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Lucas Toland

"Grace Stone... Itex... things have gotten so complicated..."

0 · 489 views · located in Throme

a character in “Masks of the Soul”, as played by Cienpher

Groups

The Student Council of Cenriel Academy

Description

Lucas Toland
Image


Grade
11th Grade

Role
The Masked King

Which Masks do they possess?
Twisted Emperor

Gender
Male

Age
16, turning seventeen later in the school year

Personality
Lucas is of a kind and cheerful nature to the point where some might call him naïve. Rarely does his words or actions hold any sort of malicious intent, and they always have a genuine quality to them. Lucas isn’t the sort to do things to earn someone’s favor, and only speaks or acts on things he truly believes in. That being said, it means he takes whatever he participates in very seriously – even his act as the president of the student council… well, in all honesty it isn’t quite an act, but it isn’t the whole truth either, evidently. However, this is where his organized and straightforward nature, along with his determination, comes in handy. When he has a job to do, he’ll usually get it done, whether that’s as the student council president, of the King of the Masked.

At the same time, he lacks confidence in himself, especially when he thinks about how his life has changed. Can he and the Masked, high school students, really bring down a massive organization like Itex, when they know near nothing about them? What was Torrings thinking when he gave him the Emperor’s mask? Did Lucas even have the right to take part in all this when he doesn’t even have a True Mask of his own?

The fact that Torrings left him the King, the leader, is an even more stressful factor. He’s only sixteen, yet he was expected to help take down Itex? Lucas thinks himself too indecisive, too compliant, too timid, and too incompetent to lead the others. He is also reluctant when there are members in the Masked as young as thirteen. Was it really the right thing to do… to let them take part in such a frightening act?

Well, despite his insecurities, something to credit him for is his ability to remain rational under most any circumstance. He prefers to rely on words and reason before any sort of drastic action is taken, and he takes the time to think through different solutions before resorting to more severe measures. Lucas can be relied on to keep his emotions in check and react appropriately to any situation, but in the rare moment he does get angry at someone, he will hold a grudge for a very long time. Although he is cheerful and kind, he is rather petty in some aspects. However, his emotional stability and rational nature changes in perilous situations, where sometimes his judgment is clouded by his drive to help others. He often neglects to think things through completely in high-pressure situations and relies on impulse instead. Sometimes he is not as observant as he could be, which leads to ill-chosen decisions. Another thing to keep in mind is that his self-confidence is easily bruised, even though he tries his best not to show it.


Brief Description
With soft red-amber hair and green eyes, Lucas Toland exhumes a rather comforting atmosphere about him. He has a fair complexion simply from the fact that he doesn’t tan or burn all too easily, but it may also stem from his aversion to hot sunny days… they’re too warm for his liking. Lucas is above average in height, but there are still many taller than him. His lean stature balances with his height nicely. He takes his role as the ‘Student Council President’ rather seriously, and always dresses appropriately – nothing too flashy or eye-catching, but comfortable and appealing enough. Given the choice, Lucas always chooses comfort over fashion. He can generally be seen with either a pleasant or timid smile on his face. Despite warnings not to, Lucas chooses to wear his Grace Stone fragment as a pendant of necklace around his neck. He normally keeps it tucked under his shirt, but he rarely takes it off.

Skill(s)/Abilities
Lucas is naturally competent when it comes to mathematics, and is able to make swift mental calculations with ease. When it comes to athletics, he is simply put, average – he is not an exceptional athlete, but he has significant stamina to make up for his lack of skill. He is more familiar and better with racquet sports than others, although clearly it is not to a professional level. He also happens to be a fair writer, but he has yet to show anyone his work – after all, it’s embarrassing. He thinks he is horrible at it when compared to Micah Faret anyway. On a different note, he is particularly good at memorizing directions and maps, so when visiting an unknown part of town, he is a good person to have at your side. He is a decent cook since his parents are often too busy to leave a meal out for him - however, he never works much on presentation, so the food always tastes better than it looks. Something important to note is that Lucas Toland is completely incapable of multitasking. If a such a situation should arise, very, very little will actually get done.


Likes
Sweets – anything but caramel, as long as it is sweet, Lucas will like it. When it comes to lollipops, he prefers the green apple flavored candies. For ice-cream, he likes chocolate chocolate-chip.

Fireworks – he loves seeing the night sky light up with brilliant colors. He wishes Throme had an annual fireworks festival or such.

Night Sky – at the same time, while Lucas likes fireworks, he also loves the natural starry sky… except the light pollution from urban Throme prevents him from seeing all that much. When he gets the chance, he’d like to go to a place far away from the city to see the Milky Way.

Fireflies – yes, once again related to the night, he likes to see the glow of fireflies in the quiet of the night. He has pleasant memories of firefly-filled summers.

Strategy games – he likes chess in particular, but he doesn’t consider himself very good. This is when he chooses to abuse the mask he has been given and has the Twisted Emperor play the game for him… after all, it is still him playing. Just a slightly altered version of him.

Micah Faret’s Novels – he loves them. Lucas thinks the author’s ideas are ingenious and original, and he greatly admires how easily the words paint an image of a fantasy world. If someone happens to ask, he would answer Micah Faret without hesitation.

Snow – he finds it soothing to watch it drift down, and Lucas still likes being the first to leave footprints in a field of white, untouched snow.



Dislikes
Spicy Foods – Lucas’s ability to consume spicy foods is very well near non-existent, so needless to say he can’t bring himself to enjoy it.

Disorganization – this is one of few times where he’ll actually get openly irritated and reprimand someone.

Heat – yes, summer vacation is nice with the free time and all, but the weather is too hot and humid for his liking… when the weather is warm, Lucas feels sluggish and lazier than usual.

Lies – he likes to think of himself as a trustworthy and friendly-seeming person. When he finds out that someone has lied to him, he cannot help but brood over why they would do that, and question himself and his own nature.

Itex – they killed his principal… his friend. Lucas can’t understand the cruel organization’s motives, but he is determined to find out.



Phobia
Fear of Failure – in particular, failing others and himself.

Fear of the number 328 – although it is not quite a fear, he associates the number with unfortunate events. Some negative event seems to happen whenever he happens to check a clock at 3:28… and the day that Arthur Torrings died was also March 28. It was the day that Lucas received the Emperor’s mask. As it turns out, it was also the day his uncle brought him the souvenir that was the Grace Stone fragment, although Lucas isn’t completely sure whether this is a negative happening or not.



History
Lucas grew up in a relatively normal family as an only child, but he was largely influenced by his wanderer of an uncle. His uncle was a strange man who seemed to travel to all the exotic corners of the world. When Lucas was ten years old, his uncle journeyed to the ruins of an ancient civilization, bringing back a souvenir – a simple shard of stone as the pendant of a necklace. Now that he thinks back on it, Lucas isn’t at all sure what fascinated him about the plain rock so much when he was little… but now he keeps it as a memento. Shortly after giving his nephew the necklace gift on March 28, the man passed away. In the memory of his dearly eccentric uncle, Lucas wore the necklace wherever he went all throughout his middle school years. In ninth grade, he transferred from a public school to Cenriel Academy upon trying and passing the entrance exam. However, before the first week of school was up… he was assaulted. Lucas had been walking to the bus stop, taking a quicker route through Cherry Grove Park, when he encountered the strangest figure – floating in the air with eyes that shone in darkness. He would have died that day had not the principal of his school happened to be there. Torrings walked him home, and Lucas had hoped that would be the last of such an incident… how wrong he was. By the end of the week, Lucas suddenly found himself a part of a so called ‘student council’… with three other students. Torrings explained various things that didn’t make sense at the time, but things all became clear eventually… Over the course of one year, Torrings taught the student council, or what he called the Masked, about Itex, about the Grace Stone, about the masks both false and true… and then in March the next year, he died.

Shortly afterwards, during a time of confusion, the Masked were approached by a woman called Liesel Moringmer. She claimed to be friend to Arthur Torrings and their ally… and soon after that, the Masked found themselves fighting with some strange masked agents of Itex. Nothing was ever to be the same…

Now, what of Lucas’ parents? Well, his father and mother work for separate corporate organizations. Although both businesses’ headquarters are in Throme, their occupations require several long-term business trips across the world. Although initially reluctant when Lucas was young, now that he’s grown up, his parents feel more at ease leaving him at home alone… if only they knew…


Crush
None for now

Other
Lucas thinks of Liesel as a rather intimidating woman who is going to die early from smoking too much.

So begins...

Lucas Toland's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Dante Toseletti
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Lucas Toland; Cherry Grove Park


The autumns of Throme were always so refreshing – at least, that was Lucas’ opinion. The air was crisp, and the temperature was just right for his liking. The trees were always decorated with the most vivid of colors, making Cherry Grove Park as much of a spectacle as it was in the spring. Lucas was sitting on the grass, in a patch of fading green free of the dry, crackling leaves scattered about the park. The teacher’s lecture on the significance of the park faded into a dull hum as the boy fiddled with his cell phone. Every now and then, he anxiously glanced up to make sure the teacher wasn’t looking his way or talking about something they hadn’t already covered. In truth, Lucas felt somewhat guilty – after all, as the supposed president of the ‘student council’, he was supposed to be setting an example… but he was contacting someone rather important as well. It was times like this when he wished he could concentrate on multiple tasks at once…

"Liesel, are you sure about this? Where’d you get the information?" Even over text messages, Lucas was rather particular about proper grammar. The phone vibrated quietly in his hand when the reply came.

"When ur an adult, kid, Ill let u know. Meet u brats @ the greenhouse 2day." The recipient of his messages, however, was clearly freer with her text messaging abilities. Lucas scowled in slight disapproval… really, he’d expected that as a scientist and an adult, Liesel would be a little more careful with these sort of things. Then again, the scientist always did exceed his expectations in the least approvable manner – at the thought of the happenings the irresponsible adult sparked in the past nine months, Lucas sighed… just the thought of it tired him out…

Then, hastily, Lucas sent a quick reply of affirmation before smiling at Ms. Lyall, who mentioned something about a scavenger hunt of sorts. It seems the other teacher, Mr. Bowning, had dismissed his class before hers. Seeing as Lucas hadn’t listened, he was a little at a loss for what to do. He concluded that the best course of action would be to do what the others did… and wandered off along with a couple other students. After all, he needed to find the other members of the Masked and tell them what Liesel said. However, there were quite a number of people in the class, and a surprising number of unfamiliar faces. It was only the first week of the school year, but Lucas hoped to be able to put names to faces by the end of day. Was there anyone… he didn’t recognize?

He noticed Gage wander off to a small alcove of trees – from the looks of it, settling down for a nap, so Lucas decided to stop by him later. A bunch of people had shuffled towards the growing crowd near Fountain Square, trying to see what all the fuss was about, but he couldn’t see any of the Masked there… although there were some familiar faces, such as Jeanne Haden or Kato Kobayashi… a girl that Lucas vaguely remembered as… Oskana? The problem with being in the ‘student council’ was that he didn’t have the time to actually get to know his peers. Maybe for now, since he had a rare bit of spare time, he should take the chance to meet new people?...

