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Kaden Jannsen

"Oh, sorry, you were there? Hmm. Hadn't realized. What do you want? I'm writing, so be quick."

0 · 406 views · located in Cherry Grove Park

a character in “Masks of the Soul: Fragment of Truth”, as played by Witless




Kaden Jannsen
'The real world? Mine? Of course mine is better.'

Itex Moon

If Itex, blurb?
A man entranced by the world of his books, Itex provides inspiration and a glimpse into this world.

Which Masks do they possess?
Caine Strauss



Physical Description
Maybe a delinquent in looks, he pierced his ears and wears a dog-tag necklace and oftentimes chains on his clothes as more of a rebellion against his parents than anything else. His red hair makes him stand out, and he has a few streaks of white running through it for some reason, maybe an attempt to visualize one of his characters. He often looks impassive, but in such a way that carries a hidden cruelty, as if the lack of emotion could make him dangerous, though to the best of his friends' knowledge, he wouldn't hurt a fly. He stands at average height, though he carries himself with a slouch that makes him seem smaller. His clothes are non-descriptive, generally casual with jeans, a plain color shirt, with maybe a few words on it, and his red jacket.

Kaden is a rather quiet man. He generally wanders or sits, thinking of new ideas for stories and characters, whipping out his notepad or sketchpad in a time of inspiration when he absolutely has to write it down, lest he forget. This can be during class, in the middle of a crowded street, or really in any instance, though he generally has the wits about him to get himself out of any immediate danger first. But first and foremost in his personality, he is a writer and artist, an introvert caring only about the world inside his head. Thus, it only makes sense that a character he doted on became the personality of his mask.

While he may not talk much to strangers, if someone he knows talks to him (and he's not otherwise preoccupied with writing or drawing), he will generally respond, though he may not say much. He gets most excited when he talks about his novels, characters, art, or anything connected to the world of his mind, able to talk about them for hours upon end. When he gets started, he can sometimes be difficult to stop. Oh, another thing: when he's really into writing or drawing, you probably shouldn't disturb him. He sometimes takes on personality traits of the characters he's writing as for a few seconds after being disturbed, and it can get either strange or dangerous.

In reaction to his family, he's rather rebellious. He doesn't go to the school his parents paid for, unless he wants to, that is, and when he does, he's generally writing during class instead of paying attention. He stays out late, never telling his parents where he is, or when he'll be back, so they worry until he comes back, which at times will be a day or so later. During these times, he may be at a friend's house, or wandering town for character ideas, or maybe just sitting down writing and sleeping, but he also uses these times to do the jobs for Itex, and he does them quickly and efficiently.

He has an aversion to blood. No, he doesn't cower in fear at the mere sight of it, but he dislikes it all the same. He tries to avoid jobs with fighting, but if he has to, so be it. That's what Caine is for. Oh, didn't I mention it? That's his mask, a character he made, an unstable magician who sometimes goes berserk is probably the best summation for how he reacts in this world. But he's only there to take care of the fighting, or the tasks that Kaden just simply couldn't do without a little help. Needless to say, it's getting harder and harder to avoid transforming, and Caine's instability will be the death of him.

So yes, he has a caring personality, but it's beginning to be buried deep through his interactions with Itex. He used to care about the smallest things, helping anyone with the smallest trouble, but, well, those small things don't matter quite as much anymore. The only thing that will change anything is a big act, something revolutionary, that will change the world. Something like Itex. And if killing, deceit, danger, death is part of it, then so be it. You do what you have to to make your world what it has to be, something he learned the hard way.

He's a talented artist and writer.
Despite seeming inattentive, he actually has a great attention to detail, something helpful for an artist or writer.
He's been taking sword-fighting lessons since he was young and has grown rather talented.
He can blend in (not literally) wherever he is, avoiding notice as best as possible.

Likes {Dislikes}
oHis World The Real Worldx
oBooks Conversationx
oArt Technologyx
oInformation Being Kept in the Darkx
oFreedom Restrictionsx
oChocolate Nutsx

Kaden grew up as an only child under over-protective parents. He began to feel constrained and acted out by rebelling and running away from home. He wandered into Maybelle Avenue and used the little money he had on him to buy a pretty sketchpad that he used to while away the time. He began drawing and lost track of time until his parents finally found him sitting under a tree in Cherry Grove Park and brought him home. After that, he began drawing most of the time and making up stories to go with them.

