Revelation: The City in the Sky

Revelation: The City in the Sky

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[Complete] The floating city of Revelation houses all that remains of the human population, drifting above a charred earth. Not all is well on the lofted landmass, however, and political upheaval threatens to overturn your very way of life.

3,549 readers have visited Revelation: The City in the Sky since Kurokiku created it.

Heads Up: Completed Storyline!

This universe is marked as COMPLETED, indicating that no further changes will be accepted.

Introduction

Greetings, and welcome to the great steam city, the last bastion of civilization on a dead world, Revelation! Drink in the marvels of technology, engineered by the greatest minds imaginable, a gift of the gods themselves! The trains will take you anywhere you need to go, from the grand Royal Palace of Queen Minerva to the Marchfield Laboratories, home of the most stunning technological innovations of all time. Pay a visit to the Facility, the newly-renovated school for magi, or one of our many climate-controlled agriculture domes. Take up a trade and join one of our fair Guilds. Learn the ways of synthetic energy and contribute to the growing landscape of technology, perhaps. Whatever your inclination, Revelation shall provide.

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Floating above a ruined Earth lies the last desperate scrap of humanity, though I doubt they would ever recognize themselves as such. Do they know, I wonder? These people... programmed to regularity most precise. Even the trains have a greater margin of error than the citizens. Those in the Inner Districts would never guess. They have been too long under the yoke of their own lifestyles to recognize the difference anymore.

The outsiders, though, the downtrodden, those beleaguered residents of the Ghetto, the edge of the world... they might understand. Yet it is they who more than anyone else lack the power to do anything about it, to provide succor to their own suffering, balm to their own wounds. Is irony not sweet? Now, though... now, the magi are free. And that... that changes everything.

-From the Personal Journals of Amon Gregory, Assassins' Guildmaster

-=-

Revelation: The City in the Sky is a roleplay in a steampunk-style setting, in a post-apocalyptic future where most modern technology has been lost. Players will craft characters which will become the nexus points of an involved story. The plot will be collaborated upon between players, and the general course of the story decided ahead of the actual posting. It will fall to the writers, then, to bring their ideas to life and realize them within the world of Revelation.

Will you be a mage, bent on revenge for years of persecution? A scientist, fixated on making the next revolutionary discovery? An aristocrat, fighting to keep your family in a position of eminence? Or perhaps an assassin, working under the near-legendary Amon Gregory, carrying out missions in efficient silence, or researching a shadowy threat within the massive Guild archives?

There is much to be explained, and a good deal of information to be had. For that reason, please read the thread below before beginning the process of character creation. Anything not found there can be directed as a question to the OOC thread or by PM to yours truly.

Information Thread


Character Skeleton Information

Please include the following information, or use Amon Gregory under the 'Characters' tab as a model.

Name
Age
Faction

Appearance- Pictures are acceptable if you like them, but by no means required. A written description is required, however.

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

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

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

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The Story

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The glowing disk, a milieu of interspersed oranges, reds, and just a hint of purple, came slowly to the city on this morning. There had been rain the day before, just enough to wash the buildings and streets a little, to leave the traces of something fragrant and fresh lingering in the air that rarely knew such relief. A fine mist still hung suspended in the atmosphere even as the first denizens of Revelation began to stir in their beds.

The mid-spring season was a good one for the gardens in Alpha, and in all likelihood, the young nobles would be out to enjoy it as soon as they could be roused from their slumbers. The shopkeepers in Beta would merely smile at the cleansed storefronts; no need to wash the windows today. In Delta, the beleaguered citizens would relish in the feel of something other than the ever-present soot and ash of someone else’s industry filling their lungs, as though there might be something different out there for them after all, beyond the filth and grime and soot that even the rain could only smudge.

Loki would not be indulging in such flights of fancy. The Princess allowed her maid to help her dress; though she detested feeling as though she could not do something so simple on her own, there was no need to offend the poor, scared mouse of a girl who’d been hired for it. Eventually, the maid- Bianca, she reminded herself- would grow used to the rather abrasive independence of her charge, but until then Loki would do her best not to scare the child. Not because she particularly cared, of course, but because it would be one less thing for her mother to become preoccupied with.

She waved off the servant, hopefully not too rudely, and took care of her own hair. One had to draw boundaries somewhere, after all, lest one be treated like some kind of living doll, and her pride was not going to allow that, thank you very much. A somewhat-informal mess of braids and ribbons later, she brushed imaginary dust off the black gown and frowned at herself in the mirror. Well, it was going to have to do. It was not as though Amon gave a care what she looked like anyway; the man was far to practical for that, a fact she never stopped being grateful for. Reaching into a drawer that Bianca would never come to know about, she tossed one of the resulting blades in the air and caught it again, watching the movement with disinterested violet eyes before tucking four of them away in various places. The one thing about gowns with so much skirt was they were excellent for concealment.

Her personal receiving room was on the ground floor, which took some walking from the suite of rooms she occupied on the third. There was a steam-powered lift for such things, but the stairs ended just outside the throne hall where her mother would soon be running audiences, and she needed to pass by there first. Sure enough, many of the day’s petitioners had already lined up. Unnoticed by the crowd of citizens and guards, she cast a sweeping glance over the lot, reading body language as she’d been taught. There… two or three individuals from the lower districts, but only one looked like he was there to make trouble. Loki stepped a tad closer and made eye contact with one of the guards, who by now was well-used to the way the Princess could creep about without being noticed and so did not even bother to display his surprise at her sudden arrival. Instead, the man raised an eyebrow in inquiry, and she made a curt motion towards the potential issue. Nodding, the guard made no move, but that was what she had expected. The particular petitioner would be redirected to her eventually, but she needed to take care of some other things first.

-=-

Amon Gregory was one of those people who could show himself in if he so chose, and regularly did. Never seen, he’d slip past the guards outside the palace and into the Princess’s office about three times a week. Presently, he was standing in the middle of the room, appearing to survey the furnishings, which, while expensive, showed a taste uncommon in those who could choose outright ostentation. He liked to think he might have something to do with that, but while he knew credit could be given to him for a number of things about the heir, her choice of furnishings wasn’t really one of them.

Sometimes he wondered if he didn’t have too much of a hand in what his charge had become. For the most part, it would not bother him to claim that she was a ward of his, in a sense, but other times, he began to question the wisdom of giving one already so hard and cunning the skills to fully exploit those qualities. He was only glad she seemed to have maintained some level of qualm with what he viewed as excess in machination. Which was to say that she was not yet (and hopefully would not become) the Prime Minister.

The sound of quiet footfalls alerted him to the presence of the subject of his thoughts long before she entered the room, and he abandoned the train of thought for one more immediate. He turned to meet her, merely nodding instead of offering the bow that was due one of her station. They’d long since superseded that obligation with a different one, and it put them on considerably more equal terms, at least when they had no audience. She might be the Princess, but she was also the student, and he the teacher.

“Amon,” she greeted brusquely, though he was far from put off by it. “Have you found anything?” She gestured carelessly for him to sit, and he did so, even as Loki settled herself behind a carved wooden desk- quite the luxury when trees were so few and far between. The space was occupied by little; there was an hourglass, and a compass, though the maps were fixed to the walls rather than laid out upon the flat surface. An inkpot and several quills were gathered neatly at one corner, just beside a stack of parchment and a stamp which he did not have to examine to know bore her personal seal.