There were far too many to approach though… and that’s when Lucas noticed a lone figure beneath a tree. The sunlight streamed through the branches and crimson leaves, creating an atmosphere of ambience around the area. The boy sitting in that space seemed preoccupied by a book. ’It must be a rather interesting one if he’s so absorbed,’ Lucas mused. ’Perhaps one of Micah Faret’s works?’ If so, Lucas had probably read it before. Deciding to take the chance, he cautiously approached this unfamiliar boy… and then tried, “Hey, what’re you reading?”

The setting changes from Throme to Cherry Grove Park

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Dante Toseletti
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Lucas Toland; Cherry Grove Park


Lucas’ gaze flickered towards the small box that this boy took out from his bag. Although it was just a normal box – nothing out of the ordinary about it, it piqued his curiosity. ’I wonder what’s inside it.’ he found himself wondering. However, at the same time, he felt that it would be rather rude to just suddenly ask – after all, it seemed that this boy didn’t seem the talkative type. Lucas winced internally – perhaps he shouldn’t have approached? The boy did seem pretty absorbed in this book, Entwined. ’I ought to browse the school’s library a little later,’ Lucas noted to himself. The boy then marked his page before setting both the book and box into his backpack. A brief introduction and extension of the hand was all it took to put Lucas at ease.

“Ah – yes, I wasn’t aware you knew of me,” Lucas said, slightly relieved as he lightly shook the boy’s hand. “I’m Lucas Toland. It’s nice to meet you, Dante,” he chimed with a smile. Perhaps the Dante didn’t mind the company as much as he had thought. “Yeah, Throme’s a great place,” he added. ’On the surface at least…’ Of course, Lucas knew all about the darker side of the city... the shadowy part to it that most people didn’t even know existed. He hoped that it would stay that way to this new student as well. Life was so much easier when everything seemed bright.

And there he was going off on negative tangents. “So, uh… if you need help with school-related things or just getting around the city, I’m available. My phone number’s on the directory listing if you need it,” Lucas added. As if to prove his point, his phone buzzed in his pocket. “Sorry, just a moment,” he mumbled as he fished the device out, quickly tracing a pattern to unlock the screen. Once again, it was none other than Liesel.

‘oi isn’t school over yet?‘ Lucas frowned at this – really, as an adult, she ought to be more patient.

‘We’ll be dismissed in thirty minutes. We’ll meet you at the green house then.’ Really, Liesel had impeccable timing. She just had to contact him when he finally made an attempt to get to know the newer students. 'Student Council' duties always got in the way... "I'm really sorry about this, but it seems someone else needs my assistance," Lucas sighed with an apologetic smile. "I'm really sorry! If you need anything, feel free to ask any of us in the student council!" he called before running off.

Really, where were those other Masked members? It was times like these that a wide park could be troublesome...

The setting changes from Cherry Grove Park to Throme

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Zensa Valobo Character Portrait: Sanya Ruse Character Portrait: Aki Evedane Character Portrait: Dante Toseletti
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Sanya Ruse; Cherry Grove Park


Mr.Browning was being an idiot. School was easy for Sanya - there is no doubt about it. Well, at least to her, that is. Her friends, no - her court, giggled at his strangely excitable state, all waving hands and mindless prattle. She whispered to her friend on her left, shooting a glance towards the girl who normally wore skirts, Oskana, close by, “Any new gossip floating around?” Gossip was the lifeblood of Sanya, and the one thing that she was completely interested in. Throme was all fun and games anyways...

The girl gave Sanya a smile, happy at the attention from the Queen of Cenriel Academy. Her eyes shone with mirth as she rattled off the gossip that she had collected. “Of course. Evedane has come to school with an extra injury, and Haden hasn’t been able to make any friends lately - although there seems to be something different in her expression lately…”

Ruse gave a sad smile. “Really? That’s too bad then,” she looked at the girl, Haden, with pitying eyes as her mind turned this over. ‘Evedane was caught up in more Mafia activities, and over-achiever, bossy Haden hasn’t met anyone who would even bear her presence for a few days. Of course. Everything was just as excepted.’ “Maybe, you could be her friend,” she said with a smile, as though the thought had just occurred to her. “I mean, it’s horrible that someone would be excluded from the rest of the school like that. I can’t think of anyone who would deserve from treatment, you know?” She grimaced mentally, when she heard her own sickly-sweet words pour out of her mouth, but playing with her court was fun after all.

The girl grimaced, but the Queen’s word was final . “As you wish, Ruse. And, of course, the Vice President -,”

Ruse cut her off sharply. “Don’t mention that upstart. She thinks of herself as the Queen - and everyone knows just how she’s striving for my position!” This was one of the few things that she would cause her to allow her thorns to show… she was all sheathed claws most of the time… “Anyways, what do you know about the paparazzi over there?”

The girl looked and with a couple of swipes on her phone, she looked at Sanya’s blue eyes. “The mayor is here to give a speech about the new-coming statue. On that note, Damon Ito has a rehearsal tonight - .”

Sanya gave a small smile at this, before looking down at her purse. “Right!” She took out two white tickets, before looking at the girl, with a disarmingly large smile. “My father gave me a few tickets for the rehearsal - they’re opening it up for VIPs… who should I take with me?”

“What about Dave? Weren’t you two together?”

“Nah, we broke up a few days ago… His complete obedience was boring, although I have to admit that he was cute.”

“Then why don’t you get another knight? Someone who’ll shake it up a little?”

Sanya Ruse thought hard about this idea, and brightened up slightly. “Ooooh, I could always have some fun with that?”

The girl smiled slightly, before looking at the new boy. “What about him? He’s one of the few that hasn’t been graced with your attention yet?”

“Dante? The new boy?” With a smile, the self-proclaimed Queen of Cenriel Academy left the class, ignoring the teachers who was muttering something about a scavenger hunt. “He’ll become my knight, no matter what.”

Watching the brown-haired boy sit down and start reading a book, Ruse pat down her blond locks, and motioned towards her court to follow her. But, alas, her plans didn’t yet come to fruit as someone got there before she did. A certain someone - Toland of the Student Council. Ruse gave a sigh of irritation before leaving the scene. Watching others interact was never for her as she was the center after all. It was then that something caught her attention. With a smile, she strode off towards the Jazz Band - the one who was playing the saxophone surely sounded much better than usual.

Upon arriving at the scene, she saw the silver-haired Zensa Valobo in all his saxophone glory. Nudging a random girl of her court, she motioned towards him. “What do you think or him?” The lady of the court’s blue eyes stared innocently into Ruse’s as she nodded towards him again. “He’s hot, isn’t he?” The girl blushed violently, dropping her head. Sanya nudged her, with a knowing smile, “Come on! Get up there and ask him out!”

That slight bit of manipulating done, Sanya returned to see if her soon-to-be knight was ready to be graced with her presence. The pesky president had left to do something - what it was, didn’t matter - but at the very least it left her newest acquisition alone. Approaching the boy, Dante, with a cheerful smile, she gave a friendly greeting. “Hey, you’re Dante, right? I’m Sanya Ruse, Ruse for short. It’s wonderful that you’ve moved to Throme.” She sat down next to the boy, before placing her hand over the words of his book. “That won’t do…” she murmured to herself, before making an attempt to snatch the book from his grasp. “Now that you’re completely focused on me, the true fun will begin now.”

She licked her lips quickly, before turning to Dante with a wide smile. Her blue eyes held a touch of pride and mystery, at least to her, and she, then, tossed her golden locks. “You see… I am the Queen of Cenriel Academy, and all the queens of history have had a knight at their side…” her voice trailed off, as she folded her legs neatly to her left side, “and of course, who better than you to be mine?” She picked up one manicured hand, with pale pink fingernails, and gently stroked his hair. He was cute, after all.

The setting changes from Throme to Cherry Grove Park

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Aki Evedane Character Portrait: Oskana Sonnen
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Aki Evedane; Cherry Grove Park


The girl looked into his blue eyes with hers, before she started to lecture at him. ‘So…she’s not going to ask me these things?’ “To live in the interest of others? Is that what you have dedicated your public life to? Your apathy is hypocritical.” Aki could not bring himself to react to these comments, as they’ve come completely out of the blue for him. He could no nothing but to continue looking at the slight girl before him. “You,” it was then that she prodded Aki’s chest with one hand, “do not think any more of my thoughts than I think of yours. Everyday you walk through the halls of school with rumors starting like wildfire every time you take a step, and you ignore as if it were a gnat,” ‘an annoying gnat’. “I have to say, that could be counted as an admirable quality, being stoic.”

Oskana continued with her lecture, as Aki could do nothing but stare at her, his ears and mind working double-time. His fists slowly relaxed from their clenched state, but still a thread of anger still remained. “But. But you try nonetheless. As awkward as it was, you still offered me apologies and assistance; both of which I’ve accepted because they were an attempt at kindness. I couldn’t care less if you work for the Mafia or whatever, even with all your bandages. Being in the Mafia or having tons of ultra-cool scars doesn’t make a person interesting.” Strangely enough, even though her hands were waving through the air as though conduction some kind of musical ensemble, her voice was still light. Wait, what does she mean? . . . I don’t understand… what does she mean? I’ve never tried to be kind to her - she must be taking it the wrong way.’ This bewilderment caused him to be unable to do anything at all, stuck at looking at her with a strange expression on his face. Out of the corner, of his eye, he saw Coraline - the Vice President, waving her hand at him. Promptly ignoring that, he turned his attention back to this enigma of a person - Oskana.

She started to look towards the ground, probably embarrassed. There came to be a lull in the conversation, and Aki did not know how to get rid of the suddenly awkward pause. Just when he was about to speak, the wind started to blow. The pesky thing grabbed the words out of Oskana’s mouth. And, being the immature and overly-excited messenger that it was, it tripped and flung Oskana’s words in a warped state. “You ------- never in------- to--.” With that said, she pivoted on her feet and left, leaving Aki stuck in a state of confusion.

Aki started forward on his feet, towards her, one arm outstretched… before shaking his head and dropping the outstretched hand. ‘I’m not supposed to care that much - no, I’m not supposed to care at all. It’s just her opinion, who cares?’ But even that attempt to persuade himself to ignore Oskana failed utterly. He continued to look at her retreating back with a slight frown on his face. ‘Just exactly what is she thinking? And what did she mean? You never into? … Into what?

It was then that a voice decided to interrupt his reverie. “Excuse me, Aki!” shouted Lucas Toland. Aki turned towards him, watching in silence as the slightly older boy ran towards him. Then, he, too, gestured with his hands and asked with haste, “Have you seen Coraline Starling? If you know her that is.” Aki looked at him, before arranging his features into a calm, collected smile, but his emotions were anything but. As an answer to the fellow junior’s question, he waved one hand towards the direction of where he had last seen Coraline. “The Vice-President was somewhere over there, Lucas,” he said quietly. “A few minutes ago,” he added as an afterthought, before turning away from Lucas. It was then that he realized who exactly he was talking to - the Student Council President, and one of those Maskies. ‘Shoot. If he finds out about my mask… I’m doomed.’ He looked back at the brown-haired boy and gave another attempt at a smile, although his eyes still remained annoyed. ‘Just please, please, go away…

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaden Jannsen Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Coraline Starling Character Portrait: Aki Evedane Character Portrait: Misaki Bijou Roux
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Kaden Jannsen; Cherry Grove Park


A scream jolted Kaden out of his trance, moving his pen slightly, messing up the picture that was appearing on the paper line by line, color by color. It was yet another new character, one without a name. A young girl with onyx hair and almost translucent skin. She was frozen in the light of the sun, shock and fear fixed on her face. But that one line made a difference. That line changed her background, the houses now uneven, crooked. And that was not what he wanted. Now it had changed, become something different. So he would have to draw it again later.

