hearts, even if only for a moment. Damn right they’d destroyed the Facility; now they’d never have to go back.

Yet she lost much of her anger even as Lord Taylor gained his. It was not so grand and sweeping as the oppressed against the oppressor, was it? She’d had a year’s worth of experience to show her that in a way that she would not have thought to believe if told. It was peculiar, that. But for the kindness of a single individual, she might have been so poor and desperate as to join these marchers in their battle. But for a fire-slinging street performer, she might have wound up one of the many without franchise, doomed to work a factory or the same stretch of Delta alleyway as her mother had. But for her friendship with a certain knife-slinging Princess who refused to stay put, she may have never come to make the distinction she could now.

But for an accident of birth, any one of these idiots might have been a mage themselves. Didn’t they see that? The irritation gave way to the grays of confusion when Loki stood. The princess was never one to give speeches in Zade’s experience. Maybe she’d used one when announcing her intention to join Parliament? Her bodyguard couldn’t remember for certain if that was the occasion. It had been… impactful, in the way Loki had of exuding superiority. It was an annoying tendency, if she were being truthful, but she wasn’t sure it was even intentional. It was also highly satisfying when used on other people, but it didn’t make for a very convincing demeanor.

What was even more confusing was what the Queen said next. So they were actually going to accuse Gilgamesh of being a heartless bastard now? Last time she’d checked, they still didn’t have any solid evidence for that… it looked like they’d have to find some, and quickly. Any questions on her part were stopped thoroughly by Loki’s instructions, and though she bristled a bit at the curt tone in which they were issued, she nodded shortly and took off. She knew what was meant, she just didn’t have the faintest idea what it implied.


The Assassins' Guild

Pandora drifted in and out of consciousness for an indeterminate amount of time. For the most part, she would wake just enough to be overwhelmed with the stabbing pains that breathing caused, before her addled and severely concussed mind would shut itself down again in response. Regaining any level of mental function was a struggle against the ripping agonies of broken of shattered ribs, making breaths a labor to say the least.

Her pain tolerance was not particularly impressive. It had never needed to be. Pan had never been a rambunctious child, and after a certain point, she was able to deal with any small injuries almost without thinking about it. Almost. As it turned out, dealing with her pain this time was going to take a lot more focus than she was currently capable of mustering.

Slowly, though, awareness returned. She felt not-ground underneath her, and surmised that she must have been moved. From what little sound she could pick out, people were moving around fairly urgently. Her guess was that she was in an infirmary, possibly in the Guild, which meant that at some point, an assassin had likely moved her. Probably one of those she knew. Okay, logic was working, would magic?

She reached for the wellspring of her magic, easing the concussion first, then the ribs. As much as she wanted to eliminate the pain entirely, she was going to need it to determine what was actually broken. The diagnostics would take up too much effort at this stage. Slowly, awkwardly, the snapped ribs knit back together, the surrounding flesh following. A few had been more shattered than broken, though, and those would still be tender for quite some time. Properly, she should probably fall back asleep, but the urgency of the situation demanded otherwise.

Cracking an eyelid, Pan groaned and squeezed it shut again. The light was painful. A few more attempts, and her dilated pupils had shrunk to a manageable size, and she was able to determine that her initial guess as to her location had been correct. It was almost surreal, being both doctor and patient, though she suspected that without some form of immediate assistance, she might have died. Against her own better judgment, Pandora used her arms for leverage and managed to sit herself up. Apparently, she was still mostly clothed, which was an infinitesimal positive. It meant she hadn’t been bleeding too much. She always had been rather good at finding the upsides, pathetic as they might be.

“Ugh… what happened?” the question was muttered to nobody in particular, and Pan scanned the room with bleary eyes. Catching sight of Eos next to a pile of stained bandages in a wastebin, she flashed a wan smile. “I feel like we’ve done this before,” she commented, unknowingly echoing his earlier musings. “Are you all right?”

The setting changes from The Nexus to District Beta

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Standing within the ruins of what had been the blacksmiths guild, a city guard station and a local inn, Giacomo looked at the chaotic scene around him. It had been only moments ago that Aram had attacked him with his fireballs, which he fortunately avoided. With nothing better to do Giacomo began with tending to the wounded, using the rubble around them as makeshift medical supplies. There however was just so much he could do and before long he was without anything to do. He walked back to his suitcase which still stood untouched, picked it up and looked at the scene sighing deeply, thinking about the backlash and the likely reprisals that were to come.

Then as he was about to go on his way back someone said his name, he grinned for a moment as he recognied the voice, this was exactly the man he wanted to speak. "Mr. Gregory, exactly the man who I wanted to speak." He said as he turned around. Giacomo walked towards Amon watching his footing so he wouldn't step on anyone, alive or not. "As you can see things have made a turn for the worse. Now we have an act of war afgainst the city guard with Aram Azazel leading the charge. If the parliment wasn't already made paranoid for the mages by gilgamesh already this would have pulled them over that line. I think that now war seems unavoidable, that it is unpermitable to hide my research any longer." He said carefully selecting his words for his final sentance.

The things he wanted to say, they were enough for a conviction for high treason against the parliment, thus he held his tongue as best as possible. He pulled his left sleeve up unveiling the hidden trident weapon underneath and hiding it only a fraction of a second later, giving Amon a glimpse of what he meant. "I want to discuss something with you, something that can only be discussed privately." He said as he took a small key out of his pockets. He trew the key at Amon in a slicht arc. "Meet me at the air purifier, use the north entrance, it's the metal backdoor. There we can discuss this safely. I'll leave the matter whether or not to take our 'client' to this meeting, I presume you have a better judgement about that matter." He said before walking away. It would be obvious that Giacomo meant Loki with their client, at least to Amon. The door would lead them directly to the storage rooms, the key was just to deactivate the security systems that would otherwise mangle any living creature that entered through that door.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

District Delta

Having returned to the air purifier, Giacomo sighed once more. Even though Revelation was meant to be peacefull, conflict and greed are just part of the human nature. He walked to the back of one of the basements storage facility to a massive vault door. Taking another key out of his pockets he placed it in the lock, and with a slight hint of hessitation on his face he turned the key, unlocking to door. The doors massive cilinders moved and the door opened outwards. Lights in the room behind turned on as the door opened revealing an armory of experimental weapons stored in shelves and in the badly lighted back end stood the siluette of a massive war machine, well massive to Revelations standarts.( Since it is just a city, there would be no need to have siege weapons, they would just do too much colleteral damage)

The setting changes from District Beta to The Assassins' Guild

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#, as written by Smith
As the bleary-eyed little medic finally awoke, Eos observed quietly from his seat. It was always worth a laugh or two when a disoriented person was just getting their bearings in what they can not yet tell is a completely familiar setting. Pandora was no exception, as the bandaged assassin had to stifle a chuckle when Pan's bleary eyes eventually managed to orient on him. When the physician spoke, he could not help but laugh in earnest. "Really? This situation does not seem familiar to me at all. Nope. Not in the slightest...

"But yes. I'm fine..." Eos shrugged awkwardly and waved at the other patients and their infirmities. "Better than most of the people here anyway, including you. Nicole caught the last of your spell-duel," he said, referencing a mid-level assassin that had participated in stemming the riot, "She tells me that you went up against an individual of a much higher caliber than yourself. In battle, anyway. I was never one to be interested in the mechanics of magic, but I do know that the better at healing you are, the crappier you are at combat magic." Eos poked the nearest of Pandora's hands and smirked. "With the quality of work you dole out to restore, I doubt you could dish out any real damage even if you tried."

Although it was not meant to be insulting, Eos found fault in his choice of words almost immediately. He had thought he felt something odd about Pandora's mood earlier, and felt that he had pinpointed the problem: She felt inadequate when compared to the rest of the 'team'. Unable to fight on the front lines, so to speak. Reiterating her inability(and partial failure) to do so was not exactly the wisest course of action. Without realizing it, Eos grasped Pandora's hand with his own callused palm and began speaking.

"I wish I was you sometimes." he winced and stumbled over his words, "Not the being female and tiny part--not that there's anything wrong with that, it's pleasant--but I meant being a mage. No, wait, I don't mean the persecution either...uh...damn." Eos sighed, inhaled and slowly exhaled. "What I mean is, since meeting you--actually speaking to you for the first time instead of grunting, I have stayed awake at night wondering how different my life would have been like if I was someone like you. Someone who could mend bones instead of breaking them, someone who people sought to console them and perform miracles of life, not feats that put others six feet under.

"Um...sorry." Eos released Pandora's hand and stood up, wincing at the sudden movement. "I...I just...felt like I should...no. I wanted to say that." with another quiet sigh, Eos gave Pan a half-hearted smile and made his way out of the infirmary. He disliked being around sick people, and felt suffocated being around the wounded and dying. At least, that's what the assassin kept telling himself.

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#, as written by Shiva
The Nexus

With his speech, Taylor felt he had least said his mind- and whatever happened next, he would have no control over. After pandemonium struck, he thought his side might have a chance in at least stalling the vote if they couldn't win. However, as he observed calmly, he knew that things were getting close. If they were to put Gilgamesh out of power they would have to do it soon, because events were moving faster than Taylor could manage. With the queen's abrupt silencing of Parliament, even Caelin looked surprised as he turned toward her face with surprise. What she said next staggered Caelin.

How did she manage to get evidence together? Was she in on this the whole time? What's going on? However, despite the news that would certainly leave somebody shocked and gasping at straws, Gilgamesh was collected. Though his face spoke shock, Caelin had been with Parliament long enough to see through false facades. With a smarmy retort, he challenged the queen to gather this evidence. This wasn't good- did he know the Queen was bluffing? Was she bluffing? Taylor had too many questions. Siri would be disappointed if he found out how out-of-tune his "father" was with these circles he claimed to be so familiar with. The boy had been spending more time with another noble's child, something that Taylor had been struggling with. The boy was growing up from his dependency- good. He wondered how his parents felt when he ran off with his first friend.

A voice immediately shook him from his thoughts. Gilgamesh's voice. Though he loathe to admit it, the man's proposition was reasonable. Security must be maintained, at the very least- but he didn't see any reason for it to extend into the lower districts. Before he could voice this, the vote began. The young noble voted nay, but if it had been private he would have voted for that temporary measure. Fighting oppression or not- he needed the mages to be contained for just a while longer while he tried to obtain incriminating evidence on Gilgamesh. Really, he felt like a animal trying to eliminate somebody that didn't rub him the right way. However, Gilgamesh was the only real suspect he knew that would send assassins to end his life. Swallowing once, he turned to the Princess as she motioned to him.

She offered an explanation, both from her mother and herself. Deep down, he quietly thought that it was about damn time. Who knows how many blunders he had made- detrimental to everyone's progress as he was in the dark? No, he had to know what was going on. His face tightened somewhat- an uncharacteristic grimace before answering "I would be happy to know what's going on, your Highness."

District Beta

Her right hand glinted slightly as she began equipping herself once more. The belt of vials was strapped to her waist, and a pair of daggers were strapped to her thighs. She tied the blade that she carried to a gap in the belt of vials, and stuffed a small bag with supplies and money. She would return to the safe house if she needed anything else. She quickly armed the traps on the door, slipping out before dripping some contact poison on the knob. Any bare hand touching the poison would be writhing on the ground in seconds. She threw a large cloak over herself, and hunched over slightly while pulling a shawl over her head under the hat.

She tipped her hat low, and returned to the scene of the fire. As she ducked among the bodies, pretending to examine them as if looking for somebody. However, what immediately caught her eye was a man who seemed to be... glowing blue. She had never seen such a man, but he had walked within the proximity of another man. As her trained eye caught the flash of a blade of some sort, she had a slight inkling of what was going on. She had also slightly recognized the man he was talking to. Amon? The master of the Assasins Guild?

This was getting interesting. As Giacomo began to make his leave, she was already shuffling off- formulating a plan. The scientist, as impressive in combat and innovation as he was probably wasn't expecting a late-teenage girl in disguise trailing him across the city. Trained too, as she shadowed the man all the way back to District Delta- occasionally changing disguises mid-way by discarding some clothing or attaching some accessories. She watched him approach the Air Purifiers from a good distance. No wonder she thought she recognized him. The papers- Giacomo, the miracle scientists that cleans the air of the outer District. And he had relationships with Amon. Since her master hadn't given her directions to the guild, and Amon probably wouldn't be sending assassins looking for her, Giacomo was her best bet. She couldn't possibly face the Forgefires after what happened.

She followed him like a cat, calling upon all her training to trail him and not cause a scene. Her master had always told her that a man of high stature appeared calm because he had security- visible or not. She had to disarm one trap as she slinked behind him, taking cover as he paused at the huge door. He opened it, and her eyes widened.

Weapons?

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#, as written by Ezarael
The view from the window of The Forge proved quite useful for the injured Garbiel, allowing him a decent vantage point with which to view any persons walking down the street, and several familiar faces had passed by while he watched his son walking towards a client of theirs, Signore Vernazza if he was not mistaken; even if his face was turned slightly away from the smith the tools resting in his hands were unmistakable to their components’ crafter. What on earth he had to do with this catastrophe was not exactly obvious, but he remembered his name being mentioned amongst the others involved with the recent strife in the past year, and another one of those individuals just happened to be there, and assassin he had met on random occasions. Just trying to hear any conversations from this distance was laughable, but by their body language the two knew each other, or neither seemed bothered due to battle-shock, yet that seemed rather implausible when the assassin hefted up a limp body that belonged to the one mage girl he had met the day prior, her name was Pandora if he remembered right, and he usually did.

Well these people are organized well enough to help stem the tide, but what happens when the floods come…

Not much else could be said about the trio of comrades, who even now began marching off to different locales within the tumultuous city, Eos taking Pandora to receive medical care, while Signore Vernazza seemed content enough to sleep. His son was kneeling in the dirt, seeming aware but unconcerned with the unexpected personnel, but he looked up when the vision of Amon Gregory strode towards him.

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“You’re Garbiel’s boy, yes? Did he make it out all right? What of the rest?” He gestured towards the still-burning building, the response teams (such as they were) now working to combat the unnatural mage-fire that still licked at the structures.

Danterus looked up at the sound of the familiar voice of Sir Amon, a term not many were comfortable using if he might add, but his relationship is not altogether as close to him as his father’s, yet they were still on decent terms when encounters do occur. He looked down and finally began to feel the sharp pain in his side, the blood coagulating with all the dirt from the collapse, and in definite need of cleaning lest it become infected. Standing up slowly, the loss of blood had left him somewhat lightheaded; however the previous concussion from the earlier building collapse was also effecting him at the time.

“My father? Oh yes he is in The Forge right now, but as of the others I’m not so sure, you’d have to ask Nethanial Ironarm about what he saw; I think he saw everything that happened. Come, follow me.”

Garbiel had been speaking to a physician when Amon and Danterus had first started walking towards the building he was currently occupying, the elderly man had been cleaning his cuts and wounds while using a rather higher grade wand to concentrate on healing the wound in his leg, this one needed much less preparation and must have cost a decent sum of gold. The man had departed quietly as the sight of Danterus’ shadow loomed through the doorway, currently unaccompanied by Sir Amon, but still rather anxious from earlier, nearly stuttering when he asked the physician to wait for a second to speak to his father.

“Amon is here to speak with you Father, he’s talking with Nethanial currently, the man had a much better view of what happened than us, but it shouldn’t be long before he finds his way up here. I need to have this attended to as well, but afterwards I will be leaving for a short while… I have some business to discuss with a potential client.”

Without hesitating for even a hair’s-breadth of a moment Danterus rushed from the doorway, not even daring to listen to any inquiries the worried Garbiel would have, and left to machinations only the gods could comprehend right now.

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The Gods be damned if I let those scum ruin my city, I have to speak with Gilgamesh…he’ll know what should be done at a time like this…

Danterus had relocated to a room down the hall, passing an upcoming Sir Amon as he traversed the doorway along with the elderly physician; and seated himself on a stool with his right arm extended upwards, allowing the man easier access to the wound in his right side. He winced as the small man scrubbed the particularly delicate area with a rough cloth soaked in some kind of stinging liquid that was supposed to cleanse a wound, but why the man did not use the one of the wands at his side he was not sure, and he was equally as unafraid to speak said inquiry.

“Excuse me sir, but may I ask as to why you do not use one of those wands to help speed the process up a bit?”

“Why you ask? Because these wands will only mend to flesh young man, and if you were to mend the flesh with all of this bacteria and filth inside then you would only WISH it was a simple infection. Something like this would easily damage you lungs very quickly, and without a doubt your heart would go very soon after that… SO if you don’t mind I need to cut just a little off.”

Without realizing it a numbing sensation had washed over his right side, making the vision of bad flesh being cut away from his body so alien that it seemed unbelievable, and after the man brandished one of his said wands the whole experience was washed away with the flick of a wrist. A sense of exhaustion had flooded over the young man, hearing the soothing voice of the physician that had just effected his immediate unconscious state with a special herb-infused concoction.

The setting changes from The Skycity of Revelation to District Beta

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Amon listened first to Giacomo, keeping his face carefully neutral. Most of this he already knew, including the name of the man in charge. With Azazel, it was not knowing his identity that was the problem, but finding him. His followers hid him well, and even his informants in Delta were reluctant to give the man up for any form of interrogation by the assassins. Likely, he had a rotation of residences, for his own was rarely ever occupied, and only then usually by the man’s wife. The Guildmaster was reluctant to act against Ishtar; not only had he once counted her a personal ally and friend, but she did not protest his training of some of her employees as spies. If ever there was a fruitful network of information, it was theirs, and this was something that he alone had thought to do.

He nodded just once in acknowledgement of the man’s offer, and watched the scientist depart in that very direction. He would follow soon after; Loki likely had enough to deal with right now, and it would not be long before she requested his presence as well, he was almost certain of it. The Queen’s plan was not something he particularly endorsed, but he was self-aware enough to know that he would rather it be Minerva than Loki who bore that particular burden. There were always options if the current monarch wound up disgraced; the same happening to her child would effectively undo nearly fifteen years of work on his part, as the woman had been astute enough to point out to him.

He followed Danterus thereafter, inquiring of the damage to his fellow guild leader before dropping in on Garbiel. The smith appeared to have been injured, but not in a way that was life-threatening. Amon nodded to his old friend and smiled humorlessly. “Garbiel, I’m afraid I’m going to need to borrow you and your lad. Tell him it’s to foil the mages.” True, but only partially. Still he needed allies where he could get them, especially if he was to make peace with Loki… she wasn’t going to like what she’d be hearing about now.



The Royal Palace

Loki stood in her mother’s parlor, none of the choice words she would have preferred to loose having made it yet past her tongue. There was something to be said for venting, but she had never been inclined. Instead, she ignored the tea and listened to her mother explain herself, becoming increasingly convinced that this was the single worst idea she had ever heard.

“It’s simple enough,” Minerva pointed out. “We knew that it was only a matter of time before Gilgamesh found a way to get what he wanted. He’s been losing his positioning to the two of you and your allies for a while now,” she continued, glancing at Lord Taylor, “and it was only a matter of time before this was irreparable. I don’t know if he engineered it specifically or just goaded these mages into doing what they did, but the fact remains that it came at a crucial time. You saw their faces, both of you. You must have known that fear was destroying their resolve. I did the only thing I could do and stalled for time.”

“That doesn’t explain why you didn’t let me do it,” Loki protested. She had a feeling she understood why, but that didn’t make it any wiser. “You’re the Queen. I could have passed it off as a rash mistake of youth, but you? This is so far out of character for you that they’ll tear you right off your throne if…” The odd little smile that had appeared on Minerva’s face caused her to trail off, and her eyes narrowed. “No. That is not an acceptable alternative.”

“Isn’t it?’ Minerva asked kindly, sipping delicately. “If they ‘tear me from my throne,’ as you so put it, little damage is done. I’ll finally be free of the weight of this crown, and my competent heir will be my replacement.” Loki grimaced noticeably, which simply caused her mother to look amused. “Of course, I’d much rather be able to leave after a successful career, give my crown to my child and the Prime Minister’s post to a much more worthy contender.”

Loki caught on immediately, and was inwardly fuming. “And did you ever stop to consider how myself and that worthy contender of yours would feel about this? What if he just wants to retire and raise his son, hm? Forgive me; I had forgotten that such things must always remain secondary to rule.” That had hurt, and it showed plainly in the Queen’s face. Loki refused to be shamed by this. “Just how long have you and Amon had these designs on our lives? I can understand if this was what you wanted for me, but surely Caelin is a recent addition?” The princess despised being duped, and this just about pushed her to a particular breaking point that she did not want to pass. She hadn’t lost her temper since she was a child, and now was no time to start. The fact that they were pulling a friend of hers into it just rubbed salt in the wound. She could expect it; she was a member of the royal family, after all, she practically existed to manipulate and be manipulated. But this?

“I will not apologize for my actions, Loki,” Minerva replied coolly, still the picture of serene acceptance. “It was never my desire to do this, but it has become more than necessary. You are not the only one who understands how these things work, I assure you. If this came as a surprise, then I am glad, for it means that I have not always been so, and that brings me some measure of relief. But we do not have time to work out this disagreement. If you wish to avoid being forced to ascend in the middle of a crisis, you’re going to need to prove my claims and find some solid evidence against Gilgamesh. You can take your fate back into your own hands, but only if you safely shepherd mine first.”




Outside the receiving room Loki had to forcibly unclench her teeth before she could speak. “I’m sorry,” she said at last. Despite the fact that she made a point of not apologizing, that had come rather easily. “I had no idea that was their intention. I had planned on making the accusation myself and leaving you out of it, but apparently I was superseded without my knowledge. I’ll understand if you want no part of this, but I am going to try and find that evidence. I have to, and not just for them. I think…” she stopped and shook her head.

“I’m not sure what I think. I’ll… get back to you, tomorrow. If you’re willing to become involved. I’d understand if you weren’t.” Nodding to her friend, then, she departed, trying to contain her roiling frustration as well as she was able. This was going to require… help. And not from Amon, either. They needed outside assistance. She knew she could count on Zade, so fine. More assassins would be useful. Eos… he didn’t like Amon much anyway, and right now, she could sympathize completely. Etzel was… she’d have to think on that one a bit more.

The more she thought about it, the more she wondered about taking this problem on using a larger scale. While they were proving Gilgamesh was generally a bastard, why not depose him altogether? That did leave the matter of a replacement, and privately she had to agree that Caelin would be suited for it, but unlike her mother, she wasn’t going to force it. Once, she would have, but not anymore. She couldn’t; not when she went to his estate and saw how happy her cousin was. There was no way Siri deserved to end up raised by his tutors and bodyguards and servants as she had been. Amon was more her parent than Minerva, and that was not an appealing thought at present.

But… other people that could help. The Guilds would be a good place to start; surely a few of those higher up in some of the more prominent Guilds had problems with Gilgamesh; she’d have to look for ones that were also not outwardly sympathetic to the uprising. Which might be tricky, now that she got to thinking of it- it was something of a polarizing issue, and a middle ground would be a dangerous place to tread. Good thing she’d never been afraid of a little danger. She’d start with the smiths; it was their building that had been roasted, after all.



District Delta

When Amon met Giacomo at his purifier, he knew fairly readily that they were not alone. Having a lifetime to perfect the art of moving unseen and unheard tended to mean you knew all the tricks. Still, he would not disturb their audience for the moment.

His face might have slipped into an expression of surprise were he anyone else, and he had to admit that he was impressed. “That is quite the invention, Mr. Vernazza.” The older man contemplated for a moment, his fingers tapping a staccato rhythm against his leg. “If you will permit, I think there might be great strategic use for something like this, though it will be best served by waiting until the moment is right. For now, I think we might do with something a little more… subversive.”




Three Days Later, The Royal Palace, Loki's Meeting Room

Loki glared daggers at Amon over the table they shared with the rest of the assembled parties, not bothering to disguise her displeasure with him. He ignored it with his customary grace, and to her credit, she managed to keep her tone civil. “What you propose places the parties involved in much danger,” she said, shooting a glance at Pandora. “I know there are no other mages on our side alone, but last time she saw Azazel, he tried to kill her. Now you want to send her in to spy for us? At least send someone else with her.”

“Who do you propose?” He countered smoothly, raising a brow. I can’t go, and you have… requisitioned Eos. I could send one of my other agents, but most of those familiar with Delta are currently occupied trying to contain the riots.” For now, they were localized to the two outer districts, but there was fear that they would spread. The city Guard had started using their doses of the Cure two days ago, but even without their powers, the magi were making a nuisance of themselves, and had taken to flash-rioting so quickly that by the time law enforcement got there, the damage had already been done.

“So send someone who isn’t one of your agents,” Loki replied tersely. “I understand that we need the information, but I cannot let you send Pandora in there by herself. She is not trained in subterfuge, and may very well be met with hostility from the start.” The conclusion was obvious, but Loki really didn’t want to make it. It seemed, though, as if Amon were going to force her to be the one to ask, and so she would. There was no other choice. “Victoria. If Etzel trained you as he was trained, you know how to do things like this. Would you be willing to lend Pandora your aid against Azazel?” She could have said ‘against the people who killed your master’ but she was not quite so cruel as that. The choice needed to belong to the young woman alone.

If worse came to worse, she’d have to send Carlisle, but hopefully that would not be necessary. He might be recognized, and she wanted him here. Amon, Giacomo, and a few others would be undertaking the tasks of examining the magi’s crime scenes for evidence, as well as trying to figure out how they’d managed to disappear so quickly after the destruction of the Facility. He’d bring Danterus along as well; as this was the part of his plan that was most actively working against the interest of the magi, Amon would admit that he was using the young man’s hatred a bit more than he would like, but all spare hands were needed at the moment, and he could not regret taking them where he found them.

Loki and Eos would be attempting to break into the Gilgamesh Estate after dark. The personal involvement of herself had bothered Amon, she’d seen it, which was really just all the more reason for her to do it. Meanwhile, Caelin, Scheherazade, and the smith Garbiel (the singular result into Loki’s inquiries for mostly-neutral guild members), would be attempting to get information on his illegal activities from their potential victims (nobles whose children had been ransomed, or guild professionals who’d been blackmailed into supplying him with the machinery and equipment necessary to produce his own personal Cure-factory), while trying to gather the resources to do the same without the coercion. The sooner an independent production facility was up and running, the better. They had her money and Caelin’s industrial space, but parts needed to be made and workers obtained- without going to the slave markets. This was all going to be as clean as she could make it.