At school, his habit of drawing made him friends as well as ostracized him. Some thought his drawings were amazing and awesome while others thought him a weirdo because of them. Kaden cared little, and he ended up hiding his real personality, avoiding contact with others except those he knew accepted him, becoming more and more reclusive. In this reclusive state, he focused more and more on drawing and writing, which ultimately made it so his made-up world seemed all the more real. And still, he fled from his protective parents.

Around the beginning of high school, he started a story, and a single character flew from his brain onto paper, but not much else appeared. The character seemed so real that it must be. He was so much stronger, more talented than Kaden, that he began to idolize this character. Around this time, two things happened, though the order is unclear. One was the finding of his Mask, the one which eventually brought him to Itex. The other was the introduction of this mask in his story, when Caine makes an identical one that links to another world, combining minds with the other bearer. Most would believe that the one came before the other but Kaden believes otherwise, and so he dons his mask to become Caine Strauss, a character from his mind, from his stories.

It was with this mask on that he found Itex, or maybe that they found him, and they quickly snapped him up into their fold. Either way, Kaden became one of them, using their jobs to take up the time that he was away from home, running. Or maybe it was to enter the fantasy world he always imagined, where everyone had superpowers, and he was the good guy, fighting the bad guys who had powers to counter them. Or maybe it was just to continue using the mask, switching to Caine whenever he needed to, becoming one with the world in his mind. But he enjoyed these jobs, these opportunities and began to look forward to his jobs in Itex, not caring about what they were, whether or not they were 'good.' And so became the Kaden we see today.

TBA once they come into conflict.

His book is in progress, both in story and real life, though it's on hold for edits in real life.

So begins...

Kaden Jannsen's Story


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Character Portrait: Caine Strauss Character Portrait: Kaden Jannsen Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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#, as written by Witless
*Easter speech by Nivosity*

Kaden Jannsen; Sagaro Mall, 1st Floor -> 2nd Floor Theater

Kaden walked into Sagaro, as always awestruck by the elegant beauty within. He had drawn a few pictures spurred from various parts of the mall: a cold, icy civilization from the Ice Rink, a map of stars from the observatory, the bustling crowd, grand clock, and floor-by-floor architecture viewed from above, and there was still so much more that he could draw from. Whenever he needed to relax or find inspiration, he walked somewhere, anywhere, and most of the time that place was here. Today, like every Friday, that Easter clown was here, selling his balloons. They had always seemed enticing for some strange reason (it wasn't like he was a kid, but for some reason they held an appeal that he couldn't explain), but he had never gotten around to asking about them. Why not? Now would be the day. He had some time before the scheduled meeting. It was worth a shot, and if it started to take too long, he'd just leave. Here goes nothing! "Excuse me, how much for a balloon? That black and silver one over there, to be exact?"

The clown turned at the question, glancing at the balloon and then glaring back at Kaden. "Balloons? How much are they worth? The price of happiness? The purchase of a balloon." He looked back at the black and silver balloon, the only one of that color in the shop. "Twenty argen for the silver-black pretty." With a hopeful expression at a sudden thought, Easter's eyes lit up, and he glanced through his stock before settling on a partially-deflated green balloon. "This one's 69 cents. You should buy that one instead. It's green. It would be good for you. It likes you more than the black-silver pretty." Glaring at Kaden once again, he gestured away from the black and silver balloon to the green one.

It was almost funny how worked up this clown was getting, enough for Kaden to actually want to buy that exorbitant price just to spite him. He brought out the money, "Here, may I have that delightful black and silver balloon?" He smirked at the clown's cross muttering as he took the money and went to take the balloon. He only could make out a few words, but they seemed to be repeated. "Pretty," "dead," "silver," "boss," "bad," "forever," and maybe a few more that Kaden just couldn't catch.

Kaden took the balloon and tied it securely to his wrist (It was pretty, wasn't it?) before going up the escalator to the second floor. The main attraction here: a movie theater. Well, eight to be exact. The good news was, people didn't care as much about other people in public movie theaters. It was dark, people always talked, and "kids these days" were always on their phones. He'd just be another one of "them." Now all that was left was to pick a theater, and it didn't matter which show was playing, just that he was safe within the theater from prying eyes. For which movie might they think he's just a cosplaying young man and pay him little regard? Well, they'd think him strange at the very least, but strange may be normal. It would be best to avoid using powers until they were essential. It would be simpler just to wear the mask, not transform into the meddlesome, ignorant Caine, but rules were rules, and you never messed with Itex. Whatever. If Caine caused any trouble, that was his problem, not Kaden's.