The Guildmaster regarded her steadily. “I’m afraid not,” he replied neutrally, trying to gauge her reaction, an effort made considerably difficult by the fact that she could disguise her feelings just as well as he.

There was no visible reaction at all, save the steepling of slender fingers as elbows rested on the desktop. “I see,” she murmured quietly. “I suppose I should not have expected anything so soon. Gilgamesh is not an easy man to spy upon.” Amon merely inclined his head, and acknowledgement of the reference to the man’s near-legendary paranoia. “Well, keep them on it, if you would. Anything will help at this point. He’s planning something; I know he is.” Loki’s eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly.

Amon had not missed the faint purplish bruising beneath them, evidence of sleepless nights in the recent past. Though she was not one for cosmetics generally as far as he was aware, she had taken his advice and used something to lighten them. It would not do to have one’s enemies quite so aware of the effect they were having, especially not when the Princess was supposed to be a rather impulsive harpy of a woman without enough subtlety to understand the gravity of her mother’s troubles. Sometimes, Amon thought he might actually lay down good coin to see Gilgamesh’s face if he ever discovered that this young lady was the real cause of his troubles.

“As you say,” he replied, rising. He might have just left then, but a thought struck him, or rather it appeared to. He’d been planning on mentioning this anyway. “Have you considered making another foray into the city proper? There might be useful information to be gained there…” he trailed off absently, and did not wait for a reply before he exited, as unseen on his way out as he had been on the way in.

As soon as the door shut, Loki sighed and entwined her fingers, resting her chin on them for a moment. He was right, of course. She’d been far too occupied here lately, and she was beginning to feel a bit disconnected from the larger world. Today, she resolved. I will find time today. Her eyes had just begun to drift closed again when a knock was heard at her door, and she abruptly straightened. “I’ve brought the petitioner as requested, Your Highness,” the voice on the other end informed her.

“Of course,” she replied. “Do send him in, Carlisle.” Rest was for other people, after all.

The setting changes from The Royal Palace to District Delta

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Pandora was not the sort of person that would have risen with the sun if she had any choice in the matter, being rather fond of sleep, but there was no stopping the onslaught of patients that seemed to greet her first thing every morning. It was understandable enough; most of the people who lived in her neighborhood (some would call it a slum, but she thought otherwise) worked in the industrial sector, and wouldn't want to miss a day at work.

It was the kind of thing that could crush you, if you thought about it too much, but Pandora tried not to let it bother her. The soft knock at her door caused the young woman to stir, and a head of ash-blond hair, presently sticking out in all directions, appeared above the mass of thin woollen blankets, followed swiftly by bony shoulders and a faded gray shift. "S'okay," she mumbled blearily. "I'm up." Rolling, she took a good half the blankets with her as she contacted the floor, and had to roll the remaining four feet to the opposite wall to completely disentangle her rather gangly limbs. Maybe it was a side-effect of poor nutrition, but despite being a good few years over twenty, Pandora's figure still resembled a girl of sixteen. Her grandmother assured her that she'd fill out eventually; the wraithlike mage wasn't holding her breath.

Scrambling to her feet, Pandora observed through the solitary grimy window in her tiny living space that it must have rained the previous night, and a small smile tilted the corners of her mouth upwards. Working the thing open (it had a tendency to catch, given the present warped state of it), she inhaled the air and was pleased to discover that it still smelled fresh, not like soot. It wouldn't last long, maybe, but then nothing ever did.

"Pan?" the voice that traveled through the door was masculine, and it snapped her back to the present. Blinking the last vestiges of sleep from bleary blue eyes, she grinned, even though the speaker couldn't see.

"Sorry, Gramps. I'll be down soon, I swear!" The man muttered something unintelligible, but she knew well enough that it was something about not being old enough to be called 'gramps.' The man had to be pushing seventy by now, but his health was remarkable, and she supposed she might actually be doing him an injustice. Then again, she'd been calling him that since he was barely over fifty, so it was by now a habit too ingrained to break.

Turning back to her room and away from the window, she heaped the covers back onto her straw mattress and decided that would do. The only other piece of furniture in the room was a trunk in which she stored clothes just as haphazardly, and she dug through what little she owned before throwing on her usual assembly, sighing slightly when she decided she might need to just abandon the belt for a piece of twine or something. Filling out, indeed... Shaking her head good-naturedly, Pandora threw open the door in her floor and, forgoing the rickety attic ladder that was unstable anyway, simply jumped the remaining distance to the floor beneath, the slap of her bare feet on the rough floors earning her a headshake from her surrogate grandfather, occupied with his meager breakfast in the next room over.

"There you are, dear," her grandmother, a woman in much frailer health than her husband, greeted with a smile of her own. Pandora noted the scant brew of porridge in the pot on the stove and shook her head, sending already-flyaway hair into a tizzy.

"None for me, this morning, Nana. I'm running late anyway," she said breezily, gusting out the door before there was much of a chance for argument. Still-uncovered feet took her swiftly down the road to the makeshift 'clinic' that she ran in the mornings, currently set up in an unused warehouse. Pandora greeted each person she came across, most of them preoccupied and downcast, but knowing her well enough to respond with a smile at the very least. Hers was catching that way.

She almost lost it when she caught sight of the line already formed outside her door. Well, better get cracking, she thought to herself, and the wavering grin regained its strength once more. "Sorry I'm late again, everyone. Mr. Miller, I think you start work in another half-hour, right? Come on in..." She was beginning to regret not taking breakfast already; this line was going to drain her a fair bit. But then, Nana's health wasn't good enough to risk it.

No use worrying now, Pan. Might as well give it what you've got.

The setting changes from District Delta to District Beta

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#, as written by Arke
As the rose-tipped fingers of dawn spread her hands across the sky, it dimmed the dull light emanating from a certain Medical Clinic in District Beta. The sign simply read "Medicine and Physician". The windows continued to let tears roll down it's body, giving passerby's a glimpse into a slightly blurry waiting room complete with little trinkets for children and a selection of novels for older men and women. At a desk sat a young female, garbed in the waxed black robes of apprentice attire. It was quiet, and if one were to be inside, they would only hear the scratching of a pencil against some durable parchment paper. Beside the woman and desk, a long hallway leading to the operating room with a bathroom to the left and simple medical informational posters on the right.

In it, sat a masked individual. His neatly combed black hair was kept in place by the latches securing the beak-like plague mask on his face. His waxed robes and studded leather collar completely hid much of his features from view. Trapped only inches away from his gloved hands was a rat. It hissed and struggled, trying to escape from the bonds that held it. However, it was too weak. It was strangely shriveled and old-looking, as if something had been sapping the life out of it.

The man withdrew a syringe, inspecting the murky liquid. He slowly injected it into the rat, which flailed it's limbs wildly to no avail. The small puncture was covered up, and the masked shadow sat straight. Watching.

Slowly, the creatures weak spasms for freedom stilled, it's eyes growing blank and lifeless. The man stood up, drawing a small wand. A bright, concentrated light shot from the tip into the quiet creature's face. The wand was designed exclusively as a surgeon's tool for precise, bright light. Therefore, no words or gestures had to be spoken because the wand only had the ability to create bright light.

"Curses. Dead again." the man uttered under his breath. The syringe was impatiently tossed into a sink, where several awaited to be sterilized. Drawing a scalpel, he cut open the rat's sparkless body to examine it's insides. It's body was blackened, as if it was burned and the organs were warm and brown- a very unhealthy brown. He had only applied a small dose, but the body had burned itself to death because of it. Perhaps the combined exothermic reactions generated too much heat. Perhaps the body thought the medicine itself was a foreign disease to be burned away.

