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Asher Drake

"It's not so much a process of learning as it is of unlearning. You must unlearn your superstitions and limitations. Only then will you be ready for what I can teach you."

0 · 562 views · located in Earth, 3013

a character in “A Crown of Stars”, as played by Morpheus

Description



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“Whether you are ready for this life isn't a question of how much you can do. It is a question of how much you are willing to do.”
Nine Lashes |: Anthem of the Lonely :|
Cage the Elephant |: Ain't No Rest for the Wicked :|


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|:N i c k n a m e:| Ash, to his actual sister. Within the Order, he is Brother Asher.
|:A g e:| 26
|:G e n d e r
:| Male
|:R a c e:| Human
|:F a c exC l a i m:| Matou Kariya; Fate/Stay Night

--» |:H a i r:|
Asher’s hair is a very pale blonde, almost platinum in color. It’s hard to tell—there might actually be a few premature grays in there as well. His life is certainly stressful enough to warrant them. It’s not regularly-cut, a fact which is rather evident from the way it hangs, shaggy and somewhat obscuring his face. The number of split ends he has make it initially coarse to the touch, though it is quite thick, and fairly downy in texture if those are discounted. It’s not clear how often he brushes or combs it, but at the very least, it is quite clean.

--» |:E y e s:|
His right eye is a clear blue-purple color, the hue actually quite interesting. His left, however, has a slight foggy-white film over it, indicating that it is of little, if any use. He may well be entirely blind in it, but if so, he has learned to compensate for this, because he does not seem to encounter any difficulty perceiving things on his left side. Both eyes are framed by long, thick lashes of the same pale color as his hair. They are somewhat angular, and turned up just slightly at the corners, making his ethnic ancestry somewhat ambiguous.

--» |:H e i g h t:|
6’0”—Asher is neither the tallest nor the shortest man one will ever meet, but he does tend towards the taller half, to be sure. His posture is pretty terrible, though, which can be slightly deceptive, and makes him appear closer to 5’9” or 5’10”.

--» |:W e i g h t:|
170 pounds, or thereabouts.

--» |:B u i l d:|
Asher’s build is fairly intermediate. He isn’t precisely what one would call lean, nor is the word ‘built’ quite appropriate. His musculature is pronounced, and he seems to lack much fat, something which hollows out his face a little but sharply-defines everything from his nose and cheekbones to the contours of his biceps and abdominals. He is clearly in excellent shape, but built like a triathlete more than a linebacker, so to speak.

--» |:M a r k i n g s:|
The first thing that anyone notices about Asher when they first meet him is his scars. He cannot really blame them for that, as the marks are quite prominent, hashing over the entire left side of his face, and in fact his left arm and the corresponding side of his torso as well, though these are covered by his clothing on most every occasion. It is clear both that he was quite a handsome man, or could have been one, but such is the case no longer, for the scars are quite prominent and disfiguring. When in public and not working, Asher will wear a hood and sunglasses to hide as much of them as possible, but the effort is honestly futile and he knows it. The seven-pointed star of the Order of Mismar is tattooed on his right bicep.


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|:P o t e n t i a lxI n t e r e s t:|
Such matters are complicated, for those living the life of a Hunter. The Mismarians are not forbidden from sex, romantic relationships, or even marriage, and likewise, the Church does not discriminate about the genders of people involved, though for population reasons, heterosexual unions are preferred. That said, Hunters often live short lives, and few can strike a balance between their work and a family life. Some do end up pairing off with each other because of this, but lasting partnerships are rare. Asher’s own matters are further complicated by his disfigurement and the psychological impact it has had on him. He is not completely closed off to the idea of a relationship, but he is not a frivolous man, and would want something serious, something he realizes he might not have the spare time for. To any Hunter or recruit under his care, he would advise caution, but he is not opposed to people seeking happiness where they can find it.

|:S k i l l s
:|
--» Parkour || The ability to move efficiently and with grace through urban areas is absolutely essential for a Hunter, and one of the many things covered in their basic training. Asher is an excellent navigator of terrain, and an acrobatic fellow to begin with. He has the calculative capacity necessary to plan his routes several steps ahead and anticipate where his enemies will be, and the physical prowess necessary to do the things he can plan.
--» Weaponry || It is extremely difficult to kill a vampire or a witch with one’s bare hands. In point of fact, Asher can attest that it is not impossible, but such slaying is made easier with the use of weapons. Given the rarity and arguable ineffectiveness of bullets, Hunters prefer swords, spears, crossbows, and the like, and Asher has some experience with each. The important part isn’t mastery of one single thing, but the ability to use each to a useful degree. When hunting creatures that could so easily do one in, having as many options as possible is the best way to survive.
--» Lore || More important than any weapon, however, is the knowledge of how to apply them. Certain techniques and substances that would serve one well against a witch would be completely useless against a vampire, and vice-versa. Understanding not only the foe, but the environment, is crucial if one wishes to survive more than a mission or two as a Mismarian.
--» Tracking || The ability to follow a trail, through an urban or rural environment, as well as the ability to conceal one’s own, comes in quite handy when following things or people that do not want to be found. It, like many other skills, is part and parcel with Hunter training.
--» Music || Something Asher did not learn from the Mismarians would be his affinity for music. He grew up quite interested in it, and moderately talented in piano, guitar, and vocals. Of course, there is scarcely time for such things when one makes a living with the Order of Mismar, so these hobbies have by and large fallen by the wayside—along with much of who he used to be.

|:A b i l i t i e s:|
--» ??? || As far as anyone can tell, Asher is an ordinary human, but there are rumors about Hunters and the abilities they possess. In truth, the Order of Mismar is an especially-secretive organization, and little is known about how they are so effective in combating creatures so much mightier than humans. Asher is reputedly one of their best, and has survived many things that should have killed him. Only he can say if this is luck, skill, or something else entirely.

|: Q u i r k s :|
--» Scar Complex || Well, it’s not exactly easy, to walk around with an obvious disfigurement right there on your face for anyone to gawk at. And people do gawk fairly often, or else they really obviously try not to. Either way, Asher can’t really go very long or far without being reminded of the fact that they’re there, and quite possibly hideous. He’s not an especially vain person, but then you don’t have to be especially vain to be bothered by that, maybe.
--» Cat Person || Perhaps a little weird, considering their commonplace association with witches (entirely superstitious, of course), but Asher is fond of cats. He admires their independence and seeming lack of concern for how others see them. Perhaps he reads too much into them, but he thinks he’d like to be a little more like that.
--» Sense of Humor || Brother Drake has a fondness for sarcasm and gallows humor, and it shows. That said, he is never really mean-spirited about it, and tends to self-deprecate rather than straightforwardly admonish others with his wit.


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|:P e r s o n a l i t y:|
Reserved; formal or self-restrained in manner and relationship; avoiding familiarity or intimacy with others.
Patient; bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like.