What really concerned him right now was the scream. It wasn’t far away, so he should be able to see who caused it. Looking around, he saw Misaki, Lucas and Aki in a group. Obviously not them. There were a few other people around that he didn’t recognize, and they all seemed to be going along their merry way, some glancing around in confusion before resuming their stride.

But over there, against the tree, was there someone on the ground? Yes, that Coraline girl, the one always coughing up blood. And who was that old man in front of her? She looked extremely panicked, scared of whoever this man was. There was definitely something wrong there. And Kaden wanted to know what.

Quickly packing up, Kaden started walking quickly over to her, painting in hand. She was coughing uncontrollably. And then she mouthed one word. One word that was unmistakable in its urgency. “Help.” Knowing for sure that something was wrong, he burst into a run and quickly reached her, kneeling down to the ground immediately.

“Are you okay? What’s wrong? Can I do anything to help?”

The setting changes from Cherry Grove Park to Throme

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaden Jannsen Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Coraline Starling Character Portrait: Aki Evedane Character Portrait: Misaki Bijou Roux
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Aki Evedane; Cherry Grove Park


While he was waiting for Lucas to leave him alone, he spotted that girl - also a member of the student council getting closer to where they were. They were surely ganging up on him, what a bother this was. But strangely enough, instead of stopping and then talking like any normal person, she proceeded to bump into Lucas, knocking him hard on his side. “Ow…” he muttered, shooting upright, holding his elbow gingerly.

“Lucas?” asked the strange girl. Her hair was blond - ah, that girl, what was her name? Mis? Whatever it was, she wasn’t a very necessary interruption. He had already been bothered enough for his patience.

“Misaki, I was just looking for you, Lie -,” Here his voice cut off as he glanced at Aki. “Leader duties. We have a Student Council meeting, and we’re late.” So that’s why he was asking about Queenie before - those maskies needed to meet up. Here, Aki sobered quickly, although no trace of it appeared on his countenance. What if the meeting dealt with him - it would be horrible for him to be found out after months of hiding.

His phone rang then, just as Aki was going to remark about the strange pause. The Maskies couldn't be doing something about - him, were they? He quickly obtained it from his pocket, before continuing to talk to Misaki. “Yeah, so we really ought to hurry. Do you see Coraline anywhere? I already talked to Gage.”

It was then that he pressed a button on his phone and a loud voice - well, noise, he couldn’t really hear what it was - started to emit from the technological device. Luckily, there was no keychain, if such a disturbing object could possess such a small and useless name. With a sheepish smile, the Kingpin left, clutching his phone.

Taking that to be his cue to leave, Aki turned away from the scene, hoping that he would be able to simply sneak back home.

A scream suddenly caught his ear, and he twirled around to see Queenie coughing on the ground. Looking in shock, he saw that Writer-Want-To-Be, Kaden, by her side, attempting to help her. Ah, so the problem could be counted solved. Not to mention, Lucas and Misaki were here after all. They had to do something to earn their student council position anyways. And thus, Aki walked away from the girl who was coughing up blood. It didn’t concern him in any way, anyways. There were people who could deal with the issue there anyways.

The setting changes from Throme to The Greenhouse

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Coraline Starling Character Portrait: Gage Vandergear Character Portrait: Dante Toseletti Character Portrait: Misaki Bijou Roux
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The Greenhouse


The dysfunctional beeping of the watch continued, as a woman wearing a terrifying smile continued to stare at the students in the greenhouse. She ignored the exits of two of the children and the question of the older boy, to point her attention towards Lucas.

“Get on with it, Lucas,” she stated, clicking the now useless lighter, and placed the tray of tea she was holding on the table. “I’m sure that the b- kid wouldn’t want you to be wasting his time.” Her amber eyes glowered at the brown-haired boy - there was still the contents of the message to get to. Another colorful word almost escaped her mouth, but she stopped herself just in time.

Maybe that brat was Itex.

No, he couldn’t be. Not if he was willing to show her his mask. Itex wouldn’t have allowed him to do such a thing. It was lucky that she’d found him before they did - with their sweet promises of a granted wish, he would have been sucked away into the ranks of the enemy. He was lucky too. The Itex were no place for a child - even a brat like him.

“Well,” said Lucas hesitantly. “These masks appear for some people, and they transform the wearer.” He shot a look at Liesel, as though waiting for a cue, and she merely widened her smile. Ignoring the small tingle down his spine at that obviously fake smile, he continued. “There’s another organization out there named Itex, which is trying to collect these masks. We’re the only ones out here that can take them down. There’s also a Grace stone, which Itex is going after - and with them being who they are, they could end up trying to destroy the entire world. Um...”

Liesel quickly cut him off, before shooting all the members still in the greenhouse, other than the newbie, a glance. “Alright, now that the introduction is over, you guys can get down to your job. Get yourselves downtown to the roof of Sagaro Mall. There will be a package there, and you had better get your hands on it. Now, get out of here, br - students.”

Then, placing the cup back on the table, she all but pushed Lucas out of the greenhouse, before turning to look at the new brat. “You’ll learn faster by acting,” she said abruptly. “The others know what to do, just get over there.”

The setting changes from The Greenhouse to Throme

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Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Coraline Starling Character Portrait: Gage Vandergear
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The All-Seeing Eyes of Nivosity (Narrator) ; Throme


The eyes blinked - two brown eyes that looked over the affluent and influential city of Throme. The gaze alighted on the grassy campus of Cenriel Academy, and further focused in on the greenhouse. After being pushed out of the greenhouse by the irate Liesel, still wearing her mask of a smile, the student council slowly meandered its way to the entrance of the school.

“Student council folks?” asked the security guard, before opening the gate of the school, and waving them a cheery good-bye. “Good luck. Hope you were all productive during your meeting.”

Pushing forward the time on that scenario with something akin to indifference, the narrator watched as the students made their fast-forwarded way to the roof of Sagaro Mall, the center of all things social. Here they could do anything they wished to: watch a movie, ice skate in the rink, or even play games in the arcade. But this time, the student council were here for more pressing matters. Liesel had sent them on another reckless visit to retrieve something that might be possibly related to Itex.

Not as though any of these previous pressing matters of Liesel’s had turned up anything interesting.

Riding up the glass elevators up to the roof, the student council managed to catch a glimpse of the amazing night-life of Throme. It was already maybe 7 PM, and the sun had already set maybe 10 minutes before. On the roof, there were still a few families enjoying themselves in Children’s Playground of Spades, but many of the mothers had already bundled their children inside, in fear of catching a cold. On the other side, Suna’s Stargazing Observatory was just opening its doors to the first people who wished to catch a glimpse of the early stars. The strangely enigmatic owner of the observatory, Suna, stood outside her observatory, collecting tickets calmly from those that entered her dome.

The last point of interest of this roof was the Rooftop Rose Gardens - and there were quite a number of couples either wandering the garden or watching the view together. A strange person in a grey hood was leaning against one of the white garden benches, looking at nothing in particular. Sometimes, a heavy sigh escaped from his mouth, as he kept glowering at his watch.

The setting changes from Throme to Floor 1

Setting

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Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Aki Evedane
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Lucas Toland, Aki Evedane; Sagaro Mall, 1st Floor


While the others had rushed through the elevator to the roof, Lucas found himself lagging behind. Instead, he found himself dawdling by the entrance, taking in the sights around him. Why? He wasn't sure. Liesel's instructions had been clear. Get to the rooftop. Get what Itex wanted. Itex, Itex, could they really stand up to such an organization when they knew nothing about it? If Liesel knew, she wasn't telling.

Sagaro Mall - Lucas himself didn't visit often at all, for the merchandise was too expensive for his budget. However, even he knew its popularity for its recreational facilities. It was evident even then from the swarms of people shuffling to and from the escalators. Friday evenings in particular, were prone to crowds. "I'm wasting time," he told himself, shaking his head to concentrate. He had a task at hand, an important role to play. With that, he pressed onwards, sifting through the crowds of people - however, something else caught his attention, or rather, alarmed him.

People murmured, stared, and hurried away at the sight of something Lucas couldn't quite see. Peering around the forms of other curious strangers, he could barely make out a vaguely familiar figure. Someone who he had talked to just earlier that day. "Aki?" he called, stepping forward. That was most certainly, his classmate... and he was bleeding profusely from his leg. "What happened to you?" Lucas exclaimed, concern overriding any and all thoughts of Liesel's orders. Yes, Aki Evedane slightly wounded and wrapped in bandages was a common sight at Cenriel academy, and he had often heard the rumors of some form of gang activity from his peers. However, it was the first time Lucas could recall ever seeing him in such a severely injured state. The other boy seemed pale and weak, despite the icy glare - the reason no one would approach to help.

Aki's gaze snapped upwards towards the brown-haired boy with a chilling disregard. "Does this have anything to do with you?" His voice came out calm, and controlled, with the slightest bit of a wobble as the increasing flow of blood caused his vision to run. He hobbled onwards, ignoring the curious, and slightly worried looks of the people who were peering at him like he was some sort of exhibit. It didn't matter, anyways. Soon he would get to the shop he was aiming for, and everything would be as good as new. His eyes narrowed when his sluggish mind realized that he was speaking to the Kingpin. "Lucas, I will be perfectly fine." There could be no way that he would tell the boy anything. That meeting, could it have been the Maskies at work? His voice harsher, he continued, "Leave."

Lucas flinched at the words - clearly his help was unwanted... but the boy's injuries were clearly severe. Red stains were slowly creeping along the length of unravelling bandages. Despite the calmness of his voice, Aki's unsteady gait gave him away. Lucas couldn't just let him alone like that. "You look half dead - this is serious! This isn't something you can just wave off like this."

Despite his efforts into chasing the almost irritating Kingpin away from him, the Kingpin continued to fuss over his wounds. It wasn't as though they were seriously - he might remember sometime where he had been similarily hurt. His mind running a blank, he forced a smile, as he turned his face slightly towards the shorter boy. "It's just usual for me, K-." His teeth bit down sharply as he realized that he had just almost allowed his nickname to slip through. K... K.... Nothing would come to his mind to cover up his slip, and he mentally groaned. Just what he needed, a slow-moving brain. "I'll be alright in no time." Another dizzy spell, and one hand lifted to massage at his forehead. His eyelids felt heavy - he had almost forgotten how his painkillers would do that to him.

Fortunately for him, Lucas didn't pick up on the slip of the tongue. He was too concerned with how to get Aki medical attention, and fast. What could he do? Despite himself, Lucas found thoughts of his mission weighing on his mind. The roof... what was going on at the roof? Immediately he felt ashamed. A person was dying in front of him, although the injured denied it, and he was worried about blindly following pointless orders. Well, perhaps not pointless, but if Liesel didn't let him know about anything, how was he supposed to know what to do? Besides that, all this blood reminded Lucas of... 'Mr. Torrings...' "I'm telling you this is not alright. This is anything but alright! You need to get to a hospital!"