He needed another subject. However, with his prowling of the streets of Beta proving relatively rat-less, he found that he had to make ventures into Gamma for more victims. Sometimes he had to even go to Delta for the strongest rats. Hunts like these consumed time, something Amon wasn't particularly encouraging as he still had a job to do in the Assassin's guild as well. However, nobody had come to fetch him and it had been awhile since his last contract.

"Oh, that last target struggled quite nicely. Yes. As I predicted too... no sort of neutralization reaction... kept eating straight through his legs. Authorities had a blast trying to explain that one. Yes. Better save that recipe for children that need to talk. Tell the truth. Maybe I'll start with with the nose, oh yes..."

He freed the rat (which was going into an undignified state of rigor-mortis) and threw it into the disposal hole where it would be destroyed.

The setting changes from District Beta to Revelation

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#, as written by Ghaarme

The setting changes from Revelation to District Delta

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#, as written by Ghaarme
The sound of empty bottles mixed with the groaning of a night spent far too deeply in the cups echoed from the entrance of an alley. The world came into focus a bit slower than he would have liked, but beggars can't be choosers. Eos propped himself up on one arm and pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to focus some more. The sound of water sluicing through the gutters and street trenches was nauseatingly loud. He was in one of the cleaner crevices of Delta, if anything in the hell-hole could be considered clean, surrounded by a fair amount of tapped wine bottles and a few other men that seemed to be in a similar state as he. Hungover as hell, to be precise.

Such was not an uncommon occurance, as the dusky-skinned drunk was actually fair company while under the influence of alcohol, but after a closer inspection of his 'drinking buddies', Eos realized such was not the case. The men, all four of them, were cover in bruises. One fellow with slicked back hair had a particularly nasty looking bump on the side of his head. With a scowl, Eos glanced towards the end of the alley. The first couple streamers of sunlight had begun to pierce the morning mist left from last night's rain. Still some time.

Eos yanked the slick-haired man's collar and arose, bringing the passed out man up as well with seemingly little effort. With a quick series of slaps with his free hand Slick awoke with a start. He screamed in fear as soon as he oriented on Eos. Eos sneered and throttled his captive until he bit down on his tongue and was reduced to quiet whimpering.

"Good, you're awake." And quiet. He mentally added. "So..." With a hint of mockery flavoring his voice, Eos flicked the man's swollen temple, to which the surprisingly well-dressed fellow winced. "Why in the Queen's name did I beat your arse so badly last night? It's a little fuzzy, so a refresher's in order here."

For the first few moments Slick's eyes were just wide with fear and astonishment and Eos thought he would have to shake the little fool again when the scared man's eyes darted towards the shoulder of Eos's free arm. Following his gaze, Eos's scowl grew. A deep gash parting the skin from his shoulder to elbow was lazily leeking blood. It was an ugly wound covered by half-congeled blood and a whitish crust--the beginnings of an infection. He looked back to Slick. "You knifed me. And your buddies--all of ya District Beta's i'm guessing--thought that a poor, drunk bum would make grand fun. Am I close?"

Slick could only swallow and whimper some inaudible pleads for forgiveness.

A few minutes later Eos was on top of a low rooftop, just above the grimey fog and taking in the sunrise. The portrait of violets, oranges, reds and even slivers of crystal blue brought tears to his eyes. The scruffy young man wiped the wet warmth away with a dirty sleeve and pulled up his hood.

In another few minutes he was in line to see one of the local healers. The wait wasn't too bad, but the stares were getting annoying. The general fare of people awaiting curative spells from the magi were a grateful, almost pleasant lot who rejoiced in the power that the magic-slinging chimps brought to Delta. Not Eos. Under the hood, all one could see was a shadey scowl and the occassional glaring eye. With one sleeve rolled up to reveal the ghastly wound(and indeed it was, for a young boy peered into the pus-seeping cut and passed out), the man looked more the ruffian looking for healing and a quick turn to rob the mage before leaving. Finally it was his turn, and Eos walked into the rutty little house and sat down at the proffered chair. Under the rimm of his hood, Eos glared at Pandora. He figured she'd be use to the treatment after his third visit, but didn't hold his breath. He was almost expecting a witty comment. "I've got a scratch."

The setting changes from District Delta to The Royal Palace

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It had been another all nighter for Giacomo as he worked on a new improved steam engine, progress was slow and halter a lot due to mismeasurements by the fabricators and delayed material shipments, but Giacomo had no intentions of stopping with the project. Unfortunatly he was required elsewhere today, since the steam engines of the Royal Palace were up for maintainance and controll. Nothing unusual, just a regular check up to see wether everything still runs as smoothly as when it was designed and to seek out candidates for possible future runouts. He didn't take a toolbox with him as he had a specialized kit with the nessesaries on location.( left behind inside the engine room, so when needed other engineers could solve the problems too)

Upon entering the Palace he was reminded about its public services, as he found himself guided into the line for petitioners by the gaurds. A minor annoyance, but a regular one as most who didn't look extremly rich were guided into the line. Though it was a common thing to be pushed into the line without as much as a word Giacomo hated it as it happened everytime he had business in the Royal Palace. Everytime he had to convince the gaurds that he was Giacomo Vernazza and that he was here on maintainance and controll runs. Most of the gaurds would only give in when other staff members or in a few cases where he had been in the line that long that he ended up in front of the queen, verified his claims. This time however he had lost his calmness since he had two all-nighters in a row already and if he wasted his time much longer he would have another one on the maintainance. "I AM HERE TO MAKE MAINTAINANCE RUNS ON THE STEAM ENGINES!" He yelled to the gaurd once more, hoping it would finally penetrate his helmet and skull, so he finally could go to work.( after a good 48 hours of delays and problems anyone would get stressed)

A moment later he was picked out of the crowd by a few gaurds. Giacomo thought he would finally be able to go to work, he couldn't be further off. When he saw the door to the engine room he wanted to walk towards it, but he was blocked by a gaurd on either side of him and then in confusion he asked: "Uhm, I need to be in the engine room, why are we walking past it?" The gaurd refused to speak, but Giacomo took the silence as trouble. He sighed and mumbled: "Great, more delay and another all-nighter are waiting." The only thing he could do was try to memorise the path and surroundings that he saw since he had never been deeper into the palace as the engine room, the elevators and a few times the throne room. Finally the group stopped near a door and one gaurd walked into the room. A moment later he came back out and dragged Giacomo into the room, followed by the other gaurd they entered the room. There he saw the princess, more or less waiting for him. Half doubting wether it was courtfull to take the monocular off( since it covered the worst part of the crystals) or not, he reached for the strap on the back and lossened it wilst taking the monocular off with the other hand. Underneath there was a mix of crystals shards half sticking out of the skin as a porqupine and the clear cyan eye without an iris or pupil, just an empty cyan stare that seemed to look at nothing and everything coming from the eye. Still trying to figure out what to say or ask he looks at the princess with his left eye.

(OOC: Happy new year to all of you!)