The Next Afternoon, The Facility

The Facility was now essentially a large pile of rubble, with precious little evidence of what had occurred to be seen. It hadn’t actually been ‘blown up’ but imploded, and a few scattered bits of debris notwithstanding, in much the same space it had been before. The mages and mage-supporters responsible for the deed had then disappeared, as unseen in their exit as they had been in their entrance. Amon was puzzled by this initially, but knew there was a logical explanation for it. Magi had not, to his knowledge, managed yet to discover the mechanism for teleportation (if such a thing were even within the realm of possibility), so they had to have gone on foot or by vehicle.

They didn’t have vehicles that he knew of, and their passage on foot would not have gone unnoticed. Which meant they had taken to the air or- that was it. “Where’s the nearest sewer entrance from here?” he asked the men arrayed about him, clearly thinking he’d caught on to something important.



That Evening, Outside the Gilgamesh Estate

Damn, sometimes not wearing a dress made all the rest of this feel like it was worth the trouble. Or at least she would have thought so were she not much more practical than that. Nodding to Eos, Loki darted forward, using the shadows to provide cover as she crept closer to the Gilgamesh Estate. The house proper was surrounded by walls, which was to be expected from the wealthy and the paranoid. They were approaching from the side, so as to avoid as many guards as possible. She’d fell them if she had to, but they weren’t going to kill anyone, and the less evidence they left that a burglary had taken place, the better.

The target was a second-story window, which would place them hopefully within the vicinity of Gilgamesh’s private study. The light within had gone off just fifteen minutes previously, enough time for the room’s occupant to move elsewhere. Grasping the rope in her hand, Loki gestured for Eos to boost her over the wall, and landed lightly on the other side, gripping the rope in both hands and anchoring herself to the ground as well as she could so he would be able to climb it without her dropping him unceremoniously onto the ground.

The setting changes from District Beta to The Assassins' Guild

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Pandora smiled ruefully; his choice of words may have been indelicate, but Eos was right: she wasn’t built to deal damage. It was something she’d never used to mind so much. Balance was necessary; to heal, one had to forgo harm. Still, though, it forced her to hide behind her friends, something that she was finding less and less tolerable as time went on. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she knew she’d taken on Azazel from that feeling alone, the desire to be more than a medic to tsk her tongue at the damage sustained by those who had to go out there and take the damage themselves.

That had clearly gone terribly awry, and she’d managed to succeed in proving the very point she knew already. It stung a little, she knew that, and she sighed without realizing it. Eos must have understood it somewhat, she would suppose later. As it was, she spent most of the next two minutes staring dumbly at their hands, trying to understand what she was hearing.

He… wished he was like her? That was new. Nobody had ever said such a thing to her before. Even when she was healing patients, even when she felt their gratitude, she knew with certainty that none of them wanted to be her. There were too many things in the way of that. A few of the obvious ones were acknowledged, but the elephant in the room was not: she was often in danger, and scarcely able to do anything about it. Pandora knew she was not useless: there was too much use for her craft at the moment, but even so, it seemed an unusual sentiment.

She blinked, but he was standing and leaving, and she didn’t even have anything to say. “Um… thank you, Eos.” She wasn’t if that was the correct response to the sentiment, but it was the on that came to her most naturally, and at least it wasn’t an apology. Shaking her head slightly, she turned to one of the physicians. “What still needs doing?” It probably wasn’t too smart for her to be doing anything so strenuous at the moment, but then Pandora would happily tell you that she had never claimed to be too smart, just tenacious.




Three Days Later, The Palace

She couldn’t claim to be all that happy with the plan. It wasn’t that she was arguing against it or thought to refuse- oh no. she was glad of the chance to do something important that was within the realm of possibility for her. The problem was, and she would never dare admit this out loud- she was scared. Petrified, actually.

She was supposed to make her supplication to Azazel, and claim a change of heart. In doing so, she was to discover as much as she could about the power structure of the Liberation Movement and how they worked. Ideally, this would lead her to David Gilgamesh, or someone else that they had been unfairly assuming was Gilgamesh, though even she knew the former was more likely than the latter.

This was, as she had been made perfectly aware, not without a heavy dose of risk. She was the rabbit in the fox’s den. She supposed she could only be glad she was not being fed to the wolves instead, and she did not envy the others the tasks they had. The healer would admit to being relieved that someone would be going with her, in this case Victoria, the Doctor’s former apprentice. When she’d discovered that the man himself had lost his life that day, she honestly hadn’t quite known what to think. He’d just seemed like one of those people that would remain always on the periphery of important things, always around just when he was needed, but apparently this was not so, and it disturbed her greatly.

She remained silent throughout the proceedings, though when she discovered that Eos and the princess would be breaking into Gilgamesh’s house, she almost made an attempt to talk them out of it. There was no way that could end well, not with the way things had been thus far, and if anything happened to them, she’d be too far away to do anything about it. But, she acknowledged with trepidation, this was their choice, not hers, and if her wishes were the ones obeyed, she doubted they’d ever accomplish much.

“I think… I’ll go tomorrow.” Was all she said when asked to elaborate upon her own plans. This would necessarily be the kind of job that required a quick wit and cunning subterfuge. She hoped dearly that Victoria knew about those things, for Pan had absolutely no faith that she did herself.




Zade, too, did not say much over the course of the discussion, though she did contribute a few suggestions on breaking into the estate. She’d had experience with similar operations, after all, though she’d always been by herself. Still, a thief was a thief, and she’d been a pretty good one.

Her own directive confused her. Just what the hell was she supposed to say that would convince anyone to cough up information on Gilgamesh? She supposed she could threaten them, but then that wouldn’t be much different from what he’d done, and he was quite a bit more frightening than she was, period. Not to mention she detested the thought of using his methods.

She wondered if maybe Loki was just assigning her to look after Taylor and the smith, Forgefire. She could do research and secretarial jobs, and she’d been at this bodyguarding thing for a while now, but she didn’t think she was good for much else. She’d definitely follow their lead on this one, though she did suggest meeting the next day to determine the plan of attack, so to speak. Loki had a few dossiers on potential ‘victims’ of Gilgamesh’s tactics; those would probably be as good a place as any to start. She supposed Taylor would be most useful in dealing with the nobles on the list and Forgefire with the Beta types and guild-affiliated craftspeople.




The Next Day, Morning, District Delta

“Well… I guess there isn’t much choice, is there?” Pandora asked, though whether she was addressing Victoria or the air was anyone’s guess. Raising a hand, she knocked tentatively on the door to the last known residence of Aram Azazel, hpong he wouldn’t just kill her on sight.

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#, as written by Shiva
The Royal Palace

The fine cloth was many times more luxurious than the clothes Taylor wore on his body- even though they were used as carpet. He was slightly jealous at the hard work that was standard in the Royal Palace. If one looked at the palace as a comparison to Loki's life, one would find it hard to believe that she didn't simply just lock herself away in luxury and ignore everything. Taylor had always devoutly managed his chemical business, getting involved directly in ensuring employee safety and whatnot. He had to, else he probably would have just locked himself away in his mansion after hiring a competent executive officer to run the company itself.

Turning his attention to the queen as he entered the room, he decided to just shut up and listen. The exchange was fairly heated, and he personally didn't like the implications with Gilgamesh's empty prime minister seat. He had planned to retire from politics after this business was over- and simply focus on Siri and his chemical company. However- there was one appealing point. With the powers the position of prime minister would give him if things went well, he could change the living conditions for Delta and Gamma with much less effort than if he were a simple member of parliament. He was beginning to become uncomfortable due to the fact that he was the object of an argument between family members, so when it ended he was happy enough to bow respectfully, repeat the formal address, and excuse himself after Loki.

"Why would you apologize?" He asked after Loki offered them. "I'm quite flattered actually. I didn't think you'd be so upstanding for what I want." Walking with her silently until he reached a fork in the path, he took the one that lead to the exit. "I'll be in touch." He said, moving from the room.




District Delta

So Amon had some sort of weapon under the wings? Build by the Miracle-Scientist Giacomo, of all people? This was getting stranger and stranger- and even as she silently slipped out of the building as carefully as she could, she knew that Amon was aware of her. It would be foolish for her to think not to- as he was the Assassins Guildmaster, the official best in the city. You don't become number one if a apprentice that's trained in stealth for only a year can spy on you. Did he want her to see this?

When she went back to Beta, she moved over to Etzel's old shop. Boarded up, she was here to check on Etzel's supply of herbs and drugs and whatever else the mad doctor hid beneath the store. However, there were two people sitting outside. Inconspicuous in every way, except she recognized one of them. An assassin from the Guild. Were they waiting for her master's return? They would be sorely disappointed. Just as well, they probably were not aware that Etzel had created over thirty escape routes in the store while he occupied it, so looking at the entrance wouldn't suffice as a lookout.

She decided to walk up to the store, and almost as if on cue the Assassin's stood up. "Victoria." They greeted. "Where is your master?"

"He's dead." She said flatly. It was funny how final that seemed. The Assassins didn't physically react, but their eyes showed some disappointment.

"Amon won't be pleased, but you'll have to do." one said. "Would you come with us, please?"

"Sure." She replied. Drat. Those herbs would have to wait until some other time.




Three Days Later

The Royal Palace

Taylor wasn't too keen on letting a girl- even though though she may be Etzel's trained apprentice, assume risk for her master's sake. However, without understanding her circumstances butting it would probably anger her, and make him seem like a overbearing crone. If he didn't act like one already, because he was already rather surprised when Loki offered to break into Gilgamesh's estate with Eos.

Today was just a day for surprises- she was simply standing silently, but she was armed to the teeth and even Taylor saw it. Was it because she wanted to show she could fight as well? He stayed silent, even as Loki announced the pairings. Forgefire would definitely be of assistance- his age had an edge over Taylor- and his neutral stance in the world of trade would allow him to have more friendly contacts. Scheherazade would be useful for infiltrating lower ranking occupations for information without attracting attention- since Taylor was an infamous member of Parliament and Forgefire was a well known master smith.

Even as he thought on this, he realized that Forgefire's beta residence would make it difficult for him to slip into noble estates without proper invitations. "Scheherazade, I recommend that you pair up with Master Forgefire." He said. "I'll have no trouble gaining access to the noble estates, but Beta is a sprawling city that will react accordingly to my presence. I think, that with Master Forgefire's knowledge, wisdom and contacts you should be able to cover the district for any evidence with your skill. Alpha is small in comparison, and I have relations with almost all the nobles- as unfriendly as they may be underneath the fake masks we wear." Of course, if Scheherazade had any opposition to his idea, she or Forgefire could always assume the guise of one of his servants or other member of his staff. It was a flexible plan, and personally, he was hoping that he had an assistant assuming the guise of a member of his staff- for as he would distract the nobles, he would have another set of eyes searching for evidence linking to Gilgamesh. He didn't voice this, however- it was their choice.

Victoria didn't say a word, just as the masked doctor would have done. Listening and looking before she spoke would allow her to gather as much information as she could before asking for specifics. She had been planning on raiding the nobles for evidence, but realized she had no experience in the matter- and getting caught would be a death sentence. Etzel had never really needed to do such a thing, and it was laughable that he should expect Victoria to be able to. So, she followed Loki's pairing and turned to Pandora to nod once.

"I'll do it." She said tiredly. All she wanted to do was become a damned physician and live in peace! Now she was wrapped up in the webs of politics and internal struggle. However, seeing the Forgefire smithy burn down made he realize that with the mage rebellion even if she did settle down there wouldn't have been much time before her life would be thrown into chaos.




The Next Morning

District Delta


Gods, District Gamma wasn't as bad as this, and she lived there before the air purifier was invented. She didn't even want to think about what life was like while the thick smog hung like death over the entire area. Was this the reason why her Master wore his mask at all times? Pandora was a nice woman, though somehow slightly shorter than Victora even though she was older. It made her appear huggable, especially with her optimistic personality.

She was dressed more appropriately, changed into rags and thin clothes that were rather grimy and smelled of smoke. Her hat was gone, and all she wore in place was a thin hooded cloak that concealed her belt of vials under her long shirt. Her hair was even messier, blonde streaks giving her a haunted appearance that was so befitting of the district itself. She had no time to dye her hair.

"There isn't." She replied, and under her disguise, she shifted her body ever-so-slightly to react quickly if Pandora were to be attacked.

The setting changes from The Skycity of Revelation to The Royal Palace

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#, as written by Smith
Keeping a respectful three paces to the left of Loki, Eos had to actively keep himself from mirroring the princess's sentiment. He still felt the biting regret of not assisting Pandora, and the thought of sending her out to the wolves did not sit right with him. Not one bit. What in god's name was Amon thinking trying to pass of the little physician as one of the rogue magi? She was not particularly consicuous, plain in most places, but still...

As the ensuing conversation enfolded before the gathered 'specialisists', Eos could not help but feel the slightest bit put off. It was not that he was at all uncomfortable with whatever role he was to play in this little drama, but those of the others did make him cringe. Some of these people had no prior combat experience, not a lick of infiltration training or even exceptional charisma. Some of them had families, people that would miss them should they meet a grisly demise, people whose absence would be felt keenly by their loved ones. Unlike most of the others, Eos was aware of his own extensive training and ability. Yet, there was so much Eos could not do to help.

It was at that realization that the weight of their mission settled on him. Life no longer consisted of feeling overwhelmed or sad for yourself, or even dwelling on what could have been. Tommorow is always looming, and that is one thing that they all had the power to change. When Loki stated that they would be slipping into Gilgamesh's cozy little home, Eos allowed himself a small smile. It sounded fun. Before the meeting was adjourned, Eos studied the faces of his comrades in arms. First Pandora, whom he alotted every prayer of luck he knew. Hopefully whatever mercies still existed would look upon her. Taylor, then Amon, both men representing two vastly different spectrums of political players in Eos's eyes. Last was Scheherezade.

They had never shared more than two sentences between them, but the girl seemed pleasant enough.


That Evening, Outside the Gilgamesh Estate

Eos smirked and returned Loki's nod, watching as the princess danced about the shadows as well as any rogue. Had she not been born into royalty, Eos thought wryly, the girl would have had little trouble surviving the perils of the back-allies of Revelation. Figuring that she had gained enough distance, the assassin made his move and dashed after Loki in a soundless sprint. As he pulled up alongside Loki, Eos could not help but be impressed by her ability to plan from a thief's persective. He also smiled at the walls. What has a wall ever done to stop a burglary? Oh, a wall? Damn. Guess i'll be heading home then since their's no point in trying.

Trying not to smile at his own wit, Eos studied the target window for a moment before nodding the affirmative to Loki's request. The assassin knelt down on one knee and cupped his hands with intertwined fingers. With one quick heave the his surprisingly light ally was up and over. He allowed Loki a moment to secure the rope before attempting to scale with wall. It took no more than a few seconds, Eos opting to save time by grasping the edge of the wall once he was high enough and hauling himself over with graceful flare. He looked to Loki and shrugged. One could never be too good. The sun had finally set and a heavy darkness was rapidly setting on Revelation.

Eos rubbed the stubble on his chin and almost cursed...he had made it a habit to clean up thoroughly before every mission, but this time he had forgotten completely. In front of a future queen no less! At least he had gotten a haircut not too long ago. Waving Loki forward, Eos gave the all clear and began moving towards the estate itself. No guards were in the immediate vicinity(and by that, Eos meant that none were close enough to make out two black-clad thieves in the dead of night) and Eos was thankful for that. He had been told that this mission would not require any direct combat if at all possible. The moon that had been hidden behind a wall of wispy clouds peeked out for a moment and made the area around their position slightly lighter. When he pressed himself flat against the side of the house though, Eos looked to Loki and screwed up his face.

"Loki..." he whispered while slowly drawing closer to Loki, Eos placed a gloved hand against her cheek and stared into her eyes intensely, "Has anyone ever told you that your face glows in the silver light of the moon?" with a comical smile Eos recoiled and withdrew a half-mask from his pocket. "Here, you should wear this. If the moon is all it takes to make that paper-white skin of yours shine, just imagine what a stray candle in the house could do to our cover!"

The setting changes from The Royal Palace to District Delta

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"Ah, yes. It sure is quite the machine." he said reacting to Amons statement as he walked to one of the shelves. "It will certainly find it's use one of these days, but that wasn't what I wanted to speak to you about." He said looking through the weapons. "Hmm, what would do... Ah, maybe this will." He mumbled grabbing a contraption out of the shelves. He holding it carefully as if it was a fragile piece of antique he walked back to Amon.

"This is what I wanted to propose, we both know there are agents working for Gilgamesh seeded in the guild. I want to lure them out in the open. I'll send a weapons crate from this adress to the guild, adressed to you, with an unmarked cargo. Which would raise the suspicion of Gilgamesh agents, because they know I am conspiring against their boss and unmarked weapon crates usualy mean that nobody may know about the content. Of course the content of this crate will be nothing, but worthless scrap metal a safety in case they get their hands on it... And a silent bomb that will spray an invisable fluorecant dye on whoever opens the crate. The real weapon is right here in my hands, readied for use and for you to take." He said handing over the contraption. "The system is made to be concealed within the sleeves and to shoot out when taken into use. The left piece is a steampowered ram, the right one a thermic lance, basically a blowtorch, but with a flame the lenght of a sword. These pieces are made to fit on both arms, so switch them every so often to surpirse your opponents." He explaned calmly.

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The facility

As the group neared the facility Giacomo saw the rubble. It was totally destroyed, the once mighty building had been downed by the one thing it was meant to keep inside mages. But why did they destroy it, it was no longer a prison, it was a school. Was it a show of their power, or a statement paved in destruction? Then Amon asked where the closest sewer entrance was. "Well, there are a few stormdrains here, their lids actualy aren't fixed to the sewer and could be lifted off, but it would take more than just elbow grease to do that. If you take those lids off, there would be a narrow gap theoretically large enough for a human to fit through. Theoretically that is, I've seen more than a few getting stuck in those gaps. In any case that could be the entrance you seek." he said pointing towards a stormdrain.

The setting changes from District Delta to The Skycity of Revelation

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#, as written by Ezarael
The Facility

Danterus looked around tentatively at the scene displayed before him, the Facility had been ransacked thoroughly, the rebels left very little standing in the escapade that had ensued during the diversionary attack on the City Garrison next to The Compound, and every second he stood there the fire in his heart began to burn even fiercer. He may have been forced into an alliance with several mages and mage-sympathizers by his father and Sir Amon, but if it meant getting one step closer to annihilating the vermin then he would wait patiently until the time to strike was right.

He hadn’t even waken up from the slight coma that pesky healer had put him in until his father and Sir Amon had doused him with a bucket of water outside one of the side-gates of the Royal Palace used by servants. How the two men had gotten him that far was a question that had been left unasked, and no answer was offered by the older men, but as soon as they started talking he knew they wanted something. Sir Amon had been too straightforward with his intentions, saying something about wanting to quell the immediate threat to the security of Revelation and what-not, but after seeing the Politician Taylor he knew better, the man was a sniveling sympathizer always pushing for reform and equality for the mages, a laughable thought for anyone who knew what they were talking about.

However that was then, and this is now, and right now they needed some way to get into the sewer system, the pesky scientist Giacomo had been more than expedient at showing Sir Amon and Danterus one of the nearest entrances, not too far from where the west wall of The Facility had stood. The young smith took one look at the massive grate that covered the opening and saw the scientist spoke true, it would definitely need more than elbow grease, but elbow grease and ingenuity were not in short supply for the cunning man. After inspecting the grating for a few minutes, looking at the thickness of the iron used along with the rest of its proportions , a few concept began to flutter through his head, some hard and some not so hard, but they would all definitely work.

Looking from the grate to Sir Amon Danterus spoke slowly yet clearly, making sure each concept was understood by his fellow team members. “Sir Amon we have several options with what to do here, but we will need the right equipment regardless of the circumstances. Our first, and quickest, option would be to break the drain cover, this is iron, not steel, and as such it is very brittle and would break easily if we took a hammer to it. The next idea would be to find a hydraulic winch, or manufacture a make-shift pulley with some rope or chain that might be lying around, the only problem is finding something sturdy enough to support the weight. As for the hole problem? Well we could always carve out some of the stone so we could fit, or send someone about as skinny as Taylor in there.”
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District Beta

Garbiel glanced over the ruins of his Manor only momentarily as he turned towards the window that faced the entrance, the third story of The Forge was a meeting room that was reserved for Guild Meetings, or other special occasions that were Blacksmith-oriented. He had arranged a general meeting within the Blacksmith’s Guild after coming back from the Royal Palace after meeting with Princess Loki, Caelin Taylor, and several other members of this “crisis-prevention” crew of theirs, every one of whom he either knew or recognized from previous engagements, a good thing since there did not seem to be too many people to trust at this time. He did hate having to use his son like he was, but times were hard and men needed to be harder than the circumstances.

Scheherazade was seated quietly in the corner, no doubt wondering why they were suffering through this farce of a meeting, several other Guild Members were known to be less sympathetic towards mages, but the results would still be the same, Guild policy would require them to concede to the majority’s wishes, and all Guild business was sworn to secrecy, a statute that no one dared challenge, not even the Guild master Nethanial. The night prior she had been lodged in one of the guest quarters on the second floor of The Forge, located next to the same room that Garbiel had been healed in and was currently occupying until his Manor could be rebuilt.

The aging man stroked his bear slowly, a sure sign of his pondering, and turned towards the young woman, making the journey over to where she was seated with a few quick strides, and bending over he whispered quietly in her ear. “I have a favor to ask of you Scheherazade, I have a letter here addressed to the Guild master of the Carpenter’s Guild, now you don’t need to deliver it personally an errand boy will do. After you get done with that head back to your room for the nonce, I’m not trying to lock you up but considering our predicament caution is best utilized here; do not worry I will be there shortly to accompany you for lunch…. There is still much that we need to discuss if we will be working together.” Without waiting for a response from the young woman he withdrew the aforementioned letter and placed it in her small hands, turning back towards the rest of the Guild Members with a pained look in his eyes.

The setting changes from The Skycity of Revelation to District Alpha

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Loki didn’t move when Eos touched her face, merely raised an eyebrow, giving him a flat look that asked if that had really been necessary. Rolling her eyes, she nevertheless conceded that he had a point and took the mask, affixing it to her face and turning back to the task at hand. The rope still in one hand, she removed a metal grappling hook from her belt and tied it to the end with a sturdy knot. Really, assassins had to learn a lot of useful things, and she was glad Amon had insisted on teaching her even the ones it seemed unlikely she would need. Not that Eos couldn’t have done it, and really, she would rather be thinking about just about anyone besides Amon right now, so she shoved the thought aside and spun the hook a few times to test its hold before tossing it upward.

It caught on Gilgamesh’s windowsill, and part of her was having difficulty believing she was actually doing this. It certainly did not fall within the usual ways she had of dealing with things, but, well, desperate times… Tugging on the rope, she found the hold steady, and shot her companion a glance. “If you so much as say anything about the view, I’m going to harm you,” she informed him flatly, well aware of his proclivity for such observations. Smarmy bastard.

So saying, she clambered up the rope and to the windowsill, tugging at the glass portal’s frame. Locked, as expected. Luckily, the thing was wide enough for her to crawl onto the sill itself. “Lockpick, if you please,” she requested, moving over so that he’d be able to join her on the stone ledge and take care of it. She’d never been too good with that particular talent, simply put, though she did have a set of picks in case he didn’t.

While Eos climbed up, Loki peered inside the study. It looked like there was sill nobody about, which was good. Even those noblemen who burned the candle at both ends (like Caelin, for instance) should be asleep at this hour, and knowing Gilgamesh’s reputation, he left most of his work to his reclusive son anyway. Loki wasn’t too worried about running into Seth Gilgamesh; the man had a reputation of his own, mostly for cowardice, though she’d met him herself but twice. She’d not been terribly impressed at any rate. Worst case scenario, they’d have to deal with a curious guard or two, but it was not outside their skills to knock a couple of people out noiselessly and drag them inside the room itself.



The Afternoon Prior, District Delta

The knock on the door of Azazel’s last known residence disturbed a scene of what might have been surprising domesticity. Aram himself was absent, but there was a woman in the home, and she was currently eating a meal with a small, red-haired child of about eleven or twelve, a little girl.

At the sound, Ishtar looked up, brow furrowed, and turned to the child. “Stay here please, Sigrun. I’ll be back in a moment.” As she was not expecting guests at this time of day, Istar grabbed a knife from the block in the kitchen and tucked it into the folds of her simple gown at her side, surreptitious as she could make it but still in-hand. Opening the portcullis with the other, she blinked in surprise when she saw two young women standing there. One, she recognized immediately as a mage her husband had more than one fit regarding. The other was similarly blond, but seemingly younger. Perhaps a friend of some sort?

“Pandora Elling. You risk much coming here,” she said sternly, then her eyes softened, and she gestured for the two to come inside. “Aram’s ire is not my own. Please, make yourselves comfortable.” She led the two into a small living room and saw both seated on worn but comfortable chairs before returning to the kitchen to prepare tea.

Sigrun, in the meantime, had popped her head into the living room and glanced curiously at the newcomers. The rest of her body followed soon after, and the outgoing child forced her way into the other half of Victoria’s large chair shortly thereafter. “Hello!” she chirped happily. “Are you mages, too?”

Ishtar returned with the teas, and set the tray on the low table around which the chairs were clustered. “I’ll not force you to drink it,” she said, leveling a shrewd gaze on Pandora, “but you do have my word it isn’t poisoned. Now, I suppose there’s something you wish to discuss with my husband. Unfortunately, he isn’t here at present, and not even I know exactly where he might be. He’s rather afraid I’ll tell an old friend of mine, you see. But, if there is something I can do, I’d gladly hear you out.”




The information that had been provided to the triumvirate that was Caelin, Garbiel, and Scheherazade indicated several likely possibilities, among them Garbiel’s own Blacksmith’s Guild, the Carpenter’s Guild, a ring of underground criminals, which while not exactly the kind of allies one wanted to have were better as friends than foes when they ran the city’s smuggling enterprises, and last but not least Geoffrey Chandler, who was known to be an influential voice in Parliament’s more middling faction. He currently leaned towards Gilgamesh, but there were very open suspicions among certain people that this was for the sole reason that his toddler son and heir had gone missing about six months ago, and still not reappeared.