Aki would have rolled his eyes if he could have been able to. His left leg touched the ground at an awkward angle, and he stumbled forward. He muttered a choice word under his breath, as he looked at the Kingpin through new eyes. Maybe he would be helpful? But even so, his pride wouldn't allow him to be seen relying on someone else - he had been training anyways. This should be easy for him. Another dizzy spell later, and he was already regretting his obstinacy. "Arturia," he mumbled at the Kingpin, hoping that he would understand. Arturia... the storefront just beyond his reach. He could see the owner looking there with his dark eyes... and then... he... couldn't quite see.

Lucas panicked when Aki seemed to stumble blindly, and reached out to support him by the shoulders. He was heavier than Lucas had expected, and he nearly fell with the wounded boy. "Arturia?" Lucas echoed, confused. Was he supposed to know what that meant? Was it just a delirious word? He looked around for some form of help, but most of the customers at the mall seemed to shy away, not wanting to get involved. It was probably the second time that Lucas had ever felt repelled by the common mindset of the city people. Then he saw it - just ahead, there was an unusual store, a pharmacy. Written above the polished windows was in simple lettering, "Arturia".

That was it.

"A hospital would be better," Lucas murmured to himself, but he knew he very well wasn't going to make it to one carrying an unconcious Aki around. A pharmacy was a decent substitute. Half carrying, half dragging the injured boy to the door of the store, Lucas heaved the door open with his shoulder. A bell hanging from the edge of it rang as he entered. "Excuse me," he called. Desperation was clear in his tone. "We need help!"

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Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Aki Evedane
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Vault ; Arturia - Floor 1 [Sagaro Mall]


A man looked around, before taking a brush and attacking his neat hair, before it was sticking up, just as he liked it. He walked, no, pranced around his building, with a careful eye checking the shelves to make sure that everything was still there. Humming a catching tune, he glanced around at the commotion that was going on before his shop front. Sensing that it had little to do with him - he looked up, catching the weak blue gaze of his favorite friend! Whose name was… A-Achy Every Dude? That sounded about right. He continued to prance around his shop, before a light tinkling bell caught his attention.

Now where did that nauseating sound come from…

His irritated eyes glanced up at the golden object that the officials of this Soggy Roll had forced him to put up, ignoring his beautifully innovative pots and pans that had been there before. Maybe he should get rid of it - it was a democracy after all. He could do anything whatsoever he wanted. Hmm. Yes, as soon as he had gotten rid of the bell, he would be able to get back to the way he wanted his shop to be portrayed.

Excuse me. We need help!” called a young student, whom he had missed coming into his building. Ignoring him, and his favorite customer, Achy Every Dude, he continued to look thoughtfully up at the bell. A slight silence followed the dramatic entrance of the student. “Yes, that’s it. A hammer. Or a baseball bat.” Then, finally turning in the direction of the new boy, he smiled at Achy. He looked a bit paler than usual, but that was just to be expected. Red splotches were all over his body.

Maybe he had turned into a vampire.

Or the red stuff was ketchup.

Seeing at the student was in such a hurry, he should hurry up and help them. But he wanted to do whatever he wanted. Only those who mindlessly followed the orders of other people would have helped him immediately. Vault, for, yes, that was his name, looked at the boy, and with purposely elongated vowels, started to drawl out his opening speech. “Arturia,” his speech was indued with a slight accent, “is a heavenly pharmacy that exists in a mall named Soggy Roll.”

He peered around at Achy - he seemed to not be cutting him off as usual. How droll. It was only fun to watch him try to hurry him up with his irritated glowers. Fine, then, he would continue. “Now then - if you should be suffering from some unknown disease, you might have some knightly help here.” With an over-the-top gesture towards the fully stocked shelves, he made a mock knightly bow before standing upright. He had never gotten to this stage before in front of Achy, but it didn’t seem as though he was throwing a fit as usual.

He paused again, before realizing that his favorite customer’s head was lolling, and didn’t quite seem to be alive. Then, with an indignant frown, he turned towards the other student. “A body? You bought me a body for my birthday? I used to like that kid... Do you think he’d make a good advertisement? Something about zombies would be good, no? Maybe if we made him more purple-colored?” He dug in his pocket, and took out a handful of smelling salt. Placing the strong-smelling concoction under Aki’s nose, he waited there for a few moments. “I’m not going to work with a smelly body - especially if that’s ketchup I spy all over him,” he muttered as though trying to explain his actions.

Vault continued to stand there, watching the salt with interested eyes. Then with a cough, the limp body of Achy suddenly started to move. “You gave me a zombie?” Vault’s dark eyes brightened as he walked closer to the student, before opening his arms wide. “You’re so nice!”

WIth a sudden intake of breath, Aki gingerly removed his arm from Lucas, and stood by himself, albeit a little shakily. “Shut up, Vault,” he muttered. “Your annoying voice woke me up.”

The man only gave a shrug in return, before a wide smile arranged itself over his features. “It talks too!” Then, he bounced over to his shelves, and pulled out a large red hammer. “Now, zombie, take this amazingly beautiful thing and wander around Soggy Roll -.”

“Sagaro.” If Aki had the energy, this statement would have been accompanied with a rolling of the eyes and an irritated sigh.

“Soggy Roll and scare the living lights out of everyone, so they’ll run around amok.” Ignoring him, Vault continued on with his thoughts, before trying to shove the red hammer into Aki’s hand.

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Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Aki Evedane
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Lucas Toland; Sagaro Mall, 1st Floor


Well it was all good and well that Aki was on his feet again – Lucas was relieved for that. However, he couldn’t help but question his decision to bring the injured boy here to this… elderly man. Lucas was at a loss for what to do, and could only watch the strange and admittedly humorous scene unfold with a blank expression. Was it alright for him to leave? No, but he couldn’t just leave Aki for himself when he was half dead just moments ago.

Although he knew it was rude, Lucas couldn’t help but worry about leaving Aki with this man, who seemed to find some importance in giving an injured boy a hammer to wave about. Was it really the best decision to leave Aki here with him? Well, the store itself did seem to be a pharmacy, but that didn’t quite assure Lucas that the rambling man was the pharmacist. To put it mildly, the elderly man seemed a little off the wall… And Aki wasn’t quite in the right state of mind or best condition when he mumbled Arturia – Lucas might have heard him wrong, or he could have meant for them to avoid the shop. Endless possibilities. The only comforting thing about this situation as that Aki seemed to know this elderly man.

Eventually, Lucas mustered the sense to ask, “Excuse me, could you please give him some medical attention? You said this was a pharmacy right?” He said, reaching for his pocket. “If you need money for the supplies, I can pay at least part of i – ” Lucas never finished his sentence when instead of bills, his fingers found his now buzzing cell phone. Who could it be at a time like this? A glance at his screen told him the obvious answer: Liesel.

He stared for a few moments at the flickering name on the screen, tempted to ignore it. Really, she always made such a big deal about these missions and had nothing to show for all the ‘information’ she gathered. He had little expectations from this task as well. Even still, the stone pendent around his neck, tucked beneath his shirt was reminder enough that at the very least, this whole thing wasn’t a joke. He gave a weak smile to Aki and the elderly man. “I’ll just take this call,” he said before stepping outside.

Immediately, he brought the phone to his ear, and before he could even sigh, Liesel’s voice rang out, asking countless questions on what the situation was, what was going on, and various other things that Lucas had no answers to. “Sorry, Liesel, I’m not at the roof yet,” he explained. “There was an incident and I need a way to hide the blood on my shirt – ”

“Blood? Is it yours?” Lucas was surprised at the hint of concern in her tone.

“No, but – ”

“Then it doesn’t matter. Get to the roof, now! No one cares about a little bit of blood!” Well, it wasn’t necessarily a ‘little bit’ of blood, but Lucas knew there was no arguing with Liesel. Really, he thought not causing a scene was more important than some package they weren’t even sure existed or not… and although he started towards the elevator, he decided to speak his mind. Liesel reacted with the expected negativity.

“Do you still not understand exactly what it is you’re doing?”
“Yes, I understand that this is important, but we’re not even sure if that package exists!”
“This time we’re sure – ”

“Like we were the last eight times, but what do we have to show for it?” Lucas demanded as he rounded the escalators. He saw up ahead, an elevator begin to close its doors. Dashing forward, he called out, “Ah – please hold the door!” Some kind civilian propped the door open for him, and Lucas safely managed to slide into the somewhat crowded elevator. He stood facing the wall, trying to hide the drying red stains on his shirt and continued with Liesel on his cell phone. “Okay, I’m going to the roof now… yes, I understand, I’m sorry.” However, no matter how many times he apologized, however, Liesel wasn’t letting it go. He should have been a little more sensitive, Lucas realized, because he knew how important this was to her, although he wasn’t sure how the supposed scientist had any relation to the Masks and his former principal. He probably should have tried to understand what this meant to her before dismissing it as unimportant – but before he could finish that line of thought, he noticed the people in the elevator start to disperse. Caught off guard, he unwittingly followed the crowd out the elevator, and the doors shut behind him.

He was just a little confused when he saw a line of cars before him… until he noticed a sign on one of many pillars that read “Basement – “, and although Lucas couldn’t make out the exact floor he was on, it was more than enough to let him know that he was most definitely not on the roof. “Liesel, sorry… I think I ended up in the parking lot,” he mumbled. Well this was just great…

The setting changes from Floor 1 to Sagaro Mall

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Character Portrait: Kaden Jannsen Character Portrait: Lucas Toland
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#, as written by Witless
Kaden Jannsen, Aven Lengell; Sagaro Mall Floor 5 -> Basement


*tap* *tap* *tap* Rhythmically pressing the button, Aven shot his missiles toward the enemy aliens. This was a much better game, and having an audience somehow helped. It calmed him down, pushed him to show off and do more than he ever could have expected. He was already past his previous score, and he had more lives than would be shown on screen. Sure, it was mean to not die, to not let his student have a chance, but there was no way he was giving up his streak simply to be nice to someone. Anyway, he had been nice; he had shown the student (he couldn't waste the energy searching for a name) some tricks: the timing of the waves, the different types of enemies and how points worked for them, the usage of the tractor beam to get a double ship. Wasn't it worth it simply to sit there and watch a master at work? He'd get his chance, and until then, he'd be entranced by Aven's prowess at the game. Sure, Aven couldn't look over now, but he was sure that student was already sitting mesmerized. It made perfect sense. He was already nearing a million, and there was no sign of him faltering any time soon. This would be the day he beat the high score, even if ACE had beaten him by over two million... He'd show him not to mess with AWL anymore... *tap* *tap* *tap*

Kaden watched as Aven flew through the game, killing enemy after enemy, missing few if any of his shots, each attack going where it was supposed to, each enemy dying soon after arriving on screen, the timing perfected to make getting maximum points easy. This was truly a master at work. Kaden was getting drawn into the game just by watching, and ideas kept flowing into his head. Why not make a character so entranced by a game that he was eventually absorbed into it, became a part of the world, began to live in the world he was so enamored of? Why not make a futuristic world where gaming was just a part of everyday life, maybe where everyday life took place, a virtual reality world that had replaced the Earth when it had gone to ruin? Why not make a book about space battles, about a man saving his planet, the galaxy even, from hostile alien invasion? Or even just document the travels of a character traveling through space? And with space comes the connected idea of time. So time travel? That could be very fun to write, and would it be backward or forward? Where would the character be going and why? How would changes in the normal order of things affect the "present day" time? Would things be automatically corrected? Would it just be impossible? Would it be as if in the history that we know it, the time-travel person was already there, even if he himself didn't know it? Or would the changes actually affect things? And how greatly? Would there be some measures to stop people from changing the future, or some way the fix the changes? Hmm... that could be an interesting thing to do, making it so- Suddenly, he was drawn from his reverie by a loud noise, a bell tolling repeatedly, sounding throughout the entire mall. He glanced at the game, surprised that it was already over a million, but it made sense, since he hadn't been bothered by Aven to go and take his turn. He felt bad about missing out on finishing the game, but he had a job to do, and he wasn't going to be late to this one.