The setting changes from The Royal Palace to District Gamma

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Character Portrait: Tinder

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Skin met asphalt in a clumsy plop to the ground, a girl with teal hair who’d just been back flipping through the urban scum streets deciding to take her stop on one particular street corner and dropping to the cement walkway without an ounce of hesitation. A busied expression was painted across her face, as if she were in the middle of doing something very important, eyes blinking and lips pursed while she pulled something out of her pocket. Wrappers crinkled loudly as she tugged all the contents out, plastic glittering in the dim morning light like crinkly gold. Tinder’s serious expression bubbled into a new face, her squinted eyes becoming wide and shiny, her tightly closed mouth spreading open to reveal a toothy, gluttonous smile. She ran her tongue along the insides of her mouth as she poured all the candies out from her hands and onto the ground right in front of her with kindled excitement and radioactive pride.

“SKWAH WAH WAH WAH WAH” cried the dumb peacock named Harry who was perched on her shoulder. She was constantly telling him that he couldn’t perch there anymore like he used to when he was little because he was too big now, but the insufferable thing never listened to her when she scolded him. After his loud squawks, he craned his head over to look at Tinder in the eyes, as if transmitting through eye contact the message “Oh, please let me have some candy.” Tinder scowled deeply- something she only did when she was alone or extremely angry, this time it being because she was alone- and wiggled her shoulders so Harry would be forced to hop off.

He scuttled to the ground just about as gracefully as she had moments before, looking at the girl with those same greedy eyes, peering back and forth between the candy and his owner. “No, Harry, you’re not getting any of my candy!” she stated fussily, already starting to unwrap a piece of hard candy and stuffing it in her mouth. It was butterscotch. She hated butterscotch. Her feathered companion gulped with delight as if he already knew what was about to happen. If Tinder didn’t like butterscotch and Harry really wanted some candy, it only made sense to give him this one, right? Only one, though. She took the round candy from her mouth and smashed it repeatedly into the dirty street so that the pieces were small enough that if Harry tried to swallow them he wouldn’t choke, and then made a grand gesture that signaled Harry to dig in.

Anyone who knew Tinder would be glowing with surprise at that moment, for she had just displayed an undeniably selfless act for another living being- something that doesn’t happen often. Had Harry been replaced by any human on the face of the planet, you bet your bottom dollar that she would have kept sucking on that butterscotch just so that the other party couldn’t have it. Harry was truly the only exception. Mind you, she wasn’t exactly the best caretaker (who lets a bird eat candy, after all?) but what mattered is that she tried and shoveled out at least a cup of compassion and ladled it on top of the blue bird.

She grabbed the rest of the candy, popped a cherry flavored one into her mouth, and stuffed the rest back inside her pocket. She’d stolen the lot from some old lady in the Beta district the other day, and had only remembered it just now. It was like finding a dollar you didn’t know you had folded neatly in your pocket. Perhaps it was exponentially better than a dollar, though, since Tinder loved candy. She somersaulted from her criss-cross -applesauce position on the ground, leaping up like a spring after the second roll and standing on her feet. She looked at Harry who was pecking away at the candy with annoyance. “Come on, Harry, we don’t have all day.” She cried, popping the thing on the head and already starting to walk. Harry’s pecks became more frantic as he attempted to eat it all while still stay close to Tinder, and once she’d already gotten ten feet away, he frantically ripped himself from the spot and scampered to her, shouting his “SKWAH WAH WAH” the whole way there.

She cart wheeled into the more densely populated part of Gamma, home of the working class and the job-chasers (the people who never have a job but are always “looking” for one) in hopes of finding someone in her old posse to travel to Beta with. After a trip, they all dispersed throughout the city to get their shit together, and then recollected to go make another trip. It’d been two days or so, so she really ought to start hunting down one of the other talented freaks like her. Slowly, her cart wheels transitioned to her simply walking on her hands, doing anything to keep herself from getting bored. People-searching was just so tedious.
Harry wiggled uncoordinated behind her like some sort of wonky watch dog or a protective penguin, his neck swaying from side to side as he kept his eyes on all the people around them, just daring them to try and hurt his Tinder.

The setting changes from District Gamma to The Royal Palace

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Loki's face retained its typical bored expression as the scientist was ushered in. Probably not too far up in Marchfield, if he were being sent here to do maintenance work (there was no other good reason for a scientist to be here, after all, and the majority of them pretended not to care how much power they had almost as well as she pretended not to care about anything else). He removed one of those peculiar eyepieces in what she assumed was an attempt at proper decorum, and her eyes narrowed slightly at the blue crystals embedded about his eye. Ah, so this is the one who had the Mana accident... Vernazza. However apolitical scientists believed themselves to be, the princess knew differently, and quite regularly kept tabs on the notable goings-on at Marchfield. The incident that had produced this particular disfigurement had been enough to warrant her attention for the time it took to hear it, at least.

Waving a hand carelessly, she adopted the persona most often used with those she did not wish to know the extent of her involvement in the city's governance, which was to say just about everyone. She'd long since mastered the appearance of a somewhat sharp, but occasionally careless, minor administrator. A bureaucrat, if one were fond of such terminology, menace only to the truly incompetent and of course the efficient. "Formality is for the moment unnecessary, Mr. Vernazza," she doubted he was at all surprised by people knowing his name. It was likely somewhat hard to miss a fellow who selectively glowed blue. "I take it you were placed in the general line again?" Without waiting for his answer, the princess selected a piece of parchment from her desk and began writing upon it in a precise, elegant hand even as she explained further.

"A policy has recently been instituted to counter this tendency. I've been issuing missives like this one to the scientists as I catch them." She chose not to mention that she was sick of dealing with the petulance of 'genius' or her poor overworked staff's ranting about arrogance. It wasn't hard to push this one through Parliament; since she'd actually had someone else draft it, even Gilgamesh hadn't resisted. Why would he? Scientists were generally from noble families; less restriction on their access to the palace was immediately recognized as a potential for the gathering of information, she was sure. As though she was stupid enough not to anticipate such a thing. As though her mother were stupid enough. It was only a palace policy anyway. Personally, Loki tended to think that such things shouldn't need Parliamentary approval, but then the Constitution did disagree with her on that fact, and as of right now, that document was the only opponent she bothered with respecting too much.

Signing the bottom with a flourish, Loki folded the parchment into neat thirds and placed it at the edge of her desk. "There. That piece of paper will allow you to get past the lines on scheduled maintenance days. It does, however, only allow you access to the relevant sections of the building, so do take care not to wander too far astray. If that is all, I will let you go about your business. The lift has been lurching a bit of late, usually just when beginning from a standstill." She did not smile, for such was not in her general demeanor, but the implied warning was as polite as you please, though she had been told once that her demeanor tended to leave people with a vague sense of unease. Let it.

The setting changes from The Royal Palace to District Delta

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Pandora straightened, wiping the beads of sweat from her brow with the back of one hand and frowning as a worried mother, shooting a reproachful look at something the mage could not see outside her door, brought in a young boy. The poor thing appeared to be unconscious, though she did not rightly know why. She sensed no traces yet of a lingering disease; it appeared as though something external must have been the cause of the fainting spell. Well, that was easily enough dealt with; Pandora gave the woman a reassuring smile and headed to an old cabinet leaning against one wall of the warehouse.

She could not readily afford advanced medical supplies, and she wasn't exactly an expert in their use (healing-type magi and physicians approached the same thing from very different angles, after all) but she did have a few basics. Forcing the boy back to consciousness would have required quite a bit of energy, since she would be working against the body's natural inclination rather than with it, but some person rather more ingenious than her had invented smelling salts, which she had purchased on her last trip to a medical supplier in Beta.