He lived in a comparatively modest estate at the edge of District Alpha, as his family was one of those few that had managed to end up there from a past lineage in Beta, and still maintained close ties with the wealthiest of the merchants, a support base that had never been essential until the Chandlers had chosen to use it. Now, they actually had some influence, and most if not all of that went through the gnarled hands of Lord Geoffrey himself.



The Facility- Sewers Beneath Alpha

Amon nodded and trailed Giacomo to the drain-grate in the street, then heeded the words of the young Danterus. Those so youthful should not hate so fervently. Grudges are the purview of old men. Not that he would ever be so indelicate as to voice this sentiment aloud, however. “Well,” he did state, rolling back one of his sleeves, “Mr. Vernazza was so kind as to provide me with a portable source of flame. I imagine this will be of some assistance in weakening the steel.” So saying, he lit the blowtorch mechanism attached to his forearm, careful to keep his hand well out of the way.

“As for something to actually destroy the grate… I don’t suppose you carry a blasting wand, Giacomo?” That would serve quite well in both removing the grate and some of the surrounding stone, as there was not really room in their time-frame to be sending a nobleman down into a sewer, even if that had been more a slight than a serious suggestion.

One way or another, the thing was removed, and sufficient stone cut away, even if Amon had to go retrieve a blasting wand from a nearby safehouse to do it. “I’ll head down first, but it would be rather appreciated if I was followed,” he admitted with a trace of wry humor. Could he do the job by himself if necessary? Certainly. Did he particularly wish to explain to Loki why he’d done so? Not at present. He didn’t exactly feel accountable to the Princess, but she was central to his plans and hence the more pleasant dealing with her could be, the better. He would not deny a certain amount of familial affection for his students, and she as well, but he’d be a fool if he allowed this to move him too much.

Slipping into the hole in the ground, Amon dangled by his hands for a second, then dropped to the ground. Dry; at least for the most part. The sewer had been constructed as a channel with raised sides, wide enough to walk on if one was careful. The trick would be finding anything they were looking for, but he knew the general direction in which he was seeking, so that was fortunate at least.

The area was pitch-dark, and he withdrew a small illumination wand, drawing a square in the air with it to activate the thing, then moving out of the way of anyone who might be coming down with him. It smelled about as bad as one would expect a sewer to smell, and his arrival had sent more than one small rat skittering off down the passage. He thought of Etzel for a moment, which produced the useful observation that proximity to Delta could be measured proportional to the size of the rats. Something he’d have to keep in mind.

The setting changes from District Alpha to District Delta

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“I’d thought not.” Pan’s simple statement was punctuated by the opening of the door in question, and she stepped back slightly on a reflex. It’s wasn’t one she’d always had, but… when every person you met might have it out for you and you couldn’t tell them from the others, you learned to appreciate space, and those who you didn’t need to keep such distance from.

The person who answered the door was not exactly who Pan had been expecting. It was hard to miss a guess as to the woman’s identity: Ishtar was rather famous (or was it infamous? The mage was not sure) in this district, and the cursory descriptions hardly did her credit. She was no longer young, perhaps, but few people could hope to age this elegantly, especially in this part of the city. What surprised Pandora more than her refined face (for she foolishly presumed that people in Ishtar’s profession had to be attractive) though, was the warmth in her eyes.

Perhaps it was her giving form to her hopes that this would not go disastrously wrong, but she could not help but think that this was a good sign all the same. The woman stared right at her and recognized her immediately, and for a moment Pan’s heart leapt to her throat and she forgot that she was supposed to be acting confident and righteously assured that this change of heart, false though it may be, was the correct thing. Instead she just felt rather hopelessly tiny. The moment passed, though, and Ishtar invited them inside.

Resisting the urge to look back at Victoria- for any assurance that the young physician could give would surely not be worth the suspicion such an act would produce, would it?- Pan stepped over the threshold into a home that, while cozy by most standards, was absolutely palatial as far as she was concerned. Well… it would have been were she not one of perhaps three native Delta-dwellers who’d actually seen the palace, much less stepped inside it.

The two of them were shooed into a living room, and Pan took a seat on the edge of an overstuffed chair, fidgeting slightly in her anxiety. Surely it wasn’t such a bad thing to seem nervous? Turncoat or no, she had good reason to be.

Pan was broken from her thoughts by the entrance of a child, redheaded in a way that reminded her a bit of Scheherazade. Well, maybe that was just because it was a rather uncommon hue. The little girl’s complexion was much lighter, anyway. The healer managed a wan smile when the girl squeezed in next to Victoria. She wasn’t exactly sure how the doctor would handle that, but surely learning to deal with children was part of medical practice? It had certainly been of great importance to her, easier because she actually liked them.

Ishtar returned shortly thereafter, and her comment had Pan shaking her head emphatically. “Oh, no, I don’t think you’d do that. Forgive me for saying so, but if you really wished me dead, you could have done it by now, right?” Pandora mimed raising a knife in her off-hand, smiling to show she wasn’t offended. Once upon a time, she wouldn’t have noticed the weapon, but she did spend quite a bit of time in the company of assassins these days. Good as her word, she took a cup of tea and balanced the saucer on her knees, mindful of her calf-length dress, a bit raggedy now but not so bad.

She was a bit surprised to hear that Aram wasn’t around, but in retrospect it probably made sense. Hadn’t she been hiding in much the same manner for a year now? “Well, actually, I… when I came upon that scene in Beta…” And here came the hard part: lying. She’d always been hopeless at it, and frankly she didn’t really wish to be skilled, but for now she had to try. Maybe mixing in a bit of the truth would help. “I didn’t honestly know what was going on, and my first instinct was just to, well, heal people I suppose. I’ve had a bit of time to consider things, though, and I’ve thought about what the others have said to me,” by others she meant other members of Aram’s rebel army (such as they were), “and I’ve decided that I just can’t ignore how we’re being treated anymore.”

Glancing to her side, Pan nodded to Victoria. “My friend here is no mage, but she understands that what benefits us benefits Delta as well.” That was vague enough, right? Victoria could say whatever she wanted.



District Beta

Scheherazade had honestly thought she’d be doing something a trifle more interesting than sitting in on a meeting that really didn’t involve her. Granted, over the past year, she’d become very good at doing just that, but when she considered the fact that Loki and Eos would be raiding a manse in a few hours, she kind of wished she were not.

She’d been of a mind to volunteer herself as Taylor’s bodyguard, for she was good at this, too, but in the end the combined reasoning of the lord and the smith had convinced her to do things their way. She was barely an adult anyway, what the hell did she know about politics? Loki’d probably sent Carlisle along with Taylor anyway- it wasn’t like she was going to need him today.

The friendship between the two members of Parliament was probably one of the oddest Zade had ever seen- their demeanors were just that different. She and the Princess were more similar, and maybe, possibly, something close to friends, but she didn’t really see Loki giving her a cousin anytime soon, to put it one way. The former fire-thrower’s thoughts meandered in this and similarly-useless directions, and she tried not to look too bored.

Apparently, she was failing, because Garbiel decided to show her mercy and give her something to do. A message to deliver and a request to go back to her quarters? Well, that hardly qualified, but she could tell it was important, and wondered what the old man was thinking. He looked so… something. Melancholy wasn’t quite the right word, but it was close. Whatever it was, it hastened her acquiescence, and she did not pester him with questions.

The letter went to the first courier she came across, with strict instructions as to its care, spoken in that sort of clipped phrasing that messengers knew well and used with one another but not their employers- it would get there post-haste.

Not twenty minutes later, she was back in her appointed quarters, reading a book to pass the time. Lunch would apparently be up in a few minutes, and hopefully Garbiel with it. Just what did he want to discuss, anyway?

The setting changes from District Delta to The Skycity of Revelation

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#, as written by Shiva
District Alpha

Caelin pulled up to the manse in a craft driven by an assistant. Her name was Safrina- a maid in his own estate. The reason he had chosen her was because he had picked her up from one of his old forays into Gamma- and in her sector she was reknowned as an excellent thief that could break into heavily guarded warehouses. She never stole much, which showed how smart she was. Any noticeable missing supplies would cause a sector-wide man-hunt, and the thief would be put to death very slowly to demonstrate how theft is looked down upon.

People that he had rescued from a life of poverty were the hardest to teach, but often were the most loyal. She opened the door, bowing slightly as she got up. He normally wouldn't arrive like this, as the distance between any house in District Alpha was walkable to an extent. However, he was here on a formal visit and there was some unspoken protocol involved. The gates opened, and he and Safrina walked inside. Chandler's own taste was rather moderate, and as they were guided to the sitting area, he realized how quiet the entire place was. Unlike his own home, where Siri and sometimes his friends ran around and played in this manse was eerily cold. Taylor wondered briefly if his was the same kind of place before he adopted the boy.

As the maid came in with the tea, Taylor broke from his reverie and looked around. He needed hints. Something to get an answer out of Chandler. The room was sparse, little to show of Chandler's family. Understandable, as his wife was dead and his kid was rumored to be missing. He did spy a picture over the fireplace, a man holding a kid lovingly in his arms. It looked like it was hand-painted by a master.

"It's a Ferlinghetti." Safrina murmured, her eyes trained on Taylor. Taylor nodded in thanks- luckily, a maid had to be well educated which helped very much in this situation. Ferlinghetti was a famous artist that was famed for his paintings so delicate the pictures seemed life-like. Ferlinghetti paintings were very expensive.

On the table in the corner, he saw something odd. A small, curved box with a note on it. The note was layered in a fine dust, as if the maids deliberately ignored it. Safrina scooted over cautiously, and read it. "Happy Birthday." She murmured. "This box is a ring box." She reported. It was branded with the signature of a goldsmith. She moved back over, when Chandler entered the room. He was old, and the lines on his face were those of laugh lines mixed in with age. He moved slowly, as if there was all the time in the world. For him, yes. For Taylor, no. He would have to be a little aggressive if his passive pace was at this rate.

"Lord Taylor, it's truly a surprise to see you visiting me." He greeted, the warmth dissipating at his eyes.

"Lord Chandler, it's been too long since I've had a chat with you." Taylor replied in kind. "Tell me, how has it been?"

"How has it been? It's been quite mellow, Lord Taylor. Sometimes I think that if I stay in place for too long, time will just shoot right on without me."

Taylor chuckled. "Time certainly does enjoy toying with us. When we're busy, there's never enough time. When we're not mindful, it flies."

Chandler offered a smile, and began delving into some quiet small-talk. Safrina said and offered nothing, as customary for a maid. Soon, the pleasantries and catching up were done with and Chandler was softened up enough. He only had three things to go on here- the rumors, the picture, and the box. The box was a pretty weak clue, but the painting was going to be extremely useful.

"Lord Chandler, I've been hearing some disturbing rumors around Parliament for awhile now." Taylor said, his voice heavy with concern. He was, as he would for anybody with a missing child. Chandler's face seemed to depress slightly. "I've been meaning to ask you about them, as they've been getting a little wild and I want to separate fact from fiction."

"I see, what is it?"

"Word has been going around that your son has been kidnapped by one of us for leverage- instead of missing as you first claimed. I wonder, how in the world could such a conclusion be drawn?"

"I've heard no such thing." Chandler said heavily.

"Impossible, Lord Chandler. Word always gets out. Surely, you would have heard something like this. We live in an environment where words dictate the lives of citizens." Taylor retorted back.

Chandler paused. "...Yes, I've heard of such things. I've released an official "Missing Persons" report, though. I have no idea how this could have turned into a blackmail case."

Taylor nodded. There was nothing he wanted to elaborate on, apparently. It would require some pushing. "Why would somebody create rumors about something like that?" He asked pointedly. Chandler looked up.

"I don't know."

"Don't lie to me, Lord Chandler. What would somebody have to gain from spreading a rumor about your child? I don't think anybody would have much to gain, as it would bring bad attention to the matter." He said. The old noble seemed to be struck. "You've been very supportive of Lord Gilgamesh recently, despite your moderate status. Don't tell me this might be truth?"

The old man sighed. "Alright. Alright. I spread the rumors. My kid's been kidnapped and somebody left me a letter. I thought that if I spread some rumors around a curious noble would offer his assistance. It's worked, but none of them turned up evidence." He said bitterly. Another clue. Maybe, if Taylor got his hands on the letter...

"You loved your kid, didn't you?" Taylor said quietly.

"I am a parent, Lord Taylor."

"Would a parent go to the extent of having Ferlinghetti paint a picture of their kid?" He asked. Chandler's eyes immediately shot to the painting.

"No, but he's the only thing I have left since my wife passed away." He said, his voice surprisingly level. Taylor was impressed. "I wanted to keep his memory, even now when he's not here."

"May I see the letter?" Taylor asked cautiously.

"Of course. You seem to be looking into the matter too." Chandler said bluntly. Well, it was to be expected.

"You can be assured that none of this will leave the manse." Taylor offered. Chandler smiled softly.

"I trust you. You're the only honest politician in this damned city. It takes real character to be transparent in politics, and you've somehow managed to do it." He said, snorting at the oxymoronic phrase. He left the room, and returned minutes later with a letter. Giving it to Taylor, he sat down. "I don't say this to guests, but if it helps you can take a look around the manse for any help." He offered.

Taylor took the letter. Sniffing it slightly, the hint of a strong scent reached his nose. "Doused in gasoline." Taylor muttered. "There won't be any fingerprints or bodily evidence." Opening it up, the writing was written in a blocky hard-to-trace lettering. "Support Gilgamesh in all his political endeavors." It read. Ambiguous enough so Gilgamesh isn't the only suspect, but everybody within his circles. Smart. The ink had been set for quite a while before it had been doused with gasoline, as Taylor scratched at it and there wasn't a single mark or chip or mar. "Premeditated kidnapping." Taylor continued, thinking to himself. Looking up, he quickly asked the Lord Chandler where he found the letter.

"My kid's room." He said, sighing.

Taylor nodded. "May I keep this?" He asked. The old nobleman nodded. Taylor stuck it in his shirt, making sure ti hand this to Loki. As weak as it was, it was still evidence. He still had to know the exact details. He didn't expect to get Chandler to oppose Gilgamesh unless his son was safely returned. He was openly loathed by Gilgamesh's side, so it wasn't surprising that he let spill everything to Caelin after some prodding.

"Let's discuss specifics, Lord Chandler." Taylor said. "How much information do you know regarding your son's disappearance?"

District Delta

Victoria did not relax an inch, even when she peeked inside discreetly and saw a child. Children saboteurs could very well be a possibility when it comes to a guerilla army. Reading texts that had been salvaged from the earth below them, there had been instances of kids giving soldiers teddy bears with bombs stuffed inside them. Frankly, it was horrifying, and it was the kind of things one had to be prepared for when on the run. A woman had answered the door, and giving her a quick scan, Victoria was immediately jealous of the way time had treated her body. She caught an irregular bump in the gown she wore, and decided not to call her out on it. Everybody had a right to defend themselves.

Victoria didn't know who the woman was, but Pandora seemed to know. She let her take the lead, walking into the living room and giving the seat a quick examination. She pressed on the cushion twice discreetly as she bent over to sit down. Many assassinations by her master had come from sticking poisoned needles inside the cushion to gently puncture a victim as he/she sat down. Since no needle or otherwise shot up at the motion, she sat down. She spent her time quickly mapping out possible locations for cover, escape, and ambush.

She almost flinched violently when Sigrun sat next to her and began talking happily to her. Instead, she took the movement half as well, turning suddenly. "Uh, no. I wish I could be, though." She replied, shrugging. Ishtar took that moment to return with cups of tea. She sniffed at it. No bitter or sharp smells- devoid of obvious poisons. The tea scent itself wasn't overpowering, which meant it wasn't trying to disguise poisons. The coloring was normal, and the leaves didn't have unknown particles among them at the bottom.

Never take somebody's word for it. He had told her.

However, Pandora had already sipped from her cup. No immediate reactions, which narrowed the poisons down to heavy drugs. Weren't lethal unless you downed the cup in a single gulp. She took a small sip herself. Tasted normal. While she had been staring intently at the tea, Pandora had been retelling her lie. One thing she had learned before the mission was that Pandora was a terrible, terrible liar. Speaking for her would arouse suspicion, and going by a script was risky. She let her do the talking, as she knew her tongue best. Pandora then directed the woman's question to Victoria, who lowered the cup she held in her hands.

"Yes, I've been living in Beta for most of my life, but I had relatives down in Delta I visited frequently. They're dead now, but it wasn't before I saw how bad the conditions were here. It was worse when I saw how roughly the guards treated you all and how little was being done up in Alpha." She paused. "I might have sounded a little presumptuous, but, what really drove me over was the death of my master during the fires." She stopped. Every time she mentioned him, tears seem to come unbidden. Swallowing, she added one more sentence. "The guards thought he was a mage and beat him... it was a crushed skull..."

The setting changes from The Skycity of Revelation to District Alpha

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#, as written by Smith
“If you so much as say anything about the view, I’m going to harm you,” just as Eos was about to say something to that effect, the sharp lass beat him to the punch. A woman after my own heart, I swear. But I won't be defeated so easily...

"What view, my dear? Most everything I see from this angle is obstructed by your rear." the assassin clambered in along after his princess with all due alacrity, inching around her to avoid any forthcoming blow to the temple. While she was of a generally civil breed, anger was a common trait that humanity shared as a whole. Unless Loki was genuinely embarassed enough to be stunned by the comment, which he doubted very much. Upon being issued the order to pick a lock, Eos scowled. Out of the many ticks of the trade that he had been taught as a youth, the skills of burglary were his least favorite. As the 'fist' of the Hands, it was not his job to do the more delicate work.

"It's only a secondary profession, Loki..." he muttered, "I was not trained as extensively in these...arts..." the first of the picks went in, one that would hold the first settings in place as Eos did the true work deeper within the device. "It really is a beautiful thing, being able to crack a heavy lock in thirty seconds flat. I was never able to do anything like that, not like Selene. Bone breaking was my specialty," several clicks issued forth from the copper and steel mechanism as tumblers fell into place and the last of four thieve's tools was set into place. With a smile at Loki, Eos listened to the lock fall with a dulled thump into his gloved hand. "I could only ever do it in thirty-four seconds."

Eos carefully replaced the lock as they entered the study, making sure to make it appear to be in place, when in reality the lock was just barely a hair's bredth away from locking into place. At least they had one avenue of escape, should it come to that. Eos replaced the last of his picking tools on his belt and tapped Loki on the shoulder. The assassin gestured towards the book case. Lined top to bottom with tomes that seemed more aesthetic than practical, given their size and golden filigree, the study looked like a museum exhibit. The place appeared to be more for show, than anything...it was not out of the question. Velvet chairs, reading glasses set in plain sight, a lacquered wood desk...Eos had encountered a few snobs that wanted to appear to be more learned than they truely were, though there was a suspiciously thick layer of dust in their supposed 'study'.

Eos moved to the door, pressing his ear against the floor just before it for exactly fourty heartbeats before turning to Loki and giving the ok. No guards or patrol in the immediate vicinity. With a silent twist the door opened: Most of them were only locked from the outside in, not the reverse. Eos peeked out into the poorly lit hallway and then back to Loki. "So, where to, oh fearless leader?"

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The Gilgamesh Estate

Loki almost kicked him in the head on his way up. Really she did. It was absurd, the way he spoke to her. Granted, she was a great deal less formal than the majority of her Parliamentary counterparts, at least when she got the choice, but she was still the daughter of the Queen, and frankly, the fact that he thought he could get away with something like that had her miffed. He seemed to know it, too, and kept well out of range of any of the pointy objects she might elect to stab him with. Wise.

She’d never admit it, but Eos amused her. She knew better than to say as much, because encouraging him would probably only make it worse. He was like a child that way. Scratch that, he was worse than a child. Most of the children she knew were very well-behaved. She rolled her eyes when he confessed to ‘only’ being able to manage a lock in thirty-four seconds and climbed in after him.

“If you’re done showing off, you can stand watch or something,” she sniped. She probably would have told him to help her go through documents, but she had gathered that all the subtle parts of being an assassin were not really his area of expertise. She could hardly consider herself surprised by this underwhelming revelation. So instead, she went through the drawers of the desk herself, pulling out papers and leafing through them, trying to find anything relevant-looking. A few trade agreements, a manifesto… hell if she wanted to read that again. Nothing illegal, just a whole lot of stupid.

Frowning, she turned her attention to the bookshelves. Most of the tomes were covered in dust; a good estimate to the time Gilgamesh spent reading decent literature. There were a few that seemed to have been more recently-disturbed though, and she went through these systematically, flipping through the pages before replacing them where she’d found them. History, strategy… she was pretty sure this one was a romance novel? She gave the volume a quizzical look that might have been comical and shoved it back onto the shelf. Who on earth read those anyway?

She was interrupted by the sound of the door opening, and glanced over Eos’s shoulder to see Seth Gilgamesh entering, pile of documents in-hand. “Don’t kill him,” she said quickly. He might very well have information they needed, and she was not above extracting it with less-savory methods. Whether she agreed with Minerva or not, the Queen was still her mother, and that was not a tie easily-broken in a world where lineage meant more than most things, especially within the upper echelons.




The words seemed to startle the man, and he peered around from behind the tower of parchments, promptly dropping all of them. “You-” this was directed at Eos, and the man’s face set itself into a snarl. Against his own better judgment, the man took a swing at the assassin, aiming for his jaw. While not by any means a pushover, Seth did not have much in the way of combat expertise, and really, he was expecting to miss.

“Seth!” the voice was a hiss, and belonged clearly to the woman standing behind the assassin. Probably another one, if the mask was anything to go by. “Calm down, you fool! If you alert your father, I will let him kill you.” The words stopped him short. Clearly, this woman knew something, and he found himself scrutinizing her face. Recognition was beyond him, though, at least until she removed the mask.

“Your Highness?” he managed, his tone weary disbelief, as though he were by this point so used to being surprised that it had nearly not as much effect anymore. “What are you- oh.” He was not a stupid man, and he had heard about the events in Parliament a few days before. He could guess what the Princess was doing here, but why bother carrying out this sort of thing personally?

Wait. His curiosity was not the important bit here. Because he did have ample reason to be angry at the assassin. “I want an explanation, now. My father figured out about my stepmother’s little meeting with the assassins, and now she’s missing. Unless you want me to alert every damn guard I’ve got, you will tell me what’s going on here.”




Loki sighed. To think she had been considering marrying this man to get his father to ease up. Good thing her mother had talked her out of that one; she probably would have murdered him by now. “You really think you’re in a position to be making demands?” she pointed to Eos. “That man could have killed you at any point from the time the door opened until now, and you wouldn’t have had time to alert anyone.” Of course, to do so would cast suspicion in all the wrong- or rather correct, but inconvenient, places. That was something she didn’t need, but she found it hard to resist the urge to make clear just who was in charge here.

“If Lady Imogene has disappeared, then you should know that he’s responsible for more than that. What makes you think a man willing to have his own wife kidnapped or killed wouldn’t do the same to others? We’re looking for proof of that- plain and simple. You can help us or you can hinder us, but we will have it.” She watched, hawk-eyed, as he mulled the decision over, then nodded slowly.

“You’re looking in the wrong place, for a start. My father doesn’t keep any of the important documents in his study… they’re all in mine.” His voice was heavy, laden with something that sounded suspiciously like guilt.

She was all over that in an instant. “You knew? You had even the faintest inclination what he was doing, what he was going to do, and you did nothing to stop it?” her voice was low, syllables enunciated with extreme clarity, and Loki had to bodily resist the urge to scare the wits out of him with one of her knives. How many tragedies could have been prevented if this man had just an iota of courage? But alas, he was as yellow as a canary in a coal mine, and half as useful. Her upper lip curled with distaste, but she abruptly smoothed out her features, dropping the irritation from her mannerism entirely. What was done was done, and however despicable he was for watching it happen, he was their best chance at what they wanted.

“Take us there. Now, if you please.” Her tone brooked no argument, and he opened the door with a nod, leading the pair out into the hall and down a winding staircase. On the first floor, he stopped them outside an office, ducked inside, and returned with a carefully-bundled sheaf of documents.

“This contains everything you need to know. If you want to know the whole truth of it, though… do what I never could, and venture down into the cellars.” He gave the two a meaningful look, and Loki nodded nearly imperceptibly, slipping behind him and binding his wrists with the rope they’d used to get in here. “Might as well make it look realistic,” he commented, and she stilled for a moment.

“Indeed,” was her only verbal reply, or at least the only one he’d hear before she smashed the pommel of a knife into the back of his head. If his father found him like this, he need only claim it was common robbery. Even if Gilgamesh saw through it, which he would, his own pride would keep him from talking. His best bet was going to be to claim that these documents were false, and that was why she took the hint and headed for the cellars, pulling the mask back up over her face, just in time to round a corner and come face-to-face with ten or so guards.

Smirking under her mask, she turned to Eos. “Age before beauty,” she said, gesturing with a flourish for him to precede her into the fray.




District Delta

Ishtar couldn’t help the wry smile that twisted her lips. It amused her on some level to watch the poor thing twist and fidget, at least until she remembered that they really were dealing with weightier matters than any of them would have full knowledge of. Unlike her husband, Ishtar would readily admit that not all of the specifics were hers, and that it was highly possible that there were important things she didn’t know.

Which was why, when Pandora Elling lied to her, she did not mind so much. The young woman was a truly earnest soul, she could discern that much, and somehow, the fact that she was so unused to telling lies made the fact that she was trying to deceive Ishtar all the more bearable.

Her young friend, on the other hand, seemed to be much more used to it. She had missed the surreptitious examination of the seat cushion, but not of the tea, and her suspicions automatically caused her to suppose that she must be of the assassin variety. Both, she guessed, were mixing truth with lies, though what was what was harder to tell in Victoria’s case than in Pandora’s. Taking a breath, Ishtar figured she may as well take this as an opportunity. “I hope that if I tell you I caught your falsehood, you will not continue to lie,” she said casually, leaning backwards slightly whilst stirring a lump of sugar into her tea. “Do not fear my knowing- I have no intention of giving up your secrets. At least, not if you would be willing to answer a few questions for me.” She fixed each of the younger women with a pointed look. “I would not ask for such things without offering something in return, of course. So I propose this: tell me what you are really doing here, and I will show you something that not even Amon Gregory knows about. Something important.” As if to stave off any disbelieving looks, she continued before giving them a chance to respond. “I know why David Gilgamesh makes people disappear. It isn’t as simple as you think.”