In the popular imagination, Mismarians are often portrayed as being equal part zealous and mysterious, figures of infrequent appearance, consummate camouflage, and unshakeable faith, brave enough to face down the worst the world has to offer, smart enough to outwit cunning witches, and strong enough to endure the trials of a fight against a monstrous vampire. They are ill-understood, but revered.

Asher both fulfills and thwarts such expectations. He is certainly reticent, but this is not a trait that comes across as outright mysteriousness. In fact, most people don’t even notice that he talks so little about himself, because he is exceptional at steering conversations away from those kinds of questions, in a way that convinces the other participant that it was his or her idea to do so in the first place. He makes an excellent listener and a willing teacher, capable of explaining the same difficult concepts in enough alternate fashions that most any kind of learner can come to understand what he is properly trying to convey.

He suffers from a pathological malaise of formality, rarely departing from his polite standard to something even as ordinary as addressing another person by their first name, though he himself never does object to being called less-politely himself. His tone of voice is always soft, perhaps even gentle, but there is nevertheless a certain sense of steel about it. He puts his thoughts in a way that seems sincere and mild, but with an underlying sliver of something unyielding and certain. He is, in most conversations he should care to have with the people he should bother talking to, the expert, and this is something that no one has any trouble discerning.

In terms of his faith, it is one of many matters on which he is quiet. He teaches the doctrinal stance on everything, and will add notes on alternative interpretation if he feels it useful to do so, but with all the information he presents, it is difficult to discern what his own opinion may be. He does this, he says, to ensure that his own inclinations do not color those of others, that they should be able to fully exercise their own judgement on matters of import to them. He is meant to teach recruits how to think, not what to think. Naturally, in doing so, he remains somewhat occluded himself, and what if anything plays about under the surface of him is something few people can venture a guess at.

Where as teacher he is calm and patient, if a trifle stern, as Hunter he is quiet, efficient, and quite ruthless. Though an unassuming man in most contexts, he is one of the Order’s best and brightest, and there are reasons for that. He shows no qualm at rather horrifying levels of violence, though it should be noted that he will not so much as lift a hand against anything other than a witch or a vampire.

The one slight spike in his unassuming demeanor is his proclivity for sarcasm, which he deploys with more or less frequency depending on the situation. It is clear that however much he gentles his demeanor for the goal of instruction, he does still have his roughened edges, and in high-adrenaline situations, it becomes quite clear that he also has a bit of a problem with… colorful language.


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|:F a m i ly:|
Imogen Drake; Sister; Living; Hunter

|:H i s t o r y
:|
Little is known about who Asher Drake is or where he came from. He is certainly not obligated to disclose these details to anyone, and he does not. General knowledge indicates that he has a sister, a couple of years younger than himself according to their official dossiers, named Imogen. Rumor also has it that Imogen is a Grey Witch, though nobody outside of the Order would have any reason to know or suspect that, as she is even less a public figure than Asher is.

[History Locked; more will be added as it comes out IC]


So begins...

Asher Drake's Story

Setting

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Character Portrait: Imogen Drake Character Portrait: Asher Drake
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Prologue


“Remember tonight, for it is the beginning of always.” –Dante Alighieri




Late April was a temperate time of year in London, chilly evenings and nights paired with cool, but not intolerable afternoons and mornings. The rain and fog, of course, were ever-present, greying out the surroundings like a dull filter over all visual sensation. The hours of midafternoon were among the busiest, as those with business at locations relatively far from their homes hurried to get it concluded as soon as possible, and others packed the public trains for their commutes back to whatever district they lived in. None, or at least, relatively few, wanted to be about after dark. Being out-of-doors after sundown was no more a death sentence than being indoors at the same time guaranteed safety, but people took comfort in the illusory sanctity of locked doors.

And, perhaps, at least somewhat in the knowledge that there were those who would defy the instinctual human need for security to ensure that those doors and locks could actually mean something. That the illusion of sanctuary could, at least a little, reflect the underlying truth of things, even if the doors and locks themselves had nothing to do with it.

It was not just anyone who would take on such a burden, to be sure, and those few who counted themselves members of the mysterious Order of Mismar were, generally speaking, quite unusual indeed. It took something of a deviant psychology to grow accustomed to the kind of work that involved hairsbreadth escapes, nocturnal hunting, and the constant risk of not merely dying, but being actively rent asunder by creatures so foul most could not look upon them without being overcome by the heady paralysis of fear.

Still, there were some things to recommend it. Asher, his hood pulled up over his head as usual, leaned back in his chair, crossing an ankle over a knee, picking up the water-spotted tumbler in one gloved hand and swirling the amber-colored contents about, releasing the distinctive fragrance into the musty dank of his surroundings. Apparently a century ago bars had been nighttime establishments, as had brothels and casinos. To be fair, some of those places did still run into the dark hours, but with the expectation that the patrons would make use of the communal housing offered in the back rooms, upstairs or in basements. It was a habit of the disenfranchised, however, or the very rich, not the people in the middle. For most everyone else, these things were evening routines, ways to brace oneself for the night to come.

For Asher, this—a sole lowball glass of single-malt, free of ice or any other accessory—was a way to prepare to face the oncoming hours of wakefulness, not bid them farewell. With the foot still planted on the ground, he tilted his chair back, until he was balanced rather precariously on the back legs alone, and watched the bar patrons go about their business from under the dark cloth of his hood. He didn’t look so out of place here; this was Outer London, after all, and not one of the nicer parts of it, either. Generally speaking, one found the more upscale (and cleaner) bars the closer in one got to the Opal Quarter, but this place was a dive, and it stank like one. Still, nobody so much as glanced twice at the lone man in one of the corners, nursing his drink with a slow savor, and he relished perhaps more than he should in the anonymity. Nobody looking meant nobody saw, and such a state of affairs was one to be drunk in with no less reverence than the scotch. Given his proximity to the wall, all it took was a small movement, and his head rested back against the smooth painted surface. He closed his eyes, for just a moment, choosing not to immediately open them when she came back into his awareness.

“You’re going to fall over that way, you know,” she said, her tone lacking any true reproach. It was, rather, given to a certain note of mistiness, a wisp that most people’s voices lacked. Then again, most people were fully in this world, except perhaps when dreaming. Imogen seemed to be half-dreaming all the time, one foot here, one foot somewhere else, somewhere few people could reach.

He’d never felt the sense of that with other witches. Maybe it was just her, or maybe she was the only one he knew well enough.

She answered his next question before he could ask it. “It’s done. The worm is in the ears, I think they say?” He cracked the lid of his good eye to look over at her with a vague sense of confusion, raising a brow. “Or was it whisper? I can never remember.” Asher supposed it didn’t matter—she’d done what she needed to do, and the next part was out of their hands.

Several days prior, he and Imogen had been dispatched from the Order’s headquarters in Rome to the Free Republic of London with a very specific mandate: bolster the number of active Mismarians by recruiting and training as many as they could. In reality, he didn’t see that being any more than five, but there was no mistaking that the number of interested parties would be considerably higher than that. The Order had a tendency to attract, partially because of the repute it had—there were few nobler professions than hunting, at least according to the Church. That did not mean, of course, that most properly understood what that really meant.