Waving the salts under the boy's nose, she was rewarded when his eyes flew open and he sat up rather too quickly, causing him to fall back into her waiting arms. Pandora grinned down at him, an expression which he returned before she handed him across to his mother. "There you go. He'll be fine now. Come back if you need anything else, okay?" The woman nodded hesitantly, and the mage knew that she felt guilty for not being able to offer any form of payment. As the two left, Pan couldn't help but sigh. That was so very like the people here. They always wanted to offer her something for what she did, but she knew most of them had even less than she did, and was not about to take anything for her trouble. How could she?

Still, she hoped there would be another call from the inner districts soon. Those were the only reason her little family unit was still going. She scarcely noticed the next patient come in, busy as she was stowing supplies, but it was hard not to miss the tingle that went up her spine. Somehow, perhaps because of her talent for the metaphysical, Pandora could usually tell when she was being watched. In this case, it was hostile. She knew of only one soul who bothered to waste so much vitriol on someone as inconsequential as herself, and resisted the urge to sigh again. The first time, she had to admit, it had unnerved her quite a bit, especially coming from a patient, but despite her timidity, she allowed little if anything to interview with her work, and belligerent as he was, he was still in need of her assistance.

Turning, she offered the same pleasant countenance that she did to everyone else who passed through the doors of this old warehouse, refusing as much as possible to be intimidated. If he were truly the sort to wish her harm, he'd had plenty of opportunities already, and had not taken them. "Good morning, Eos," she greeted amicably, raising an eyebrow a bit at the state of his arm. She'd managed to weasel his name out of him last time he'd been in, though she doubted he was too pleased with that.

"I've got a scratch." Sarcasm was usually beyond Pandora, and she processed that statement for a few seconds before deciding that no, he was indeed referring to the rather nasty gash on his arm. If that was a scratch, she would rather not see a cut, or- gods forbid- a wound.

"I'd noticed," she replied without a hint of the dryness one might expect to find in such a statement. Crouching beside his chair to examine the thing, she frowned slightly. "It's already getting infected. How did you get this, anyway?" She had learned by now not to expect answers to her questions, but asking them was automatic, and she was in the habit of speaking to fill silences. Even the most reticent patients did not often like being treated in complete quiet, and so she took it upon herself to make them as comfortable as possible, even if she did think she sounded a bit silly sometimes. Better silly than sullen after all.

"I don't want to know, do I?" Shaking her head, she stood once again, running a pale hand through paler hair. She didn't have the supplies necessary to deal with this, and the infection was clearly setting in besides. That just meant she'd have to force it out herself. Taking a deep breath, Pandora regretted it a moment later, when her nose filled with the scent of a festering wound, and -perhaps more strongly- day-old alcohol. She frowned again, and regarded her unlikely patient with uncharacteristic solemnity.

"You're going to kill yourself, this way," she warned him. Generally, Pan tried to stay well away from lecturing those who came under her care, but she was honestly worried for this one. A rotted liver was one of those things that even someone of her talent would have difficulty with, and to her knowledge, a Physicians' Guild doctor had no solution to. And there was no way those wounds he tended to come in with were the result of anything but fights. Realizing it had been several seconds since she began her statement, the mage shook her head, snapping herself back into the present. "What happens when you wake up worse than this and can't get here, Eos?"

"But it's not my job to be your mother; I'm sorry. Here," the concerned tone was replaced with a more professional one, and she carefully adjusted his arm so that it was straight out, trying not to jar it unnecessarily. Swallowing, the young woman closed her eyes and let her palms hover a few inches over the wound. To her extra sense, the injury was hot, damp, and malignant, which was always the first clue as to what kind of battle she was in for. The infection would have to come first, she reasoned, and muttered a few words in a long-dead tongue under her breath, signaling the beginning of what was perhaps best described as something between a fight and a dance. It was nothing quite so simple as dumping energy onto his arm and letting his body sort out the rest. There was a subtle art to it, knowing where and how to apply the stuff, though to the naked eye, what she was doing would simply look like the infection disappearing and the flesh knitting itself together under glowing blue-white hands.

It was not an easy thing, and she suspected he'd been passed out somewhere less-than-clean (but then, where in Delta wasn't?) for quite some time, for it to be this bad so soon. When all was said and done, Pan was feeling a bit unsteady on her feet, but trying as best the was able not to let it show. She opened her eyes and stepped back. The room swam for a few seconds, but eventually settled back into place. "There. All taken care of."

The setting changes from District Delta to The Royal Palace

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Giacomo was slightly relieved when Loki spoke, it seemed that he had worried himself about nothing. As expected it didn't surprise him that anyone around these parts knew his name, wether it was due to his appearance, the history or due to his regular visits to maintain the elevator. The piece of paper however was quite a nice surprise, to be able to get into the engine room without having to wait in the line, it sounded like music in Giacomo's ears. He was about to pick up the piece of paper when Loki told him about the lurching. As he grabbed the piece of paper he said: "At the start of its movement, you say? I'd better do a triple check on that then. And with that if you'll exuse me I'll be off."( he normally double checks everything) Giacomo walks out of the room and straight towards the elevator.

He walked towards the elevator and as he steps into the lift he puts his monocular back on. He presses the button for the first floor and calmly prepares for anything to happen, listening for the fine sounds that normall poeple might not even notice. As the steam engine kicks into action he feels the lurching and almost directly he hears the source, one of the pistons is on its last legs and missing stroke after stroke. At speed this is compensated by the other pistons, but it is a clear indication that things are very wrong. Having identified the problem he continues, untill he finally chooses the top floor.

Everything aside from the failing piston seemed normall untill the elevator closed distance with the pulley at the top, what Giacomo hears there gives him the shivers and at the same time remind him why only he should work on the elevators. A loud creaking noise, like metal that is being torn appart, though loud enough for Giacomo to hear anyone who hadn't foccussed on sounds would have missed it. As soon as the doors open he jumpes out of the elevator and rushes to the pulleyhouse( the room where the pulley is hidden in) there he finds a massive problem corrosion is wearing down on the massive pulley and hair-thin cracks have become visable on the surface. He runs down to the ground floor and presses the button to hail the elevator. Stating to himself: "I am not crazy enough to go back inside that coffin." He runs to the engine room, grabs the demarcation tape and out of order signs, and shuts the steam engine down with an emergency switch. He goes back to every elevator entrance that he covers with the tape and places a sign in front of it to ensure nobody will enter. With the danger in check he walks back to the engine room.

With the engine shut off he took the chance to look at the pistons to see which one was the troublemaker. Quickly he identifies the troublemaker, a piston with weardown on almost every part. He nodded and thought to himself: "This is going to be an expensive repair job. A new pulley, a full new piston and I haven't even ran through it all. At least nobody got hurt, but I'll never give the maintainance out of my hands, if I hadn't noticed it now the elevator might not have made it to the next maintainance run." He walked to a maintainance log and wrote the problems up, adding and underlining: Checkup not finished! He walked to a table where a large book and a few forms for new parts awaited him, and began filling in the forms to order new parts.

The setting changes from The Royal Palace to District Beta

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#, as written by Arke
"Miss! Is the doctor in? This patient was cut during a bar fight. The other clinics closer to the scene are full!"