Ah, Gilgamesh. Now there was a man with a loose tongue. Before Farah had died, she’d been a favorite of his, and of course Ishtar’s daughters all reported these little tidbits to her. Now that the woman was deceased, it was harder to get things out of him, but not impossible. Some of the girls were wilier than assassins that way. She allowed the implications of her words to sink in, then regarded the two through half-lidded eyes.

“I want to know who set you upon this task, what it is, and why. Leave nothing out, please. I’ve been at this too long to be fooled quite so easily as Aram. Sigrun, dear, please go clean up the kitchen for me, would you?” The little girl nodded solemnly and slid off Victoria’s chair, waving goodbye to the apprentice doctor and the mage before heading on her merry little way.



District Alpha- Lord Chandler's Estate

Chandler sighed heavily. “What do you want me to tell you, Lord Taylor? A week after I found that letter was the confirmation vote on the Princess’s bid for Parliament. I voted for it and Gilgamesh against. Not less than three days afterwards, one of the maids went to wake my son for the morning, and found him gone, without so much as a trace. I’ve never been told where he’s being kept. I don’t even know if he’s still alive. I just… have to hope that he is.

Would that I could tell you more, but alas, I am in the dark.” He spread his arms, palms facing upwards in a helpless gesture that he had found himself making all too often. It hurt, to think about it for any period of time. Not even in his sleep was he free of the thoughts of what he could have, should have done to protect his child.

“You have a son, don’t you, Lord Taylor? I advise you to watch him closely. Gilgamesh is… the only thing that keeps me from trying to depose that man myself is the thought that my son could be alive somewhere even now.” Acting against the man now would surely mean his death, loath as he was to even consider the possibility. His hands were bound more effectively than any sort of rope could do, his shoulders heavy with weary resignation. “I am an old man; I had nothing to live for but my boy, and now I can only live because I tell myself he does too.”



District Beta- Sewers

As they progressed further down the sewers, the way lit only by Amon’s wand and the scant illumination that spread from the Mana crystals embedded on Giacomo’s face, there really didn’t appear to be all that much to see. It was dank, odorous, and fetid as one would expect a sewer to be, but there was nothing unusual about it. Granted, there need be nothing extraordinary about a mere passage from one end of the city to the center, but something about the whole situation smacked of a bigger problem than that to Amon, and he was not one to easily abandon his instincts.

Which was why, when he noticed the seam in the sewer wall, some small part of him twinged with satisfaction. There was certainly something suspicious about that, and he ran gloved hands along the impression, searching for any structural infirmities. Placing the illumination wand between his teeth, Amon withdrew the blasting wand again and gestured for the other two men to stand back. Without explaining any further, he made the requisite intricate pattern for activation, and took a few steps back as the thin wall crumbled to rubble in front of him. Stowing the metal rod, now devoid of all charge, he took up the light again and stepped through the hole that had been created.

Immediately, some changes were evident. The room was small, and smelled thickly of copper and iron- blood. It was rather comparatively dry, and there did not appear to be any standing or flowing water around. Upon further examination, Amon expressed the first visible surprise he had known in years- and rightly so.

At the center of the room, an odd circle was chiseled into the stone, with several patterns in it. A diamond, an ellipse… the mark seemed vaguely familiar, though he knew not why. The walls were covered in smears of blood, parallel lines for the most part, an uncanny number of them occurring in groups of five, as though something- someone had clawed at the stone with bleeding fingers. The lines grew increasingly feeble and wavering as they trailed into drag marks upon the floor, and the center of the circle was a mass of sticky reddish fluid. Adjusting, his olfactory faculties informed him that not only did the place reek of blood, but also of urine.

Stoically sweeping his eyes over the scene, his gaze fell upon a small table in one corner of the room. A single parchment lay atop it, the corner emblazoned with the same symbol in miniature. The rest was what appeared to be a map of the underground sewer system, with several points marked upon it. Amon spent a few minutes studying this, and his eyes narrowed sharply as he came to some form of realization. “Gentlemen… take a look at this and tell me what you see.”

If they saw it as he did, they would note that the points roughly formed two concentric circles, one around the perimeter of Gamma and another situated at the outer edge of District Beta. He did not know precisely what they indicated, but he had a suspicion, and he did not like it in the least.

The setting changes from District Alpha to District Delta

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Pandora was having a bit of difficulty deciding what to do. Then again, she tended to dither about what to eat for dinner (assuming she had a choice) so this probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise. She was fairly certain that Ishtar was not bluffing, and did in fact know that the both of them were lying. This was honestly impressive, because even though she had known that Victoria wasn’t telling the truth, she’d almost believed her anyway. Maybe she was just gullible or something.

Setting her teacup down, the mage fiddled with her hands, trying to decide exactly how to handle it. Really, she wanted nothing more than to run for the door and never come back. Since that was definitely not a possibility if she cared about the city even a little bit, she was left with two choices: try (and probably fail) to lie again, and fess up. Her natural predisposition to honesty pretty much decided for her, but she shot Victoria an apologetic “sorry-I’m-messing-this-up-so-badly” glance before turning back to Ishtar.

The words of a conversation from the day before came back to her. Just before she’d left, Loki had pulled her aside. After waving off all Pan’s meager attempts at formality, the princess had left her with a real thinker: “if it all goes to hell, just blame me. This is all my fault, and mine alone.” The sentiment was one that Pandora understood to be rather selfless, though she doubted Loki would ever admit to that much. She wasn’t sure she personally could do it though.

“We were sent here… to gather information on the rebellion. The princess wants to stop it before too much blood is shed,” she offered almost guiltily. This whole business felt horrible, really, but at least she believed what she was saying this time. “I’m the only mage she knows who would do it, so it had to be me. Victoria is just here to make sure I don’t get myself into any trouble I can’t handle, really.” She paused, waiting for some kind of reaction, maybe an attack, she wasn’t sure.

When none was immediate in coming, Pan at last had some odd inclination of an idea. “But… if you wanted to trade information on Gilgamesh, does that mean you knew already?” Gilgamesh didn’t outwardly have anything to do with magi; he was a man who hated them with great fervor, actually. So why would Ishtar know so much of him? It was suspected that he was pulling strings, of course, even she knew that, but how closely was he watching over the result?

“I did not know, but I suspected,” was Ishtar’s reply. “There are precious few people who would risk what it takes to stand against that man; you and your allies among them. As for myself, well… I like to think that I might as well.” There was a contemplative look on her face as she said this, but it soon smoothed out. Standing, the woman went to a corner of the room and tapped the wall a few times until she got a hollow sound, then moved aside the wood paneling and withdrew something from within.

Returning to her seat, she spread the rolled parchment for the two others to see. A strange symbol was etched into one corner of it, but the rest was taken up by a roughly circular map that seemed to map an underground network of passages beneath the city. “Sewers?” Pan asked, furrowing her eyebrows.

“Sewers, yes, but not all of these passages carry waste. Gilgamesh holds his prisoners here-” she pointed out a place beneath Alpha, and though Pandora would not recognize it as such, it was almost directly below his mansion- “And when he’s ready, they are taken here.” Her index finger traced a pattern down to Beta, indicating what appeared to be a dead-end passage.

The setting changes from District Delta to The Skycity of Revelation

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#, as written by Ezarael
It had been many years since Garbiel had taken an active role in the political aspects of the Blacksmith’s Guild, and the weight of his decisions began to bear down upon his shoulders as if the world were coming down on him. He had sent Scheherazade off with the letter for the Guild Master of the Carpenter’s Guild that included a small set of blueprints that he had drafted and a brief message detailing the usual ins and outs of business, but on the very bottom it had the phrase Hammer and Anvil written in a dark-blue ink. He had not sent a message with that term for many years, but it denoted a Guild Pact that had been signed between them years previously, and he knew the Guild Master Ben Woodsworth would find a time and place that they could meet.

Unfortunately their meeting had been taking longer than expected. Most of the other blacksmiths acquiesced to the Guild’s decision, but their youngest Smith named Erryk Fireeyes had stormed out a half-hour previously and threatening exposure of their plans. As the others began to file out the aging Smith sighed noticeably at what must be done, and he was glad to have the Sir Amon in his good favor at this time. Across the city bells began tolling the hour with their sound denoting more than just lunch for Forgefire, and as the last bell sounded he began heading towards the room he had reserved for the young apprentice that had been assigned with him.

Each step down the hallway seemed like a mile as his feet became heavy as lead weights, and it felt like an hour before he reached her apartment. The servants had already come and gone with the two trays of food he had asked to be sent their this morning, the young woman might be eating or waiting for him for all he knew, but he still stopped to knock at the door and await her answer for him to enter. Only after her voice called out did he open the door to her room and approach one of the less elaborate chairs placed to eastern wall by a desk with two trays sitting peacefully.

“I hope the food is to your liking Scheherazade, but please I believe it best for us to dine first before we discuss our next order of business.”

As they sat eating from the trays, the cooks had brought a healthy serving of mutton roasted with carrots and onions along with two rolls for each of them, Garbiel could only pick at a small amount of the food on his plate, leaving a large portion of the mutton and one roll left on his plate. At times like these food was always hard to consume for him. His right hand strayed to the simple dagger at his side, the dagger that had been his brothers so many years ago, and his thumb flicked the hilt upwards to break the sheath’s hold of the steel. He grasped the young woman’s left hand gently and placed the hilt in her palm, closing her delicate fingers around the weapon. So young, but she is a member of the Guild.

“You will need that for later Scheherazade. I know the trivial matters bore you, but sometimes we must need have patience for the hard times ahead. Tonight you must go to the Manor adjacent mine and plant this in the heart of a man. His room is the one directly above its entrance with the only set of double-doors there. No questions.”

After waiting for her to reply to his request the Smith sat quietly for a moment to gather his thought for what must be said next. These decisions were always the hardest, but sometimes the good of many overlooked the good of a few. His gaze was distant, but hard as his eyes focused upon her own, if there was any emotion laying behind them it would not be evident to her. That gaze had come from many years of pain and living in Revelation.

“You know of my son Danterus? He was the dark-haired lad seated with us at the meeting.” Garbiel waited for her reply to the near inconsequential answer. He knew that she knew, but it had become a necessity of his to study another’s expressions and habits of speech.

“He may become a problem later on for us. Although he is a good man there is hatred in his heart and it years for the death of mages. You need not concern yourself with any…task right now, but we must be cautious with him. Can I trust you with this?” Once again the elderly Blacksmith paused for Scheherazade to respond, however that may be, before he continued.

“It is not that I want him dead. I love him as mine own….but if a time comes then…” He found himself unable to vocalize the last part of that sentence. Not wanting to waste more time than was necessary he quickly began with the rest. “We need to keep a mindful eye on him for the moment; just watch, listen, and if needs be… persuade him from doing anything foolish. However that may be is irrelevant, but unless absolutely necessary there must be no violence as of yet…”

His left hand stretched out to grab a glass of wine that sat next to his less than half-eaten tray. He had never been particularly fond of matters like these, but without Amon to discuss these things with her must take matters into his own hands for the moment. The Assassin Guild’s Master would naturally question his reasoning, but that was more a formality between them than an actual necessity, but it had been many years since he had come to the Guild for such services.

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#, as written by Ezarael
Danterus watched quietly while Amon began using the scientist’s portable blow-torch like mechanism to weaken the drain, but his nose wrinkled in disgust at the sight of the blasting wand provided by the pesky little man. To him magic was a vile abomination of life no matter how it was used, and it had always been a force of habit to find some way around using the treacherous stuff. Although scientists had been making vast improvements in wand-technology there were still a few kinks that needed to be worked out every so often, as with any man-made item, and every now and again they more destructive wands were known to back-fire, albeit at about a one-in-one-thousand chance. The wands did make clearing the way that much easier for the trio he had to admit.

The young Smith waited patiently for both Amon and Giacomo to enter the sewer before clambering down himself, they both had more suitable forms of illumination than he could provide so who better to light the way for them. Not much could be said of the sewer at first, or at least Danterus mused, and it epitomized pretty much everything that he could have imagined in a sewer: filthy, odorous, wet, and pitch-black except for the scant light provided by his companions. It seemed like an eternity had passed before the assassin stopped to trace a seam in the wall with his hand, and when he extracted the blasting wand again while motioning both himself and Giacomo back Danterus did not hesitate to move away.

The wave of air that blasted forth from the newly opened catacomb was tepid and stale as if it had been sealed for some time, but it was also tinged with the smell of blood. Upon entering the room the blood-streaks splattered on the walls seemed to writhe and twist with the wands movements making the blood look as if it was still flowing. “Whoever they kept in here seemed to die a horrible death. Only animals would do something like this.” His words dripped with venom while his eyes moved heatedly over the streaks from where they were higher up the wall, like the person had been trying to claw their way out of the room, and finally down to where they were dragging on the ground in the last few moments of life.

Amon’s attention had been diverted away from the gruesome scene towards a small table in one corner, and Danterus was quick to follow him towards the table and parchment on top. It was dark in the room, and he did not like the idea of straying from the light at all. There was a bad mood about the dark, dank room. He studied the parchment along with Amon, but he could not decide between two ideas, and at best they seemed flawed.

“Gentlemen… take a look at this and tell me what you see.”

After waiting for a moment longer Danterus sighed heavily. “I cannot say for sure, but it looks as if a possible plan of attack to overwhelm first the Assassin’s Guild and other City Guard stations… That or it they have marked spots to sets powder and charges to burn the city to the ground…”

The setting changes from The Skycity of Revelation to District Alpha

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#, as written by Smith
As more time passed inside of the room, Eos grew incresingly restless. 'Anxious' was not a strong enough word to describe exactly what Eos had been feeling for the past while now. Standing in the middle of enemy territory was something that an assassin had to endure on a regular basis, but being in the middle of enemy territory with baggage was an entirely different matter. Not that he doubted Loki's ability to handle herself in battle, yet...there was something nagging at the back of his mind saying that something was off.

“Don’t kill him.” it was almost as if the queen to be knew exactly what Eos was about to do. Spooky. Eos had tensed his legs and was ready to leap at whomever was entering the doorway. He promptly dropped all pretense of hostility towards the newcomer once it was clear that it was only Seth Gilgamesh. When the talentless little fop had the audacity to take a swing at Eos, the assassin felt that he had half a mind to deliver a quick punch to solar plexus to teach him a little lesson...but no. Not yet anyway.

The ensuing conversation was rather boring, and had they been anywhere else but the Gilgamesh Estate Eos would have immediately zoned out. Instead, Eos watched the door and listened carefully to what Loki and Seth had to say. In truth, he was interested in the young noble's reaction. After only a couple minutes Eos had to keep himself from snickering. Were you really considering marrying him, Loki? I mean, even if it was for the greater good...

Yes. Amon spoke to Eos a great deal more than Loki could have imagined, given their past and odd rivalry and familial relationship. As long as it did not provide Eos with any way to use the information for personal gain(Amon was not sure if the former Hand was above such tactics), Amon would speak of nearly any subject with Eos. More often than not, these subjects would lead to Pan, Loki or Taylor. Both assassins felt that Pandora was in over her head, and that Taylor had too much at risk to take part in this war. Somehow though, no matter the subject specifically, Amon somehow knew exactly why Eos wanted to talk about these three so much. He also pointed out on one occasion, that his tone when speaking of Loki or Pan was radically different than when he spoke of Taylor. Eos thought his former master was overanalyzing things.

A sudden shift in the tone of the conversation caught Eos's attention. Loki had a glint of steel in her eye that Eos remembered all to well when combing the streets of Alpha and Beta; The spark of judgement, when someone was picking apart a flaw in another individual. Normally Eos would have felt a twinge of disgust for that expression, but in this situation Loki was sort of entitled.

After tying up Sethy-boy, it was finally time to move. Eos offered the noble and smirk and aa wave before heading out alongside Loki. It seemed that fate conspired against them, for upon their second minute of travel the pair's progress was impeded by nearly a dozen armed guards. Feeling that something was going to go wrong anyway, Eos had donned his edged guantlets back in the study. Just before engaging the group, Eos scowled back at Loki with a raised eyebrow. "I'm, what, barely three years older than you? Maybe four? Don't go trying to make a spring chicken feel like an old dog!"

Eos charged in, scrapped his claws against the hastily raised weapons of two of the guards and immediately retreated back into the opening to the room. The two were sorely outnumbered and going back to back while surrounded only to be ran through on all sides was not Eos's idea of fun. Not every group of guardsmen attacked the heroes one at a time like in the fairytales. The hallway was narrow enough to hold off against an assault with two people, and one with a fair amount of hassle. It was still doable though, and Eos allowed the first of his enemies to attack.

"Sable, find us a way out of here or come up with a very good battle plan." with no way to attack en masse, there was no doubt in his mind that the remaining combatants would sound some sort of alarm or call for aid. They needed to disappear or find a way to kill them all in one fel swoop. Eos smiled at the thought as he managed to slip past a raised buckler and tear apart the man's throat. One down only to be replaced by the next in line. This one would allow no lucky shots, and worked in tandem with his partner to keep Eos on the defensive.

The setting changes from District Alpha to The Skycity of Revelation

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#, as written by Shiva
District Delta


Victoria cursed in her head. Being Etzel's apprentice, she was resisting the urge to flinch when Pandora began making up her excuse. Then again, she was never as subtle as her master- despite the fact when things got too stressful her master tended to end things violently. She tried taking it all in stride, but her lip twitched in annoyance when Ishtar began rubbing it in.

There was no choice at this point. Victoria could probably kill Ishtar. She had no knowledge of her self defense skills, but Victoria was fairly certain she could at least prick her with one of the many dangerous poison-coated needles. She was about to palm a blade before Ishtar began talking of things that might actually be of use. Victoria relaxed slightly. Let the songbird sing before I euthanize her. She thought remorselessly. She was in enemy territory. Once they blow your cover, you weren't safe until that knowledge was destroyed and you were back in safe grounds.

Her demands were laughable, but she probably wouldn't have said anything otherwise and before she could think about it Pandora was already spilling the truth. The poor girl was never meant for espionage. Victoria managed what she hoped was a warm wave to the little girl, saddened slightly at the prospect of having to kill her.

Kill them, what was she thinking? A year ago she would have spat at the idea. Survival was her main instinct nowadays, and to ensure survival, she had to get rid of them if necessary. She decided to save the decision until after this was all over. She listened to Ishtar and Pandora, watching the fingers trace the map while her mind raced at a thousand miles per hour. She quickly took the initiative, memorizing the map. Luckily, memorizing lists and lists of herbs, potions, and poultices did not go to waste, as her memory has become an impeccable computer. Or a camera.

"Sewers. The perfect place for a smuggling operation, as cliche as it is." She muttered under her breath. "Maybe, there are holding cells along the way in case...? Yes, yes. That is a distinct possibility- but there are branches- how does he or she... Guards? Perhaps but it might not stop all of them. The map... the beginning leads to a large manse..."

She paused, trying to recall a map of Revelation Etzel had forced her to remember. Deliveries had to be made, and house calls had to be kept.

"That is the manse of the current Prime Minister...." She said to herself. "The basement? How crude... there must be a hidden passage. How are these operations performed. When? Haphazardly? Guard changes?"

She began chattering incoherently at this point, a reincarnate of the masked doctor.




District Alpha

Taylor bowed his head. "My sympathies to you, Lord Chandler." He said. The old man's words shook him. It furthered his resolve, to find out what was going on and hopefully return the boy to this husk of a man. However, with the clues Chandler had given him, there was little to go on. What was clear though to Taylor was that; the man loved his kid, the kidnapping wasn't a false rumor, and the kidnapper is an advocate of Gilgamesh or Gilgamesh himself. This lead was scoured of all evidence. He didn't bother try looking in the boy's room, as it would be old and any lingering evidence would have been completely obliterated by now.

"I thank you, Lord Chandler. I know it doesn't mean much, but I'll see what I can do." He said, gesturing to Safrina. The maid bowed once, exiting the room.

In the vehicle, Taylor looked up at the mirror that reflected Safrina's composed face. "What do you think?" He asked.

"I think the man is telling the truth, but we have little information to go on." She replied.

"I think the same thing. Quite the insight, Safrina. I may not have gotten him to speak otherwise."

"Think nothing of it, milord." She replied.

"Safrina, I would like you to look after Siri when we get back. Out of all the maids, you are the most combat orientated." Taylor said wearily. It would be nice of Siri was still there when he got back- Chandler's words hit Taylor where it hurt the most.

"Of course, milord."

Since the trail had gone cold there, Taylor knew that he needed another man to interrogate- or he had to wait for the others to bring back pieces of the puzzle. He already had one- the letter given to Lord Chandler and a confession from the man himself. It was up to the others to find the rest. He hoped to the Goddess that Siri was still there when he got back. The worry nagged at his conscious. Maybe he didn't place enough guards. Maybe Siri went to play with his friends.

It nearly killed him, because though Taylor had only wanted a heir because he had been dying a year back he had grown to truly love the child. His past and demeanor was much more pure than Taylor's. He didn't want to see it corrupted by Gilgamesh if he got his hands on him.

"If possible, Safrina, could you drive a little faster?"

"Yes, milord."

The setting changes from The Skycity of Revelation to District Beta

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Beta Sewer System

To Danterus’s assertion, Amon nodded a simple agreement. So much of it would depend on what, exactly, was to be set there. And who was to do the setting. While the easiest assumption was that the mages were involved (for indeed, the arcane elements present here seemed to be more their province than anyone else’s, unless a rogue Manatechnician was involved), something about the thought just didn’t sit right with him. The mages had used the underground tunnels, yes, but what need had they to lock people in this… room, presumably to be murdered?

No, their displays of aggression had all been very public up until this point. They wouldn’t hide their brutality, nor did he think most of them capable of this. Death on a battlefield was one thing, assassinations another, but this- not even his agents were trained, taught, or told to do anything like this. He could only guess at what had actually occurred, but the thoughts it called up of draconian tortures and feeble, grim deaths were not something he really wished to consider.

Shaking his head, Amon rolled up the map and took it in one hand, still holding the illumination wand with the other. “I’d say we should try to cover up the fact that we discovered this, but I don’t think we could if we tried,” he stated flatly, gesturing to the wall. Clearly, either magic or a specialized wand had been used to seal it, though which one, he could not say for certain. Either way, they did not have it. Actually, if there were magi involved, they’d probably tripped a ward by now anyway.

“We need to get back above ground and into the city, but not the same way we came in.” There was no telling if someone would be waiting for them should they choose to leave the way they had come. “This map indicates an exit underneath Gamma; we’ll take it, and head back to the Guild for now.” It was the safest meeting place for everyone, and thus the one Loki had designated when their objectives were either complete or fruitless. Technically, neither was true right now, but he was not going to risk anything more than he had to with only two civilians for company. This necessitated a full compliment of assassins at the very least.

It wasn’t too much longer before they reached the surface again, though honestly by now even Amon had to judge by relative time only. It was already swiftly darkening past twilight when they did, and he turned to both of the others. “Given the number of other plans in motion right now, it would perhaps be best to take the opportunity for rest whilst we still can.” So saying, he led the way back to the Guild and waved aside the guards, though he did signal that Danterus was to be watched a little more closely than Giacomo. He was not a fool, and knew to heed a warning from Garbiel when he received one.



Alpha- The Gilgamesh Estate

“I seem to have hit a tender spot,” Loki quipped back at Eos. Still, she didn’t waste much more time than that; the conditions were not terribly conducive to their survival unless she found some way to get them the hell out of here. Seth had mentioned the basement, and frankly though she was not sure she had any business trusting him, it was better than the fantastic nothing she could come up with given her limited knowledge of the estate. Loki’s eyes swept the hallway, and she picked the likeliest door out right away. Tucked in a corner, and plain-looking, because since dungeons were illegal, theoretically the only people using such a door would be servants.

“There!” she called, gesturing and making a break for it, the knife she’d hit Seth with in one hand in case someone managed to intercept her. She ducked a sword hatily shoved into a wall to block her progress, and rolled under it. Damn narrow hallways. The portcullis was mercifully unlocked, and she thanked whatever luck she had left that this was the case. Hauling it open, she waited for Eos to take the hint and enter, then followed, slamming the thing shut in the face of their fastest pursuer. There was a deadbolt, which was just strange- why would they need on this side of the door?- and she jammed it home, straightening and placing her back against the door.

“Next time I decide the simplest plan is to break into someone’s house, remind me this happened,” she grumbled, peering into the room she’d just locked them into. It appeared to be a dimly-lit cellar of sorts, with wine and liquor lining the walls, but most of this was hidden by enormous crates. Frowning, the princess opened one and withdrew a glass vial. “Cure, probably.” Not that this was anything they hadn’t expected. Unhooking one of the aged lanterns from the wall, she cast its light further in and noticed a slight irregularity in the floor.

Crouching to get a better look, she traced the edge with a fingertip, finding it worn smooth. Leveraging with what little strength her fingers alone provided, Loki hauled upward, only somewhat startled when a thin slab of stone followed, revealing a descending staircase. “Well… looks like this is our best chance at a way out, unless we want to wait for them to break down the door?” The answer was obvious, really, and she didn’t waste much time contemplating it, placing one foot on the first stair. Dry; she would have almost expected slick.

The staircase bottomed out into a narrow passage, and the scent of something unsavory wafted towards them, causing Loki to wrinkle her nose. “Ugh, Gilgamesh’s cellar leads to the sewers? Figures. Guess there’s probably another exit somewhere…” Picking her way down the passage with the exaggerated care of a cat who has stepped in a puddle and must shake off her feet with every step, Loki lead the way through what could only be described as a labyrinthine corridor, one which twisted enough times to leave one completely without orientation. Maybe Eos had a better idea of where they were, but all she knew was that they were most likely still in Alpha.