Which was where the rest of the process came in. The Order needed people who were clever and resourceful, and so weeded out those who were not so by choosing to announce the presence of the recruiters in a much more subtle way, one that made them difficult to find or contact. Rumors in the right ears and on the right tongues, and it would not be long before most people in London knew they were present, but not where they were or even who. Finding them after that would be the hard part, and while there were several ways to go about it, none would be possible without cleverness, charisma, or valor—all traits which Mismarians needed anyway.

So until their trail was followed, they would remain, and conduct their business as usual. Once they’d allowed a few days for the interested parties to discover them, a more formal process of trial and elimination would begin. How it happened had been left to his discretion—and Imogen’s, to an extent. But Asher was the senior Mismarian, and the decisions about how to handle things and who to recruit would ultimately be his. It was the first time he had been given such a task, and recruitment was usually left to much more experienced members of the Order. But a few disastrous hunts over the past year had left them in severe need of new blood, and recruitment was now on all minds—meaning that even the junior Brothers and Sisters were being given the responsibility involved. Frankly, he didn’t think he was much expected to succeed, which would explain why they’d been sent with little support to London, a populous place, but one with relatively little Church influence and historically slim pickings for any branch of the Many-One’s devotees.

Most trainees perished within the first year of the process. If they could make it past that stage, their odds of surviving went well up, but no matter how many years one had, the chance of dying of old age in this profession was well-known to be next to nothing. A Hunter lived his or her vocation, and he or she was expected to die in it, too. It was more a life than a job, and Asher was not so disconnected from other people that he could fail to understand why that was unattractive to so many. But… if he could get a few, even just a couple, and get them past that first year under his care, then he would consider himself successful.

“Don’t worry,” Imogen said, folding her hands in her lap and smiling over at him. “You’ll do fine.” He wasn’t sure if that statement was meant to carry the weight of her talent or just reassurance. She often left this unclear on purpose, perhaps to bolster his confidence without deceiving him. It was her way of trying to be helpful, he supposed.

“If you say so.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Imogen Drake Character Portrait: Rabbit Character Portrait: Asher Drake Character Portrait: Piper Hadley Character Portrait: Aeron Duvall
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The inside of the Fletcher’s Den was dim at this point of the evening, as it was not quite yet dark enough to trigger the automatic fluorescent lighting overhead, but not so light outside—where the sun was indeed setting—that the rays penetrated the admittedly-grimy windows much. The predominant odor in the still air was one of stale alcohol, but for all that it was not what she was used to, Imogen remained unbothered by it, settled into a chair at a table near the bar. For the moment, she was alone, a singular glass of something clear and fizzy set in front of her, a bendy straw and a little paper umbrella sticking out at disharmonious angles. In total, it was about half full.

Draped in a modest white dress, which fell to her knees but possessed a high neck and full-length sleeves, she looked considerably out of place in the dingy surroundings, though perhaps not as much as she could have. Her hair was braided around her crown, the ends trailing down her back, and she’d used a mild glamour to turn her eyes a deep brown. Asher said this was supposed to be at least a litte difficult on the potential recruits, though she knew that in the end, the ones approaching would have no real trouble yet. She was quite looking forward to meeting them.

Even as the front door opened and the three filed in, Imogen picked up her glass, using her other hand to steady the straw, and sipped nonchalantly at the beverage. It wasn’t like she was going to volunteer herself, after all, but the bartender should point them in the right direction.

The eyes of the shortest member in the group did at one point find Imogen’s, but they moved on to complete a general scan of the room, though if she found what she sought, it was not immediately clear. Given the proximity of nightfall, it was unsurprising that the made a beeline directly for the bar, leaning her elbows up against it in a casual sort of way, the impassive expression on her face shifting to match the general melancholy-tinged ease of most of the non-drunk patrons of the bar.

Waiting until she had the bartender’s attention, the redhead smiled grimly. "Evenin’.” Her voice carried the distinctive cockney accent usually characteristic of this part of the city, roughened and somewhat lower-class. "’Fraid we weren’t gonna be makin’ it in before dark, there.”

Imogen kept up observation on the three from the corner of her eye, though she was subtle about it. The bartender seemed to warm a bit to the young lady’s demeanor, shaking his head in what she at least took to be faint disbelief at their daring to be out so close to sundown. When he spoke, his accent was more or less identical to the one the woman had used. “Bit risky of you, mm? Well, s’pose this is the place to be riskin’, if you have to. Least of late. Hate to see a pretty miss get hurt.” He smiled, making apparent the faint dimples on his cheeks. Imogen attempted not to do the same—Adam was a rather forward twentysomething, and the ‘miss’ he was talking to was quite lovely, almost in the way one would consider a handcrafted porcelain doll to be lovely. Or at least Imogen thought so.

The blonde man who'd walked into the bar raised his pair of eyebrows as he walked passed the shorter woman, but whatever was on his mind he didn't voice it. Instead he took up a seat the furthest away from the exit he could while still being considered a part of the group. The man sat turned away from the bar so that when he leaned back, he leaned against it and giving him a clear view of the rest of the establishment. He gave the place a lazy once over before digging into his coat pocket for a square box of cigarettes. He went to open it, but thought about it for a moment before thinking better of it and slipping them back in.

"Might need them later," he explained to the other man in his company, "I feel like it's going to be a long night." Leaning back, he finally appeared to get a good look at the place and it's inhabitants. As his eyes cycled through the people, they paused and lingered on Imogen and her rather white dress, before continuing. Tilting his head toward the woman and the bartender, the man injected a comment into the conversation. "We wouldn't have made it if I didn't know that shortcut. Someone owes me a bloody drink," He said, pointing to both his companions.

The ginger-haired man simply shook his head, appearing to withhold a snort and glanced at his companions. "Bloody drinks aren't available around these parts. 'Fraid you'll have to wait till we get back to the Blue Clover," he replied, a grin appearing over his face as his eyes immediately landed on the bartender present. "But I can see if Adam will let you have one on the house," he continued, winking in the blonde haired man's direction before making his way towards the bartender. The two embraced each other in a friendly hug, patting each other's back before they separated. The two then engaged in an odd handshake, at first appearing to be a friendly normal one. That was, until it switched into something a little complicated.

"Adam here's the best barkeep, next to yours truly," he spoke, allowing one of his arms to hang over Adam's shoulder. A large grin covered his face as he stared at his companions, however; it seemed to disappear as he turned to face Adam. "Say, you wouldn't happen to have any more information on your tenants, would you?" he finally questioned, removing himself from the close proximity and settled between his two companions.