Skinwalkers. That sounded interesting and maybe cosplay-acceptable. Kaden had heard something about it, and it was from a post-apocalyptic world. He'd be able to get by, make something up as needed. Kaden walked up to the box office, bought a ticket at the student discount, digging through his pockets for 7 argen (he barely had that much with him after the balloon), and proceeded to theater 7. There were quite a few people here, more than expected, so it was apparently a new movie or maybe just a good one, who cares. Kaden walked up to the top of the theater, sitting in the back rows and whispered a few words. What they meant wasn't important, but what they did was.

"Ingredere rem ignotam." His mask appeared, and he slipped it on, another's voice whispering chaotically through his head, offering ideas or just random thoughts here and there. A jumbled painting and accompanying story had resulted from this, but enough of that. The final words. "Mens amens coepit."

Caine Strauss, Itex Moon; Itex Voice Chat

It was dark. Who was he kidding? It was always dark, but that mattered little. Magic, sound, smell, whatever it was that gave Caine a highly-tuned perception of his surroundings eliminated that problem. It was some sort of "theater," as the counterpart called it, and the screen in front would display images (which he couldn't see), and the speakers around would project the sound (which would be distracting, to say the least). It wasn't the best place for a "chat," but who was he to tell the counterpart how to live his life. Just so long as that counterpart (Caden, he called himself? Something like that...) didn't mess up as monumentally as last time. He's just an idiot who has no idea what he's messing with, and yet he thinks it's in his best interests to pull an unwilling subject away from his daily life. Learn your place and stay there.

And there was something on his wrist, a string, held up in the air by... a thing, something he couldn't name or even describe. Was it simply air? Did this world have powers which his counterpart had neglected to inform him of? They would have to have a talk later. This device was intriguing, even if the purpose was concealed. Turning his minds to more important things, Caine brought out the "writing tablet" to take care of business, putting in the "headphones."

Fiddling with the device, a click may have been heard, passcodes scrawled, and the private chat began. "Caine here. Or... I suppose it's 'The Moon' you want. I'm he, me, go on whoever's here. What's new?"

The setting changes from Sagaro Mall to Liron River Pier

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Caine Strauss Character Portrait: Crow Character Portrait: Kaden Jannsen Character Portrait: Calanthia Rozenmare Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Calanthia, Crow, Caine Strauss, and ??? | Liron River Pier

It seemed that the boy was now escaping the scene. However, he did not leave unscathed. One of the feathers connected with his skin and the sight of blood made Thia feel an amount of guilt. Still remembering the earlier events, she justified it as something deserving for his likes. Which goes to say, the woman who seemed to suffer a certain amount of anonymity both in the mind and presence appeared to be bothered. Thinking about it, this woman might have saved her yet, it does not change the fact that she destroyed her phone from the very beginning.

Fortunately, Cala was not able to linger on the emotions of irritation as the mysterious woman who had suddenly appeared out of nowhere was now before them. Along with that, the woman had a question. She would have taken the initiative to answer the query. Unfortunately, she was not also certain what was going on or why did she ever think to intervene on the matters where magic and mumbo jumbo ruled the possibility of all things.

Caine looked behind him, pausing in his run and listening. There didn't seem to be anyone following him. Now was the time to stop this infernal bleeding, give an end to the trail that would lead them to him. He could spare some more time using this wasteful power, but he was getting tired, from lack of energy and lack of stamina. Blood loss wasn't really a factor; it was a minor wound. Caine brought out his sketchpad and drew once more: a roll of bandages, used to cover his wound, stop it from bleeding, and above all stop that blood from falling. With a gasp, he drew it out and applied it, getting rid of the excess as ink, mixing with water and new-fallen blood on the ground. His time here was running out, and this disastrous mission would have to be completed soon. There'd be no more interruptions. Not if he could help it.

The bleeding stopped, Caine continued a ways, stumbling here and there in his fatigue. But that magician... who was she? Not that it mattered... Far enough from the trail, he muttered "finis" and took out the writing tablet and headphones Kaden had instructed him with, that he'd used so often before. For the second time that day, Kaden signed into the Itex voice chat and spoke. "Moon, signing in. There were t- two complications. Neither of them Itex. And I can't say much about your messenger. Or the rest of our crew... Hanged Man and Hermit never showed. I have the package, though. Where to?" Someone had to be on, right? Someone who knew what was happening, what to do? Because Caine sure didn't, and his time here was running ever shorter.