The passage gradually grew wider, and instead of being lined with stones, iron bars at regular intervals replaced the masonry, and it was clear that despite the legislation to the contrary, Gilgamesh did keep a dungeon. Hardly a surprise; what was odd was that they all appeared to be empty. Weren’t many of his allies supposed to be coerced? Why, then, were there no signs or fresh human habitation in any of these cells.

There was a small noise, and Loki stopped abruptly, stiffening. For a few seconds, she had thought she’d imagined it, but then it came again. It sounded like… a sob? Something of that nature. Eyes narrowing, the princess kept the lantern in front of her and attempted to follow the noise to its source, stopping when she alighted upon a cell with more recent signs of occupation than the others. A small heap of blankets was piled in one corner, and she could have sworn she saw it move. Don’t tell me…

“Damn. Eos; the lock, please. I think there’s a child in there.”



Delta- Ishtar's Living Room

Ishtar looked over both the other women for their reactions, but if she had to guess, she’d say that neither of them had known about this after all. The one was mumbling to herself, apparently coming to the same conclusion about just where that spot was that she had intended them to reach. “You can’t be here,” she told them with chilly certainty. “You have no idea, and that means Amon’s uninformed as well, I think. You don’t have time to waste trying to infiltrate our ranks.” The madam’s lips twisted into a grimace, and she drummed her fingers on the table.

“You know what? Take this, both of you, and get it back to him. Tell him that if he can find its companion, he needs to have men stationed where it indicates on the day of David Gilgamesh’s Parliament hearing. I don’t know any more than that, and even if I did, I risk too much just telling you this.” She glanced meaningfully towards the kitchen where the child Sigrun was still busy cleaning.

“I’m telling you this because I know about you, Pandora Elling, and I believe if ever there was anyone who would use this information the right way, it’s someone foolish enough to risk her own life to help people who’d probably wish her dead. Don’t let the politicians and the assassins manipulate you. Miss Victoria, I’m truly sorry for what happened to your master, for if he was who I think he was, he was a better man than most would have guessed of him.” She still wasn’t entirely certain that one wasn’t going to try and kill her rather than just leave, but if she tried, she’d find it harder than she expected. Ishtar was many things, but helpless was not one of them.

With that, she stood, rolled the map, and handed it to Pandora. There was no mistaking the implication that they were to leave, and with all due haste. Eyeing Victoria warily, she watched the presumed assassin carefully. She was not worried about what Pandora would do; if the rumors about the young woman were true, nobody really had anything to fear from her. The younger woman, on the other hand, reminded her so strongly of one doctor Etzel Vasili that it was almost ridiculous. As much as Amon professed no favorites, she knew the truth to be a very different matter, and he had given Vasili much more freedom than most, supposedly for the sake of a better cover. He’d even allowed another former member to live after leaving the Guild- two, actually.

Will you kill me, young lady? she wondered to herself. Ultimately, Victoria might succeed if she tried. Would Pandora allow it? She was certain Sigrun was safe as long as the mage was around. That was enough, but killing Ishtar now would damage any chance they had of getting Aram to see sense. Not that she held out any great hope for that possibility. No, Aram would eventually understand- probably not until it was far too late.

The setting changes from District Beta to District Delta

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Ishtar's Residence

Pandora couldn’t make too much sense of what Victoria was saying, but she judged it was something logistical about guarding the sewer passages, or maybe that section of Alpha? She did not recognize the specific place; it was not the Facility or the palace, and thus she’d never had cause to visit it. Still… right there? Someone was keeping prisoners. No, not someone, Gilgamesh.

That man scared her on a level she would not care to think about if she could avoid it. The funny thing was, she had never even seen his face. Maybe that was part of the reason- he scarcely even seemed human to her, just some kind of looming shadow with arms long enough to reach her wherever she hid. Everyone was sticking their necks out so far just to stop him, and on top of that, the rebellion was gathering momentum. She’d almost thought it couldn’t get much worse, only… living in Delta was a lifelong lesson in the nonexistence of a rock bottom. It was always possible to fall further.

Ishtar was talking again, though, and what she said was surprising to say the least. “Um…” the mage wasn’t really sure how to respond to that. She’d never really thought anyone was pushing her around particularly. Mostly, they just knew more than she did, and really there wasn’t much she could do about that. At least they tended to tell her what was going on instead of leaving her in the dark, right? That had to count for something. “I’ll do my best,” she promised, because really that was all she could say. Either way, it seemed to satisfy the madam, and she accepted the rolled-up map with an uncertain sort of gravitas.

She had made it to the door before she looked back, and noted that there seemed to be some kind of exchange happening between Ishtar and Victoria. She might be hopeless at lying, but Pan wasn’t totally incompetent, and she knew tension when she saw it. This kind was actually pretty thick, and she bit her lip. “Victoria? Shouldn’t we probably be going?” The small woman hovered there with her hand on the brass doorknob, and glanced back and forth between the other two. True to form, the thought that killing Ishtar might make them safer had never crossed her mind. The woman had provided information that Pan thought was important, and that had moved her summarily from the “unknown” designation to the “ally” one in her (overly simplistic, she would admit) understanding of the world.



District Beta, Blacksmith's Guild Apartments

The food was delivered, but Scheherazade chose to wait before eating it. She had that much in the way of manners, at least. It didn’t take too much longer for Garbiel to show up, anyway, and privately she wondered if the meeting had gotten worse after she left it. It must have; the man looked positively haggard, shoulders slumped as though bearing a tangible weight. What on earth had occurred in her absence? She’d let him in without bothering too much about it, but his next words demanded a bit more attention.

“I hope the food is to your liking Scheherazade, but please I believe it best for us to dine first before we discuss our next order of business.” Lovely; nobody talked like that unless they had something awful to say afterwards. She spared her meal a glance and inclined her head. Where she was not a fan of small talk, it seemed to be something he was inclined towards. A change for her, dealing with someone who was, for lack of a better word, pleasant. Not that the others she dealt with were unpleasant, exactly, just… Loki was almost all business, with a side of attitude she kept well-concealed in public. Not cordial by any stretch of the imagination. Many of her fellow assassins were similar in some ways.

Realizing the silence had stretched a bit longer than was probably polite, she shrugged minutely. “It’s fine, and if that’s what you want…” she trailed off mid-sentence, not really needing to finish. She was what she was, and frankly if she even tried to match his demeanor she’d fail horribly. This was as courteous as she got.

As soon as the meal was concluded, she found herself with a sturdy knife in one hand and perhaps the last instruction she’d been expecting. “You want me to kill this man? Well… all right, but there are less obvious ways to do it than this,” she indicated the blade. Still, if he wanted it to be public knowledge that he was willing to hire assassins, she wasn’t going to counteract him. “If anyone would recognize this as yours, I can leave it in the body if you want.” She wouldn’t unless specifically directed though. It was a good knife. Frankly, she wasn’t even sure she was going to use it at all.

To his question regarding Danterus, she simply nodded, her eyes narrowing slightly. Where was he going with this? The two matters seemed completely unrelated until he continued, and Scheherazade frowned. “I won’t tell him you said this, if that’s what you’re asking, but… if he does become a problem, you’ll have to hire someone else. I won’t help a father kill his son,” she said firmly. She had the luxury to choose; she was no formal member Amon’s Guild. Family was a touchy subject for Scheherazade. She held no loyalty for what remained of her blood, and in some senses, she’d never known what it was like to have one. The idea that someone would will such a connection to be torn was repugnant to her in a way that simple contract killing was not.

Was she a hypocrite? Maybe, as she’d sooner see her blood father dead than anywhere near her. But her actual family, that troupe of acrobats and performers in Gamma- she’d sooner slit her own throat than kill one of them. “And you shouldn’t even consider it a possibility. Lock him up until this is all over if you must, make him hate you, but don’t have him killed.” She knew she probably had no right to say these things, but really that had never stopped her from saying something before, and it wasn’t about to now.



Midnight

Zade crouched outside the room of her target, examining his doorknob. Frowning in concentration rather than displeasure, she withdrew a medium-sized lockpick from the pouch at her belt, sliding it into the mechanism and listening for the soft clicks that would signal her success. A number of years breaking into places much better-guarded than this single room made it a rather simple affair, and she was out of the relatively-exposed hallway in seconds. The room itself was as dark as one would expect of a sleeping chamber after the occupant was abed, and she gave her eyes a moment to adjust, pupils dilating to let in as much light as possible.

The soft outline of a sleeping person was just visible on the other side of the room, and Zade tread carefully, placing each of her feet before shifting her weight onto it. The window there was her emergency escape route and also the only reason she could see at all, but if all went according to plan, she’d be able to just walk back out the door. A gloved hand grasped the hilt of the knife Garbiel had given her, and it slid smoothly and noiselessly from its sheath. Holding it in her right hand, she approached the sleeping figure, who was snoring at such volume she wondered if perhaps he hadn’t been drunk before he went to bed.

She used to say she didn’t kill people. Even in that battle a year ago, she’d forgone much of her advantage by refusing to do so, but once the attacks started coming more quickly and viciously, she’d found herself backed into a corner. The only way to shave her own life had been to take that of her assailant, and when it came down to it, she hadn’t hesitated more than a moment. In the time since, she’d eliminated the moment altogether.

Which was why, when she placed her hand over the sleeping man’s mouth, he didn’t even have enough time to fully regain his consciousness before his throat was gruesomely slit, and she held his weakening struggles down for the short time it took him to bleed out of a severed jugular vein. The effort smeared her clothing with blood, and she decided she probably shouldn’t take the hallway, just in case she was seen. Instead, she slid the window open and climbed out after confirming that the man really was dead, and scaled the building, running across the roof and climbing back down to her own window, which she’d left ajar just in case. The bloody garments went straight into the fire, replaced with ordinary sleepwear, and Zade settled into a chair beside the flames, watching them with glassy-eyed constancy.

No matter how many times she killed a person, she still wasn’t able to sleep the night afterwards.

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#, as written by Shiva
Victoria's eyebrows raised slightly. Was the rebellion and Gilgamesh unrelated after all? She couldn't imagine a more perfect time for the mages to begin an uprising, but then again, the nobles owe that to themselves for giving them a legitimate reason to. Her fingers twitched slightly as she tried to discern any sort of lie from her. Ishtar seemed serious enough, and the map she offered was more than enough to go on at this point. Since she claimed not to know anything else, there was little Victoria could do to coax anything else out. In her youth, and admitted shortsightedness, she seriously considered killing Ishtar regardless of all the consequences that would ensue. However, with Ishtar's latest words, her resolve was weakened. She knew his master? Who was she?

This caused her to hesitate, the tip of a throwing knife just barely peeking above her wrist as it nearly flashed into her palm. The Goddess didn't give her enough time to process this, as Pandora called from the doorway about leaving. She shook herself, before sliding the blade back up her sleeve in an obvious manner. "I'm sorry, Pandora. I'll be with you." She called, before turning back to Ishtar.

"I'll be back." She said. Probably wasn't the best thing to announce, but then again if she showed up unnanounced Ishtar might be ready to kill her because of this stand-off. Turning, she hurried toward the door. Catching up with Pandora, Victoria quickly touched the map.

"We'll burn it as soon as time allows. I'll make another copy. It's not good to handle things strangers give us." She said. It was too easy to frame somebody by giving them any sort of item. Be it theft, or otherwise, it was best to dispose of it and feign ignorance when push came to shove. Quickly, she opened the door slightly and looked outside, her trained eyes smoothly absorbing the scenery for any sort of suspicious behavior.

Then again, this was Delta. Doing that wouldn't be much help.

The setting changes from District Delta to The Skycity of Revelation

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#, as written by Smith
District Alpha

This was not nearly as fun as he remembered, which was odd considering that Eos had found himself in similar situations since aligning himself with Loki. Fighting against near-insurmountable odds with absolutely no hope of outside intervention felt much more desperate than it did a few months ago. It was probably the feeling that they were entering the endgame that made each move have such a heavy air of finality, Eos thought as he opened up the interior forearm of one of his attackers. Hissing a curse about useless vambraces, the guardsman retreated to inspect a gash that opened from wrist to elbow and allowed the next combatant to step into place.

Emboldened by their steady acquisition of ground on the single opponent, the intensity with which the guards attacked redoubled. Never one to be outdone, Eos bared his teeth, parried a heavy slash and lunged for the female fighter's chest with the serrated claws of his gauntlet. Although the attack fell short of it's target, the sudden ferocity with which their cornered adversary responded was enough to balk the guards enough for Eos to gain some breathing room.

Despite this temporary reprieve, Eos still felt a twinge of elation when Loki called out for him. It had only been a minute or so of actual combat but Eos was still breathing hard when the door slammed shut behind him. A rivulet of blood ran around his left eye from a superficial cut, but Eos did not seem to notice as he nodded to Loki's acidic words. With a smile, only one phrase came to mind: "The best laid plans of mice and men, Loki. I suppose that counts for lovely young women now, too."

Eos took the liberty of unhooking his battle gloves and replacing them against the small of his back. Damn, those things are heavier than I thought they'd be. In the training rooms, Eos usually practiced his forms and technique with little more than breeches and his choice of armament. The weight of his leather armor, thief's tools and hidden weapons had not been accounted for. He doubted that they would need to engage in a larger-scale battle again and resolved to use a more stealthy approach no matter what else the night may bring. His eyes now fully adjusted to the change in lighting, Eos leaned against a crate and waited for Loki to finish her inspection.

It was over faster than Eos expected, and he was colored impressed when the princess managed to not only locate but open up a hidden portal. Ever the dutiful hound, Eos padded silently after Loki down the stairs. When the stink of fecal matter and other unpleasantness met his nostrils the assassin wrinkled his nose in disgust. "That's just wrong. How is somebody supposed to snoop around properly if the place reeks of shit and despair?" with a shrug, Eos began walking alongside Loki. He almost snickered at each of the woman's carefully placed footfalls.

After a few minutes of travel Eos began to get antsy. He had been keeping track of time with his heartbeat. Every seventy-four ticks was roughly a minute, and they had not spent as much time down here as it felt. That was the problem with subterranean areas...you lose track of time, and it begins to slip through your fingers as your perception is altered by the lack of light-change. When the area leveled out into a uniform style, Eos began his controlled breathing and cracked his knuckles. He was not hoping for a fight, but he would rather be ready for one than not.

It came as something of a shock when Loki spotted a child in one of the cells. With a face set in stern resolve, Eos took to one knee and withdrew several picks for the second time that night. He was put off by the complexity of the lock on the cell compared to that of Gilgamesh's windows. Wouldn't it be better to keep people out in the first place than to- "Loki, it's done."

Pulling the door open, the assassin waved Loki in. He was not exactly a people person and figured that damaged people responded better to a feminine charm.

The setting changes from The Skycity of Revelation to District Alpha

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Perhaps irrationally, the first thought that Loki had upon realizing that there was a child in that cell was that it must be Siri. It probably wasn’t, of course, but all the same for a single moment, terror blocked her throat at the very thought. Then she realized it didn’t matter if it was or not, because someone, somewhere, was feeling that same sensation, only worse, and had been for as long as this kid had been missing.

Her moments of selflessness and generosity were painfully few and far between, but just then she didn’t much care whether this information would get them any closer to what they wanted, they just needed to get the kid and get out of there. Of course, rationality descended soon afterwards, and her expression receded into grim lines as she approached the unmoving pile of blankets.

The little boy stirred weakly, and not even the process of gathering him up into her arms seemed to wake him. That wasn’t a good sign, and Loki frowned. “We need to find an exit,” she said, aware she was stating the obvious but speaking more to say something and fill a silence than to provide anything meaningful. Unlike herself, perhaps, but then, this wasn’t exactly the sort of situation she was used to. Maternal instinct wasn’t really something she embraced or even professed to possess, but at the same time, she supposed it wasn’t so strange to want to help the poor thing.



The following day; Assassins' Guild meeting room

The princess sat in the chair at the far end of the room, though at present the stiffness in her posture was more stress than decorum. Her muscles hadn’t relaxed since she’d begun that midnight heist on the Gilgamesh Estate, and she hadn’t slept in the twenty-four hours since. Everyone was here, and she was sure most of them had noticed, which under ordinary circumstances would have been absolutely unforgivable. At the moment, though, even Amon was showing subtle signs of strain. The others, perhaps a bit less so, but then most of them hadn’t spent the majority of that last sun-cycle putting together the twisted dimensions of the Prime Minister’s plot.

In the end, she wasn’t sure which was stronger: his forward-thinking or his megalomania. Probably the second, and she was grateful. The documents Seth had entrusted to her bore a similar mark in the corner to the one found at the edge of the map Victoria and Pandora had provided. At first, she’d been disappointed they couldn’t get in deeper with the Liberation Movement, as the magi called themselves. But all of that had disappeared beneath a rising tide of alarm when they’d explained what they found instead. Amon had confirmed that Ishtar was an old friend of his, but if she was passing him information so directly, there was something very wrong. They’d had something of a falling-out shortly before the madam married Azazel, and their contact had only been sporadic since, not to mention strained.

The writing itself was nothing terribly extraordinary, though it was very private- the Gilgamesh family business records for the last months. Aside from the fact that slaves were on the roster, there was nothing of note. Slavery wasn’t even technically illegal, she just didn’t happen to like it. She found, though, that much to her surprise, Seth had included copious notations next to certain items. It seemed as though he had been onto something, attempting to work it out by himself, but lacking the ability to do so. What she did find peculiar was that of the twenty-some slaves Duke Gilgamesh had bought that month, not one of them had served in the home, according to Seth, and the factory ledgers did not indicate any change in employees at all for the period.

The question of where they were going wasn’t too hard to answer- the cells beneath the man’s home were an obvious enough location, but the why was much more difficult to discern. Why buy them just to keep them imprisoned? And why, despite a purchase of more than two dozen, were all the cells save one empty? Where had they gone after that? That was, surprisingly, a question answered in part by Scheherazade. The girl had taken one look at the odd marking at the top of one of the pages and frowned, brows knitting together thoughtfully. After a few hours, she’d brought Loki a tome on Revelation architecture that she’d been reading a while ago and pointed out that the inked symbol recalled an old mason’s mark from the city’s founding.

That hadn’t meant much until she and Amon had done a little more digging. Apparently, the mark was actually used in masonry only after first being a religious icon from the time before the city was necessary or existent. Elisia herself had reappropriated the old cult mark of the goddess and had it stamped into the bricks that built her palace and the surrounding buildings.

Of course, it was only when Amon told her about the room beneath Beta with the same sigil etched into the floor that her confusion started gradually receding, leaving a burgeoning dread to fester in its place. The map was a separate but equally vital piece of the picture. I don’t think the magi fully understand what they’re doing, she could not help but think, but part of her wondered if, great manipulator as he was, even Gilgamesh had the wherewithal to plan this by himself. It just seemed like… she must have miscalculated what he was capable of, because this was beyond what she had thought possible.

Inhaling deeply, she tried not to sigh before she spoke. “Right, well… apparently Duke Gilgamesh has gone off the deep end.” She had never been any good at sugar-coating things, and she wasn’t going to start trying at the moment, horrible as that was. “It seems he has been buying slaves for the sole purpose of killing them. Amon, Danterus, and Giacomo found a… room underneath Beta with evidence of as much, and Eos and I stumbled upon where he’d been holding them.” They’d also stumbled upon Lord Chandler’s son Benjamin, but the boy had yet to respond to medical care and was still largely comatose. “It seems that his political prisoners have been receiving the same treatment. I don’t know what he thinks he’s going to achieve, but it’s a safe bet that it would sound absolutely insane to most if not all of us and is probably also religiously-tinged. I can’t tell to what degree the magi were aware of this, but Azazel’s wife at least seems to have had some knowledge of what was going on.”

“Like as not, the man himself won’t hear any of it,” Amon pointed out dryly. “He doubtless sees Gilgamesh as his puppet, not the other way around, and refuses to believe he’d be capable of doing something like this right under his nose.” The Guildmaster’s eyes fell to the two maps. Loki had noted that the one given to Azazel and Ishtar was bereft of the other’s more incriminating marks. “We’ve been discussing it-” ‘we’ meaning the smiths, Giacomo, and Amon- “and it seems most likely that Gilgamesh’s men are going to be setting charged explosives beneath the city. Probably around the time of Gilgamesh’s trial.”

Loki nodded. “It wouldn’t surprise me if the mages conveniently chose that day to march as well.” It meant that she and Caelin at the very least would be otherwise occupied and in a very specific place when the events occurred, as would the Duke himself. The eye of the storm is the safest place to be? I think not. Rubbing at her temples, she glanced back up at the others. “It’s not all bad news though. Thanks to a bit of good thinking and a bit of dumb luck, Chandler’s moderates will help us if we can present enough proof. I think I know how we can get it without incriminating ourselves, but it will take a bit of convincing. Garbiel has secured us the assistance of the second most influential guild in the city, and pressure from the smiths is bound to turn a few of their business partners into more amicable men as well.” She discretely chose not to mention that part of the reason for that was a well-timed hit.

“If this goes the way I think it’s going to go, we’ll be doing three things at once: putting on a show for Parliament, diffusing explosives belowground, and stopping the magi from destroying the city. Volunteers?” The question was asked in resigned tones, as though the very utterance of the single-word question was a great labor. In a way, it was. This small group of people had done more than they should ever have needed to for the city, and most of them would probably remain unrecognized for that- assuming they even survived this. Some of them would probably even remain hated for the rest of their lives. Loki didn’t really want to think about what this whole rebellion was going to do to Pandora’s chances of not being assaulted on sight should she ever presume to enter Beta.

“No matter what you decide, we’ve got a week until the trial. If you’re still in this, you’d best prepare yourselves however you can.” Closing her eyes, she slowly leaned back into her chair. There was a great mountain of tasks for her to surmount personally before then, and already she was running contingencies and trying to account for the ever-incalculable illogical human factor. It only seemed to grow more difficult with time.

The setting changes from District Alpha to The Assassins' Guild

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Zade had been more than surprised when she noticed the little red symbol in the corner of the parchments the others had obtained. She could have sworn she recognized it from somewhere, but Elisia help her, she couldn’t remember quite where. Disappearing from the meeting room without a word (this seemed more important), she ducked out into the Archives at large and wandered aimlessly for a while, tracing her fingers along the spines of tomes as she went. Chances were, if she’d seen it, she’d seen it here…

“Looking for something?” The Archivist’s voice from behind her almost made her jump. Sometimes, it was easy to forget the wrinkled old bat was an assassin, but then she snuck up on you like that and you remembered that she was probably the second-quietest person in the city. Turning, Zade fixed her with a golden-eyed stare. Unnerving it might have been to the average soul, but the archivist remained unperturbed, standing there mildly and awaiting her answer.

“Actually… yes. I just don’t remember what,” she admitted wryly, shaking her head. It was so damn important, she knew it was, but she could come up with the answer.

Perhaps sensing her frustration, the Archivist smiled slightly and nodded. “I find that when one has misplaced something, it is often in the last place you expect. Like my quill,” she cast a glance around, as if searching for the offending writing implement, then sighed when it failed to produce itself on cue. Zade didn’t really know what she was getting at, but she nodded anyway.

What had she been reading lately that had absolutely nothing to do with killing people? There was precious little; she was officially a hired killer now. Let’s see… weapons, tactics, smithing, emergency medicine… she was truly awful with the last, but she was supposed to know it anyway. Architecture… wait. Understanding lit in her eyes, and she made a beeline for a rather ill-used section of the archives, pulling the large tome on masonry off the shelves and hefting it onto a nearby table. Opened to the marked page, and there it was. A slow smile spread over her face, and she headed back for the meeting room.




So they had options now? Well, scant good that was going to do, now wasn’t it? Zade only just stopped herself from rolling her eyes. Still, the rest of what Loki had said warranted some thought. Quite a bit of it, actually, and honestly it was all a bit beyond Zade. Still, it seemed she had a choice to make, and oddly enough it really was hers. She slid her eyes sideways and met Loki’s, but the princess gave no indication of what she thought Zade should do.

“Well, I know a thing or two about explosives, believe it or not, but it seems like you need mage-fodder more than anything else, right?” She shrugged as if she could care less. “Wherever you need me is fine, but hell if I want to sit through yet another meeting.” This time, she did shoot her gaze towards the ceiling. Sure, she didn’t much mind being Loki’s bodyguard (the job paid well and was a bit more exciting than your average guarding assignment, apparently), but Parliament was a headache. She wasn’t really sure how Loki and Taylor did it. Maybe there was just a kind of temperament that was suited for dealing with such things.




Pandora was unusually quiet throughout the entire proceeding. To be truthful (and she usually was), she found the whole thing almost impossible to believe. All those people, and they’d just been… killed? Just like that? There didn’t seem to even be a reason for it, but she doubted that any such thing Gilgamesh or whomever might have offered would have made sense to her anyway.

The strangest thing was, though, was the cold rage that was freezing her blood in her veins. She’d never been the sort of person to get all that angry no matter what happened to her, but this… this was worse than anything she could have thought of. All those people, treated like they were nothing, and for what? There wasn’t even a discernible reason! Her small hands balled themselves into fists, and she stared intently at them as she tried to figure out what she could do.

“I’ll… do what I always do,” she said in response to the implied question, and her smile was entirely false. Stand on the sidelines and make a liability of myself, most likely. “I mean, there’s going to be a lot of mages out there, so you could probably use a bit of backup, huh?”



Three days later

On an ordinary day, she probably would have been humming away as she cleaned out her rooms and really any place she could get her hands on. It was, as she had repeatedly told Amon, a task she enjoyed and one that made her feel useful. Normally, he insisted that she not do the work of household staff and let his apprentices pick up after themselves like they were supposed to, but he’d acquiesced this time. There was no mistaking that look: she needed to do something.

Loki had told them to take the week to prepare, but really there wasn’t much in the way of preparation that she could do. She needed to conserve magic, but found herself fidgety without some way to expend ordinary energy. She imagined things must be a lot more frantic for everyone else, so really this was her way of helping with that? Who needed to be worried about scrubbing a practice-room floor or reshelve books in the Archives when there were diffusive methods to be learned or weapons to practice with?

Truthfully, she hadn’t seen much of the others in the last few days. Loki was in and out, Zade and Eos and Victoria here and there, and Mr. Forgefire might have been by once or twice, she couldn’t really be sure.