Cut was a vast understatement. The man had several lacerations to his arm, chest, and a mass of bruises discoloring his face and gut. He was carried in on a makeshift stretcher of two pallets propped by two long poles. The apprentice doctor stared at it blankly, getting up and hurrying down the hall. Opening the door, she found the dark room empty. The screeches of a rat she heard earlier was the only evidence that he had been in there. Looking at one of the operating tables, she found a note upon it's sterilized surface. Her face turned red as she read the simple message: "Use what you know. This is a test."

She cursed under her breath, running back and explaining that the doctor wasn't in but she could treat him. They didn't really have much of a choice, and grudgingly carted the limp man down into the room. The apprentice walked in, grabbing a similar (though smaller) plague mask and donned it. Retrieving some materials from a nearby cupboard, she ushered the other two out.

She uneasily withdrew a large soaking pad, and dampened it with a strange light-amber liquid.


District Delta

The Train departed it's station, starting at a lazy pace and soon disappearing into the distance. The air was noticeably thicker than that of Beta, which is understandable since Delta was little more than a hellhole for refuge and wastes. He didn't care much for the mages that resided here, since many of them claimed to be better than a normal physician.

"If I had to guess the contaminants I'd have to base it off some sort of opposite to Bete. Hmm. Perhaps there is something that cleans the air? Despite our flight through the sky, this environment remains as oppressive as ever. Mayhaps the air is heavier and sits on the streets? Can air do that?"

As he pondered what can be described as chemistry, he walked the downtrodden streets of Delta. It was terrible, but the masked doctor had been here so many times to hunt for rat specimens and sometimes assignments by Amon that he didn't really care. In fact, the streets have become familiar where he usually frequents. In this case, it is marked by a large warehouse where a certain clinic is run by a magi healer. As one of the few distinguishing features, he chose this area of Delta simply because he wanted to observe the patients and magic while here. Personally, he enjoyed watching the mage strain herself over healing multiple cuts and bruises. It would be so much easier with a simple bandage wrapping and poultice to keep infection away. However, as time went on he began to feel sorry for the woman that so selflessly wasted her strength giving to those who cannot give back. For some unfathomable reason, she was never bitter about this.

As he wandered, he decided to pay the clinic a visit. The rats wouldn't be out this early.

"Damn. I chose the wrong time to go hunting." He muttered, "Rats- nocturnal. I keep forgetting. I should make some sort of hole in the operating room to check the time of day. Didn't even notice it was light out. What was I thinking? I don't know. Maybe the rat's have grown- oh that would be nice. A good fighter would definitely help me in research. Yes. The last one was real feisty. Almost bit me when I tied it down. Oh, but they become so docile after a few rounds. Don't they know the meaning of persistence? It only hinders me."

Etzel realized that he had already stopped in front of the Clinic. He opened the door lazily, just to see Pandora, the owner healing a ragged man looked beat up. Upon closer inspection, he realized that others had moved away from him. Perhaps he was a drunkard. Or a vagabond. He realized those that had seen him enter shrunk away. His presence was admittedly intimidating, especially when they could see no physical feature on his body. The tinted lens stared right back at them.

"Well, Pandora Elling. Looks like you're going to drop and the day hasn't even started yet." He commented dryly.

The setting changes from District Beta to The Nexus

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Loki dismissed the last of her appointments for that morning and watched the woman leave. It appeared the Tailors' Guild was being played for laughs on a business venture yet again. Their Guildmaster bordered on completely incompetent, and somehow she was the one who usually wound up hearing about it. She'd have to tell Lord Mycroft once again that taking blatant advantage of this was indeed a violation of antitrust laws, but then maybe it could wait until tomorrow. She did rather detest his roving eye, and he didn't even offer the courtesy of trying to conceal it. One more matter that she tended to hear about far too much.

Sometimes, I'm not sure whether my job is to help run this city or just know all its little secrets, she thought sardonically, leaning back in her padded wingback chair and suppressing a groan when this caused her to note the crick forming in her neck. Her eyes closed for a moment, and a pale hand tried to work loose the pang there, with a measured degree of success. Some days should really just end before they began. But then, she had not the luxury of making those thoughts into truths, and it was useless to wish it so. Might as well stop lollygagging about and get back to it. Loki's eyes snapped open, and she glanced at the clock on her wall, a rather elegant amalgamation of wrought iron and mother-of-pearl. There was still a bit of time left until the Queen would be expected to preside over Parliament, so she had a few minutes to make ready herself.

Only recently had Loki begun to attend herself, as she was quite certain she was finally of an appropriate age to use the excuse of learning from her mother. The woman resisted the urge to scoff at the mere thought. Oh, she learned, of course, but not in the way anyone thought she was. The Princess was ever a silent observer at the sessions, but she rarely missed a detail. It was a good thing, really, that she no longer had to employ a Guild spy as her proxy- there was so much more information to be gleaned from seeing things in person, with her own eyes.

-=-

Minerva Blackwood, currently occupied in the audience chamber, listened patiently as the scientist tried to explain why, exactly, the Crown should grant him more funding than Marchfield had seen fit to. Admittedly, his project did sound rather interesting, but she had no desire to be stepping on Dr. Vanderbilt's toes, and he likely knew what the chances of success were much more surely than she did. "Thank you for your petition, Mr. Barnes," she began by rote, and even she could hear the fatigue in her voice, which she hurried to mask as well as she was able, "but at this time, I am afraid your request will be denied. The Crown allots a research fund t Marchfield yearly, and whatever Dr. Vanderbilt decides to do with it is his purview. If you truly believe this project has a chance of success, may I suggest you take it up with him personally?"

The man, clearly dismissed, took his leave with a dejected expression, shoulders slumped, though the Queen could not have been happier to see him gone. Not because she disliked anything in particular about him, but because as soon as the grand steam-operated double doors creaked into place behind him, she broke into a coughing fit. It would not have been meet for a subject to see her in such a state, this she was constantly reminded of.

"Your Majesty!" The Queen's eldest bodyguard and attendant, Alia, rushed to her side, but Minerva held the other woman off with the hand not covering her mouth. After several seconds, and still gasping for breath, the monarch straightened in her seat.

"I'll... be all right. Just a little weary is all." Minerva smiled shakily, but Alia's lips pressed into a tight line, and she remained apparently unconvinced.

"The Princess says she may have found a doctor for you to see. One of Amon's people, since you still do not wish to make this public." The slightly-disdaining emphasis on 'Amon's people' was not missed, though the Queen wisely chose not to comment. How exactly her daughter knew who Amon's people were was something she did not quite understand, as she had only ever known the two of them to interact a few times, and nothing beyond the cursory at that, adverse as they both were to idle chatter. But...

"If she believes it will help, do send for this doctor later today... after Parliament." Alia's distaste was not masked this time, and though she would never show it, the Queen could not help but share that frustration. For as long as she'd occupied her throne, David Gilgamesh had been there to challenge her, and the man commanded a forceful charisma of the sort that her own quiet assurance had never been able to match in a public forum. Granted, it had been a bit easier lately, something that Minerva attributed to her increased experience in the political arena, but he was still as staunch an opponent as ever on the things she really cared about. Though they had been free of the Facility for fifty years, magi were still not citizens of Revelation, unable to organize themselves into a Guild because of it. She knew that if they did not have those rights soon, there would be revolution, and while the numbers were small, there was still a reason magi were feared, and the Queen did not want all that blood on her hands.