Glancing at the clock to make sure it truly read 9:00 pm, Kaden got up from his seat. "I'm truly sorry, but I have to go now. There's something that I need to buy, and then I need to go home. Maybe we can do this game another day? Good luck!" Aven didn't so much as glance at him, but it seemed like he gave a slight nod. At any rate, Kaden simply walked quickly out of the arcade and walked toward the escalator. Remembering a few hours ago, he changed his mind and took the long way to the basement: the elevator. He pressed the button and waited, watching as the number slid down to the basement (down? Yes, it truly was going down...) and then paused before going up, stopping at 3 and then stopping again at 5. There was another person on the elevator, and he was still going up, it seemed. The elevator went up two floors and stopped at the seventh, letting the man off. In the meantime, Kaden continued sketching in his sketchpad and waited for the elevator to begin its plunge to the bottom. There seemed to be stops on every floor now, but Kaden stepped out finally into the basement along with a few others, checking the number he was searching for once more before closing his pad: JS-878.

As he was about to go searching the cars, he noticed a boy standing in the lot on his phone, looking confused and for some reason slightly out of place. It was Lucas, the student council president, and luckily he hadn't seen him yet. How would Kaden explain what he was doing here? What could he use as a cover before the car left? As he searched around for a suitable hiding place, he noticed a familiar-sounding license plate: JS-878, between 8ST-3N0 and Y6-84Z. Luckily, it was behind Lucas, so he wouldn't see him if he went there, but it was safest to wait until he was gone. An idea popped into his head, and he moved to 8ST-3N0 and sat down in front of the dark green convertible, leaning back against it as he opened his sketchpad and began drawing while paying close attention to the movements of Lucas. And from here, he could hear the last few words said over the phone. "...in the parking lot." So he was here for a reason? Kaden continued to listen to the conversation as he drew absentmindedly, building his alibi for being here and keeping watch on his target at the same time. He would find a time to slip in the package if at all possible, but he would not fail this mission, no matter what. Now he just had to wait for Lucas to go away and do whatever he needed to do...

The setting changes from Sagaro Mall to Throme

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Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Aki Evedane
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[Apologies... >.> Location.]

The setting changes from Throme to Floor 1

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Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Aki Evedane
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Aki Evedane; Floor 1 [Sagaro Mall]


Ignoring Vault’s strange fixation on handing him a ostentatiously colored hammer, Aki brushed past him before collapsing on the bright orange armchair in the center of the room. He winced slightly - he had forgotten all about the wound on his back. Gingerly sitting back up, he looked at the boy who had helped him. This Kingpin continued to stand in the doorway, his blank eyes taking in the strangeness of the pharmacist in Sog - Sagaro.

It was true that Aki would rather have someone else in charge of this pharmacy, but it was the only place in Throme with the cherry-flavored pills that he so favored. Plus, strangely enough, Vault served his purpose in getting him to ignore the pain and aches that came with his injuries. Vault turned around and started to fiddle through one of his cabinets, this time pulling out a large cooking pan. The strange old man turned to Aki, before shoving the hammer back in his direction, and the pan held loosely in one hand.

Thankfully, Lucas stopped him from launching into some convoluted statement by speaking. “Excuse me, could you please give him some medical attention? You said this was a pharmacy right? If you need money for the supplies, I can pay at least part of i-” The Kingpin started to dig through his pocket, when he took out a cell phone. Looking at the screen for a few moments, he then gave them a small smile. “I’ll just take this call.” Aki wondered what exactly could have prompted such a reaction, but decided to ignore it. It must be student council duties or the like - everyone knew how Lucas was ever so busy. Anyways, it was better for him that he left, dealing with Lucas’ clingy attitude was so much of an annoyance. The call couldn’t have picked a better time to come in, as without it, Lucas would have insisted on staying for quite some time.

“Vault,” he called out, taking the offered hammer with one hand. It was awfully heavy for his weakened state, and with a muffled curse, he dropped it on the ground. The old man shot him a glower, before picking up the garish object with one hand. “I might need some help with the treatment. So there’s no point in any more of your pointless idiocy.” He figured that since he was already seen traipsing around Sagaro on the shoulder of the Kingpin, his pride may as well go and disappear into a hole: for now. “The highest quality bandages, and the cherry painkillers. You know I have the cash for it, so no complaints.”

Vault gave a smile, ignoring the comments. “Zombies don’t need to get medicine.” He tossed the heavy bat in one hand, catching it neatly. Aki frowned slightly - somehow, being with this man was akin to being tortured... he lacked any self control or even a mild sense of decorum.

“Vault,” Aki’s voice was cold in annoyance. It was just like the old man to do such an act when time was of the essence. At times, he couldn’t tell if Vault’s strangeness was an act or his real personality. “just get on with it.”

Vault gave a loud, and overly dramatic sigh. “What do you mean ‘get on with it.’? And if you’re turning into a vampire, could you please send me a picture of your fangs? That one forum…”

This is when Aki’s finely-held temper finally snapped. “I’m warning you. I need to get patched up, and immediately. I don’t care about your little forums or your strange taste in accessories. Just give me what I need, and then, I’ll leave and stop intruding on your Arturia.” His voice, while not necessarily loud, was firm, and with a burst of willpower and energy, he stood up, albeit a little shakily, and strode towards the closest shelf, and attempted to pick up a roll of bandages.

When his fingers slipped, Vault was immediately there with a mocking look shining through his dark eyes. “Now, that was the Achy that I was looking for,” he muttered, before picking up the bandages for him. “Get back to the couch - I don’t have time to be helping little kids who can’t even pick up objects properly.”

Aki sighed once again, but remained standing there. “I’ll be needing a few more of those for personal use, and painkillers.” His hand swept to the left, to the large pile of pills. “And of course, you’ll have to disinfect the wounds and everything.”

Vault frowned in his direction. “Now, now, Achy. I can realize that even when you’re so useless, you don’t want to admit it, but I’m too kind.” He gave a cheery, wide smile that stretched until it almost didn’t fit on his face. “You don’t know what I should do. So just go back to the couch and rest up. Let the intelligent people deal with the thinking. Humans know how to do stuff, you werewolf.”

“I thought I was a zombie.”

He flapped one hand nonchalantly in Aki’s direction. “Same thing, same thing.” Grabbing a mountain of objects and strange boxes with one hand, he grabbed Aki from his less-injured arm and almost forcibly dragged him into the back, where a large room, with a medical table stood in the middle. Far from the sterile appearance of hospitals, there were mountains of pans and boxes everywhere, even piled into the smaller sink on the opposite side of the room.

Aki untangled himself from Vault’s grasp and walked over to the medical table, before sitting on it with a sigh. “Glad to know that you’re still on Earth, Vault.” Casting an askance look at the mess, he muttered under his breath, “I thought the authorities told you to clean your storage area a while ago.”

Vault turned and looked at the full sink with a sigh. Placing the objects he was carrying on a small cart next to them, he started to work on cleaning it up, somewhat. ‘Achy would make such a big fit if he didn’t see me watching my hands.’ He stuck two calloused hands into the mess, and picked up a large dented pot. Frowning at himself, he dropped the objects in the sink, three pots, two pans, a fake sword, and a dented pail, on the ground, and proceeded to turn on the water. Now, where had the soap gone…

Ah, over there. He strode, as quickly as he could, across the room, and pulled the bottle of liquid soap from on top of an empty flower pot. He peered into the transparent plastic bottle, before smiling again. “Hey, Achy, it seems like I’m out of soap.”

“… Don’t tell me you’re serious.” Aki sat up even straighter, and started to peer at the near-empty clear bottle with worried eyes. “You’re not touching me with dirty hands. Who knows what you do in your free time.”

“Hm. Maybe there’s still a little bit left?” He shook it up and down, before peering at it some more. The minute bit of soap was a milky white, and difficult to see.

“Go and get more - and a brain, while you’re at it,” retorted Aki, irritated at the delay.

Vault pursed his lips in irritation, but continued to peer at the soap. “Nope, nope, it appears I spoke too soon. Some pixie or whatever must have borrowed it, and decided to return it just at this minute. There’ll be enough~.” Walking slowly back to the sink, he ran his hands under the still-running tap, before applying a small dash soap to them, lathering for a few moments, and then rinsing them again. “Now my hands are all clean, where shall we start?” Picking up a washcloth from the cart, he dried his hands fastidiously.

“You clean the wound.” Aki continued to watch Vault’s preparations with unflinching blue eyes. There was no knowing what the strange old man would try to do while his back was turned.

“What does a banshee know about healing people anyways? Achy, you need to get some friends,” he stated in a matter-of-fact manner, but with a grin plastered all over his face. He turned around, before picking up a plastic bottle and another clean cloth.

“Excuse me?” Aki could do little more than stare at the man with confusion in his eyes. Friends had nothing to do with anything - and they weren’t even necessary in the least.

“If you had friends, you wouldn’t have gotten beat up so badly.” Vault walked closer to the black-haired boy, before pushing him down on his back. Picking up the bottle, he uncapped it, and dropped the white cap on the ground. Aki gave a start towards the lid, before Vault used his now-free hand to push him back to a reclining position. “Stop moving, Achy.” Placing the cloth tightly over the opening of the bottle, he turned it upside-down. As the liquid soaked through the bottle, he tilted it back right-side up, and placed it on the ground, carefully so as to prevent spills.

Then, folding the white cloth into fourths, he rolled up Aki’s tattered clothing with a sigh, before unravelling the now red-bandage from the wound. Even though he had treated Aki before in the past, he sucked in his breath when seeing the wound itself. “Achy, I thought I told you that I wanted a zombie that wasn’t injured. What did you do to my wish?”

There was a period of irritated silence, before Aki finally deigned to shrug. “Whatever.”

Taking the cloth in one hand, Vault frowned irritated. “Now get yourself over here. I can’t simply wipe such a large injury. I would have expected better from you, Achy, even though you’re this zombie.” He pulled Aki up, a little roughly, before walking to the other side of the room, and picking up a pot, and putting it under the faucet… which was still running.

Aki stumbled closer, before standing halfway between the bed and the sink, balanced awkwardly on one leg. When the pot was full, Vault picked it up, strong, despite his age, and sloshed it over Aki’s leg. Aki winced when the cold, almost freezing water, hit his leg and soaked his pants as well. Vault then looked more closely at the injuries, and unravelled the other bandage, on Aki’s upper arm. He walked back to the sink to refill the pot, before heading to his little cart with a few more objects laying around on it.