Freak number two? What was that supposed to mean?

Her eyes flickered towards the calm smile that the second mortal wore. Somehow she had the feeling that she was being mocked. Yes, somewhere behind that smile was a joke at Crow's expense. She balled her hands into fists, colorless sparks flying from her fingertips. Then, taking a step forward, she licked her pale lips. Her voice came out absolutely neutral. "What do you intend, mortal?"

Her fingers twitched again, violently. It just didn't feel right not to be slinging arrows and pulverizing the bodies. But, with the hole in her mental facilties, she needed some cannon fodder. Who knew what was going on right now? And there was something important going on.

"Mortal?" the stranger echoed, before giving into a bout of snickering. Spinning on her heel, she turned away from the masked woman, throwing out her arms. "Ahh, Throme really has become more interesting!" the mere human exclaimed, laughing all the while. Glancing back, she added, β€œI don’t β€˜intend’ to do anything. I’m more of the spontaneous sort, myself.”

Lies. She never acted thoughtlessly.

β€œDo tell me though. What do you intend to do, hm?”

Reckless and sometimes, stubborn, those were Thia's ever present traits. However, she was not an idiot not to to understand the there is trouble brewing between the lady with red shoes and the woman with magic syndrome. She was certain things could get ugly in an instant with one wrong move. Still, she had no more energy to interefere with anything at all. The recent events had drained most of her spirit and more importantly, she was too cold and too battered to care anymore. Why was she here anyway? This was not her jurisdiction.

"I will leave you two now but I suggest you two do the same."

In the distance, one could heard the closing sound of sirens. It would proper to conclude that those were police cars and all. Cala did not find that odd as they did cause some ruckus with all the explosion and all. Even with the falling rain that could be used to mask such noises. There ws still a distinctive sound to differentiate it. Adding to that ongoing increase of crime rates in the city, the citizen and its security forces are quite vigilant nowadays. Turning her back at them, she walked away but not before stopping midway.

"I hope to never see all of you again."

After stating that, Calla continued on her way without looking back. She definitely would need to take a bath and to remember never to interfere with anything again. This was going to be the last time she would have an encounter with Masks and such things called magic. She returned to the pathway above and continued on her way wanting to take a cab, After all, she had no more energy left to walk towards her home.

Yes. The mortals were really laughing at Crow. Her white eyes narrowed as she took in the two females that dared tell the resident magician what to do. What courage. Stupid courage. She refused to answer, merely -

The damn apprentice.

It was all his fault.

So there had to be some magic going on, if he was able to escape without anyone remembering anything. With balled fists and pursed white lips, Crow twirled on the ball of her foot away from the red-shoed stranger. How would she be able to find him now? He had left with something - something important. There had to be some clue that would lead straight to him.

All the same, before she made her escape, she took careful note of her two new 'acquaintances', committing to memory their faces, their figures, their movements... because in a small world and an even smaller city like Throme, one never knew who they'd run into again. She'd learned to be careful.

With that done, the stranger merely gave a mock salute before darting off away from the pier.

The setting changes from Liron River Pier to Cherry Grove Park

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Character Portrait: Caine Strauss Character Portrait: Kaden Jannsen Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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#, as written by Witless
Caine Strauss, Itex Moon; Throme

A new voice appeared and with it came new questions, asked in a torrent. Caine tried to speak an answer as they came, but the woman no longer cared for an answer. After all this work they put him to, alone no less, these higher ups couldn't even be bothered to hold a conversation, ordering him around yet again. And it would seem they couldn't even pay attention to who they were talking to, giving visual directions to the blind. No matter. Things would get done one way or another. If it had to be done, it would be. But... the complications? Who was she?

Caine winced in pain from his shoulder wound as he stood up carefully. He was exhausted, and the battle with the magician (strange to think there were others here) had near depleted his strength. There would be revenge, of course. No one who messed with Itex would be allowed to get away. Soon enough, he and others would find out the whereabouts of these interfering mask-users and take care of them. It was difficult to escape from Itex, especially if they were looking for you. They'd get what was rightfully coming to them. Itex wasn't in the wrong, of course. Right. Caine rubbed his shoulder, wincing again. He was tired, and it was time to get going. He reached his hands to his mask and sighed. "It's all on you now, Kaden. Don't you dare fail us."