“And here I thought you were all here for me,” Adam replied, shaking his head slightly. Of course, from his tone it was obvious he’d thought nothing of the sort. He appeared to give the question some thought, taking up one of the lowball glasses and buffing the waterstains off it, presumably the residue of a dishwasher or something of the sort. Reaching up onto the counter behind him, he pulled down a bottle from a top shelf, then reached under the counter for a block of ice.

With a chisel, he knocked off a roughly-spherical chunk and placed it in the glass, filling it thereafter with a few fingers of the honey-amber colored liquid in the bottle. Imogen knew exactly what it would smell like. “The fellow orders the same thing every day. One of these, only without the ice. He’s got these scars, right? Like somethin’ mauled him pretty bad. Dunno much more about him than that; he’s not exactly the talkative type. But he always sits with the same person—and she’s right over there.” He slid the drink over to the blond man and nodded in Imogen’s direction. She knew he did, because she’d told him to, not because she was actually looking. Though as if on cue, she turned towards the bar and waved.

The redhead’s eyes followed Adam’s motion and locked with Imogen’s for just a moment, before she shrugged to herself and stepped away from the bar. The table at which the blonde woman was located was a smaller one, but there happened to be exactly three empty chairs there, a coaster in front of only one of those other places. "The bartender says you know the Mismarian? Or perhaps you are one?”

"Perhaps,” Imogen conceded, tough it didn’t sound much like a concession, exactly. "Perhaps not.” She took a sip of her club soda, smiling slightly at the feeling of the bubbles on her tongue. Setting it down on the table’s second coaster, she tilted her head to the side, spilling several locks of hair over her shoulder. The hue of it was almost as white as her dress.

"Why do you want to know?”

The blonde man's eyebrows drifted over his sockets as his eyelids dipped into a halfmast. "Perhaps not she says." He then shook his head and took a drink from his glass. A wince flitted across his face, as he was clearly unaccustomed to that type of drink. "Not exactly convincing me otherwise," he said setting the glass back down on the table.

He then got comfortable in his chair, leaning back and throwing his arm over its backrest. "Look, I don't want to dance around matter, so let's skip the bull. We want to be a part of your little club, for some reason." He added the last part with a glance at his companions, another brow raised. As if he wasn't sure why they were here.

What she might have said in reply to that was interrupted by a voice, tinged with the faintest hint of frustration, though it was still a gentle tone. “Imogen.” She turned slightly to glance over her shoulder where Asher approached, his head still hooded, the unscarred side of his face the one facing the three newcomers. “I thought I asked you not to toy with the recruits.” She smiled up at him, and the pursed line of his mouth softened slightly. He sighed, and turned slightly to glance over the three potentials, though she had no doubt he’d been observing them all along.

“Please excuse my partner. She forgets that your psych evals are a later part of the recruitment process.” There was a faint hint of humor in that, almost undetectable, but Imogen recognized it quite easily. “You’ve found the right place. I’m Asher, and this is Imogen. I hope you’re all wearing good shoes—we’ve got a bit of a hike yet.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Imogen Drake Character Portrait: Rabbit Character Portrait: Asher Drake Character Portrait: Piper Hadley Character Portrait: Aeron Duvall
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The man who had introduced himself as Asher had given the group several more minutes to rest and finish their drinks, in two cases, after which point he’d explained that the recruitment trials would be beginning that very night. Apparently, several other people had found the Mismarians by various other methods within the past couple of days, but most of those had preexisting connections with the Church, and therefore an inside line on the information. Whether this was fair or not was quite irrelevant—part of being a Hunter was capitalizing on all of one’s advantages, and knowing who to ask for what.

Going out at night was hardly the safest thing, but considering the fact that a pair of Mismarians were present, they were safer now than they were ever going to be, and if they were serious about pursuing this vocation, they would have to do it regularly. Asher led them through the city, sticking mostly to the larger thoroughfares, though that much was hardly relevant. Imogen brought up the rear, letting the recruits walk in the middle.

And situated in the very middle of the procession was the blonde haired man, since having introduced himself as Rabbit. Out in the open night air, he walked with a mechanical gait, his hands clutching the handlebars of the bike he'd brought along, guiding it along and his lips clenching the butt of a lit cigarette. It wasn't much of a stretch to infer that the man was uncomfortable. However, it did seem to have a positive effect as well. He appeared to be much more alert, his eyes darting to and fro, even venturing upward on more than one occasions, and when he spoke, he spoke at just above a whisper.

"This brings me back. Only the brave or the fucking stupid wander around at night," he muttered to the non-Mismarians. It had the unintended side effect of raising brows and narrowing eyes around him, but if they were expecting him to go into more detail, they were sadly mistaken. "Hey, Boss," he called out to Asher, "How's the..." Rabbit hesitated, his face betraying the process of trying to find the right words to ask, "the, uh.. Vamp activity? Around this area." For a man who wanted to join their club, Rabbit was doing a poor job of hiding the fact that he was out of his element.

Asher didn’t glance back over his shoulder, because to do so would be to make his eyes useless in their protection for however long he had them angled backwards. Nevertheless, he didn’t have a problem answering the question. “There has not been anything much reported, of late,” he replied, “But I am aware that even this much is a risk. That’s why the first phase of your training will be happening somewhere safer.” He chose not to elaborate further, but that was not to say that Imogen was of the same mind.

"It’s important to learn to move around at night,” she added, her tone unusually direct. "But we won’t be letting you get eaten just yet. For the first month or so, you’ll be training in the Opal Quarter.” That was, indeed, where Asher was leading them. He might have chosen not to reveal the duration of their safety however; the constant sense that tomorrow could be much more dangerous was one of the psychological factors that he remembered having weeded out a fair number of recruits when they had first undergone the trials. But he trusted his sister, and he knew that, all appearances to the contrary, she had a reason for just about everything she did.

"We should've taken that last right if we're going to the Opal Quarter. Would've shaved our time down by a few minutes," Rabbit added, though more quietly. Presently, the man seemed to know his place.

"Because walking a bunch of helpless recruits down a dark alley in Outer London at night isn’t an unnecessary risk at all.” That was from the diminutive redhead, since identified as Piper. She wore a grim sort of expression, but it was hard to tell if it was brought about by the circumstances or just the way her face looked at rest. She had to take a stride and a half for most of the other candidates’ single steps, given that the majority of them were rather tall, physically-fit individuals, and she was quite small. Still, she showed no signs of being strained by it, of yet.

A soft snort escaped Asher; that girl was quite possibly more deadpan than he was. There would almost be something disconcerting about that, if he didn’t think it would serve her well. Rabbit, too—it was a rare person who could survive in this line of work with no sense of humor. And any sense that wasn’t already black as pitch died pretty quickly.

Though it was not the most efficient of routes, they did indeed reach the Opal Quarter in good time. There were only night guards at the gate at this point, and they always stood on the safe side of it. Asher glanced back and nodded to Imogen, who smiled dreamily and approached the bars. Poking her head through, she removed something from her pocket and waved it around, though it was impossible to hear what she was saying. Asher suspected it was just her credentials, but one never knew for sure with Imogen.