“Do you want stitches or not?” he called, over his shoulder. “Zombies look better with stitches… so you’d better want them.”

Aki shook his head. “I’ll be fine without them.” He looked down - although severe, it wasn’t as bad as to necessitate stitches. Maybe. He didn’t think that Vault had the necessary training to do so either.

Vault pouted, before walking back over to the overflowing pot, and carried it over to Aki. This time he remembered to turn off the water. “Hold out your arm, Achy,” he grumbled, before pouring the water over the wound. “Now that everything’s all clean…” His voice trailed off as he dropped the pot on the ground behind him, and continued to manhandle Aki back to his medical bed.

Then, as Aki laid down, Vault took a look at the various wounds all over his body. Smirking slightly, he picked up yet another washcloth - this one was pink, and then started to pat Aki dry. After a few minutes of this painstaking action, he took out a few strips of sticky skin-closure tape and secured them firmly on the edges of the leg wound to keep it closed. Vault’s dark eyes narrowed in concentration before he turned his attention to the wound on the arm. All of the other wounds could wait until later. Repeating the same action, he, then, reached out with one hand and lifted Aki up from his prone state. “Achy - anywhere else that aches?”

Aki nodded, before turning to lay on his stomach. “Back,” he murmured, as Vault’s hands pulled up his shirt. Taking the white cloth that he had wet with the saline solution, he ran it over the blotchy skin there. Taking more of the skin-closure tape, he taped over the wound, almost with a hesitancy in his action. Then, leaving Aki alone on the bed, he left the storage room for a few minutes. His hands reached into his pockets, there had to be enough money to pay for Vault. His searching fingers met nothing but air and water, and he mumbled some irritated words under his breath.

When Vault returned, holding a roll of bandages, Aki opened his mouth to speak. “Forget this, Vault.” His cold smile showed a certain bit of pride, before he made ready to leave.

To his greatest shock, Vault simply gave a smile. “Are you an idiot, Achy? If you don’t have enough money now, I’ll just charge interest~ Plus, your little friend offered to pay for the supplies. I’ll just ask my pixie friends to collect it for me later.”

There was yet another awkward pause as Aki debated how exactly to answer this man. In his confusion, the old pharmacist managed to cross the distance between them, and tossed the roll of bandages towards Aki. It hit him squarely on the chest, and rolled off the bed, unravelling as it went. Picking it up, he started to roll it around his leg, winding it around and around…

The setting changes from Floor 1 to Basement

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Character Portrait: Kaden Jannsen Character Portrait: Lucas Toland
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Lucas Toland; Sagaro Mall, Basement Floor


“I’m not trying to frustrate you ,” Lucas sighed into the receiver. Really now, Liesel didn’t have to react so severely to everything. It wouldn’t take more than five minutes to get to the roof could catch an elevator. Besides, the others were already there – it wasn’t as if his presence was completely necessary.

“Alright… Okay… I’ll go back right – ”

“Excuse me, coming through,” a man called from behind Lucas, catching the boy off guard. It seemed that while Liesel was ranting, the elevator had made a second trip up and back down again. The sole passenger was a man in blue uniform with his rather large cart of boxes – probably some kind of shipment for the department store.

“Sorry,” Lucas said, quickly stepping aside and out the elevator lobby to let the worker through. He vaguely wondered what could be in those boxes, but was interrupted by Liesel promptly trying to rush him to the roof. “I’m going right now,” he said before ending the call. Well, maybe hanging up like that was kind of rude, but it felt as if all he had been hearing that night were complaints or some semblance of scolding.

Slipping his phone into his pocket, he took one last look around the parking lot – pretty crammed with cars but surprisingly few people – but just as he turned to leave, someone caught his eye. Yet another familiar face, fortunately not bleeding this time. Suddenly alert, he grabbed the bloodstains across the front of his shirt. ‘Right… I hope Aki’s alright,’ Lucas thought as he tried to match a name with the figure. Of course – it was Kaden. Lucas wasn’t about to forget him after what he did to help just earlier that day.

‘Coraline wanted me to thank him…’ so perhaps it was a fortunate coincidence, but was it alright to approach? It seemed that he was preoccupied, sketching the scene of the basement. In the end, Lucas decided that a quick word of thanks wouldn’t hurt… although the bloodstains were a bit of a problem. Well, Lucas didn’t know when he’d see Kaden again – it was so hard to find people at school – so he tried his best to hide it with his hand. He would just have to hope that Kaden didn’t notice, or at least, didn’t bring it up.

“Kaden,” he called walking over, smiling as he would at school. “I didn’t expect to see you here as well. It looks like Sagaro is more popular with our school than I thought.” He’d have to make this brief if he didn’t want Liesel killing the rest of his mobile battery. “I just wanted to say thanks for earlier, you know, with Coraline. She wanted me to tell you she’s really grateful too,” Lucas said.

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Kaden Jannsen; Sagaro Basement


Who in the world was Lucas on the phone with? He or she was obviously easily angered, and Lucas was in Sagaro Mall to do something for him or her. But it didn't sound like Lucas was supposed to be in the Basement. He was saying something about how he would "go back" and that he was "going right now." Obviously, there was no need for him to stay in the Basement, and that was good. Kaden had to deliver the package surreptitiously, and having someone he knew find out about his Itex jobs would be horrible. Itex could end up considering him disposable, or worse, that he had to eliminate everyone who knew: Lucas. It was for Lucas's best interest that he left now. Just walk past and go up the elevator while Kaden drew in the corner...

Speaking of drawing, this was a strange picture he chose. The berserk scene, with blood matting Caine's features, the hands covered by a layer of blood, dead people all around, specks of red frozen in place, in time. While lightning and fire battled for kills all around, Caine drew his hand from a body as the corpse fell to the floor. The castle background seemed pale, almost fake, like the main focus was the blood, and the place had no meaning. His comrades were not seen, but a shadow fell across the bottom of the picture, the shadow, presumably, of one of them. But who was it? Ah well, the story was still in development, and this was helpful, even if it was gruesome. Caine was such a strange main character, but for some reason he seemed completely real, completely understandable, like Kaden had actually met him before.

He was interrupted from his thoughts by a voice, the end of a sentence. "... really grateful too." Jolting in surprise, Kaden looked up from his drawing. Lucas had taken the time to address him, even though Kaden was obviously lost in thought... Now they had to have a conversation, and time was of the essence. Lucas needed to leave, and he needed to leave fast.

"Huh? Grateful?" Kaden's mind turned back a few hours. "OH! You mean Coraline, yes. No problem, I just did what I could to help. I was nearby anyway, drawing. Speaking of drawing, where'd you get that red paint? It's the perfect shade for my picture!" He stared slightly more intently at the red stains on Lucas's shirt, knowing he'd seen the shade somewhere. "Oh no, that's actual... Who's-? Uggh... Sorry, I just can't..." Kaden put his head in his hands and started muttering quietly to himself, trying to calm down, the bile rising in his throat. "It's just paint, red paint. Only paint. Don't worry, it's only paint, like in your drawing. Caine's not as scary, right? And he's covered in the same type of paint! Just calm down, calm down, calm down. Just paint, red paint, just paint. Paint... Ugghh..."

Finally composed, he drew deep breaths, closed his sketchpad and looked at Lucas, pointedly at his face, not at all at his shirt, where... no. Just looking at his face. Smiling weakly, he spoke with a slight quiver. "I'm okay, really. Just... could you please go? Drawing soothes me, and, well, I hope whoever it is is alright. I'm just not sure that I'd be able to do anything to help. Please, we can talk later. Goodbye."

Kaden put his head back down and began breathing slowly, in and out, in and out. Lucas would leave soon, and the feeling would pass. And then he could finish his job and get out of here. He could explain himself some other time if need be. Right now, the job was of utmost importance. He would not be failing it this time.

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Lucas Toland; Sagaro Mall, Basement Floor


Lucas was completely taken aback, and he could only stand stricken at Kaden’s strange reaction. Well, of course it was a stretch to hope that the bloodstains weren’t that noticeable – it was blood after all, and the dark liquid showed a little too well on his paler shirt … but even then, he hadn’t expected such a bewildered response. Yes, Lucas had been cringed a bit when Kaden mistook the stains for paint, but perhaps it would have been better to affirm it instead of remaining silent.

When the boy started to mutter to himself in a panic, more words uttered about paint and drawings, Lucas didn’t know what to do. Even now, although Kaden seemed a little more composed, he was breathing heavily. ‘Just like with Coraline this morning,’ he realized.

“Please, we can talk later. Goodbye.”

Lucas hesitated, staring at the other boy in concern. It was obvious that he wasn’t welcome there. Kaden wanted him to leave… but really, ‘I can’t just leave him like this.’ He had helped Coraline earlier that day, and Lucas felt it wouldn’t be right to leave the boy in a state as shaken as he was. Liesel would understand, hopefully.

“You don’t look so well,” Lucas said, concern weighing down his words. Really, it was not a good day for Itex to make their move. First Coraline, then Aki, and now Kaden? It seemed everyone had their problems, and Lucas was faced with each of them. “If you feel sick or something, there’s this place on the first floor…” he trailed off, but his offer still stood. Although Lucas wasn’t exactly sure how secure a place that pharmacy or whatever was, it was closer than the hospital, and there might have been something there that could help Kaden.

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Kaden Jannsen; Sagaro Basement


No, this wasn't good. Lucas wasn't going away. And he could hear the faint sound of the clock in the background, likely tolling the half hour already. Or was that just the ringing in his ears? It was hard to tell... Either way, he needed Lucas to go and bring the not-paint with him. He needed to know when he wasn't needed... Was there any way to get rid of this boy? It was for his own good! For both of their own good! Couldn't he see that? Couldn't he see that he was only aggravating the situation? All he needed was to go away and do what the phone-person asked him to. Just... go. Please.

"You don’t look so well." That was Lucas now. Couldn't he just leave? He had asked, pleaded even, using the word! Unless... he couldn't remember, was that out loud? Probably not, he felt disoriented. Lucas again: "If you feel sick or something, there’s this place on the first floor..." NO! That wasn't the problem! It was Lucas himself, and he needed to stay here! Kaden could not go back to the first floor, with the, that, clown... and leave his mission? Well, sure, Lucas had no idea that he was down here for a reason, but this was absurd. He needed to tell him straight out. Steeling himself, he looked up at Lucas again.

"No, that's not the problem. I'm not sick, no injuries, nothing that you could help. It's the... the b-... the not-paint. Take yourself and your paint-that's-not-paint, and go away. Then I'll be fine, or at least better... Just go away... GO AWAY!!!" He shouted the last, putting his head back between his legs, the edge of his sketchpad slightly visible through his legs, the pad lying on the ground next to him, the berserk page moved slightly, showing the license drawing below. Luckily, the numbers were hidden, and a simple glance wouldn't give it away. There was no need to do anything about it, but it did remind him of what he was here for, and he needed it done quickly. Just so long as Lucas got the hint, he could smooth it over later. He didn't like having to yell, but there was little other choice... Lucas was not realizing the problem here.