But, she reflected as she entered the Parliament building flanked by her daughter and her attendant, it seemed that even if she understood this, Gilgamesh did not. Or refused to; either way, the result was the same. The meeting, as usual, had already begun, though it seemed to have become a good deal more heated than usual, which had the Queen casting a worried glance to the floor as she ascended the platform upon which the thrones were located. She took the central one, and Loki the smaller one to her left. The one at her right, she did not even look at. It was too tangible a reminder of the corresponding emptiness inside herself, and twenty years had only done so much to soothe the hurt.

The announcement of their presence was made, but it would only interrupt business for a few moments when everyone present bowed, and then things would resume. From the keen look on Loki's face, her daughter was just as interested to know what was transpiring as the monarch herself.

The setting changes from The Nexus to Revelation

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#, as written by Ghaarme
Thoughts, rather inconsequential fragments of thought floated around in the ruffian's head while he awaited treatment. Eos wasn't much of a thinker these days and contented himself with zoning out most of the time to dull the pains of reality. Yet someone had to interrupt his 'me' time.

"You're going to kill yourself, this way... There was a long, uncomfortable pause. Extremely uncomfortable actually, as Eos found that he wanted her to continue. Not that he'd admit to any such thing. It was just...different...to have anyone actually even pretending like his life meant anything anymore. The feeling was almost foreign. He might have even gained a measure of respect for the little woman had she kept her trap shut. "What happens when you wake up worse than this and can't get here, Eos?"

It was his turn to be silent. Eos pulled back his hood with the undamaged arm regarded Pandora with a level stare. It wasn't the first time he'd allowed her to see his eyes unobstructed, but it was obvious his scrutiny unnerved her on some level. For what felt like a long while he just looked into her eyes with the cold, pallid gaze of someone who might as well have been dead for the lack of life they held. Her's, he noted, were dulled somewhat despite the sickeningly sweet air she practically exhumed. She did an admirable job of working without faltering this time. Finally, with a sardonic smile he spoke. "Dying is always an option Sweets."

Hopping off of the chair Eos flung down the sleeve of his injured arm and tested it out with a few rotations. It still stung where the flesh had been re-knitted, but that was remarkably more bearable than the pain that the infection had wrought. He noticed that Pandora was swooning and made a split second decision. With a sharp movement he slipped a small bundle down the front of her garments, probably copping a feel but not really paying it any heed. The tiny purse held a quite a few coppers and even a couple silvers. That'd help with food for a while, he thought. Not like I need it anyways.

Eos had just been about to leave when some...thingwalked through the clinic door. His jaw literally dropped in surprise and, not remembering to pull his hood up, the astounded man's face was plain for all to see. It'd been years since Eos had laid eyes on anything so wondrous. "Is that some sort of gas-mask? It doesn't look military grade...hmm. Anti-dust and night vision maybe?" Without realizing it Eos reached out and poked Etzel's 'beak'. "Whoa...erm." With that the man pulled up his hood and made a quick exit, bulling through the crowd to the safety of the shadows of Delta. The mask was still interesting though.

The setting changes from Revelation to The Nexus

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#, as written by Arke
"...There is no reason for us to continue these charades with anti-trust movements. If they make money for us, it will leave our economy untouched and going through all this trouble will just drain our resources. Resources that we don't have." The oily mustached senator said. The room rumbled, an undercurrent of agreement running like an electric current. Near the back of the room, a brown-haired youth's eye brows knitted together. The man continued. "It is only natural people are frustrated. They don't understand the hard work it takes to run a company such as their own. I believe they are acting simply like spoiled children. It is for the good of the city!"

The young man wore clean, thick attire today. His hair remained as untidy as usual, and around his shoulders was a fur coat latched across his upper torso by a chain. His epieu remained at his side, and hidden from view was a small flask. He sat leaning forward, with deep green eyes that gave off a soothing sensation. His skin was slightly grayed, but only his face was revealed. His body was heavily clothed, his hands were gloved.

Heads turned as the sound of tapping against wood was heard. The youth raised his hand from the table. "What is it this time, Lord Taylor?" The speaker said with contained distaste. These men were not stupid. They knew how to act, how to compose themselves.

"I politely disagree with your way of thinking, Baron Schwerer. I believe that their wages are too small to benefit our economy. You must see that because the people spend, the economy drives. When we deny our working class a good, steady income we ultimately lose out." Caelin replied. The man nodded stiffly. "Just as well, discontinuing our efforts to bust trust abusers will provide the same result. We are giving these company leaders a monopoly over their trade. They'll drive prices up so high our people who cannot afford these items will simply make do without them. Competition is what keeps the buyers coming back."

"Lord Taylor, you speak with such assurance, yet your family monopolizes the chemical factories! Should I suspect you to be a hypocrite?" The Baron interrupted.

"That is not-"

Suddenly, a courier came in and announced the presence of the Queen and Princess. Cut off mid-sentence, Caelin fell silent as the Queen entered the chambers, taking a seat with her daughter. She looked as strong as ever. He originally had suspicions that the Queen was ailing due to her unusually thin stature. Little did the lord know, the clothes hid her symptoms. Just as his clothes hid his own. He bowed respectfully, awaiting their seating before sitting down himself.

Turning back to the Baron, he cleared his throat. "That is not true, Lord Schwerer. I have maintained that I would keep prices the same, adjusting it as I see necessary. I have treated my workers well, and I am perfectly willing to-"

A hand slammed to the desk. A caped Count stood up. "I've had enough. You are avoiding the question, Lord Taylor. You still admit to owning a vast majority of the chemical companies, no matter how well you sugar coat your words. Your youth blinds you." He accused.

The fur-coated noble took the criticism calmly, his deep green eyes implying nothing but a soothing composure. "It is pride that blinds, milord." He replied. The Count's face remained impassive, though a spark flickered in his eyes. Ignoring this, Caelin continued. "By paying our laborers better, we ensure we have a loyal workforce. Starving as they are, they wouldn't mind simply just all leaving on strike. That would be disastrous for us. I have been to Delta. I fear that we push them too far."

"Yes, Lord Taylor, we know. You, and probably only you have been to the slums known as Delta. Why? To be ridiculed? You gain nothing from that experience, save perhaps illness. You only see them as the ungrateful savages they are. Gamma is only slightly better." An annoyed Baron retorted.

Caelin knew he was losing. This was nothing new- he lost all the time. He quietly receded from the fight. The tension suddenly eased, and the majority agreed that they would finish up this topic at a later date. For now, he had been able to stop the dissolving of the Trust breakers. Perhaps the market will become free now for aspiring large business owners.

His hand slipped silently to his chest, resisting the urge to clear his lungs. His hands shook as he replaced them on the table. It seemed colder than usual out. He wanted to calm his nerves and afflicted body by taking a drink out of the flask, but that was impolite and would only serve to undermine his reputation even more. The medicine had done extremely well in halting his symptoms and slowing the wasting of his body. The illness moved like molasses now- slow, steady, but easily maintained and monitored. As he focused back to the topic of discussion, his heart lurched as they started getting into civil rights and what to do with people like the Magi.

The setting changes from The Nexus to District Delta

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"Dying is always an option Sweets."Pandora didn't really know how to respond to that, truth be told. The statement, so bluntly uttered, was like a sledgehammer to her stomach, and she read some kind of accusation in his expression that she could not answer. Of course, she could be completely misconstruing everything; this could be a joke, seeing as she was horrible enough at catching the more deadpan kinds that she usually missed them entirely, but something told her it really wasn't. Her mouth opened as if to say something, but then clicked shut again once she realized she still had nothing. The logic of such a statement didn't really register with her, if there was any to be found. She was a healer. People came to her because they wanted to live, wanted to keep pushing onward with that sort of indomitable determination that she'd always admired in her neighbors.