Kaden Jannsen; Throme -> Cherry Grove Park

Kaden pulled off his mask, starting from the sudden shock of the cold, the wet, the pain. Cursing, he shoved the mask in his bag and gasped from a throbbing shoulder. "Blasted Caine! I had an umbrella in here! Use it! And gods, what did you do to yourself? Here it... gah!" Pulling out the umbrella from his bag and opening it, Kaden winced again from the pain. Sitting back down, he leant against the wall, the umbrella slightly blocking the steady downpour, slightly protecting everything in his bag, though most were probably on their way to ruin anyhow. He examined the package, wet as everything else from the rain, and sighed.

I suppose I'd better get going. Cherry Park, was it? Thirty minutes, thirteen seconds. Nine minutes leeway. Less, now. Running would be cutting it close, and most of Kaden's argen had been spent earlier, on the balloon, on the movie. There wasn't enough for a taxi. The subway would have to do, and Maybelle station was close enough. Packing up everything and adjusting his umbrella, Kaden stood up with a wince. He felt the bandaged wound on his shoulder and brought his hand away, damper still than it had been. Blood. Great. The projectile, whatever it had been, hadn't hit clean, leaving what was probably a larger cut than normal. It was painful, at least...

Kaden began walking at a rushed pace, figuring out where exactly he was and heading toward the subway station. Once there, he paid the required amount to get to Academy Square and waited for the train. It was scheduled to arrive in two minutes, approximately 8:55, but at least he wasn't standing out in the rain. Though, he wouldn't be dry any time soon. It wasn't a busy time of night: the worktime rush was over with, many were still out partying or whatever they did on a Friday night, and the rain kept many others at home, except for the sad few still with things to do and places to be. There was a couple, late to party. There was a man pacing back and forth, something definitely on his mind. A woman here on the phone with a friend, a pair over there arguing. A kid running by, dragging his mother. A group of friends laughing at some joke another had made or maybe at nothing at all. Others here and there, but none paid much attention to Kaden as he stood leaning on the wall. Well, except a man nearby, who offered him a smoke, only to be ignored. The subway arrived, and Kaden got on.

It would be some time still until the train arrived at Academy Square station, so Kaden sat back and relaxed. It was strange, though, that the two others assigned to this mission, even the leader of the mission himself, hadn't arrived. Instead, there were two others, one maybe a random passerby, the other more likely an intentional interferer. Both had known of Masks, neither was Itex, and they hadn't seemed to know one another. Was there an information leak? Had the others encountered trouble, for whatever reason divulging this information about the meeting? But the Hanged Man... he was supposed to be "monitoring the security" of the chat. If something had happened, might there be more that would? It would be worth it to be a little cautious, even if there was someone with cloak and ribbons waiting for the meeting. But still, to have to doubt even those in Itex? If so... well, that was a topic for another time. Who was that other mask user, and how had Itex not known of her? Too many questions had been raised for Kaden's liking, and it was likely too few would be answered by the end of the night. Either way, next stop: Academy Station, and Kaden got off as the doors opened, a few others exiting, a few entering. Kaden headed toward the park.

The trees gave some protection from the rain, but not much. It was unlikely there would be many people here, and there weren't. The contact would be around. She would be, somewhere. Kaden wandered, looking for a cloak. Eventually... ah, there. There was someone, it seemed a woman, in the middle of Fountain Square, the black cloak and red ribbons distinctive. She was idly running a hand through the water, and she turned at his approach. It had been about thirty-three minutes since the call, but better late than never. "Good evening, ma'am. A beautiful night, isn't it?"

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Image??? and Kaden Jannsen ; Cherry Grove Park

Almost as though it was meant as a response to his question, the woman stared at the new arrival, whom she seemed to recognize on sight. "Thirty-three minutes, fourty-seven seconds. Well within acceptable deviance," she stated idly, before turning back towards the fountain. One of her dark-blue-gloved hands escaped the folds of her cloak to gesture to her left side. "Moon, I presume that we shall not be interrupted?"

The voice was the same, as was the tone. The meeting didn't appear to be compromised, though considering how quickly it was formed and executed, that probably should have been expected. Kaden moved as she gestured, standing to this woman's left. A gust of wind blew his umbrella and rain to the side, and he shivered. "To the best of my knowledge, no. I've not informed anyone." The package was to his side, to be presented when asked but not before. Questions were running through Kaden's mind, but how to ask them (and when) was important, and now didn't seem quite the time. Hopefully this wouldn't take too long. His shoulder was growing numb from the rain.