Despite her best efforts to keep her mind off of it, that little clock in the back of her head was still ticking off time… time until everything was going to fall apart, she was sure.

The setting changes from The Assassins' Guild to District Alpha

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#, as written by Shiva
It was only after setting Siri's safety to the highest priority that Caelin decided to pursue other leads. Working his way around Alpha, he could not confirm anything else other than the fact that Gilgamesh did have some sort of sway over Chandler and his group of moderates.They were either not as trusting as Chandler was, or they were paid off to keep their mouths relatively shut. Unfortunately for Gilgamesh, many politicians liked to chew the fat, as long as the topic at hand didn't really concern their own personal reputation. He had no more clues but a stinking letter, which greatly frustrated him, but he pressed on and went to meet up the next day to present it as possible evidence.




Assassin's Guild

Caelin sat to the side, a few seats down from the Princess. Even at this distance, he could tell that she had not been resting. Her posture, though correct, seemed rickety- as if a simple breeze would cause it to sway and creak in protest. Nevertheless, she presented what she had gathered. Caelin silently placed the letter of demands against Chandler on the table, and left it there to be forgotten. He quickly examined the map the map presented by Pandora and Victoria, noting it to be accurate. He saw the documents Loki and Eos retrieved, and his face twitched slightly. It sharply reminded him of all the times his legislatures to slowly root out slavery had been denied. As Scherazade gave her own input, the young noble began to put the pieces together a little more quickly. As Loki began to speak, she confirmed his conclusion. The only good news, was that she confirmed that Gilgamesh kidnapped Chandler's son, and found him. The old man would be very pleased, and this would give him great incentive to help Taylor out.

However, as she progressed, Taylor was horrified to hear of what the Mages were probably planning. If this wasn't stopped, this would give Gilgamesh the leverage he needed to assert his control and slam the last nail into the magi's coffin. Why did they have to be so impatient?! He gritted his teeth imperceptibly, infuriated by the turn of events. As things neared their climax, even Taylor's legendary calmness was beginning to crack. And soon, he'll be in the center of it with Loki. He straightened slightly as Loki finished her summary of the evidence and predictions.

"I'm in far too deep to back out now. I have to finish what I start." the young noble said, "but diffusing explosives? I neither have the knowledge nor can be present at the time. My apologies." His smile was wry. "However, If you wish I can offer some experts from my own company, specialized with chemical explosions. They might be able to help." He offered.

Victoria was scowling at the floor. At this point things were about to draw to a thundering conclusion, all in the matter of one week. During the discussion, she had kept quiet as Loki pieced Gilgamesh's plan together. She flashed a hesitant look toward Pandora, who seemed to be extremely angry. She then turned her eyes to look at Zade, who agreed to help Loki diffuse the explosives. She wanted to pull out at this point. Maybe she could still salvage her medical career. However, she knew that her Master would finish what he started. After all, you don't leave a patient half-treated, right? Besides, becoming a doctor at this point will put her in danger- as it would isolate her from her comrades and bring her out of hiding.

She sighed. "I have no clue how to work explosives." She admitted. "He... He never got around to showing me that stuff. If he knew how." Shifting uncomfortably, she ducked her so she didn't have to see their faces. "But, if you need an extra girl for the job, I'm here. Just tell me what to do."




Four Days Later

District Alpha

Every maid and male servant was armed with a knife, those more skilled given a weapon of their choice. They had become a secondary guard, and are quite possibly more lethal than his current sentinels patrolling his home. This was because they knew how to stay out of sight, they knew every inch of this house, and they were aware of any movement within it.

As Taylor sat at his desk, clearing away work that had piled up over the course of his investigation on Gilgamesh, he worried about Siri. If things were to veer sharply off course, would he be able to survive Parliament? Taylor had only barely managed to be able to, relying heavily on luck and his own desperate cunning. Would Siri have it in him? He would be several years younger than Taylor. It was slightly foolish, though. A young boy like Siri, taking a Parliament seat? Impossible. It was more likely that Taylor would simply lose it's voice in the meetings until Siri reached an acceptable age.

Sighing, he forced himself to focus. The door opened slightly, as the slight boy slipped in.

"Hey daddy!" He said.

"Hello, Siri, what are you doing here?" Caelin asked.

"Didn't you hear? Uncle Chandler found his kid! Manfred told me!" He said. "Isn't that wonderful?"

Caelin smiled. "That is great news!"

"Safrina says I'm doing good in my studies too!" He rattled on, hopping in place.

"That's excellent as well, Siri, but you can't hide it from me- What do you want?"

Siri flushed slightly. "Manny asked if I could go over to his house to play." He said. "Can I?"

It was as if a knife cut through his gut. "O-of course Siri. Just let Safrina escort you to and back, okay?" He said, his composure still shaky. Even at this point, Caelin still wasn't took keen on letting Siri out on his own until Gilgamesh and his cronies had been thoroughly dealt with.

"Thanks! I'll be back soon Daddy!" He said happily, bouncing out of the room. Muffled shouts for Caelin's ex-Thief maid could be heard throughout the manse.

Caelin sat back, slightly dazed. Daddy, huh?




District Delta

Five days after the Meeting, Midnight

In these streets, he was in control. All the food around could be his. What was a tiny crumb to them was a feast to himself. There was no such thing as trash here.

Suddenly, his head jerked up. Sniffing slightly, he smelt an unfamiliar aroma- somebody too clean to have been from this place. Of course, Furskins the Rat wouldn't have known that- thought he scent was odd enough. Hissing slightly, he attacked a piece of garbage on the streets. A rush of wind alerted him, and he tried to dart off but found himself struggling in a padded glove.

Twisting, he turned around to see a blond girl, staring intently at him. She nodded once. "You'll make a good test subject." She said. Furskins felt unfamiliar chills go down his spine.

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#, as written by Smith
Under almost any other circumstances, Eos would have found Loki's moment of tender maternal care touching. Now though, it grated on his nerves. Not so much the act, no, the assassin was dwelling on the reason why this child was here in the first place. It was not until Loki spoke again that Eos snapped out of his reverie. The ever dutiful assassin nodded, took one passing look at the child and turned to head further down the tunnel. Places like these always had multiple entrances and exits in the event that the operation went under or somebody ratted the location out. As he lead on, Eos could only wonder as to what was running through the mind of the future queen.


The following day; Assassins' Guild meeting room

Eos had opted to stand throughout Loki's debriefing despite the fatigue that so obviously weighed the man down. Lack of sleep pressed on the assassin like a suffocating mask, forming deep crescents under the man's eyes and giving him a slack look that a man of no small physical means should sport. Still, arms crossed and eyes sharp, Eos listened on. Although he had spent most of the night at the palace, he had not spoken to Loki at all since arriving and was forced to twiddle his thumbs as the smarter members of their 'team' pieced things together.

Even after a rundown of the situation, Eos still found himself feeling lost amid the sea of plots and betrayal. What in the hell was Gilgamesh doing with all of the corpses his ritual killings produced? Revelation has only so much storage space, and it would take an inordinate amount of power to grind up that many corpses into an inconspicuous paste that would go unnoticed in the waste bins. Even then, based on the information Loki was providing, that would be alot of human goo to get rid of.

The word 'volunteers' caught the assassin's attention. Eos felt as if he should smirk or crack a joke, but it just was not in him. Instead, he contemplated where his skills would be most appreciated. The trial was ruled out immediately. Helping to cull any mage riots would probably make the most use of his abilities, but Eos felt like there would be a great deal of guardians surrounding each bomb as well that might require his touch. In the end, the assassin could not decide. A lump formed in the back of his throat as the others gave their two cents and words of encouragement.


Four Days Later

The Royal Palace


Dressed in a fine suit of formal-wear with freshly polished shoes, Eos immediately caught the attention of the current guards. After a few customary and routine checks, the assassin was ushered in to wait in the lobby. A maid, one whose name Eos had never bothered to remember, smiled and disappeared down the hall leading to the kitchen. Eos smiled upon her return, for sure enough the woman came bearing a small bowl of ice-cream. He was told that the wait might be a while, considering the preparations that the princess was endeavoring to complete in the short amount of time given. Eos nodded and took in spoonfuls of the frozen treat as he waited. It tasted bitter this day.

It was not too long before Eos was sent in to a smaller room with a two-seat table near the window, opposite to some archaic instrument Loki had referred to as a piano some time ago. Here he would await the princess herself and, hopefully, not feel too depressed by the time he had to leave. The man stretched before taking a seat on the high-backed chair. Periodically, Eos glanced down to see if his briefcase was still there. He was going to need it.

The setting changes from District Alpha to The Skycity of Revelation

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#, as written by Ezarael
After their brief discussion concerning the purpose of the demarcations on the map the trio proceeded slowly and quietly to the entrance from whence they had come. After finally exiting the stinking tunnels darkness was quickly descending upon the still unsuspecting city, a rather ominous omen if the young smith had anything to say about it, and Sir Amon was just as quick to dismantle that party so that they could all return to their respective residencies and prepare for the upcoming plight. How long they would have to prepare still eluded Danterus’ thoughts, but he was planning on making every second of it count.

After bowing respectively to each man for a farewell the smith wasted no time in turning for the Blacksmith’s Guild that was not altogether very far from the location of the sewer entrance they had just exited. On second thought it was rather bold of them to stage such an attack whilst their comrades were ravaging the school, but it did make complete strategic sense to lure the City Guards away from this area to the Garrison where fighting seemed to be the heaviest. Whoever devised such a plan might be well-educated or at least suffered through several dusty volumes of war-time stratagems in one of the local libraries. This certainly began narrowing down the list of whoever the masterminds were behind this scandal.

As he continued pondering on this labyrinthine subject the cobblestoned roads of Beta district flew by with alarming speed. Lines blurred as the young man delved even deeper into the depths of his mind, trying to find some connection with the methods being used and some particular tome with which he could study and see if there was as strict pattern to their strategy. Unfortunately he had never studied strategic warfare very in-depth, but he knew enough of the big names and their volumes to find a point of reference and work out from there. If the person was fool enough to idealize one single tactician and emulate their strategy they would have made a fell move, and hopefully that was the case with such a time as this.

By the time young Danterus had finally finished the compilation of titles and basic ideas the gates to the Compound loomed up before him. An image of the winding streets of Beta District was clearly implanted into the young man’s subconscious, and no matter what he was thinking at the time there was no losing his way through the familiar streets. With a heavy sigh he began proceeding towards The Forge where the Forgefires were making a temporary residence until their Manor could be rebuilt, and unfortunately he knew the first thing he would need to do was report to his father Garbiel and begin discussing the events that just passed.

Well like as not he had to face the music, which was rather unfortunate for the nonce since he knew his father was keeping a wary on him. Garbiel knew of his seething hatred for mages as clearly as he knew the truth of Garbiel’s seemingly indifferent and compassionate nature. Judging by the time of day his father had more than likely eaten, but there would probably be a portion of food that could be warmed up rather quickly. His father did always take notice of the details rather compulsively and was not a man to lose track of trivial matters.
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Garbiel had not expected to have his request denied by the young Scheherazade, but he had been accustomed to such situations so much so that he was able to mask the disappointment that lie underneath his calm exterior. She was not a slave, and he did not have the power of contract, so she was free to make her own decisions. The elderly man thought it might have been for the best though, he did hate using people like pawns at like this, and unless necessity forced him he was not going to compromise another’s choices.

“Leave the blade. It will come back to me. I will take your words to caution, but for right now I must leave for my apartment. There is much to be done and little time to prepare.”

Bowing his head slightly the large man lumbered off with heavy steps towards the hallway and to his temporary abode. After looking at a clock hanging on the wall adjacent his room he noted an hour had passed since he first entered Scheherazade’s apartment and dined. How that much time passed with so little done or said he was not sure, but time was always a fickle friend who liked to deceive you every chance it could get. His right hand reached out and grasped the door-knob lightly with just the index finger and thumb before opening the door while letting his cumbersome feet carry him to the desk placed on the right-hand wall as you enter.

Sitting on the desk was an assortment of papers which had been sent for by Garbiel concerning various matters, and most of which were copies of business papers that his clients had sent to sort out various odds and ends. Obviously there were a few people trying to whittle whatever they could from him, but such trivialities did not concern him, and in fact he noticed letting a few of these cases slip by occasionally did wonders for business relations. To think of all the people who would spend more money when they thought they were saving a fraction of the price. However located on the other side of the desk from the mountainous stack of documents was a new bottle of wine with a crystal glass seated next to it. From the looks Ironarm had it sent while he was dining with the assassin, and it was a very good vintage to boot.

Grasping the neck of the bottle with his left hand the aging man produced a corkscrew from one of the desk drawers and used the device to open the container. While letting the bottle breath for a second he removed the cork, placing it upside down on the bottom left-hand corner of the desk, and replaced the corkscrew to its intended place. Not wanting to muddle his thoughts more than necessary Garbiel decided to merely pour a half-glass of wine for the moment, there was still much left to be done even if it was not necessarily intended to be prepared tonight.

By the time he had finished delicately sipping the contents of the glass down to nothing a knock sounded at the door. Without caring who was awaiting outside Garbiel merely called out, “It is open,” so that whoever it was could enter without an undue wait. Surprisingly it was his son Danterus, and by the smell of it the small party he had joined had successfully ventured into the sewers, but whether they had any luck Garbiel was sure he was soon to find out. After pouring himself a full glass this time the Smith produced yet another glass from the same drawer as the corkscrew who had stocked these drawers he was unsure, but he did liked their style.

“It looks like you need this a bit more than I Danterus. Please sit there is much we need to discuss.”

Plopping down into the chair in front of the desk the young Danterus quickly grabbed the glass presented to him and tested the vintage carefully. The young man had learned quite a lot of gentility during the short time he had to observe the nobility and upper-echelons of the merchant class, and wine-tasting was a favorite next to fencing.

“This is a good year. Ironarm sent this, yes?”

“He did indeed. How fared you in the sewers?”

“For a matter of fact we did remarkably well. There are a few things not worth mentioning, but we found a kind of vault with blood streaking the walls and looked as if they had caged someone in the room. There was a symbol chiseled into the floor. Do you have pen and parchment?”

Garbiel listened attentively while Danterus spoke, and when asked for the paper Garbiel opened another drawer that contained paper, a quill pen, and an ink bottle. Slightly older fashioned and harder to come by in this day and age, but Garbiel believed it gave the writing more body and substance than other writing instruments. Danterus scowled slightly at this cumbersome tool, but knew better than to question his father on such a subject. He might lecture him about style and substance again for all he knew. The young man slowly worked out the symbol as he continued with his narrative.

“In the corner of this chamber we also found a table in one corner with a map drawn on it. It was a sketch of the city with places marked distinctively and the same symbol as on the ground inscribed into the corner of the parchment. Our assumption is that the marks denote a cache of explosives or incendiaries meant to burn from Gamma inwards.”

Garbiel watched his son patiently until he finished with the symbol about the same time his narrative was concluded. When Danterus turned the drawing to face his father a quizzical brow raised itself from Garbiel’s usually complacent demeanor.

“Any idea as to what this is supposed to mean?”

“Not yet, but we are hoping to find out more soon.”

The older man looked into the bottom of his wine glass as he contemplated pouring another round. It would be along discussion tonight, but neither needed to lose their edge for the time being, yet he still could not resist pouring another glass for the both of them. This was a night to relax themselves so that they could wake up fresh in the morning.
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Assassin’s Guild: The Next Day

Danterus and Garbiel had arrived slightly before the other members of their faction to attend to business with the Guild itself. Garbiel had spent the most part of the preceding hours going through paperwork with Sir Amon while Danterus scoured the library for all books concerning explosives and even chancing his life by flirting with several of the apprentices and assassins roaming the halls. He may have been a somewhat familiar face amongst this particular guild, but they were still hired killers, and it seemed easier for the women than the men despite the general stereotypes.

By the time everyone had been received and the meeting commenced both Garbiel’s older eyes and Danterus’ younger one were swimming with letters from the hours of reading they had done. The mind-shock had been slightly easier for Garbiel though, at least he could put the business out of his mind while Danterus had to try and keep what little knowledge he had about explosives. He had never needed an extensive knowledge of that particular thing, but he knew a little from his experience with the forge and several other weapons manufacturers.

When the Princess Loki finished her piece and questioned the group as to their role the father and son did not need to stop and hesitate to ponder their answer. Their apparent strengths and weaknesses soon highlighted themselves in the tasks with Garbiel attending to Parliament while Danterus scurried about in the sewers yet again.

“I think it best to for myself to help with Parliament. If Nethanial Ironarm and I are invited as well as the two heads of the Carpenter’s Guild our positions will be known to the rest of the nobles. We have a considerable number of friends within that sphere if I may be so bold as to say.”

“Well I don’t know about the rest of us, but I’m going into the sewers to defuse bombs. Lord Taylor may have men more experience with explosives, yet I doubt they will be unguarded and if that’s the case I may be of some help."

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When the group all seemed to indicate that it was their preference to continue, Loki merely inclined her head. She did not give pretty speeches, nor would she reassure them that what they were doing was for the greater good of the city. They knew that, and in some cases such information hardly factored into the equation anyway. Some of them were doing it because they were obligated, and others because their personal ethics compelled them. In all likelihood, Danterus was doing it because he hated mages, which was somewhat interesting with a healer in the room. She was not going to split hairs over motives, not at this juncture.

Everyone went their separate ways after that, and she herself spent a few more hours in discussion with Amon before heading back home herself. She was expected to make an appearance at a function of some sort tomorrow, and it was at times like these that she was reminded that her title carried more with it than an obligation to do what she could against people like Gilgamesh.

The question of why she felt so obligated was one she had never really considered. Loki was the introspective sort only insofar as the practice yielded useful information, and questioning the validity of familial loyalty was probably not going to do that. The rest of the time, she did not overthink the whys of her own actions- it was the cause of movement from others that became her primary concern, and the concern of her office. She had heard once, that knowing oneself was even more valuable than knowing the enemy, but frankly if all she knew of herself was that she was capable of making a rational decision, that was fine with her.

A shame she was not more introspective, else she may have noticed the sentimentality chipping away slowly at the ability to think in terms of logic alone.



Two days later, the Gilgamesh Estate

Seth Gilgamesh received his steward with a nod, accepting the creamy parchment missive without a second though. Such communiqués were common enough for him to encounter, though this one bore a seal he did not ordinarily receive, and the scent recalled someone he was fairly certain he wouldn’t really want to meet again if at all possible. Breaking the wax insignia, he scanned over the document quickly, then again with greater care, the ruddy coloration he’d inherited from his father slowly fading until his face rather resembled his stepmother’s white draperies.

Swallowing hard, he shook his head slightly and tossed the parchment into the fire, burning away the evidence, and hastily penning a reply.



Three days before the attack, the Royal Palace

Loki tossed the letter onto the desk, along with the other that had come attached with it. The message was clear even if the language was vague- she had made her point. She wasn’t certain Caelin had understood why she wanted the original letter threatening Chander’s boy, and frankly she hadn’t been all that sure it would work, but maybe, just maybe, the coward would pull though. Inhaling deeply, she had just let her eyes drift shut when there was a light knock on the door. Straightening wearily, she called for whomever was present to enter.

As it turned out, her caller was Elizabeth, which meant that her actual caller had requested something from the kitchens and was someone else entirely. Preempting the inevitable question, Loki gestured against the formality and spoke. “Chocolate, please.” Not normally a favorite, but when she was this buried in things to do, the best medicine. Well, the best medicine that wouldn’t put her off her head, anyway. Rising from the desk, she cracked several vertebrae into place and grimaced at the sound. She’d never liked that particular noise, for whatever reason. Casting one last glance at the letters splayed on the surface of the lacquered oaken desk, she allowed herself the smallest of smiles.

Her ice cream (and Eos, of course) were waiting when she arrived, and she crossed the room without preamble, though she did make a point to raise an eyebrow at the sight of the briefcase. “I wasn’t aware I was yet so corrupt as to take bribes,” she deadpanned. “Really, I thought Amon would have known as much, unless the idea was solely yours.”



The Assassins’ Guild

It wasn’t often that Amon bothered seeking people within his own guild building; the most profitable thing about being in charge was that people generally came to you. However, as the matter was of a very sensitive nature and he wasn’t planning on fully disclosing the details of the assignment to his people until after it was done, it was probably best if he did not make official this particular visit.

As expected, he found Scheherazade in the practice rooms, apparently studiously studying some wicking and chemical solutions, which lay in large, shallow containers on the floor. The Guild contained precious little laboratory space, so he’d given her this ill-used location to do whatever it was she needed to in order that she might prepare for the days to come. It smelled wholly unpleasant, though in a way different from the sewer system. This was the acrid stench of sulfur and flammable liquids.

He had consciously made noise in his approach, not wanting to startle someone at such potentially caustic work, and so he doubted she was surprised by his arrival. “Miss Scheherazade, while I do not question the effectiveness of what you are doing here, might I suggest you find Miss Steins and conduct yourselves to Lord Taylor’s factory? I understand that the workers there know quite a bit about explosives, and I do believe Mr. Vernazza as headed there today as well. It would perhaps behoove you both to study there, if indeed you plan on learning what is necessary to diffuse any incendiaries you may find.”

Without another word, the Guildmaster left the room. One of the skills he’d managed to pick up with time was the ability to give orders as suggestions without much room for actually mistaking them for something other than orders. It was a peculiar talent, but then, he’d accumulated a number of those.

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She’d intentionally shut the windows and was working by what scarcely amounted to much light at all. Still, it kept the room cooler than it might have been otherwise, and she’d always been told to watch overheating the chemicals in this stage. Frankly, she wasn’t entirely certain it mattered all that much, but here she was all the same, hunched over one of a number of shallow vats, taking levels and measurements that probably wouldn’t make much sense to people besides herself. Scheherazade was not a scientist by any means, but the scientific mind does not require the corresponding profession to find some use.

Today, rather than attempting to discover which solution was combustible in the ways she needed, she was trying to figure out how to counteract flammability more effectively than with water. It was not something she regularly spent time doing, and her lack of a formal education was admittedly something of a stumbling block, but she really knew not other way to get at what she wanted other then through trial and error. Empty vials and bulbous blown-glass containers lay together in a corner, the scant illumination of her false laboratory giving their edges a faint glimmer.

The footsteps behind her alerted her to the passage of an ally, and she turned her head sideways to shoot him a glance from the corner of her eye, indicating that though she was reticent as always, she was indeed heeding him. He presented her with an alternative solution, and she in some sense counted herself a fool for not thinking of it earlier. She inclined her head in recognition of the order (at least, that’s what she though it was- Loki had taught her well in recognizing these things) and stood after his departure, brushing off her knees, which had acquired some dust from the ill-used floor.

She wasn’t exactly sure where Victoria was, actually, or even if she was in this building, but it didn’t make too much sense to Zade for her to be elsewhere, so she figured she’d simply look around until such time as she either found the other young woman or else grew impatient in the searching. It seemed they were to learn to diffuse bombs today, which she had to admit was going to be much more useful than attempting to neutralize the other chemicals involved through trial and error, which she had learned early in life could be a rather risky experience.




Pandora found Amon in his office as she had expected she would. After knocking, she was admitted, but she could tell he wasn’t quite sure why she had presented herself here and now. Doubtless, he was very busy, but something was bothering her all the same, and she felt it carried enough relevance to interrupt him to ask after it. Was that selfish of her, perhaps? It might not even be anything, and yet…

“Umm… Sir Gregory, begging your pardon, and sorry to bother you, but I have a question. More than one, actually, if I may, that is.” That was too many qualifying clauses, wasn’t it? She was probably rambling again. Unfortunate habit, that one.

Taking a deep breath, Pandora tried to collect her thoughts before she made a fool out of herself. A constant worry, when you were as self-conscious as she was, and a pauper set to play a game with nobility. That was probably how some of tem saw it too, wasn’t it? A game of some kind, where other people’s lives could be gambled away like those gaudy metal disks that represented money at a card table.

And now she was meandering along even in her thoughts. “Is Gilgamesh really behind all of this?” she asked speculatively. Okay, that might have seemed to come from nowhere. Attempting to rectify this, she qualified. “By which I mean… it seems like so much, for just one man to engineer all of this by himself. I know you probably don’t think too much of Aram, but he’s not a fool, and manipulating him could not have been so easy as all of that.” Actually, he had a reputation for being quite an intelligent man, but then she wouldn’t really know.

“I know that we’re hated, and to a certain degree I even understand it. People fear what they don’t know, and it’s hard to know magic unless you can feel it. So it only makes sense that it would scare some people. But that kind of hate… can one person really feel all that rage towards people he’s never met?” It seemed such a simplistic motive, too much so for her. Pandora had seen the gamut of negative human emotion, but never had she met anyone with such unbridled loathing as would be required to want to destroy half the city to exterminate the object of it.

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#, as written by Shiva
Hunched over a small work table, the blonde girl was prodding a trapped rat to a tray with a needle. Proving to be the best way to test poisons so far, Victoria felt she had no choice but to follow in her Master's footsteps and kidnap rats off the streets of Revelation for scientific purposes. She had wondered briefly when he had become completely desensitized to their keening squeaks. She was testing quick-acting poisons, as she may need to fight enemies with the defusing of the bombs under the city. This means she didn't have to get a killing blow with her blade, merely a scrape and the opponent would be down for the count.

She carefully wafted the beaker of liquid toward her, picking up the faint smell of almonds. The best part about her is that she was able to detect cyanide- one out of a thousand blessed with such an ability. Cyanide was so far, her best choice. 30 seconds after entering the bloodstream it would render somebody unconscious, and after a full minute they'd be dead. She took a small scalpel, and laced it with some of the poison. Whipping it across the Rat's stomach, a small cut appeared right under it's torso. The rat struggled and shrieked, but as expected, after about half a minute the animal stopped struggling.

She dipped the scalpel in water, diluting the poison then carefully wiped the blade down. It was at that point she heard the door open. Turning around, she saw Scheherazade looking in at her. She quickly turned red and tried to cover the rat corpse, pulling it free of it's bonds and shoving it in a bag to be disposed of later. "Uh.. Uh.. Did you need something... Hera?" She was terrible at remembering nicknames. The chair groaned as she pushed it further back, quickly gathering her things and organizing them in a little case of droppers, vials, and beakers. She was just about done anyways. Aside from select other poisons, she had gathered her main killer.




