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Masks of the Soul

Floor 1

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a part of Masks of the Soul, by Cienpher.

Floor 1 - Standard Shops, Designer Clothes, Cosmetics, Electronics, etc.

RolePlayGateway holds sovereignty over Floor 1, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

209 readers have been here.

Setting

Everything you can find in the Shopping District for a higher price - well, of course there is a supposed reason. Everything here is brand named and renown for its luxurious nature... but really, in terms of quality, there isn't much different from the Shopping District at all.

Also, there seems to be a strange clown who sells balloons and cotton candy by the first floor escalators of the mall on weekends. He will always greet you with a smile, no matter what the occasion. He seems to be called Easter.

Shops worth noting:
Arturia - a pharmacy only selling the highest quality goods
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Floor 1

Floor 1 - Standard Shops, Designer Clothes, Cosmetics, Electronics, etc.

Minimap

Floor 1 is a part of Sagaro Mall.


Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaden Jannsen
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Easter ; Sagaro Mall - Floor 1


He had many balloons, Easter did. Red balloons, green balloons, pink balloons, balloons with different designs, balloons in the shape of cups, dragons, and horses. If you could think of a balloon, he would have it. In a way, he was proud of his balloons - no one else in Throme had the amount of balloons that he had. True his fortune was prone to popping, but there was something important about each one. He hated selling them, he really did. Especially the ones that he had found himself running around Maybelle Avenue in his spare time. Maybe the peddler would arrive soon with some new designs soon - Easter could only hope.

But he was here to sell them after all. Says his boss. But he didn’t like his boss. No. His boss could go and jump into a puddle for as long as he wanted as long as Easter could keep his balloons. Balloons. It was shocking how something made with just a little plastic could be so enjoyable. He turned to look at his stash, looking at it with a critical eye. The green one had become a little deflated, he would have to sell that one soon. He still had a bag of those left in his house, maybe. So that one could go to someone else, he didn’t care. It was sub-par quality anyhow.

Just then he saw a high-schooler out of the corner of his eye. Easter didn’t pay him that much attention as there were many people of his age group running around. After all, they wouldn’t buy his balloons. No, it was the little kids with their poking, prying fingers that wanted to take some of his precious hoard to their house. He hated little kids. Almost as much as he hated his boss. Maybe he also hated his job. Maybe not. He didn’t mind the clown getup, it made him so much closer to his balloons. Yes, balloons and clowns went well together.

“Excuse me, how much is a balloon?”

He turned towards him with a sign of anger in his eyes. “Balloons?” he asked himself, before giving a wide, nearly inhuman smile. He would love to see this thief of balloons roasted like a pig, but he couldn’t. Maybe his dragon balloon would do the honors. “How much is it worth? A price for happiness?” Easter turned towards the boy, and stared unblinkingly. “The price of plastic and air. The price for a balloon.” Wait. No. That’s not what he was supposed to say. His boss had said something about how he wasn’t supposed to ask questions when asked one. He was supposed to give answers. Answers…

But what was the price for a balloon? It was priceless. Priceless like happiness because balloons were happiness. Sheer bliss. His eye looked around to see the price of one of the shirts that they were selling at one of the stores nearby. His balloons would be worth more than that, but since the student didn’t know the value of balloons, Easter guessed that it would do. “Twenty argen for the ones with dual-colors or designs, and ten argen for the really simple ones.” His gaze turned on the green balloon - the one that he didn’t like any more. “This one’s 69 cents,” he said flatly. “You should buy that one. It’s green.” And I don’t want it anymore. “It would be good for you.”

Wait. He was a clown. Clowns were supposed to be funny. He plucked one of his balloons from the rack, untwisted the bottom, and inhaled the helium from it. “Ahahaha,” he said in a high voice. That would do if the boy wanted funny. Looking at the balloon in his hand, he realized that it was the black and silver one. “Ahahaha. I’m a clown… and clowns like balloons” Taking the balloon that was now flat, he placed it softly, almost gingerly back on the rack. He would bring it home and administer more air to it. It was the only black and silver balloon he had. It was his favorite. It liked him as well - Easter could tell because he was a clown.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaden Jannsen
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#, as written by Witless
Kaden Jannsen; Sagaro Mall 1st Floor


The clown was strange, apparently extremely possessive of his balloons. He glared at Kaden, a large amount of anger bottled up about to explode, until it simply disappeared into a large (too large), mocking smile, the malice changing smoothly into falsity. But instead of an immediate answer, he began asking questions... A simple price would have been sufficient, right?

“Balloons? How much is it worth? A price for happiness? The price of plastic and air. The price for a balloon.” Being abstract of course. Joking and playing around with a customer, one who had already specified what he wanted: a balloon, or more specifically to buy a balloon. Did it matter about the material costs? Or even about the happiness gained from it? He wanted a balloon, the black and silver one, and he wanted to know the cost. Stop clowning around, and get to the point already...

“Twenty argen for the ones with dual-colors or designs, and ten argen for the really simple ones.” Twenty argen? Twenty argen? Had he heard right? That was way too much for a balloon. Who in their right minds would charge two, three, maybe four times the price of a normal balloon? Was it simply because this was a classy place? Was everyone expected to have a lot of money and pay the inflated prices without a care? Sure he wanted a balloon, but this was too much. He was getting fed up with this clown, not even bothering to hide his annoyance, about to leave as soon as this Easter finished talking. A mental note not to bother buying from this clown again.

“This one’s 69 cents. You should buy that one. It’s green. It would be good for you.” Yet again making absolutely no sense. This one was now less than a single argen? Just because it was green? No, on closer inspection, there were a few more green balloons. It was just this balloon. But it was slightly more deflated; it didn’t quite reach the height of the others. Whatever, he wasn’t buying it anyway. And anyway, the inhuman smile was getting on his nerves.

Kaden turned and walked away, headed toward the escalator and muttered, “Keep your balloons. Maybe some other time...” As he stepped onto the escalator, about to head up the Arcade, he heard an unnatural, high-pitched laugh from behind him, mocking, triumphant, and just plain annoying. He turned to glower at Easter, knowing it was he who had to be making the sound. In that single glance, one intended to be filled with anger and annoyance, he saw the balloon deflated to raise Easter’s voice: the black and silver one. The angry look fled from the shock and pain, and he gasped slightly, a hurt, almost helpless look in his eyes as they focused not on the offending clown but the deflated balloon. The balloon he wanted. Now placed, deflated and dead, on a rack to be carried home, a trophy of a turned-away customer.

The clock tolled eight o’clock as he continued his ride up a floor, each strike wrenching something inside of him, the loud sound strangely jarring. And mixed with the unexpected pain of his recent experience, he didn’t know how to react. The ride up to the fifth floor was finished in a minute or so. But he could only tell by the time passed on the clock. It seemed like it took much longer...

Arriving on the fifth floor, he headed toward the arcade, attachment to the balloon once again receding to the back of his mind. He was as he had been before catching sight of the black and silver one. It was just a balloon; he could get another one. Now it was time to play, to relax for an hour until he needed to place the box in the car, to fulfill the job for Itex ahead of time. Just to be sure, he fingered the box in his pocket, reassuring himself. And he entered the chaotic arcade, intent on finding someone he knew or maybe just play alone. Time to enjoy himself, have fun for a change!

Setting

Characters Present

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!"

Setting

Characters Present

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.

Setting

Characters Present

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…

Setting

Characters Present

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…