Although her cloak moved slightly from the gust of wind, the woman's features remained in shadow. "That may do for the moment," she informed the boy, before plunging her other hand back into the fountain. Then, scanning the horizon for other arrivals, almost as though she was expecting someone to pop out of the shadows, she continued. "The package. I do hope that it is still in perfect condition." She stretched out her gloved hand palm up towards the Itex Moon.

Perfect condition? Did she really think it would be just fine in this horrible rain? Well, she'd have to take it in the condition it was in, and if it was ruined, too bad. Still, she seemed rather... nervous? Like someone might arrive, even if neither party had told of the meeting. And she had been untrusting of Hanged Man in the chat room as well... Could it be that- No, people should know what betraying Itex would get them. But still, what was Hanged Man doing, and why was he not doing as told? What might make him so brazen? He had always seemed like a careful guy, not one to make enemies of his allies so easily. What had gotten into him? Right. This woman wanted the package. "It's a little wet, but other than that, it's in the state I received it in." The package was placed in her hand, Kaden's hand returned to his side, and he waited for his next set of instructions. And to be done with this blasted rain for now.

Taking it calmly, the woman nodded and slipped it inside her cloak. "Very well," she murmured, before a flash of silver from the fountain caught her attention. She turned towards the water, before her ungloved hand flashed outside with a fish in her sure grasp. It didn't take long before she had stabbed its head with her thumb and flicked it backwards on the ground. That done with, she addressed the Moon - allowing the hood on her cloak to slip slightly, and revealing a glimpse of red cloth. "Run through the complications. Details will make or break the case right now."

What? Fish? In the fountain? When had those arrived? Ah, well. It seemed this woman - what was that cloth? - she wanted to know about that battle. The other two who had arrived to mess everything up. "I had arrived at the pier and was waiting for Hanged Man and Hermit. And the contact, but those two first. They never arrived. Instead, a different pair did, each separately. The first attacked me immediately with some projectile, I - No, wait, I have it here." Kaden dug through his bag for his sketchpad, flipping through until it came to the page that Caine had drawn the projectile from.

"Something that looked like this. A feather. It made some keening, and it was obviously magic, a Mask user? Anyway, not long after, the second complication arrived. She had a gun, shot the two of us, and spoke of Masks as if she knew them. Another Mask user, perhaps? Maybe a third party, since the three of us fought one another, but no matter. I kept up the charade of ignorance, withholding my powers until either backup or the package-deliverer arrived. She arrived first, that messenger, with the package. She seemed to think she was the one who needed to know and pass on what was happening to the higher ups. But a messenger doesn't need that information, and I would tell you all that was required. Either way, she passed me the package, and I made my escape, though not before getting this injury... Darn complications and blasted backup. I never did find out... why didn't the two who were sent with me show up?" Maybe that last question was overstepping his bounds, but Kaden deserved to know. If they had been there, things would never have gone so poorly, and there wouldn't have been witnesses leaving the scene. Three could have beaten two Mask users, but not him alone. Would she answer? And, more importantly, did she even know the answer?

"A third-party," the woman sighed, ignoring the second section about the Hanged Man and the Hermit. "And a messenger that might have been compromised. What a shame." She seemed to find extreme interest in the sketchpad, leaning over to stare at the image intently. "Stil, Moon, you are to be commended for your work and attention to detail. This information will do Itex handy should they show up again." Once again, she deliberated for a mere moment, before slipping a hand in her cloak and pulling out the just-obtained package. Opening it up with quick, deft movements, she plunged one hand through the countless packing peanuts before pulling out a slip of paper. She read it, obviously displeased by its contents.

The true package is hidden in the yet unopened exhibit of the MTAH. Good luck finding it.

After this quick perusal, she brought her attention back to the Moon. "What were your motivations in joining Itex?"