District Alpha

Taylor's Chemicals was separated from the other districts purely because of construction and worker issues. While Caelin also had to build a little complex for workers to live, that meant building closer to Alpha so the cost of chemical shipping would be less of a drain. Workers that signed up for Taylors job often also received the spite of their neighbors, as some cannot comprehend bending their head for a snotty noble, and others become jealous of their higher pay. Therefore, the families had to be moved to Beta as well. A large cost, but it kept his workers happy, and that was important. He barely had enough people in the first place.

Two men were standing in front of his desk, looking at each other uncomfortably in their specialized suits. Taylor quietly urged them to take a seat. "You're not in trouble." He began, and they visibly relaxed. "The thing is, people might be coming in, and I want you to teach them about explosives. Whatever questions they have, answer them. You can trust them." He said. The two men looked at each other quickly, confused. "Don't worry about everything else. I'll cover it somehow. Just do as they ask." He said. Taylor thought they should be over soon. If not, there was little to worry about. He could just explain that they never showed up or invent some other excuse and send them back to work. The workers filed out.

The setting changes from The Assassins' Guild to District Beta

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#, as written by Ezarael
Three Days After The Meeting

Assassin’s Guild

The sound clashing steel could be heard throughout a large portion of the cavernous Guild as Danterus willed away the hours practicing his swordplay with any number of assassins and apprentices that wished to spar. Albeit he was not the most able-bodied swordsman and bested by the majority of the assassins that faced him there was always some technique to learn from these skilled opponents, and every day he got just a little bit better. There was not telling how skilled the guards in the sewers would be, but none the less the young smith kept slicing away with the razor-sharp rapier he had forged with his own two hands, and the combination of both his strength and speed with such a light weapon proved daunting in the first few motions of any duel. Hopefully he was going to be facing would not be able to hold their composure for much longer than that, or he managed to improve just enough to not die in the first flurries of battle.

Unfortunately the woman with whom he was sparring at the moment was fighting with dirk and short sword and seemed quite capable utilizing both weapons to keep him on his toes. After several minutes of toying with him and testing his reflexes she began to advance inch by inch, blocking with her short sword until the dirk came within slashing distance. As her left hand darted out, aimed at Danterus’ right-hand side since he was a left-handed fighter, the smith was forced to grab the slender wrist with his right hand which ultimately opened up his left for just the chance she needed to tap the blunted blade lightly on his ear.

“Better luck next time smith. Try to keep your distance with that long reach, and if that fails remember it takes longer to bleed out from a dagger or dirk cut than a sword’s. That won’t do you much good if it’s poisoned though.” The female assassin laughed rather venomously as she replaced the blunted weapons to their respective places and strode off to accomplish whatever duties she had for the day.

The perspiring Danterus slumped down against one of the sparring room’s walls, taking off his drenched shirt so that his body could breathe the cool air and allow his body-heat to subside. Even though his body was used to working under much more duress than the current setting provided it was not used to going at the quickened pace he had been forced to use while training with these skilled assassins. The matches were neither very long nor very short, but just quick enough to break up the monotony of the day without disrupting duties and just long enough to show him a trick or prove warm up the muscles.

Throughout the last three days he had noticed several others from their faction going about and doing various things, but he had not taken the time or the effort to try and make conversation with any of them. Instead his days had been spent almost utterly devoted to preparing for the battle in the sewers to come with only a miniscule break for water or food every few hours. After finally looking up from the floor Danterus looked over towards the door and caught a glimpse of someone passing through the hallway. He had never been very good with profiles or appearances from behind so whoever it might be was a mystery, but he decided to call out anyway.

“Hey hold on just a second.” Getting up hurriedly and leaving his shirt lying on the floor behind him Danterus rushed forth to the entrance before the figure vanished from sight.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Same Day

Beta District

Unlike Danterus Garbiel’s days had been much less physically demanding, but he had been racking his brain with a constant shuffling through countless piles of paperwork, using every ounce of persuasive knowledge he had to find more allies for their cause, and slaving over the details of his Manor with the Carpenter’s Guild. His days had been ending somewhere early in the morning while starting at daybreak, which at this time of the year was very early. No matter the problems he faced though the aging smith kept trudging along like the pack-horses used to plow the fields.

Despite the constant company drifting to and fro the man still felt isolated amongst the constantly shifting sea of people. With responsibility there had always come solidarity and misery for those who bore it, and at times he wondered how Revelation’s numerous monarchs had felt during their reign. Naturally some people took responsibility less seriously than others, but they should still feel some of the burden accompanied with high positions.

Garbiel did not even believe his tasks were of the most import in the days to come, but none the less they needed to be handled with as much care as someone would use while holding an infant or a delicate porcelain vase. Whatever happened though they all had a part to play in the upcoming days, and hopefully everyone was prepared for their portion of the unfolding events. With a heavy sigh Garbiel shifted his thoughts away from these thoughts and returned to the list composed for him by the carpenters the night before, asking very precisely what he wanted done for the day.

The setting changes from District Beta to The Skycity of Revelation

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#, as written by Smith
Three days before the attack, the Royal Palace

"Ooh, funny." Eos replied with a similarly disinterested drawl. He stared at the half-melted ice-cream on the table for a heartbeat or two before realizing that he should say something funny. "If I was going to bribe you, I wouldn't use money. My body... Blast, how did the rest of that go?" Eos waved a hand impatiently and frowned before offering Loki a half-hearted grin. "The joke would have just ended with something along the lines of 'Negotiating in the sheets'. Not my best, I know, but I'm not here to poke fun at you. For once."

There was a long silence after that in which Eos stared at Loki from across the table, his eyes shifting from her to somewhere outside of the window. The assassin rested his chin in his hand and tapped the table in a repetitive motion with the other. It was obvious that he was contemplating how best to say what he had to say, choosing his words carefully as though they weighed on his mind much more heavily than he let on. Returning his gaze to Loki, Eos finally found the right words. Only two. "I'm out."

Serious as a heart attack, Eos looked the princess directly in the eye as he spoke. It was a matter he had been mulling over for a long while now, and he still was not one-hundred percent sure that this was what he wanted. Eos sighed and returned to staring out of the window. "I don't feel like wasting your time with a bunch of whiny bullshit, so I'll skip the sentimental parts and get right to it. This is the first time in years--my whole life, actually, that I have felt normal. As in, friends, a bit of peace and relative safety since most people go around me to get to you." Eos raised his head, looked back to Loki and shrugged.

"If I stay in..." he waved his hand in a circle in an attempt to find the right word, "This, there's a real chance that I'll die. To be honest, I don't believe you're going to win this. You're going up against the world with little more than an old killer, a depleted guild, a circus freak, a healer that has no place in a battlefield and a gaggle of blacksmiths." Eos seemed to sit straighter and his eyes darkened slightly, "One of the first things I was taught was that heroes do exist, but they don't live happily ever after. Tell me this: If you do succeed in your plan, who's to say that this will stop? If the villain of this story has such a powerful grip on Gilgamesh, his followers and nearly every mage in the city, what makes you think that this will end? I'm sure you've seen fanaticism before...

"Charisma's a powerful thing. Faith is too. On the off chance that you do win, this isn't going to stop. Mages will riot. The remnants of your enemy will still accost you in the dead of night." Eos scowled, "Amon isn't a spring chicken, and he won't be around to watch you as you sleep much longer," he neglected to state that particular duty was his on many nights, "You cannot protect Pandora forever. You can't just hole yourself up somewhere as the world burns, but you cannot make sweeping changes. I've read a lot of books since rejoining the Guild... Civilizations fall because of situations like this. If I take your side, I'm going to die. Plain and simple.

"Don't get me wrong, I have no intention of aiding the enemy, but... I do want to come out of this in one piece. Come out on neutral terms with the winning side and enjoy the rest of my life." Eos grew quiet, rubbing the smooth wood of the table with his forefinger. As if just remembering it was there, the assassin opened his hand and stared at the obsidian disk inked onto his palm. Only just barely audible, he continued. "Do you ever think of having kids? A future...? I want that. I really do."

Without so much as another glance, Eos picked up his case and made his way towards the exit. On the table was the cheap, shoddily made bronze sunburst pendant.

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Amon leaned forward as the little mage–woman spoke, resting his chin on his folded hands and tilting his head slightly to one side. Anyone with the inclination to study mannerisms would be able to understand without difficulty where Loki had gained many of hers. At first, he was simply inclined to be amazed even still that a person could live the life this young lady had and not be made unbearably bitter or defeated by it. Granted, he got disproportionate exposure to the embittered ones, being who he was, but when this was accounted for, Pandora was still most extraordinary in all the wrong ways. Well, wrong if you wanted to survive, that was.

Still, when he thought about it, he realized that she had a point, in her own way, and it was one that had not necessarily escaped him either. He didn’t know much about Aram Azazel as the man was rather secretive and Ishtar wasn’t exactly willing to speak to him extensively on the subject of the little underground leader, and he hadn’t thought to interrogate the one before him on the point because she didn’t seem to, either.

He was left with the inquisitive overlarge blue eyes and a great deal of silence, and he exhaled softly, straightening himself and rubbing at his neatly-kept facial hair. This whole thing was putting more white in his beard than a man of his age should really have, but then this was one of those jobs that tended to do that. He was without the Queen’s youthful genetics, as the looking-glass was wont to remind him. He took a moment to appear to give the consideration some thought, though in truth he knew what his answer was to be anyway.

“Since you asked, I suppose it will not hurt to say that I believe that on some level, you are correct, Miss Elling. Through our research, we came to the same conclusion. The problem is, the truth behind the matters at hand as yet eludes us, but it is there. Thus far, we have only one clue, and it has lead us to what seems to be a dead end. Lux adventum. A dead phrase in a dead language, last used in the days of Elisia, when it was how she personally chose to end correspondence. Unlike the mason’s mark, though, there seem to be no notable contemporary applications. Frankly, even if there are, we have not the time to deal with them before the events push us forward further. It is if anything an investigation for another time.”

He smiled softly, as if to reassure her, and then stood, seeing the woman out with all proper politeness. He knew he was brushing away her concerns too brusquely, but it would not do to inform her just how relevant he found her question. In the end, what he had spoken was still the truth: there were battles to be fought and explosives to be defused before he would be able to satisfy his own curiosity on the matter.



The Royal Palace

Loki endured the words in silence, though the truth was, she had once wondered the same thing. She knew just as well as she knew anything that their chances were horrible, that in the end she’d be surprised if she survived the day, but this was bigger than that, at least to her. It was bigger than duty, and certainly more important than her happiness. That was not to say, though, that she couldn’t understand.

Not that she was pleased. No, she was far from that. At first, she’d assumed it was another poor joke, indicative of his taste in such things, really. Then, she’d though to make an honest attempt at killing him right there, not because she was upset (though she was) but rather because no matter what he said, there was always the possibility that he knew too much. In the end, though, she neither said nor did anything. His reason could be countermanded; she could have cruelly pointed out that if those explosives were designed to do what she thought they were designed to do, he was going to die anyway, probably, but the sharp words dulled under the scrutiny of consideration, and so instead she simply stared at him in that disconcerting way she had and said absolutely nothing.

Heroism was not her goal. Her goal was to save the lives of the people this was going to kill if she did not act. She was not willing to accept the consequences of inaction- to do what so many politicians do and be there at the forefront of the mourning with none the wiser to their silent complicity in the preceding tragedy. She could act, she could do something, and therefore, she must. Not everyone shared that necessity nor that power; one could go so far as to say that the effort probably would not fail or succeed just because of Eos’s choice.

Were she who she had been a year ago, that would have been the long and short of it. She was learning, though, that with increased consideration came increased vulnerability, and she could not deny that those words and the simple act of walking away had hurt somehow, and this was the reason for the flare of anger that remained even as she watched her dessert melt away into nothingness. What does one do with one less limb? One adjusts, and continues to walk. There is no other choice.

Slumping in her chair, she absently wove her spoon around in the bowl, assisting the liquefaction process. She found herself distinctly without appetite, now that she got around to it. This was going to require adjustment… if Victoria and Zade and Garbiel plus Amon’s people handled the defusion, she could put Danterus in with the other armed group, and send Pandora along to heal. That was a disgustingly-flawed plan, and even she knew it to be so. Danterus was decent, from Amon’s assessment, but by no means a professional, and Pandora… wasn’t even that, if she were being honest.

And none of it stopped necessity. Her eyes flicked to the copper disc on the table, but she made no move to do anything with it as of yet. She was still trying to decide whether or not it might be best off in the fire.

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Scheherazade had finally found the person she was looking for in a rather remote corner of the Guild. She took one look at the prone rat on the work table and resisted the urge to shake her head. She’d been to Etzel’s clinic, once upon a time, and distinctly remembered cages full of rats, all squeaking and rather large, if she recalled correctly. Delta rats, in other words. She supposed this made the most sense for what happened to them.

“Not to… erm… disturb you, but Amon seems to think it might be a good idea if we bothered learning how to defuse a bomb. Just in case something happens to the trained professionals, I guess.” She raised one shoulder and let it fall in a gesture of half-sincere nonchalance, raising an eyebrow before turning on her heel to exit. It didn’t really require more words than that, did it? She was never sure, and anyway, she certainly wasn’t going to force Victoria into doing anything she didn’t want to. No need to end up with a needle sticking out of herself, after all, and she appreciated the damage poison was capable of, even if she didn’t know much about it.

The walk to Taylor Chemicals wasn’t so bad, and it looked as though there were personnel waiting around form someone to show up and ask about what to do, because it looked like there was already some sort of demonstration set up. An ordinary person might have been a little wary of such a display in an enclosed space, but someone who specialized in lighting things on fire and occasionally exploding them was at once more conscious of the fact that such things could be contained and also more wary of letting someone else do it.

Still, it was something she pushed to the side for the moment. Chances were good she was going to die in a couple days anyway; what was the point in worrying too much about it? Why she was so indifferent to this was something she couldn’t really explain, but perhaps when you’d spent so long hating someone the way Zade hated the person responsible for this, well… things started to get a bit skewed, and she knew it better than most.




Lux adventum… the light is coming?” The phrase didn’t make much sense to Pandora in this context, but then it was doubtful Amon expected her to even know what it meant, so either it wasn’t important, or it was too important for someone like her to know. Unlike a good number of people, she did not protest this and did not demand further information- she trusted his judgment because she was no longer certain she could trust her own. Ishtar’s words rang in her head, but it wasn’t really letting herself be walked over if she made the conscious choice not to pursue the inquiry, was it?

Duly appeased by his limited explanation, she simply nodded and left without further protest, even if she didn’t have the answers she had sought. She truly doubted anyone did; the question was much bigger than this solitary chain of events, after all. Maybe she was just looking in the wrong places for the answers.

The acrid smell of cinders and sulfur filled her nose, and Pandora watched the smoke billow out into the streets, obscuring her vision. As always, the world of her precognizance was completely silent and murky, and there was no color to it this time, either. She could feel a raw hoarseness in her own throat, and guessed that she had been yelling. Unusual, that she should be in her own body for such an event. It seemed that she would be witnessing this personally when the time came.

Figures moved past her on the crowded street, all indistinct save for the expression they were wearing. Anger mixed headily with grief and loss upon their countenances, and she wondered for whom they wept. Mayhap it was for themselves, the ones they loved; such were the kind that most people would weep for, she supposed. The procession was solemn, but urgent- she realized she could not even tell if she was witnessing fighting or its aftermath. Reaching up to her own eyes, she found them dampened with the same moisture. For whom was she weeping?


”Hey, hold on just a second,” the voice broke her prematurely from her reverie, and Pandora started sharply, surprise etched across her visage as she turned sharply. It was Mister Forgefire’s son… Danterus, she thought. She’d never spoken to him before, being somehow under the impression that he was not at all disposed to look favorably at her in any way, so she wondered why he was speaking to her now.

Blinking, she realized she had yet to say anything. “Oh, um… is there something I can do for you, sir?” She fell back on formality from discomfiture with the situation, not wanting to offend by presuming the use of his given name. She was pretty sure that could be offensive to some, anyway.

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#, as written by Shiva
"Uh.. uh, yes! That sounds good!" Victoria said, clapping her hands together. She was still insanely embarrassed she was caught doing this. How long ago was it that she promised never to do such things as long as she lived? She really needed to get a hold of herself. She quickly followed Scheherazade out of the room, taking a rather quiet walk down to Taylor Chemicals.

Taylor Chemicals

Two men noticed the two girls looking around, and looked at each other. These were the people their boss wanted taught? They weren't ones to complain, as they were still paid without having to work the monotonous job of sorting and verifying chemicals. They waved once, but they were already approaching. There was a little table with several small squares on top. They were fitted with many things, from glass cylinders to simple timers on a nondescript box. Victoria sat down on a little stool, while a wheeled chair was provided for the fire-dancing bodyguard. Victoria eyed the table with interest the entire time, her hands twitching slightly as she resisted the urge to touch them.

"Our boss instructed us to show you how to defuse a bomb. Well, Chemical bombs." One began. "There are so many kinds of bombs it's not really that funny, but all of them work on a simple foundation: action and reaction." The second man motioned to the table. "There's a source of ignition, and a source of reaction. Boss brought us a few compounds that whatever you may be dealing with would most likely possess. Don't tell us who- the less we know, the better."

The second man smiled, pointing to the first one. "Gas bombs. Usually, you'll see a cylinder or container on the exterior that contains the chemicals. There are usually two of these storage containers. They can cause widespread bio-damage, leaving little damage to structures. Usually, the best way to defuse these is to simply cut away the tubes connecting the ignition wire or tube to the container. Unless your guys got their hands on some serious shit, you should try that. Some containers have volatile substances that will combust upon reacting with the air- but that's far and few so you shouldn't worry about that.

The first man walked over to the first bomb, taking a blade and smartly cutting off a single black tube that connected the container to the inside of the bomb.

"Next we have the Combustion bomb. Typical explosion bomb. The most trouble, as it destroys structure and living beings. Burns are no fun. Same as above- just cut the wire connecting to the explosives. There are few other extremely different bombs, usually they run within the Gas or Combustion branch. There are Frags, which are combustion with sharp things inside to cut people up as they propel out. That's the worst kinds."

The first man pointed at the rest of them. They looked either nondescript or very detailed.

"These are the parts of the bomb you'll have trouble with. Since it's so easy to defuse straightforward bombs, bombers create dummy wires and such of the likes to cause the bomb to blow up immediately with tampering. There aren't any real good or concrete techniques to deal with these- they're all dependent on the maker of the bomb- so if you catch him and force him to spill the beans somehow that'll work out very nicely."

"Some bombs will have no wires, but attempting to cut your way to them will cause them to explode. In these cases, you have to carefully dismantle the outside to reach the inside- even if it's on a timer. There's simply no other way." The second specialist demonstrated it by carefully taking a metal box and taking it apart to reveal a piece of paper inside saying "bomb".

Victoria watched them explain carefully. It was a shame, because if it were to be a bomb there would most likely many "dummy wires" as they would put it. She turned to Scheherazade. "What do you think? I'm stumped for questions."

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#, as written by Ezarael
“Oh, um… is there something I can do for you, sir?”

Danterus could honestly not remember where he had seen the pretty young woman standing in front of him before that moment, and by the look on his face this fact was quite evident. The change of his expression can be equivocated to a machine starting up after the motor had seized for second, but when that second ended the young smith recognized the shorter woman from previous meetings. Unfortunately she seemed to recognize him while he could not even recall her name. Not Victoria…Scheherazade was the one assisting Father… Something like…Pandora? Besides hearing her name mentioned Danterus had not actually learned anything about her, or the fact that she was a mage.

An overly-embarrassed grin spread across his clean-shaven face whilst his right hand soared upwards to scratch the back of his head nervously. “Apologies Ms. Pandora, but please call me Danterus, Father is still the “sir” of the Forgefires.” By that time the cooler hallway air quickly reminded the young man of the fact that his shirt lay on the wall inside the training room, and blushing, he murmured an apology while expediently running to get his shirt. “Uhm… excuse me a second… Sorry about that miss. I didn’t mean to bother, but I was just looking for a sparring partner. Practice for the big fight huh?” It took only a second for the youth to pull the shirt over his unruly hair to cover his torso.

He was not sure of what part she played in their gambit, and she did not seem to be of the fighting kind by the looks of her frame, yet the fresh bruises discoloring the side of his face and arms were a sore reminder of his last sparring match. The sting had begun to die away, but the red marks had already begun fading to a purplish-blue color and they soon began to throb. Suddenly his stomach began to growl from lack of nourishment, and after glancing over his shoulder to an open window it seemed a good deal of the day had flown by without him even noticing, and his hunger was not likely to go away on its own.

“Uhm… Guess I shouldn’t have skipped lunch!” A seemingly fun idea crossed Danterus’ mind as the words left his mouth. “You haven’t dined yet have you? It’s just that if you weren’t busy we might be able to lunch together. I don’t believe I have formally introduced myself yet, but I am Danterus il Forgefire, and it is a pleasure to meet you.” He bent his large figure down in a half-bow with his right-hand placed on his left-waist and his left-hand reaching across his back so his palm could touch his right waist.

The setting changes from The Assassins' Guild to District Alpha

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Taylor Chemicals

Zade was fairly certain she had understood most of that; combustibles as a group were not new to her knowledge, but she’d never dealt in actual demolitions. Eyeing the fragmentation device warily, she listened to Victoria’s question without averting her gaze from the rather innocuous-looking container. They wouldn’t bother planting such things underground, would they? No… surely not if their object was to do damage to infrastructure and not people.

She also therefore had cause to doubt that they’d be dealing with dummy-wires (for why would the people responsible expect interference in a plan that nobody was supposed to know about?) or much of anything but combustion bombs, though the use of timers seemed likely if they wanted everything to do off at the same time. They might not even have to defuse anything if they were quick enough to catch the teams of planters in the act… but all of this was best-case scenario, and if experience had taught Zade anything, it was that you should never count on things working out in any but the worst ways. A jaded, cynical thought, but perhaps not entirely inappropriate.

“I think… that there’s no way we can learn enough in the time we have. So, perhaps we should focus on the ones designed to destroy infrastructure specifically. Combustion bombs, with timers maybe.” A thought struck her. “Say your bomb was Marchfield-constructed, designed for construction projects where demolition was required. What kinds of dummy wires are you looking for then?” This was directed at their instructors, though she did not clarify the reasons for her question, as they'd asked she refrain from doing. Marchfield always seemed to be on the periphery of these things, and they were one of the few licensed makers of explosives out there, which meant information on the construction was probably actually available. It was worth a shot, anyway.



The Assassins' Guild

Pandora constrained her mirth into a light smile at Danterus’s initially-awkward phrasing. She’d been in the same boat so many times it was easy to relate. She scoffed gently at the use of a prefix with her own name, but realized maybe that was a little hypocritical of her. “First names, then. I can do that if you will.”

He excused himself for a second and came back rather more clothed, which she had the grace not to comment upon. “Well, I’m not much help in the training department, though I’d be happy to fix you up if you need those bruises taken care of.” Apparently, the inclination she’d had that he disliked magi was incorrect, and so she felt no reservation in offering this. “They may seem minor now, but they might not be so much so if they slow you down in a few days,” the healer pointed out pragmatically. If there was one thing Pandora was ever truly practical about (and there was probably only the one), it was the insistence that the people she knew do right by their health.

Her face became pensive for a second; she almost knew that it was going to be horrid. The vision had given her that much of an impression, anyway. When all was said and done, would he still be among the living, or prone on the ground with the deceased? It was a painful thing to think of even someone that she didn’t really know; she refused to let any of the blank faces swimming in her mind gain enough definition to look like Loki or Victoria or Eos. Certainly not; not while she still drew breath herself, anyway.

“Actually, I think I’d quite forgotten it was that time. Lunch sounds nice; I’m sure there’s still something down in the kitchens.” Her stream of words was broken by her bewildered reaction to his formality, and she blinked slowly, unable to keep herself from laughing, not derisively but rather with genuine amusement. “You know… I’m not sure anyone’s actually bowed to me before. For future reference, I’m really okay with handshakes.”

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#, as written by Shiva
Victoria looked at her. She considered Zade as the one to go to regarding combustion bombs, as she learned. Any chemical bombs that might be present could be defused fairly easily if Victoria herself was present, but combustion is something too volatile for her to handle. She nodded slightly. "The most effective and logical thing the terrorists can get their hands on would probably be combustion bombs, I agree. The more destruction, the more benefit the mages get to their cause, and the more the law enforcement have to deal with.

She shook her head. Victoria couldn't believe she was getting herself deeper and deeper into this mess. All she wanted was to grow up and be a doctor. So far, the only way this looked possible was if she managed to stop the mages from blowing up half the city. Though, all the casualties could be for excellent business. She forced the morbid thought away- that was something only her Master would consider. She wiped her forehead with the back of her hand. The chemical experts looked at each other, and at the table. The first one moved bobbed his head in acknowledgement to Scheherazade's request, and picked up a metal container on the far end of the table.

"Marchfield is a place that relies on our chemicals for research, though I've never heard of them to be producing bomb. Not even for construction." He said, thoughtful. "However, construction bombs in general are much easier to deal with. To prevent backfiring, many of them have multiple ways to be defused in case of an emergency. Some have plugs that you can simply pull to cut off the charge from the explosive. Others can be turned off at the flick of a switch. Some remain completely inert until it is met with heavy force- such as a the fall of a hammer." The second man nodded.

"Normal construction bombs will never have dummy wires, as they confuse the workers. However, if it's been hijacked, expect the dummy wires to look much less natural than the pre-made wires. For example, look for signs of a patched job- wires that connect nowhere and tape holding those wires to the box. However, if your hijacker is good, the wires will have little-to-no difference from the others. In that case, your best bet is to bet. Usually, the wires run in the middle or right at the end of the box area- so any wires around it can be considered dummies."

Victoria's head was spinning. How the heck were they supposed to diffuse the bombs then?! there was so much guesswork involved one wrong move might have her splattered all over the wall!She looked over at Zade helplessly.