Ugghh... but the smell... it was starting to become a problem, the iron, that revolting smell. He needed to get Lucas away as quickly as possible. Fighting back the bile, he looked up at Lucas and practically screamed, "Go on! Get out of here! Bring your bloody not-paint and that bloody smell with you, and bloody leave me alone!" He spit it out, voice dripping with venom, filled with anger. He felt bad, but it was needed. Lucas had to go, he had to! If this didn't work, he had no idea what to do next. This was the best he could handle without vomiti- No, don't even think that, or it will happen... It was his best, and he didn't want to have to resort to… to that whatever-it-was, the mask, the soul-within-the-mask that would take over, according to... according to... to someone. He couldn't think, couldn't concentrate, and it was becoming too much of a problem. Soon, it would have to be taken care of, one way or another. He just hoped he didn't have to resort to anything drastic already...

He put his head down again and began breathing in and out, through the mouth, not the nose. In and out, in and out. And wait for Lucas to walk away, finally. Hopefully...

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Lucas Toland; Sagaro Mall, Basement Floor - The Roof


So that was it.

Lucas at least vaguely understood what the problem was here, and he drew back. His concern unable to hide his startled expression. “Ah, I… Sorry. I’ll just, um… I’ll be going then.” Again, he’d overstepped a boundary of sorts. Again he had misunderstood both the situation and the other party involved. “Sorry, Kaden.” Uncertainly, he turned away from the other boy and quickened his pace. He didn’t bother waiting for the elevator – instead, he stepped onto the escalator, weaving through the sparse people and walking his way up.

Once off the basement floors and back on the full and bustling first floor, Lucas took a moment to stop and sigh. That went badly. “I must’ve been so irritating to him,” he muttered, casting his gaze upwards. Right. The roof. He could already hear Liesel threatening to turn him inside out… Was there even anything waiting for the Masked on the roof? There never, ever was – Lucas was starting to lose faith in this whole conflict between some shadowy organization he hadn’t seen twice more after Torrings’ death. Even still, he had to be there, so the boy ran towards one of the two glass elevators he saw down the other side of the floor.

The first thing he did this time was make sure the lift was going up. Strangely enough, but welcome on Lucas’ account, the elevator was empty when he stepped into it. He took another moment here to heave another sigh, thinking back on that day’s events. “I never seem to get the point,” he mumbled. Habitually, his fingers found the cord around his neck, gently tugging at it until the pendent emerged from the neck of his shirt. Gripping the rough stone fragment in his hand, he looked through the window. The elevator was designed into the wall of the building, so he could see the sidewalk and the headlights of cars getting smaller and smaller as the lift climbed the floors. The streets were growing darker.

If only understanding people was as simple as seeing what was there.

The elevator dinged to a stop, and the same electronic voice proclaimed his arrival at the roof. Stepping off, he looked about – he never expected the roof of the mall to be so popular. Well, he’d have to find the others now, and with a little bit of luck, maybe they would find that rumored package of Liesel’s. Whether that would be good luck or bad, Lucas wasn’t sure… but first things were first. “Coraline? Gage?” he called before stepping into the crowd.

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#, as written by Witless
Kaden Jannsen; Sagaro Basement


"Ah, I... Sorry. I'll just, um... I'll be going then." Ah, Lucas sounded so concerned, startled, confused... This seemed like a blow to him, something that he had no idea to handle. It left a bad feeling in Kaden's heart, in his chest. But he had had to do it; there was no other choice. The bl- not-paint was disorienting, making him want to flee in terror. But he couldn't, at least not physically. And if it had lasted much longer, he surely would have fled behind the mask, no matter the consequences. So he had saved Lucas, right? It was better in the long run, and his task could be completed, finally. He could smooth things over, explain himself to Lucas, later, much later. Once Lucas had a clean shirt and Kaden had calmed down...

The pounding in his head, the ringing in his ears, they were slowing down, calming. He just sat there, sure that Lucas was gone, but still unable to lift his head to check, to guarantee. A draft in the parking garage flipped his sketchpad to the next page, fully revealing the license drawing, visible even between Kaden's legs. It was confusing, straight black and white, lines drawn onto a page, patterns going every which way. The letters J and S were visible, along with F, i, h, v, y, U, f, A, P, g, t, E, W, R, m, I, and maybe even a few more. And numbers were visible too, 8 and 7 of course, but the other digits existed as well. Lines, patterns, shapes, numbers, letters, words, punctuation, symbols, ordered, randomly placed, grouped, scattered, empty spaces, places filled with so many things they turn black and unreadable. It was chaotic and jumbled, but the only thing out of place was the hyphen, hidden in the black lines. The only hyphen in the picture, marking the license plate as the real hidden message in an otherwise abstract, intricate, intriguing piece of art. But only he would recognize it, at least without spending too much time studying the drawing. It was well done if he said so himself.

Above Kaden, the clock tolled again, this time at the forty-five. 9:45, only a quarter hour until the deadline. He reached into his bag and pulled out the box, finally standing and walking over to the car next to him, the destination, the final stop of his job. Opening the trunk, he deposited the sleek, black box, wanting nothing to do with it anymore this night. Slamming the trunk, he turned around and walked to the escalator, going up and striding out the door, headed home.

It was a long walk home, but that was okay. He had a lot to think about. The Itex job, the flying woman and Judgement, the other people in Itex and whatever their jobs had been. Had the Chariot gone and given her mask away? What was the Tower's job? How did the Star and Hermit fare? And what was with Coraline? She had freaked out and needed his help, and Lucas'. And why did Lucas have so much... well, blood, on his shirt? Someone had to have been hurt in order for that to happen, but who? And by whom? What would his next task be? Did the mask really do as they said, as he believed? He hoped he didn't have to find out, and if he did, he hoped it wouldn't be soon...

He snuck into his room, climbing through the window into his room. Whether his parents cared or not didn't bother him, but he wasn't going to enter the front entrance and listen to their admonishing. He just wanted peace and quiet, sleep, hopefully restless today? Though likely not... He figured he'd see dreams about today's happenings, about the events in his book, but they were simply dreams, and they would be gone by the next morning. He lay down, closed his eyes, and waited to drift off to sleep, happy to sleep in, if he could, on the next day, the weekend.

The setting changes from Basement to The Roof

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Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Vera Chung
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Lucas Toland; Sagaro Mall, Roof


Fortunately the roof wasn’t all that crowded – it wouldn’t take too long to find the others… or so he hoped. Lucas looked about helplessly. It was like one of those hidden picture games where he could find everything except the thing he was meant to find. “Vera? Amara?” he tried again, beginning to wander along the rooftops. It was clearly evening now, and the stars were beginning to peer out from the darkness of the sky. Any other day, it might have been a pretty sight. At the moment, it only served to remind Lucas how much time he’d wasted running around after a phantom package.

There was only solace in the fact that it was Friday…

‘Although there’re probably better ways to waste a Friday afternoon,’ he thought. There surely was, but he’d spent his free time this way for so long now, he could barely remember what other ways there was. Maybe if he didn’t have this whole Mask business hanging over his head, Lucas would actually be able to enjoy the fragrant rose gardens up ahead or visit the observatory instead.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, he had a small hope that Liesel’s information was right – that for once, he wasn’t wasting his time. He remembered he had been so alarmed every time she gave them a task in the beginning… now he expected little to nothing. However, the slightest chance that the information was correct kept him busy. He needed reassurance… but that was a different concern.

His main one was the curious stares he was getting from several of the other people on the roof. It was the blood, he was sure of it, and it made him uneasy. Maybe Gage or someone else had a jacket he could borrow just to cover it up. Just then, he spotted a welcome form and his dim expression brightened. “Vera!” he called out, brushing past some sightseers to meet the girl. “I’m sorry I’m so late. Did I miss anything?”

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Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Vera Chung Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen Character Portrait: Treia Rawler Character Portrait: Oskana Sonnen
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Amara "Amy" Calen; The Roof


They had gotten to the Rose Garden, and there weren't too many people around. Vera was asking questions to a random stranger, the suspicious one Amy had remarked upon earlier. It seemed like something to do with roses? What in the world was she doing? Oh well, the man left, and the only other people in sight were a man and a woman, obviously a couple enjoying their walk in the Garden. Vera seemed to be thinking, considering something before she spoke.

"So… I guess that Liesel was wrong then? Like usual? I can’t personally see anyone else that’d be doing anything that we could check out." Wait, this Liesel person was normally wrong? Then why in the world did they listen to her? Hmm... well, if that was the case, then it would make some sense as to why there was no one here. Though, in that case, this entire trip would be a waste. And she hadn't even gotten to go into the Observatory! On such a clear night, too! Well, that would have to change...

"Unless you can see something that I’ve missed that is?" Oh, that was Vera again, to her. Well, it deserved a response at the very least. Something to get her out of this and on her own, so she could go to the Observatory. If this was going to be a waste of time, it was not going to be a complete waste... Head turned to Vera, she pushed aside some stray hairs before responding.

"No, if Liesel's normally wrong, she's likely wrong now. If she said Rose Gardens, I don't see anyone here? Probably misinformation or something like that. So, if we're done here, I'll-" She cut off, a ruckus from behind startling her into turning. Startled murmurs were growing, and a young man covered in drying blood burst into the Garden running toward them. "Vera!" Lucas. Blood? Ah well, there wasn't anyone else around bleeding, but it did appear to be someone else's blood. Well, it was taken care of, whether the person was saved or not. And for some reason Mr. Student Council President didn't have the decency (or maybe it was the brains? but he did seem conscientious of it, so...) to cover it up and to stop from causing a distraction. "I’m sorry I’m so late. Did I miss anything?" Nope, but we did, apparently. Someone's blood... Not out loud of course. Now that she was facing Vera again, she continued what she was saying.

"Ah, well as I was saying, Liesel's probably wrong, and I see nothing. If you need me, I'll be in the Observatory. I'm not going to waste such a beautiful night just standing around here waiting for nothing. See you later!" Turning briskly, she rushed out of the Gardens, crossing the crowded roof, intently focused on the Observatory, where the line had diminished greatly by now. And for some reason Suna was not at her usual spot? Confused, Amara made a scan of the crowd to see if she was out recruiting potential star-viewers. Not there, not there, not there... Ah! There she was! Talking to Oskana and Treia! Well, Amara wasn't going to- A sudden gust of wind blew her hair once again into her mouth. Spitting it out, she tried to catch her train of thought again.

She turned: the Observatory. From there, Suna. And then... Following the same path, she got back to Oskana and Treia where Suna was. Oh! That's what she was going to do! Amara ran, pushing through the crowd until she got back to Oskana and Treia. "Hey guys, it doesn't seem like it was a big deal, and I got out of it! Now, let's go to the-" She turned, as if just catching sight of Suna. "Oh! Suna! It's a beautiful night, isn't it? We were just about to go to the Observatory, but I was pulled away. Did you finally buy that telescope you've had your eye on? I hope you can get it delivered soon!"

The setting changes from The Roof to Throme

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Vera Chung


She only meant to give the newbie the opportunity to say anything, but Vera certainly didn’t expect that the girl would actually take her invitation and start expressing her own desires. “No, if Liesel’s normally wrong, she’s likely wrong now.” She had to admit that she wasn’t the best fan of the smoking scientist, but she had pride in her Student Council status. Liesel was a member of them. “If she said Rose Gardens, I don’t see anyone here? Probably misinformation or something like that. So, if we’re done here, I’ll -.” she suddenly stopped, and despite her irritation, Vera followed her gaze.