Compromised? What was this about? The messenger? Was she maybe working with those defectors (that is, if that's what they were...)? Nothing was making any sense, except that things were not going as planned. This normally didn't happen... Whatever that slip of paper said, it wasn't what she wanted to read, and it probably had to do with that messenger being compromised. Why was Itex suddenly making these mistakes in planning, in caution, mistakes they hadn't before? But she was still Kaden's superior, and she had asked a question. "My motivations? I was... dissatisfied, with life in general. There wasn't much point, and I was bored. I didn't do what was expected, and people began to expect nothing of me. Then came my mask and, soon after, Itex. It was something to grab ahold of, something to do with my life, to make some difference, one way or another. It- I'm rambling, aren't I? Suffice to say, it was something that made me feel important. I felt I was actually doing something, you know? And things were actually beginning to change, little by little. Well, uh, that's it, I suppose. Nothing much, really." Gods, he was really sounding stupid, wasn't he?

"Interesting, Moon. Interesting," was all the woman had to say to this grand revelation. Even then, she mused over his statements calmly, before coming to a decision to go ahead with the true reason behind this clandestine meeting. Then, dropping her voice to a low whisper, she continued onwards. "I hope that I do not have to remind you that the details of this conversation are to remain secret from even your Itex comrades."

...and Kaden was making himself an idiot again, or so it felt. Whatever. What was said was said, moving on. Then, suddenly, after this longer pause, she was whispering. Things were to be secret? That reminder, again? Interesting things appeared to be happening here! Well, there wasn't much to do except find out what was to come, so in whispered reply: "Reminder noted." This conversation could go anywhere, but Kaden was likely to benefit from this. With Hanged Man out of the picture, was this a chance to move up in the rankings? Hanged Man had been getting more privileges, but with this recent failure... maybe things were looking up?

Hm... and here was the chance to go ahead. While she kept her voice lowered for secrecy, she made sure to carefully enunciate every word. It wouldn't do for him to miss what she had to tell him. "I am sure that it's come to your attention that there are certain failings within the Itex organization itself." Sure that she had caught his attention, she then stepped backwards, still facing him, but stopped talking. There was another gust of wind and the hem of her cloak blew up slightly, revealing signs of blue fabric.

Failings? So this was about the Hanged Man incidents? Or was there more? Still... how was one supposed to respond to something like this? What would be the expected response? Because giving anything besides the expected could be... troublesome. She seemed to be waiting for some response, the reason for this pause. Well, the apparent answer was Yes, so it was given. "Yes." But no more need be said, so no more was. Let her continue if she felt comfortable doing so. Kaden would listen.

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Image??? and Kaden Jannsen ; Cherry Grove Park

"Yes, indeed," she stated, extremely calmly, all the while slipping the package back into the folds of her cloak, not mentioning it or its displeasing contents. Now, with her hands free, she took the advantage to draw the hood more firmly down over her face. "Now, Moon," she said, addressing the boy carefully, "which of these problems have come to your attention?" She'd go further if she could, but at the moment, this was more than enough.

Problems? There had been a few. "A leader who neglects his duties and mission. Complications and third parties disrupting what should be secret meetings. A... compromised messenger, was it? To name a few. Yes, problems, those." Similarly to today, not all had gone perfectly in the past, but these were the most immediate of faults. At the very least, with his response, she might say more? Kaden paused again, to let this cloaked woman say what she would.

She seemed to find this interesting, tilting her head a fraction to the side. "Yes, those are issues. Interesting that they are the first that come to your mind." As she prepared to continue, a mechanical beeping started, and she retrieved a small, silver phone from her cloak. Looking at its screen for a single moment, she then turned her attention back to the Moon. "There are yet others which serve as the root of these complications. Other members of Itex itself."

That was a strange ringtone. Ah, wait, what had she just said? Members of Itex were the root of the complications? "I- I see..." That was... surprising, to hear someone admit that. Just what was going on? Deserters, disrupted missions, secret meetings, disorder and disorganization... but people seemed to be taking charge, and things could get very interesting. As long as Kaden didn't take the wrong side in whatever conflict arrived (for where else could this be headed?), he might have a chance to move up in Itex. It said something that this woman chose to talk to him. Either he had showed promise... or he was disposable. Either way, good work was normally rewarded, so it was best to take opportunity as it arrived.

Other than a slight movement of her head, the woman remained perfectly still before she started spinning her tale, but still made sure to keep her voice absolutely calm. "Itex has been led through thick and thin by a leader of uncommon grace and intelligence. But, there are some for whom the pursuit of power is more important than any of Itex's dreams. They have entwined themselves in the hierarchy, and have created problems in our organization. Moon, some of the problems that you have noticed have doubtlessly been as a result of their meddling. But now, they are no longer happy with merely messing up our operations, and have placed their eye on the ultimate prize." She paused to give her next words some emphasis, a little bit of emotion trickling through. "Itex itself."