Either way, they were through a few moments later, and the gate clanged into place behind them. Asher led them for only a little while longer before he stopped, signaling for all of them to do the same. “Form a line, please.” Once everyone was more or less shoulder-to-shoulder, and Imogen had come to stand beside him in front of them, he nodded slightly, reaching up and grasping the hood on either side of his head. He pulled it down more because it was rude to continually talk to people from within its confines than because he wanted to; in fact he quite hated doing so.

The reason was clear enough—the entire left half of his face was a hashed mess of scar tissue, raised white lines jagged and rough even against the fairness of his complexion. His left eye was a milky blue-white, the brow above it cut in half by another mark. Even a chunk of his ear was missing, the top of the shell skimmed off by something. He pretended there was nothing unusual about it, and hoped dearly that they would take his lead as well as they could in that. “As most of you know, I’m Asher Drake. This is my sister, Imogen, and we’re both Hunters.” He pursed his lips together.

“That said… this is our first time recruiting or training. You should all know that the Order of Mismar is dealing with a significant personnel shortage. The circumstances are dire, else they would have made sure to send at least one experienced trainer here. But they didn’t, and so you get us. If that’s a problem, you’re welcome to wait until the next time someone with experience comes by.” It probably wouldn’t be for a while, though. There was no mistaking that for a lot of these people, this was their one chance. Still, he felt obligated to let them know just what they were dealing with.

“Recruitment isn’t competitive, really. There’s more than enough chance that you’ll give up or fail all on your own. We take everyone who can do all the things we’ll ask of you. I don’t expect our skills to be up to snuff yet, but I expect you to get better, and I expect you to do what we tell you to do. If you can manage that, the rest of it is our responsibility. I can promise that we take it very seriously.” He pulled in a breath, and then exhaled heavily. “If you’re all still interested, we’ll move onto the first exercise.” He paused a moment for anyone to leave or protest, but when no one did, he glanced over to Imogen, who reached into one of the pockets of her dress and removed what looked to be a purple silk scarf. It was about as long as her arm.

"I’ve hidden two of these somewhere in the Opal Quarter, within this square mile. Not necessarily on ground level,” she smiled again, this one containing a touch of mischief. "There are twelve of you. The object of the exercise is to find the scarves and bring them back to me. The winners will be the people who can do this, and the losers will have to do laps around the Quarter.”

Asher just barely resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “Two important skills for Hunters are observation and the ability to move quickly and efficiently through any terrain. Stealing the scarves from others is not against the rules, but you aren’t permitted to harm each other. Clear?”

Aeron, who introduced himself earlier after Rabbit, remained quiet, listening to the conversation going about. He remained silent, even after they were told to line up, and continued surveying the current situation. He seemed at ease, relaxed almost, however; there seemed to be a stiffness to his stance. Perhaps it was just nerves working themselves out? He remained quiet even still, listening to the hunters and seemed intent on staring past Asher rather than looking straight at him. Whether it was out of courtesy to ignore the scars, or some other reason, he did not say.

"Steal two scarves, sounds simple enough," Aeron spoke, sliding a hand into pockets with a hunched stance. There was a hint of sarcasm, or something like spite, leaking in the words he spoke, but he should have known that things were never that simple. He did, after all, volunteer. "Where do we start?" was the only question Aeron seemed to have for them.

The corner of Asher's mouth ticked up almost imperceptibly on the good side. With his left hand, he made a wide sweeping gesture, as if to encompass the whole of the surrounding area.

“Wherever you want."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Imogen Drake Character Portrait: Rabbit Character Portrait: Asher Drake Character Portrait: Piper Hadley Character Portrait: Aeron Duvall
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Rabbit was not among those who immediately ran into the night in search of the illusive scarves. Instead, he stood quite still-- a look of confusion on his face. He still held the bike's handlebars in his hands, but he made no move to start it up and ride off into the night in search of the small scraps of cloth. His first action was to walk forward toward Asher and Imogen with the bike beside him, but before shoving the vehicle toward the former. "Hold on to this for me, boss. Don't want to make it too unfair for the rest of them," he said with a cocky grin before pausing again. "Oh, and don't break her. IPS property and all that."

The good side of Asher's face pulled into something like a wry smile. “Sure."

Turning around to face those that were still around, Rabbit jerked his head backward as he backstepped, indicating that they should probably get a move on as well. "What about it Pip? Any more smart ideas?"

The girl in question pursed her lips, her eyes narrowing slightly, though it did not seem to be an expression of displeasure. Glancing over at Asher and Imogen, then back at Rabbit, she tilted her head slightly to one side. "I was always told that a Hunter doesn’t do anything alone that she can do with a team.” Clicking her tongue, she shrugged. "Neither of them said the rule was one person per scarf… or one scarf per person, for that matter. If we all bring it back, we all succeed.”

Of course, there weren’t too many people left. Aside from Imogen and Asher, it was Rabbit, Piper, and Aeron the bartender. "So… what about it? Alliance?”

Aeron seemed to watch the exchange, keeping silent to himself until Piper suggested an alliance. "Well, they did say the winners, as in plural and not singular. Our chances of succeeding rests on us being able to cooperate, does it not? Losers have to do laps around the quarter, so an alliance would be good," Aeron chimed in. "Because frankly, I'd rather not have to run after running over this town searching for scarves," he added, a smirk pulling at the corner of his lips.

Behind the group, Imogen and Asher seemed to have vanished, though they had clearly taken Rabbit's vehicle with them. Whatever the trio decided, it would be without input from their instructors.

"Well, they're bloody slippery," Rabbit noted the silent exit of their instructors. If he seemed at all put off by it though, it was hard to decipher with a simple shrug of his shoulders. He jerked his head toward a street, imploring the others of their alliance to plough forward in that direction.

"I don't know the streets of the Opal as well as the rest of London-- the Gates don't swing open for ordinary people like myself," Rabbit said, obviously quickening his pace as he walked. Even though the clothing he wore was loose fitting, it was clear a slender man was beneath it all. It wasn't too much of a stretch to suppose could take the laps they'd have to run if they lost without much issue, other than having to run them in the first place. "Come on, let's get this done. We can take it street by street, one person keep their eye to the right, one to the left, and one upward-- maybe we'll find a damn scarf tonight."

"I’ll look up.” Piper’s reply was immediate and sardonic. "I’ve had a lot of practice.” She was good on her word, and the three of them turned down the first street that became available. It seemed somewhat unlikely that finding the scarves would be as easy as sticking to the well-lit places after all.

The alley they found themselves in first was short, relatively clean, though the shadows in it were deep, and seemed to shift with an almost sinister air. Perhaps it only seemed so to those who had long been taught to avoid the hours after sunset. There was still bare twilight left yet, but in very little time, the sky would be completely dark, save for the pinpricks of the stars—for the moon was new this eve.