Vera!” shouted a highly familiar voice. Ah, it was Lucas - finally. He would be able to take charge of all their duties so that she could return home without the hassle that Liesel tended to bring. “I’m sorry I’m so late. Did I miss anything?” Vera felt a smile return to her face, and she turned in his direction - to see some stain on his previously white shirt. Even with the distance between the two, she could tell that it was a bright red in color. Like blood. And by the looks of it, it was still quite fresh.

What had happened? With almost a hurried wariness, she walked a few steps closer to the Masked King. Had Itex finally struck for the second time? For the previous couple of months, they had always been waiting for Itex to do something else atrocious - maybe go after another one of their ranks. It was comparable to sleeping underneath a boulder… one was always waiting for the boulder to crush you. He seemed to be pretty stable in terms of walking, so there was nothing really important about it, right?


“Ah, well as I was saying, Liesel’s probably wrong, and I see nothing. If you need me, I’ll be in the Observatory. I’m not going to waste such a beautiful night just standing around here waiting for nothing. See you later!” As though she thought that somehow Lucas’ arrival brought the plague with it, the annoying new tagalong made her way and all but teleported away. Vera’s eyebrows twitched in irritation - it wasn’t everyday that people were willing to ditch her extremely lovely personality for the chance to talk to an antisocial loner.

So, it was just her and Lucas who were actually going to do something now. Paying no attention to the blood on his shirt because they would just get him to a hospital if something had actually happened, she waited for him to tell her what there was for them to do. He did need to know what had happened right? Plus, there was a growing lag in the conversation that even the muted dialogue between the strangers could not mask. With that in mind, Vera started to speak, making sure to keep her tone light. “We were trying to figure out who could be the Itex person that was going to deliver the package that Liesel was talking about.” She pursed her lips, before smiling. “Well, there was a shady looking guy over here, so I decided to talk to him. Apparently, he didn’t think that my conversation was as riveting as it would have been.”

My, how much did she hate people leaving her. She was to be surrounded with those that were pleased to listen and follow with her every train of thought. It was already two today - and how irritating that was. “Well, and then, you see that the new person certainly isn’t helping my efforts all that much.” Her eyes wide and large, she addressed the King in a low whisper. He would be able to do something about it. “What if she’s Itex? What if Liesel was wrong? It doesn’t really matter either way - but I don’t think that she should be part of us. I - I wouldn’t want for someone to be dragged into this problem who doesn’t understand the problem… what if she underestimates Itex and hurts herself?” Fine, she couldn’t really complain about the newbie’s actions, as she wasn’t exactly helping herself, but there had to be some way to make sure she wouldn’t intrude on the sanctity of their greenhouse.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaden Jannsen Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Zensa Valobo Character Portrait: Deus ex Kaos Character Portrait: Vera Chung Character Portrait: Amara "Amy" Calen Character Portrait: Coraline Starling Character Portrait: Treia Rawler Character Portrait: Gage Vandergear Character Portrait: The Hermit Character Portrait: Oskana Sonnen Character Portrait: The Star
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Throme - Friday, September 27 (4:30 PM)


How fast the clock does turn when there’s nothing important to do.

That is if one was normal. Just a few Fridays in the past, Masked and Itex met each other in a dramatic showdown, not unlike a fight between rival gangs. The thing at stake this time was not territory, but a small nondescript package. What exactly was inside that thin box? No one really knew for sure. Only that it was important.

It would take eight minutes for those on Earth to notice if the sun went out. It would still be warm; it would still be bright. It took longer than eight minutes for the conclusion of this fight to be seen.

Was the package worth it? The Masked were the ones who walked away with the package, and Itex was left there empty-handed, but no one side came out of the proceedings unscathed. A game with a wounded victor. This was the breaking point for the poor stability of a certain Miss Coraline Starlings. A few days after, the harried looking maiden turned in her resignation from the Student Council. This was almost like bowling; the first pin to fall. Liesel Moringmer was murderous.

The Vandergear family was next in line. Chasing some illusory job in nearby Lore, the family burned its own roots in Throme and moved for the sake of greed. It was fortunate for Liesel that her heart possessed a remarkable capacity for wrath. The delicate tea cups were not so lucky. Neither were the flowers.

But this strand of bad luck did not allow Itex to leave without its punishment for failure. A certain female who went by the name of 'En' claimed Oskana Sonnen's blood, time, and responsibility. While she did not disappear per se, Cenriel Academy was without a student when she was transferred to rival Thromain Institute of Fine Arts. But her partner was not spared either. Treia Rawler, with her lucky stars shining from the heavens, remained relatively untouched, with only a warning to show for her troubles. Itex, like Liesel, was not a believer of keeping their murderous intent bottled inside.

The beautiful observatory was without its owner for a week, before she reappeared, looking none the worse for her time. Perhaps there was something hidden under that smile of hers, but nothing was visible to the average eye. The clear nights kept the popularity of that rooftop attraction high.

Friday, August 16th. A day that would mark the transfer of humans from the thrifty Maybelle Avenue to more reputable Sagaro Mall. Many wallets became far lighter due to the ever-growing paranoia. Hector Mason, a man with two daughters who worked nights as a security guard, was seen in a puddle of his own blood. Was there a serial killer hidden in the depths of that brilliant district? The police found no leads or evidence. Despite attempts from shop owners to catch more customers, those that dare enter that shining crime scene were few and far in between.

Judgement did not have anything interesting for the Itex for the longest of time.
Liesel had no leads.

Perhaps they were waiting for today. The day that the package pointed to as important. So what exactly was in that package of Itex? It was with hoping expressions that the Masked had opened the case, to fall downtrodden.

A letter.

To whom it may concern:
After months of research, we may have stumbled upon something of great importance. The previous sample that we have received is an enigma, to say in the slightest. Despite weighing like an average granite shock of the same size, its chemical bonds are completely nonsensical. Instead of forming bonds in order to gain eight valence electrons, many of the carbon atoms possess nine or even one with six. Perhaps you were right in saying that this was a strange rock.

When attempting to find the volume of the sample, we were astonished to find the rock glowing upon contact of water. We were unable to find the source of this energy, but it is believed it is some sort of chemical reaction. Other than the output of light, we have discovered no other abnormalities. Our sample glowed red, bright red, but we shall be asking for further samples to support this hypothesis. It would not surprise me if it was a fluke. If it wouldn't be an issue for your organization, if you'd send us another shard, we would be much obliged. The things we do for science. Until then, we'll be sending back the sample on 9.27. Please do send a messenger to pick it up. This cannot fall into unaligned hands.

Sincerely,


The letter was signed, but illegible and smudged, seemingly on purpose. It appeared as though the writer was unwilling to give up his or her name. The letter continued with an address.

Nivcien Science Institute, Throme
Research Division


It is now September 27. Yet another Friday afternoon. The weather had mellowed in the months, with the leaves already in the process of dying. They were dull brown, many of them withering in the streets and on the trees. A steady wind made its way through Throme. Life is unfair, but yet it brings hope and excitement. Perhaps their adventure will beat reality television's entertainment value on this blustering November afternoon.

Those whose souls belonged to Itex ought to be making their steady way to the back rooms at Brio, where that violent angel of doom, Judgement, was doubtless waiting for them. The Masked had likewise, been summoned by Liesel to deal with their recently collected information. How will both sides dance this afternoon? That is a story to hear.

The setting changes from Throme to Floor 6

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaden Jannsen Character Portrait: Lucas Toland Character Portrait: Coraline Starling Character Portrait: Treia Rawler Character Portrait: Gage Vandergear Character Portrait: Oskana Sonnen
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#, as written by Witless
Kaden Jannsen; Sagaro Mall Floor 6 - Nebula Ice Rink (??? - 3:55 pm)


It was a warm day outside, fitting for the shorts and t-shirt that Kaden wore. A calm breeze struck up every now and then, a reminder that summer had ended to bring in the beginning of fall, only to die down quickly. The latter half of classes had been skipped over, forsaken in order to spend time writing, doing something relatively important to real life. And so Kaden had somehow ended up at Sagaro after wandering the town on this gorgeous day. And from there, the next seemingly logical place to go was the Ice Rink, on the sixth floor.

Kaden had started a new book, or at least had a few ideas for it. There was no name yet, and the main character was simply a young woman, with some power yet-to-be-determined. It took place in a strange world, on a southern continent, filled with ice and snow. It had previously stayed separate from the rest of its world, with the natives calmly going about their lives, doing what they always did. Until recently, when explorers happened across it and reported the strange powers they witnessed there. Thus started the main storyline, the interactions between the outside and inside world, between this young woman and an interested adventurer.

So the Ice Rink was of course where he needed to go, in summer clothes, no less. Not for skating, no. He'd surely fail at that. He'd tried a few times before, somehow always ending up ble- staining the ice. It was unlikely he would try again in the near future. He was still not quite over what had happened with Lucas. It's not like Kaden was avoiding him or anything, but they just happened to never meet, not since the last time Judgement had given them a mission... It was just coincidence, them never being at the same place at the same time. And he wasn't the reason Kaden had taken to skipping the latter parts of school, no. He simply saw no use for the classes. The fact that Lucas was in one of those classes hadn't even begun to register in his mind.

But yes, back on the topic of missions, Oskana and Treia had failed. Treia was punished somehow, and Oskana was taken for someone's servant, taken away from school and every aspect of her previous life. Little was accurately revealed about what had happened to her; a cover story made that said little. And they weren't the only people who had disappeared from the school recently. Coraline had been showing up less and less as her condition, whatever it was, worsened. Victor Grayson had also been sick recently, or so it was reported. At any rate, he had been absent from school for a few weeks now, and no one had heard anything from him. Gage Vandergear had moved away, to another town, leaving his friends and school behind. Many people gone in a short time, and only the beginning of school.

Oh, yes. The Ice Rink. It made sense: getting a feel of the cold, of how a newcomer would feel when experiencing this environment which he'd never before known (did I mention the newcomer came from a continent near the equator of the world? an extremely hot, desert- and volcano-filled place?). From hot to cold, suddenly in the unknown, completely unprepared for what he'd experience. And contrast that to those people who had lived there for eternities, believing it to be normal, the complete opposite of the abnormality that this explorer believed it to be. It was hard to get the full experience, but this was the closest he could think of wi-

BEEP! BEEeeEEeeEEP! Beepbeep! Beepbeep! BEEEEEEEE- *click*

It was time. He'd bought a watch, an ornate one from a strange peddler on Maybelle Avenue. It had many knobs, some which didn't seem to do anything, and it was extremely hard to read. But the alarm worked very well, and it never seemed to run slow (or fast for that matter). The key selling point had actually been the obnoxious alarm... It could actually break him out of his reveries, if at the cost of angry glances from onlookers (in this case, the ice skating class). He generally just ignored them, rushing away on to his destination, to wherever he needed to be reminded to go. Sure, the watch cost him an arm and a leg, but it was definitely worth it to not anger Itex any more than necessary (read: at all). He could always get the money back somehow.

3:55, time to start heading to Brio. Judgement would be waiting, as usual. There may be a job, there may not, but it was always best to be on the safe side and not be late. Not like the first time... He had somehow come out of that with little repercussions... Somehow... But he knew better now, for sure. Kaden Jannsen packed his bags and began the long trek to Brio and Judgement.