"They mean to replace our most noble leader with one of themselves, twist the ideals of Itex, and destroy the organization for their own nefarious purposes. They mean to turn everything we hold dear into a laughingstock."

Kaden stood there, completely dumbstruck. It wasn't that it was completely unexpected; there was bound to be some explanation for Itex's recent mistakes. What was so surprising was that it was actually said, even to someone so low as him. How deep was this threat? A full-on rebellion? Replacing the leader with... someone else? Changing everything, destroying the organization, even? Or just adjust it, using- abusing the trust of lower-class Itex who would have no idea what was going on. Who were these people manipulating everything? And... had he helped them? Had they manipulated him through information unsaid, playing him on both sides of this internal war? What in the world was happening here? Kaden's mind was reeling, as he was trying to make any sense out of this. What were they doing? What had they done? What had he done? important was that package?

Still obviously surprised but recovered somewhat, Kaden finally got a few words out. "This- this can't be allowed. Destroying the- the very fabric of Itex? How? Who? I... yes, they must be stopped. But how?" His mind still couldn't make sense of the situation, but he could at least understand that he needed to help this woman. This organization had become his life, and letting it fall without putting up a fight... he couldn't do that.

"How, indeed," she murmured. "There are numerous solutions to this one issue, true. However, despite the horrible implications of such a... group, Moon, there is much to gain for remaining loyal to the Itex cause, if you would be able to keep yourself informed on the actions of those in your tier. There is always a chance that they have been corrupted by power, and it would do much good to exorcise these thoughts." Throughout this entire speech, the woman kept her voice soft - even though there were no other people in the park to hear her words.

"Yes..." Kaden had calmed down some, and his eyes had hardened as he considered what must be done, if it were to come to that. "Staying informed is often good, and corruption not. Now that I know, I can keep an eye out, see what I will. Do what I can. I suppose the chat is not so safe anymore... Keh." His mouth turned down in distaste; betrayers were the worst, and that his comrades had done so... they probably expected him dead, did they, so they could rise up even higher. Well, he was used to enemies, in some part. Just... these were more dangerous than those of the past...

She listened to what he had to say cautiously, before finally speaking herself. It seemed as though she was pleased by his answer, and her tone softened somewhat. "Moon, you may be correct about the chat's lack of security. Assuming that the events are as dire as they seem, the upmost amount of care is be utilized in all communication through the medium, as the rebels may use this to strike at Itex through yet more dangerous methods if otherwise."

Great. So nothing at all was safe. How in the world did the higher ups let this happen in the first place? Inadequate leaders, them... well, eventually things would change, and Kaden would help bring that change. He turned to ask a question, "Ah. Well then. How do you suppose - "

She turned around suddenly; the folds of her cloak flapped in the breeze as she raised one hand for her subordinant to be quiet. "No, Moon. Now is not the proper time for these questions. There shall be further communication in the future, but do make sure that your interests remain with Itex and should that not happen... there are a few complications that may occur." Then, without waiting for a reply, she walked off into the growing gloom, but not before a final word. "You are dismissed. Stay out of any tangles."

Kaden watched the woman leave with growing frustration. What was that last bit about? What had he done that made her think he'd, what... betray Itex or something? Whyever would he do something so crackbrained as that? He looked up into the dark sky, the rain still pouring down in the dark of night, now not making any difference. He was already soaked to the bone, and he'd likely catch a cold after all this was done. Nothing was going right for him, was it. First, that stupid Moon persona ignores the rain and leaves his umbrella in the theater, and who knows what happened to that expensive balloon... Then, only unexpected complications show up, for the blind Moon to deal with, himself. Now this woman brushes him off after a last-minute talk in the freezing rain. He couldn't get home fast enough...

Kaden trudged back to the subway station in the rain, not bothering about anything but hoping the warm and dry of inside would start getting him into a better mood. What a long night, and he hadn't even faced his parents yet!

He didn't realize it, but just as he had left the area, a certain pasty-skinned sorceror showed up. Twisting her fingers through the air, she pulled out a sparkling white feather and aimed it, whistling, through the air. It hit no one, and her displeasure was nearly obvious. Just where had that apprentice boy disappeared to after pulling his trick?

Still, it was growing late, so at long last, Crow ceased her wanderings around the now darkening Throme. Tomorrow would bring another clue... and she'd turn him into a human pincushion sooner or later.