Presently, they reached the end of the alley, and Piper examined the side of the building that terminated the paved road. A few trash cans were stacked to one side, and she pondered these for a moment before shaking her head. "Might help us to get some vantage, right? We could see further from higher up.” A pause. "Can one of you give me a leg up?” While the cans might be enough extra height for Rabbit or Aeron, she was not tall enough for that to be an option.

Aeron seemed to contemplate something, almost as if he were giving great thought to what Piper had spoken. Not a minute later, Aeron raised his left leg and gave it a soft shake, a small smile appearing across his face. It was apparent that Piper had not meant it literally, however; Aeron appeared to not be able to contain himself. "'fraid this is as far as my leg can go up, Pipsqueak," he spoke, a hint of false disappointment laced behind his statement. "I'm sure Rabbit's leg might be able to go higher though, given that Rabbits tend to jump," he added, turning his gaze.

A dry mocking laugh came from Rabbit's direction, followed by the word chav. Piper snorted.

Nevertheless, he set his leg back down, and walked towards Piper, lacing his fingers together before lowering his hands enough so that she could place her foot in the cusp. "Shoulders are leverage for stepping too. If you need them, of course," he added, winking at her in the process.

Piper, for her part, did not look the least bit amused at Aeron’s joke, nor his nickname for her, pursing her lips and narrowing her eyes at him in a feline sort of way, but nevertheless when he offered the boost, she took it, stepping into his clasped hands with one foot and grabbing onto the ledge of the roof when he tossed her. For a moment, it was unclear if she would be able to make it the rest of the way up, because she hung there, swinging slightly back and forth, before hefting herself up with a grunt and several less-than-graceful scrabbling motions. Neverthless, it got the job done, and she stood up afterwards, crossing the roof and eventually disappearing from sight.

It took a few minutes, but when she returned, she stood on the edge of the roof and looked down at both of them, her expression a trifle more urgent than it had previously been. "There’s a bunch of people gathered, it looks like, on one of the roofs further down. I’m not sure, but they might have found one.” As to what the three of them should do about it, she offered no opinion.

"Think we can make it there from the roofs?" Rabbit asked, taking a step backward so he could get a better look at them. He then sighed and took the cigarette out of his mouth before looking at Aeron, "They might've put them on the roofs. It would be far too easy if they were out in open on the streets-- and that Asher seems like just enough of a hardass to do that."

Rabbit replaced the cigarette in his lips and looked between the garbage cans and the roof in question. It was clear that the gears in his head were spinning as he thought something over. His head then tilted to the side as he appeared to settle on something, taking a few more steps backward. "I'll give you a fucking rabbit," he told Aeron before bolting toward the building. He lifted off the ground, jumped up onto the cans, and used that leverage to send him up to the lip. He grabbed onto the ledge, his feet kicking in the air trying to find purchase on the building and push him the rest of the way onto the roof.

"Well don't just watch!" He told Piper.

Piper frowned slightly, but advanced to the edge of the roof anyway, kneeling and wrapping both hands around Rabbit’s forearms, her thin fingers surprisingly strong in their grip for one so small. "You know I’m one-ten soaking wet, yes?” Her inquiry was muttered through clenched teeth, as she attempted to use her legs to help pull, a splotchy flush beginning to appear over her cheeks with the exertion, which was perhaps understandable—lean or not, Rabbit was a much larger person than she was.

"Push his feet up or something?” That, she directed to Aeron, still on the ground below.

Aeron pursed his lips together, glancing up towards Piper as she spoke. He seemed to contemplate her words before moving towards the cans, manuevering himself so that he was beneath the dangling Rabbit. "Just... don't kick me," were the only words spoken as Aeron manuevered himself around the cans. Placing the palm of his hands beneath the soles of Rabbit's shoes, he pushed, giving Piper better leverage to pull Rabbit up. Once she managed to pull him up, it would be Aeron's turn.

Rabbit did not make it easy on him. His feet were still kicking when Aeron positioned himself under him, but his spasms slowed to a halt as they redoubled their effort to push him onto the roof. With a second wind and one final push, Rabbit finally rolled unceremoniously over the lip of the ledge. He reached for his cigarette in his lips only to find that during his struggle he'd broken it. He rolled his eyes at the revelation and spat he now useless butt out. "Think this kinda thing is going to become common? Because damn."

With his words said, he spun around and laid down belly first by the edge, extending his hand for Aeron to grab on to. "Come on mate, let's see if we can get you up here without looking like a total ass," Rabbit said, gesturing with his hands for him to get a move on it too. A belabored breath that might have been a sigh from anyone else issued from Piper, but nevertheless she mimicked Rabbit's posture, though her own arms did not have the reach of his.

He didn't have a running start like Rabbit did. He stood on the cans, staring up at the hands that offered to lift him up, and tilted his head to the side. "Something tells me we'll accomplish that more times than necessary," he retorted to Rabbit's comment. A contemplative look crossed his face before he half way crouched, launching himself as high as he could to latch onto the same lip Rabbit was previously hanging from. Once he managed to settle himself, he released one arm and latched it with Rabbit's. He managed to pull himself up the rest of the way with Rabbit's help, and used Piper's hands for more leverage. "Well, that was fun," he spoke, the amusement laced in his voice.

"So, shall we?" he stated, gesturing for one of them to lead the way.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Imogen Drake Character Portrait: Rabbit Character Portrait: Asher Drake Character Portrait: Piper Hadley Character Portrait: Aeron Duvall
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As far as plan went, it wasn't the smartest one he had. Actually, it was pretty bloody dumb. The string of thoughts going through Rabbit's mind couldn't respectfully even be called a plan. After breaking out a second floor window with a desk from one of the classrooms, he jumped through and landed on the ground below. It wasn't the most graceful of landings, and by some miracle he escaped breaking his legs on the way down by tucking into a roll. Still, a nasty bruise was beginning to well up on his shoulder and he was pretty sure his knees were bleeding.

The plan had achieved one of its intended effects however, as he could hear the shouts and commands of the police officers behind him. For the next part, he'd have to lead them away from the school building so Aeron and Piper could make their escape. Rabbit huffed as he ran, they'd better make their escape. He would be extremely upset if he found them in the same jail cell.

Rabbit's feet carried him off of the school's campus and back on to the Opal Quarter's streets, the voices of the police and sirens still behind him for the time being. He caught a few of their demands, to stop, put his hands up, stop running, and give himself up. However, that wasn't part of the plan, at least, not yet. At the first alleyway he passed on the street, he took a hard turn and darted into it, jumping a few of the trashcans along the way, and entered into a side street. He wasn't as familiar with the Opal's streets as the rest of London's, but he had the general idea.

It was clear, however, that the officers also knew the area quite well, logical considering that this was their regular patrol, probably. They remained hot on Rabbit’s heels as he sped through the alleyways, by now the shouts to halt having ceased, likely to save the effort and spend it on pursuit, instead. Unless something unexpected occurred, they could probably catch him in another block or two.