"Timers make the situation much more easier to control. That means the bomber has no control over when the bomb will explode if things go awry. There's little you can do about the timer, but if you can somehow dismantle it without triggering the bomb, you will be able to find the charge and simply cut the wire that's connected to it. Real good bombers look ahead and plant the dummy wires there too, though."

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#, as written by Ezarael
Danterus pondered slightly over the comment Pandora made concerning his wounds, and that happened to be the second time he heard her mention such a subject, so what did that make her? She might be a doctor or even just some medicine woman that was used to helping around her neighborhood. Whatever the case she did have a point about the bruises, and the older ones were beginning to impeded his movements from the stress they endured with each strike or parry. Maybe after lunch he could ask for the aforementioned help, and besides that she was not an altogether unpleasant individual in several regards.

“Actually, I think I’d quite forgotten it was that time. Lunch sounds nice; I’m sure there’s still something down in the kitchens.” Her stream of words was broken by her bewildered reaction to his formality, and she blinked slowly, unable to keep herself from laughing, not derisively but rather with genuine amusement. “You know… I’m not sure anyone’s actually bowed to me before. For future reference, I’m really okay with handshakes.”

A broad smile spread across his face at the lyrical quality of her laughter and her apparent unfamiliarity to his formality, a rather subconscious trait embedded in his personality after years of parties and balls to which his father and him had been invited. His left hand reached out towards their side as he invited her to walk with him towards the awaiting kitchens. “Please, after you Pandora. Sorry for prim and proper manner, but it’s just something with which I have become accustomed throughout the years. I will try and remember the handshake bit though.” The pair proceeded down the hallway until reaching the door leading to the stairwell, and upon approaching this barrier Danterus made a long-reach to open the door before his companion came walking within the door’s opening path.

As they passed through the door and proceeded downwards towards the ground floor the young smith picked up their conversation once again. “So might I inquire as to how you became so entangled in this mess? It just seems that you are slightly out of place in comparison to the assassins, their apprentices, and the nobility involved with this conspiracy. Apologies if this is a rather blunt question, but I was just hoping to learn a bit more about whom it is I shall be working with in the time to come.” Luckily the training room Danterus had been using was only two stories above the ground floor, and using the western stairwell expedited their journey to the kitchen, whose entrance was opposite that of the stairwell’s.

Once again Danterus repeated the process of opening the door for Pandora, a habit he had learned quite early in his post-adoption life with Garbiel, and as soon as he did the aroma of fresh bread, roasting meat, and stewed vegetables wafted towards his nose. These unexpected stimuli forced a tremendous growl to sound forth from his stomach, and a rather embarrassed look was covered up with his right hand as several of the cooks turned to look with incredulity to discover at what could have made the sound. The kitchen-head strode towards them confidently to inform them of their choices.

“Always some stragglers comin’ in after the usual time. Not to worry though we always have extras lyin’ about in case somebody drags up after the hour. We got some roast mutton on the spit off ta yer left along with a few loaves of rye ‘n vegetable soup. Come on hurry up now we got business to take care of kids.”

The man then proceeded to herd them off quickly towards the food with his right hand while his left signalled several serving boys to hurry up and prepare a plate for the duo. By the time the plates had been handed to them the kitchen-head had already taken rushed them off towards the dining hall on the kitchen’s east side while barking orders to cooks and servants alike. All of a sudden they were hustled through the door and could feel the whoosh of air as it was summarily slammed behind them. It took a second for Danterus to overcome the dizziness of what just happened and speak to Pandora.

“Uhm… I guess we should have a seat?”

The setting changes from The Assassins' Guild to District Alpha

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Taylor Chemicals

“Fantastic,” Zade muttered darkly. “Right, so it looks like our best bet is to hope that the rebels don’t have a decent bomb-maker in the lot, then.” Despite her caustic attitude, directed as it was at nobody particularly, she did her best to memorize as much of the information as possible. In the end, though, she still left with a prevailing sense of dread.



The Assassins' Guild

“Oh, don’t worry about it,” Pan replied easily, waving a dismissive hand. “I’m just not used to it is all.” She knew little to nothing of actual manners, at least not in the sense of high-class affairs, and so all of it struck her as a little strange, but she wasn’t going to complain about someone being polite in the way they happened to know. She strove towards the same thing personally, after all.

She followed his gesture, confused for a second before she figured out that he was indicating she precede him. The mage-healer thanked Danterus for opening the door to the stairwell as she pondered his question. “Well, you are right about that. I often feel the same way myself, actually, but if I recall correctly, my involvement was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.”

The opening of the next door and heeding the cook’s instructions interrupted her for a while, but as soon as she was settled into her seat, she started up again. “It’s kind of funny, actually. I think the day it all sort of fell in on my head was rather auspicious. I’d just treated Eos, you see, because back then he’d left the Guild for a while, and then the Doctor came for a visit as well, which was kind of strange…” her voice dropped off for a moment at the mention of the physician, but she shook herself out of it and picked up where she’d stopped.

“Anyway, I was running a free clinic back then instead of doing house calls- it was much easier on me, though now I wonder if it might not have inconvenienced the patients… wasting lung was a major problem in Delta, and several of them held off on their treatments until they were hardly breathing, the poor things.” She recalled several such cases and shook her head minutely. “But anyway, a man stumbled into the clinic that afternoon, and I was able to determine that he’d been poisoned. Magic isn’t nearly as good at dealing with that sort of thing as conventional medicine, so it was really a good thing the doctor was there… turns out, the young man we treated had been injected with a test dose of the same poison later used to kill Marquis Goldwater. After that, I guess it just never occurred to me to stay out of things. Everyone could use a healer sometimes, right?”

The setting changes from District Alpha to The Nexus

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The cost of any great change is never low. If the innovators are lucky, it is paid in time and money alone. But for those who have no such patience nor an excess of resources, it seems most often to be paid in blood, and not always that of the guilty. Sometimes, the innocent among us are the casualties. Perhaps there was no such thing as innocence in the world that Revelation was on that day. I disagree. There was much, and much was lost.




The morning of David Gilgamesh’s Parliamentary hearing signaled the beginning of a cold snap; most of those with windows awoke to find them somewhat frosted over, the glass covered in a textured coat of white crystals. The Prime Minister himself, his son at his side, approached the government building in silence equally chilly, breath misting out into the air in steady streams, indicative of, if anything, the fact that he was entirely nonplussed with the state of affairs.

Was he guilty of that which he was being accused? The simplest answer was yes, though there was more intricacy to it than that damned Minerva and her pet nobles would ever understand. Truly, the only reason he was enduring this spectacle at all was because, once it was over, he would have publicly discredited the crown, and would in all likelihood force his bitter enemy’s abdication, leaving the girl Loki to scramble after threads and try to avoid having her own strings tugged at his will.

Seth, for his part, seemed a fair bit less certain, if the way his eyes were rapidly moving about said anything on the matter. “Patience, boy,” Gilgamesh intoned, not entirely without kindness. “It will be over with in due time.” What he diligently avoided saying was that this, all of it, was in truth little more than a primer for the day’s true events. Everything that was said in this hall would be said with deliberate care, while the rest of the city was being prepared for his eventual dominion over it, and in turn, his heir’s.

The duke himself was not well-known for his own ability to wait, and perhaps due to this, his words startled the younger man into sedateness, even as they crossed the threshold of the hall. The great room that served as the meeting place for Revelation’s legislature was today rearranged for the proceedings: the Parliament-elected Magister would sit at an elevated bench, on the dais usually reserved for the three thrones occupied or left vacant by members of the royal family. Today, though, justice was to be the supreme arbiter, and all other considerations of blood and birth must kneel before it.

Well, that was the intended symbolism anyway. Whether anyone still believed such things or not was beyond his ability to know; he supposed that upstart Taylor might think it. He certainly didn’t. Two smaller tables were placed in front of the bench, facing it, and at one, the Princess sat. The other was as yet empty, and it was into the chairs here, high-backed and wooden, that Duke Gilgamesh and Seth seated themselves. The rest of Parliament, the Queen, and a few guild representatives (including, he noted with distaste, that simian soft-heart Forgefire) were off to one side.

Seems Minerva needs her whelp to fight her battles now, he thought to himself, but then perhaps this would play to his advantage. Instead of some nameless Crown attorney losing the case, it would be the very person who’d need what shreds of credibility she could salvage most, and to have failed here would certainly go far towards ensuring that those shreds were insubstantial.

The Magister entered, and everyone stood as he proceeded to the bench and took his chair, gesturing for the others to do the same. “I understand that we are here in the matter of the Crown versus Duke David Gilgamesh; I will hear opening statements from both parties.”

With that, the Princess stood, and their little game was on.




District Delta

This is it. What had begun fifty years ago was ending today. Gilgamesh’s people were going to be underground, planting bombs under strategic locations and government buildings. Just as the Facility has disappeared as ash on the wind, so would all the other fixtures of the oppression of his people. The palace where the Queen sat on high and refused to help them, the Parliament building where laws were continually made to oppress them, the Guild that posed the largest threat to their continued equality, and the several Guard barracks that would provide them with opposition as they marched to take Alpha.

A glance to his side informed Azazel that his wife looked troubled. It was an expression she had been wearing too often lately, and he wondered sometimes if his methods did not sit ill with her. He knew that on some level they probably did, but she was not in truth one of those who could understand so keenly how it was to be looked upon as nothing but freakish vermin, in the way rats are gazed upon in a laboratory. For so long, they had been pushed down, forced to subsist on the dirt underneath the feet of everyone else, but no longer.

“Be at ease, my love; no great change comes easily, and it will all be for the better. You’ll see.” Idealist though Aram was, he could be perfectly pragmatic when he needed to be, and this was one such moment. She simply stared at him sadly and shook her head.

“I do not think it wise to trust the Duke,” she said simply, but before he could respond, he caught the voice of his lieutenant and looked away. Ishtar sighed softly and disappeared back into their home. She doubted she’d ever see him again, but he would not be pleased to hear she was entertaining such thoughts, and so she clasped Sigrun’s little hand and turned from him, whispering her sad-eyed farewells to the wind.



Underneath District Gamma

As it turned out, there were no bombs being planted underneath the palace or the Parliament building or even the barracks. David Gilgamesh and those associated with him wanted as much of the city’s best infrastructure preserved as possible. What they really wished to destroy was everything outside of District Beta, and to this end, a ring of explosives was being set in Revelation’s sewer system. The Domes were being preserved, but the rest of it, as far as those affiliated with the Duke and his friends were concerned, could burn and only make the city stronger for it.

The magi marching on Alpha would never make it that far, but they would get far enough to be killed, en masse, in the resultant conflagration. The charlatans and the mindless laboring filth would go with them, and something much more precious would be returned in their stead.

To ensure it, half the private armies of Gilgamesh and those with him were currently marching, as surreptitiously as one can march such a large contingent of humanity, to meet them. The resulting melee would be confusing, bloody, and most of all drawn-out, which was exactly what the plan required.




Amon, Victoria, and Scheherazade were in the same group of assassins, each also containing an explosives specialist from either the Guild or elsewhere (Amon hadn’t specified on purpose). The job of the rest was to protect this individual from any encounters with the bomb-setters, who were also bound to be travelling under armed guard.

They encountered the first such contingent not three minutes after first entering the tunnels. Rounding a corner, the group was able to see the retreating backs of five men, as well as the bomb they left in their wake. Amon was the first to move, and closed the distance without noise, springing upon the back of the person who looked to be the technician and driving his shortsword through the man’s neck. The result was utter chaos, something his unit would have known to expect but left the enemy in muddled confusion.

His own technician immediately made for the explosive, trusting the others to keep the opposition well away from him.



District Gamma, aboveground.

The magi and the soldiers met, in fact, on the border between District Delta and District Gamma. When the two fronts were forced to a stop by each other, Azazel was for a moment confused. Some of the men clearly wore the livery of House Gilgamesh, and for this reason, he initially expected them to be allies. All of that changed the instant the first one fired a crossbow bolt straight through the heart of Aram’s oldest friend and trusted second-in-command, sending the man toppling over, clutching ineffectually at his chest.

It was then, he supposed, that the world went straight to hell.



The Nexus, Parliament Building.

“You will hear evidence today that not only has Duke Gilgamesh resorted to kidnapping and extortion to force votes in his favor, but also that he was and still is the driving force behind the current magi rebellion.” Loki watched a few incredulous looks pass over faces; why would someone who clearly despises mages so much aid in their violence towards other citizens? Are you truly all that simple? But no, that wasn’t it. They just hadn’t spent the last year and a half of their lives discovering it, piece by agonizingly-small piece.

She’d never been the sort to deliver good public speeches, and it was showing. Though her arguments had been systematic and sound, she was boring them, and she knew it. Gilgamesh himself had elected to skip any statement in his own favor, and the reason for that was becoming apparent. She was digging her own grave.

Gritting her teeth, Loki discarded the rest of the planned rhetoric and cut to the quick. “You have all seen it. You know what corruption looks like, what face it wears. Perhaps that face is yours as well, but it is certainly his. I have grown up in a city where this man is Prime Minister, and I have known no other. But even I am not so steeped in his influence to believe that there is nothing better for Revelation than a man who so deftly manipulates, so easily resorts to the worst of crimes to achieve his ends. Even I am not so blind as to ignore the evidence laid out before my eyes. And I can only hope fervently that you are not, either.”

She took her seat, leaving a few looking somewhat offended. Good; offended meant they’d actually sit up and pay attention, rather than assume the end before the proceedings had yet begun. The next part was up to Caelin; he was going to call Lord Chandler to the stand and reveal the narrative concerning young Benjamin, as well as in what circumstances the boy had eventually been found, and any other evidence he happened to have in his possession. She hadn’t asked, but simply trusted him to do what was best. Then Garbiel would be allowed to say his piece. Depending on how things looked by then, and how Gilgamesh’s own cross-examinations of these people went, she had one more recourse to make.

All she could do now was sit back and watch the events unfold.

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Two days earlier

Pandora had just finished speaking and lifted her fork to her mouth when someone burst in through the kitchen door and zeroed in on her location. “There’s been a training accident,” the man explained. “Hestia isn’t looking too good right now. Is there any chance you can help?”

Pandora lowered the eating implement and nodded immediately. “Of course.” Standing, she gave Danterus a look of earnest apology. “I’m sorry, but I have to go; I don’t want to be rude, but…” here she lifted a shoulder, inferring that the circumstances probably spoke for themselves. “It was nice meeting you!” she called, already on the way out, then disappeared through the doorway again.



Presently, District Gamma

The group of assassins with whom she travelled was hoping to cut off the magi’s march, and thus coming in at an angle on the predicted trajectory of the rebels. Pandora felt a sickly anxiousness in the pit of her stomach, which rolled uncomfortably as if to confirm her suspicions that this was going to be a hellish experience. Her visions were seldom so clear as that one had been, even though she couldn’t really see who was involved, or where.

As they neared the intersection, the clamor of panic suddenly erupted, and a gout of fire flew past her line of vision. The assassin in charge of the group swore low under his breath, and only she was close enough to hear it. Apparently, things were not as they had thought they would be. In a louder voice, he ordered everyone to hasten to the location, and Pandora had to run to keep up with the ground-eating strides of the assassins, all of whom were significantly taller than she was. She hadn’t yet seen Danterus, but surmised that he was probably somewhere in the area.

When they emerged into the crossroads, several bodies already littered the streets, rivulets of crimson life running in inexorable streams toward the sewers which would carry the precious fluid far and away from its sources. Oh no, not already… but why? There weren’t supposed to be any soldiers here; Loki had said she wasn’t sending any unless the assassins as a fairly neutral force failed to stop the march with the means, both peaceful and violent, available to them. Only if they called for reinforcements would there be any Crown troops here.

But then, these did not look like Crown troops. The royal colors, Pandora had thought, were purple, black, and silver, and these men wore red or green or blue. She did not know enough about house sigils to tell who they served, but did it really matter now? She and the assassins alike were faced with a dilemma: who, if anyone, were they to aid? Should they just allow the groups to destroy one another? No, that couldn’t possibly be right.

Pandora settled on the thought that if those men did not belong to Loki, they probably worked for Gilgamesh, and his plan was probably the most dangerous. That was a couple too many ‘probablys,’ but she didn’t have much other choice. That decided at least, she conjured a shield and blocked a blow meant for Azazel, hoping that if she could at least talk to him this time, things might go differently. They had to; she didn’t want to imagine what would happen if they didn’t, nor did she need to- she knew well enough.



District Gamma, the sewers

Having decided that it would be wisest not to light any of her weapons on fire within the proximity of incendiaries, Zade was left with only more mundane means of execution. Removing the steel ring from its place on her back, she began a constant rotation of it using one of the three perpendicular handles and surged forward, arcing the bladed hoop outwards at the nearest guard, who blocked it with a well-timed turn of his longsword. The resulting counterstrike nearly tipped her off-balance, but she put a lifetime of performance to work to keep her balance, instead pivoting on the ball of one foot to strike at his other side. Amon was already on his second of five, and the third man was engaged with their other assassin, but the fourth of their party had been stabbed by a woman, who was now moving past the line and towards their engineer and Victoria.

Zade couldn’t allow herself to get distracted, and trusted that the doctor’s apprentice would be able to handle it.

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#, as written by Smith
Out of the four seasons Eos had read about in his time at the Tower, he always suspected that the period of the year known as 'Winter' would be most to his liking. Crisp, cold air, no stifling moisture saturated with heat and the chance to see snow. Whatever that was. As the assassin stared out at the city however, he felt a sense of betrayal. The world was exactly the same, for the most part. The only thing Eos could identify as distinguishable from the normal flow of Revelation was the pervasive cold that made his joints ache and the white steam that accompanied every breath. With a quiet sigh, Eos drew up his scarf to cover mouth and nose.

"Shame I can't see through fabric," he said quietly to nobody in particular. His eyes teared up every once and a while from the sheer cold. Eos drew his arms closer to his chest and flexed his fingers to get the blood in them moving again. The stained glass window at his back made a noise Eos had earlier mistaken for shattering when he leaned against it. He dismissed the thought almost as quickly as it came; the glass had to be at least an inch thick, some guy leaning against it was not going to break it so easily. Instead, he guessed it was more likely that the ice layered on top of the glass was cracking and refreezing each time he shifted position.

A long silence passed in which Eos silently berated himself. He was getting distracted again. Drawing his cloak tighter around himself, the assassin slowed his breath until he could hear it. At first, it was little more than a muffled sound like trying to determine a message across a vast distance. Slowly but surely, the words took on definite form and Eos could make out sentences. Loki was speaking. By the hissing chorus of what could only have been whispers that followed, the reaction from the crowd was even worse than she had anticipated. They weren't just disregarding Loki, they were scorning the woman. Mocking, disbelieving jeers that are spoken only just loud enough that she would catch but mere fragments of the insults.

Eos scowled and adjusted his hood. He would have patted the briefcase at his side for reassurance, but Eos did not feel like having to rub life back in to his hands again. Instead, Eos calmed himself again and listened to Loki conclude her own semantics. Things were about to get heated in there, a battle of facts and pitfalls, cleverly worded traps that impaled the careless of tongue. Eos took a deep breath and slowly stretched. Carefully, he crab-walked along the stone edge and pushed the loose portion of carved glass inward. It slid forward on the metal setting, coming out with a quiet popping sound. Eos almost sighed in relief at the rush of warmer air but kept himself neutral.

The assassin wriggled through the gap in the window and pulled his case along after. That done, Eos replaced the window-pane and sat on top of the wooden beam high above the dueling politicians and princess. Hm. The Duels of a Politician and a Princess...that could make a good book.

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#, as written by Shiva
The Sewers

Victoria was nervous. It didn't help the fact that the sewers smelled, bombs were everywhere, and the enemy was skilled either. She could handle a blade, she could handle poisons, but open combat was something she wasn't well versed in. Her master had sparred with her, and he had not taken her easily, but this... this was the real thing. Butterflies raged in her stomach, and not long after they entered the dank sewer system, they encountered a group of men and women. Amon took the initiative, silently executing one before she could even blink. She thought this was a good idea, but before she could follow, a confused melee instantly developed as the Assassins lost the element of surprise. Jumping back, Victoria drew her sword clumsily, surprised at the sudden zeal of the attackers. Hopping back, she used her body to shield the bomb specialist from harm, noticing a woman break through the line. She cursed softly, and swiftly went to engage her. Her slash was parried by the woman's fighting daggers, and Victoria nearly met a quick end had she not dodged the fatal swipe. Using her waist, she shoved into the woman, sending her sprawling. She quickly moved in, stomping on the woman's hand and causing her to drop one of the daggers. Rolling out of the way, the woman scrambled back to her feet, raising the right dagger warily.

She lunged forward in a quick slash, which Victoria jumped back from. The apprentice responded with a quick thrust, but missed. The woman took the opportunity and spun past her, attempting to gut Victoria from the side, but the Apprentice jumped backward. The woman then suddenly spun to quickly kill the specialist, but Victoria's eyes flashed and the Woman was on the ground as the Apprentice doctor was above her, socking her in the face with a left hook. Raising the short blade, she sunk it into the woman's neck and sliced cleanly through her carotid artery. The woman choked, gurgling for a few seconds before closing her eyes and letting the tepid stenches of the sewers overwhelm her. By then, Victoria was back on her feet, more sure of herself now. She contented herself with being the rear guard, or back-up guard. Once more, she maneuvered herself so she had a good eye on the bomb specialist and the line of fighters.

The Nexus

Taylor was impeccable in his attendance. Though other members got away with tardiness, his being present was often scrutinized to find some sort of weakness to discredit him. His old, weakened self had huge difficulties with this. Even as he strode through through the halls to his destination, he still can almost see himself shuffling through the halls layered in furs and leathers with a face white as a sheet. Chills ran up the noble's spine.

The room was a big a fallacy. Justice, in it's purest form would not need such formalities and positioning of the furniture. This corrupted sense of superiority held by the politicians in the Nexus was balanced on money. All the evidence, bagged or stashed was neatly gathered with Loki. Lord Chandler waited in the wings as a witness. Everything was in place, and all they needed to do was execute it. However, considering the heavy bias in this room, it boiled down to who had the quickest tongue. It would be a large stretch to say that Loki could be of any help there. She was the brains, the princess that tugged on the strings but she could never speak publicly and win favors. Taylor liked to think that he could, but it was an acquired skill. He wasn't that different, aside from the fact that he was very young. Very, very young compared to most of the members.

Even as the trial began, and the Princess began her part of the case, Taylor felt a sinking feeling. Loki wasn't wooing the crowd, and even she knew it. Eyes were drooping slightly, and the subtle huffs of men who disagreed but did not speak could be observed. Her whole pre-planned speech had to be cut short in order to give the prosecution a fighting chance. This shouldn't be possible. Justice listened to every word, no matter how monotonous it may sound. There shouldn't be a need to twist words in a argument to get people to listen. This was the government of Revelation- a hive of the lucky and the arrogant. Pushing the cynical thoughts away, Taylor responded to his call and rose. This was his last chance. This was the big one. Caelin Taylor stood up, his soft green eyes reflecting calm passion.

"Ladies and Gentlemen. Revelation is a city that took to the skies, blessed by our Goddess in the hopes that we were different from those who perished long ago. Our flying city, one that dominates the heavens over the barren wasteland below is a reminder to what we owe our own values toward, and how we should never squander the gift we received even now. Not even now, where current events have reached a peak far beyond what our ancestors bulled through in the past in order to survive. Justice. Honor. Sincerity. Prosperity. One of the four values we treasure and use as guiding lights every cold morning. Today, the prosecution accuses Prime Minister David Gilgamesh of the vile sin of Human Trafficking, Corruption, Kidnapping, Multiple Homicides of the first degree, Blackmail and Inciting widespread property damage."

This introduction was not an attempt to shadow Loki, oh no. It was to get the crowd up, lift their heads and eyes to the noble that gazed back at them with hardened emerald eyes that displayed utter honesty. "You see the evidence before you, laid out by Her Highness. I now call a proper witness to the stand, a victim of Gilgamesh's silent tyranny over the people of Revelation. Lord Chandler." As he finished, the old man stood up, and made his way over to the stand. Taylor thought he looked absolutely euphoric, finally able to exact a small bit of revenge on Gilgamesh for taking away his son. When the old man had finally sworn in and taken a seat at the witness stand, Taylor began to speak.

"Lord Chandler. Explain to us why you are here today."

Chandler cleared his throat. "To accuse Gilgamesh and those in close alignment with him of blackmail and kidnapping. He kidnapped my son and used him against me for his own means."

"What makes you think he is the one who performed this?"

"He used my son as leverage. As many know, I am a fairly strong moderate. He uses my influence for his own gains."

Taylor held up the blackmail letter. "Do you recognize this?"

"Yes."

"What is it?"

"It is the letter left to me when my son was kidnapped."

Taylor opened the letter, and read the contents. "Support Gilgamesh in his endeavors. Now, Lord Chandler, how are you sure this was of direct influence of Gilgamesh?"

"My son was kidnapped right out of his own home in District Alpha. Even if he or she wanted to, no petty thief would be able to do that."

"Thank you Lord Chandler." Taylor said quietly, sealing the one of the prosecution's best attack. As Chandler moved back, Taylor looked up discreetly. He thought he saw something move up there, but decided his mind was playing tricks on him. It was too critical of a stage to be fooled by an illusion now. "This letter warranted enough alarm for an informal investigation. By the constitution, I investigated the disappearance of Benjamin Chandler with the help of a group of contacts who found the boy in a cell in the sewers." Taylor paused. He didn't want to hand the names of his allies out haphazardly. "The boy was found in a chamber in close proximity to the Gilgamesh Estate. Further investigation revealed a secret passageway into the Gilgamesh estate as explained by these documents." Taylor held the papers high, as if everybody could read the words in crisp detail. His face was a mask of conviction.

Slapping the papers back down on the table, he faced the Magistrate "Is this the kind of person you want in charge? A man who is willing to kidnap, blackmail, and potentially murder to consolidate power? Is this Justice? Is this what Revelation wants to nurture with a smile? No. Those who resort to such lows need to be punished. There is no justification for such serious breaches in the law, there is no excuse for the intent to kidnap an innocent child to gain influence." It was Ezarael's turn.

The setting changes from District Gamma to The Skycity of Revelation

Setting