The chase wound around another corner, and then a third in quick succession. There was a moment where no officers had yet turned in the way he was running, some muffled discussion, and then the sound of retreating footsteps. Somehow, they'd all chosen to go the wrong way at the last cross-street.

A couple of long moments later, however, there were more footsteps, these ones lacking the heavy tread of pursuing police officers. "That was a stupid plan.” Piper’s monotone was soft, but still audible. She crossed thin arms low over her ribcage, cocking a burnished copper brow at Rabbit, then shook her head slightly. "But we should get moving before they realize we duped them. Think you can get us back to where we started?”

"Let me catch my breath first," Rabbit said between pants. While confused on why the police would take a wrong turn in their pursuit, he was not the type to look a gift horse in the mouth. However, he was rather interested on why Piper was here, and without Aeron at that. "Yeah, but it was a plan," he pointed out. One more deep inhale, Rabbit straightened and crossed his own arms, giving one last look toward the direction the police before scanning his immediate surroundings. If his internal compass was correct, and the street he passed on the way to his current location was the same one he remembered then...

"It should be that way," Rabbit said, pointing in the general direction of the Opal Quarter's gate. "As a crow flies, anyway," he added, noting that he was pointing directly at a building. "Hey, where's Aeron anyway? The plan involved his ass not landing in jail, remember?" Rabbit said, starting off down the street and walking backwards so as to talk to Piper.

"He’ll be by in a second, I’m sure. I sent him ahead. Less noise that way. He may have beaten us back, actually, but I still have the scarf so he can’t win on his own after all this.” Her tone carried no accusation, as though she was not sure whether he’d try even if he did have it, but she said no more on the topic.

"You know, I never thought the old misdirect-with-thrown-object thing could actually work, but I suppose it makes sense.” The two of them took a few more turns, remaining generally true to Rabbit’s initial estimate of their location, and before long, they turned back out onto a main road, where Aeron was indeed visible. Piper flagged him down with a wave of her hand, and they headed for where they’d last seen Asher and Imogen.

"I do hope finding them is not the last leg of this challenge.”

"With the kind of night we've been having, I'm sure it'll be the easiest," Aeron retorted, a hint of sarcasm seeping through. "I think it'd be best to stay low for the remainder of the night. We might have sent those cops the wrong way, but they'll still be out on patrol. It's a good thing they'll only be looking for you, Rabbit," he stated, shrugging his shoulders lightly and sending Rabbit a slight smirk. "I highly doubt those two would be where we first left them," he muttered more to himself than to his companions.

"If they were keeping track of us, they'd have to be somewhere close, right?" he trailed off, holding his chin in a thoughtful manner while crossing his free arm around him.

"They'd fucking better be," Rabbit said, throwing a squinting glance in a circle all around them. It'd been too long of a night to end with them failing to simply find the Mismarians. That or end up getting eaten by a stray vampire. At the thought, Rabbit's shoulders quivered and he zipped his jacket the rest of the way up his neck. "They still have my damn bike," He added, though most of the usual vitriol was drained.

Fishing into one of his jacket's pockets, Rabbit fished out a bent cigarette, and popped it a corner of his mouth. "If we don't run into them soon, we might have to scale another building and look for them..." He said, though he wasn't thrilled with the idea. He felt they'd climbed enough buildings for the night, and wasn't looking forward to struggling up another. Lighting the cigarette, he took a drag and pointed forward with his head.

"Lets keep moving in any case."

They weren’t quite back to where they’d begun when, it seemed, the Mismarians found them. Or at least, Imogen did, jumping down from an overhanging roof ledge some two sorties above them and landing on her feet with all the grace of a cat. "You know,” she remarked conversationally, "you could have just told them you were with us. We do tend to get a pretty free pass with New Scotland Yard.” Her eyes, a dull russet under the light, gleamed with ill-contained mirth.

"But a pass is a pass, and yours was rather impressive, wasn’t it, Asher?”

“It was, though we’ll see how impressive they feel when they wake up tomorrow morning.” Imogen’s brother melted out from the thick shadow of an alleyway to their right, Rabbit’s moped still in tow. “You’ll probably want to sleep as soon as you get home. Free advice: soak yourselves in hot water first, or you won’t be able to move much later.” He handed the bike over to Rabbit, then held out his hand.

“Your proof?” He looked directly at Piper.

A look of mild surprise crossed the young woman’s face, but she nodded, producing the scarf she’d tucked in her jacket pocket and handing it over to the Mismarian. "Please don’t tell us it’s the wrong color.”

Asher smiled, just a small one, and shook his head. “Nah, you’re good. Congratulations, you three. Since you’re here together, I’m assuming you mean for this to count for all of you. What do you think, Imogen?” He turned towards his sister, who tilted her head to the side, raising her index finger to her lips as though to ask for silence.

"I won’t tell the others if you don’t, dear Asher. I think they’ve all earned the reprieve.” She smiled a Cheshire sort of smile at the three tired recruits. "But, you’ll still need to be back tomorrow night. In the meantime, we’ve rented you all a few beds up the street.”

"Thank God," Rabbit said, clearly not wanting to take the return trip out of the Opal Quarter at night.

“Training is sundown to sunup, here. You can all make your way over tomorrow on your own, I should think.” Asher folded the scarf away and tucked it into a pocket of his heavy cargo pants. “It’s not every day, and not always the same ones, but expect about four sessions a week. We know you have other lives in the meantime, but you should expect this to become your life eventually, and prepare for that.” He nodded at the trio, a clear dismissal.

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Character Portrait: Asher Drake Character Portrait: Piper Hadley
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Piper pursed her lips, shooting the building in front of her a suspicious look. Unnecessary, of course—she was somewhat familiar with it now, and she knew it to be the place where her trainers were staying. She supposed there might be a more formal title for them than that, but they’d never used it, and so she didn’t know. Perhaps a question she could ask her father, but she hadn’t exactly gotten around to telling him that she was joining the Order yet. Not because she didn’t want him to know, but rather… she wanted to make sure she had a chance first. If she was to fail, she would prefer to do it with as few witnesses as possible, and she especially didn’t want him to know of it.

But her errand today was another possible bump in the road. She knew that the Mismarians had likely pulled the official records of all of the candidates, to check for things like criminal records and whatnot, but there was something that wasn’t on any of those records that they would want to know. She just wasn’t so sure she wanted to tell.

Taking a deep breath, she steeled herself. This was no time for cowardice. She couldn’t change what she was, and if it prohibited her, then she would just have to live with that. Brushing nonexistent lint off her tan sweater-vest—she’d come here directly from her shift at the archives—Piper pushed open the door to the Fletcher’s Den and entered, scanning the tables for the distinctive faces she was looking for.

Asher was sitting at the same table Imogen had been last time, off to one side and with his back to the wall, facing the entrance. Her father always did that, too—refused to put his back to strangers. She wondered if she would be like that after a few years. His hood was up over his face, but she recognized him by his posture and the few tufts of platinum-blond that escaped his cowl. She strode to the table in question, but did not presume to be seated without permission. For all her flat irreverence, there were things she would not disregard.

"Asher.” She found it odd that he and his sister had wanted to be addressed by their first names rather than anything more formal, but respected the instructions. "Do you have a moment to spare?” The question was delivered bereft of any particular emotion, but it was not a light one even so.

The Hunter thus addressed pushed down his hood, though quite a lot of his face was still obscured by the way his hair lay shaggy and mostly unkempt. His fingers toyed absently with the rim of his glass, more an idle motion than one with any specific purpose. He blinked over at her, the mismatched quality of his eyes only lending to the unfortunate appearance of his face.

“Only if you have a moment to sit,” he replied dryly, jerking his chin at the one directly across from him at the table.

So Piper sat, recognizing a command when she heard one, even if he was polite about it. Settling into the wooden chair, she folded her hands on top of the table, an old little gesture her father always had. He’d told her it was because it was polite to show strangers and acquaintances that your hands were empty, a tradition that he claimed dated back to before Ragnarök. She had no idea, herself, but she figured it couldn’t hurt.

For a moment, she studied the hunter in front of her. Of course, she was immediately curious about how he’d obtained the white marks that hashed across half his face, but though she was often blunt to the point of rudeness, she didn’t ask. Perhaps she would at some later time, but not today. They gave his face a sort of harshness, she would say, but though they were clearly marring, she didn’t consider them hideous. They were just… different. Clearly, he did not think so, and she supposed she wouldn’t be too keen on them if she had to wear them, either. She realized she was staring, but she didn’t check herself or apologize or try to hide the fact, because she wasn’t sorry, and she didn’t care if he knew.

Instead, she spoke. "I’m a witch.” Her tone was quiet—she did not desire anyone in the room to overhear her, after all. She went to great lengths to cover up the truth of her heritage, because to do otherwise would saddle her not only with suspicion, which was inconvenient but tolerable, but also likely with oversight, and she did not desire to be treated like a felon on parole. "Grey, of course. It’s been kept off the records, but I thought it best to tell you now. I have heard… that this is not always prohibitive for joining the Order, but I have also heard that you are allowed to turn people away for whatever reason you want, and I have to say I really don’t want to endure months more of training just to be turned away for being what I am later on.” She would vastly prefer that it happen now, before she began her transition between lives in earnest.

Asher’s face didn’t change much while she spoke. He swirled the liquid around in his lowball for a few seconds when she was done, then tipped his head back and downed the rest in a pair of gulps, shaking his head slightly and setting the glass back down on its coaster with a dull thunk. “I’m impressed you managed to keep it off the official records,” he murmured, picking the glass back up and staring into the bottom of it as though to confirm that it was indeed empty. A drop circled the edge, but nothing more remained.

Pushing an exhalation through his nose, he put it back down and made eye contact with Piper across the table. “I can’t really fault you for being a witch,” he said. “Imogen’s one, too.” The good side of his mouth inched upwards. “But I’m glad you told me. You’ll all be split up for individual training eventually, and she’ll probably want to work with you for a while. Do you have a specialization yet?”

Piper blinked. Whatever she had expected, it was not that. She was surprised to learn that Imogen was a witch, but more surprised by how easily Asher spoke of it, by how conversant he was in the words for things in the Craft that she had never really spoken about with anyone. It would seem that his sister was very open about certain things that Piper had always thought no one talked about. But it was an honest question, and for the moment, she saw no harm in giving an honest answer.

"I’m an alchemist. My tutoring has been… intermittent, but I’m familiar with the major texts, and I achieved journeyman status about two years ago. I’m best with potions and biochemical reagents, but I can do at least something in any of the subfields.” She was a bit proud of that, and it may have seeped slightly into her words, though she hadn’t meant anything to be boasting. Just factually accurate.

"Do you think I should tell the others?” It was a question that had been occupying her mind of late. It seemed best to be honest, but… if any of them had reason to hate her kind, it may well disrupt team dynamics, and she wasn’t sure they could afford that.

Asher’s fingers smoothed idly over the edge of his cardboard coaster, rather well-used if the bends in it were any indication. Then again, the bar wasn’t exactly a high-class establishment. He pursed his lips. “The decision’s yours,” he said eventually, reaching up to run a hand through his hair. The motion did nothing to tame it, the fluffed ends merely springing back into their bedheaded places afterwards. “We’re required to tell your partner if you reach the point where you have one, but no one else has to know, and I can understand why you’d want to keep it from people who might not complete the training.”

He hummed a note at the back of his throat, propping his chin on his hand. “But if you want my advice, I’d tell the people you get along with best. That’s part of how we pick partners in the first place, and you don’t want us to be the ones springing it on someone who believes they can trust you. It doesn’t have to be now, but you should do it eventually, I think.”

Piper nodded. There was sense in the words, and she was never one to ignore logic. She acknowledged that it was difficult for her to be objective on this matter, at least completely, because being a witch was such a large, unavoidable part of her identity. And an unfortunate one, sometimes, but inexorable. "Thank you.” It wasn’t something she said all that often, being the kind of person who disliked relying on others, but she could recognize when she had received good advice, and wasn’t grudging with her gratitude.

She paused a moment though, still scrutinizing him, then spoke slowly. "You… you knew already, yes?” It would explain his lack of surprise. Even if his sister was a witch too, which would go some way to producing his easy attitude about it, it was still an extremely rare trait, and it should have produced more of a reaction, she thought. The most reasonable answer was that he’d already known. But how?

Asher inclined his head. “You’re not in the official records, but Vimmark Hadley did include where he’d found you in his petition to the Order for the dispensation to adopt you. It wasn’t a difficult guess from there.” He tilted his head slightly to the side, studying her in turn, though he was unable to hide his discomfort with being looked at so intently, shifting slightly in his seat, and reaching for his glass before he seemed to recall that there was no longer anything in it.

“You needn’t be concerned that it is common knowledge even among the brothers and sisters, however. I did a lot of digging on all of you; it’s not something anyone and everyone who works with you will repeat. And the documents were difficult to access, even for me.”

Even for him. That made it sound like he was someone important, though she would not necessarily have guessed as much from the way he presented himself. Perhaps he only meant that recruiters were supposed to have easier access to information on the recruits. But of course, she wasn’t the sort to let something like that assuage her, and she began to think back on all the stories her father had told her, attempting to recollect any mention of someone named Drake. Nothing was immediately forthcoming, but her aural recall was not nearly as good as her visual, and so perhaps she would ask him, just to be sure.

For the moment, however, she had concluded her business, and Piper supposed that Asher had more to do than sit around talking to her all day, so she stood briskly, inclining her head. "Then I’ve no more to say. I bid Asher farewell.” She paused a moment, waiting for something like a dismissal, but once she’d received it, she was efficient in her passage to the door. There weren’t many hours left until sunset, and she still had a few errands to run.