But what if that wasn't the case? What if they just showed up here because they needed to keep on going, but not because they wanted to? Did it count if you kept living so your family wouldn't lose your pitiful wages and starve? Eos didn't have any family that she knew of, so maybe dying really was an option for him. The thought was an ugly one, indeed, and she wondered for a moment why he troubled himself to come see her, someone he obviously did not like, if it was all really as cavalier as that? Should she be angry that she'd used all that effort to heal him and it mattered so little to him? Pan shook her head slowly. No, she'd known this would sometimes be a thankless job when she took it on. She wasn't doing it for the gratitude, and she certainly wasn't in it for the money (not that there was much). The mage did what she did because it was right and necessary. If he did not see the reason behind continuing to exist, that was a fault in his thinking, not hers.

Unfortunately for her, getting lost in thought was not necessarily compatible with remaining aware of one's surroundings, and she was brought most uncomfortably back to the present by a hand somewhere she was quite certain she did not allow hands to be. Pandora let out a squeak, and tried to move backwards, but presently the situation didn't allow for that, and she felt something slide down her shirt before the hand was removed, much to her profuse embarrassment. To her further shame, the woman's pale flesh was soon a fairly uniform red, from her face to her collarbone, and she swatted at Eos's hand quite a bit too late to be useful.

"W-what are..." she made a small noise of frustration. She really, really wanted to rail at him for doing that but he was already halfway out the door, and she was a mess of confusion besides. She was most definitely offended, but of course what he'd said earlier hadn't left her either, and so she wasn't sure whether she could rightly be all that angry at present. Mostly, though, she was just completely exhausted, and presently wanted nothing more than to disappear off the face of the earth for a few minutes to collect herself. Well, he'd be back at some point, she knew (people like him didn't just stop drinking and getting into fights, after all) and she'd have plenty of time in between now and then to decide how to handle that fact.

"Well, Pandora Elling. Looks like you're going to drop and the day hasn't even started yet." A wry voice reminded her that she had not yet in fact disappeared from the world after all, much as she would like to believe otherwise, and she tried with very limited success to compose herself into something that could pass for her usual attitude. Shaking her head a bit too hard, she forgot about how tired she was until the motion brought a healthy dose of vertigo with it, and smiled past the spinning room.

"I um... yes," she admitted in a rather small voice. "It has been rather busy this morning I'm afraid. Five lung treatments, assorted fight wounds, a few children..." she knew she probably didn't have to explain the last to him. Concerned parents often brought their children to her for cuts and scrapes that could heal just as well on their own, but she couldn't tell them as much and just turn them away, so she healed these, too. It was a remarkably inefficient use of her power, but she was short on ointments and bandages, and never had been able to say no to a child's face. "And, well... him," she gestured half-heartedly at the door Eos had exited through, and resisted the urge to shake her head again.

"But it's all quite fine," she continued, aware that she had started to ramble and trying to bring her tongue back around to something more relevant. "Is there something I can do for you, doctor?" she inquired politely. She didn't know the man's proper name, but his appearance was certainly distinctive enough. Sometimes, she wondered if masks like those wouldn't help to keep toxins from the lungs of this district's people. She might have to ask about that.

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#, as written by Rhaegon
Silence and darkness were favorite traits in this situation. When stalking prey you did not want them to be aware of you if you wanted to be an efficient killer. People who killed for pleasure might say otherwise as they usually wanted suffering out of their victims. Nuadha did not want suffering out of his. He wanted silence and death, a pretty simple request when one put their mind to it. He had been trained in the ways of deaths for going on 10 years now behind a brilliant man named Amon. Amon had taken him in years ago and most of his remembered life was under his care and tutelage. He had learned to be a master of the art of death.

He had been given quite a few nicknames among the other assassins, most of which made fun of his small size and his young age. The few that knew his skills first hand made no jokes and held him in the utmost respect as one of the top members of the Guild. Amazingly, his face was not at all well known to the outside world. He suffered from a rare trait that caused his eyes to be different colors. Since eyes are one thing you cannot cover up (Particularly in the dark) he had learned to hunt with one eye covered. He changed it periodically so that anyone who did happen to see him might not recognized him. It was his one distinguishing mark.

In all actuality no one had ever seen him or witnessed him when on a mission.

On this night he had been targeting a small gang leader. For all he knew the man could have been fighting to liberate the poor underclass from the abusive hierarchy. That was not his business. People who got mixed up in the feelings of others lost their edge. Losing your edge meant death. Or at least it should, as was his belief. The alley he had used was covered with empty bottles and a few beaten and broken men, some of whom had been in a fight. Nuadha thought to himself that this was the life Amon had rescued him from and he was thankful for that. The man had gone quickly. A quickly slit throat, the collapse of the body, it was all one fluid motion that the assassin was used to by now. He drug the body into the alley were the other men were laying unconscious from what ever had taken them out. After that he made his way back out...

The thudding of the rain on the window woke him from his dreams. Again a dream of a job that had not happened. These came quite often now though he had no fears of losing his sanity. The dreams did not bother him nor did he question them. If the job happened in the future, he would easily know what rout to take seeing as how he had already seen it. Luckily no dream had ever turned into a real job or Nuadha might actually question his mind for once. He quickly hopped out of bed and put on his more welcoming persona. Tossing on his little apron he ran to his little corner store where he sold fruits and such grown in the corners of the city. He had made trips to the fields in the last few weeks and was well stocked so he would be ready if Amon called for him.

He had not been called to duty in awhile, as was usually the case before the dreams started showing up. Turns out most of the political unrest was swirling around what should be done with the mages and what should be done in order to keep them and the people from revolting. The Assassin's guild had been very careful with the mages in the past and it looked like Amon was planning on keeping the same philosophy. However Nuadha had not been promoted to Amon's secret council in any way so there was no way of knowing what the Guild Master was really planning.

He pushed the door to his tiny little shop (Sadly it would have had more space had it been just a cart on the street). The Guild had paid for this little cart and tacked him an ID in with the merchants guild in order to help him keep out of the eyes of interested folk that might realize his true identity. He dusted off the counter and went to unpacking fruits. While working on this simple task his mind wondered as it usually did while busy. He hopped Amon would visit soon, he missed him.

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Loki watched the argument shoot back and forth between the two men with an increasing degree of interest. She had been aware, of course, that Lord Taylor was generally in favor of antitrust legislation and fair pricing, not to mention constitutional rights for magi, but he was a small voice in a small minority, or at least that had been the case. She was about ready to change her opinion until he seemed to visibly deflate, and conceded the fight without so much as a last word.

The Princess narrowed her eyes and leaned back in her ornate chair, considering. That man needed to grow a stronger spine, but there was still a chance... he seemed to have a better understanding of what he was fighting for than most like-minded individuals did; even Marquis Goldwater, the official 'face' of the radical movement in Parliament, did not deign to visit the site of the suffering he claimed to despise in all forms. Interesting... she would have to see exactly how far this man's devotion to his cause ran before she made any sort of move, of course, but it would not hurt to make discovering this a priority. Perhaps Amon would have a suggestion for who to put on it.

Presently, the subject turned to the magi, as it was wont to do in these halls, and the Prime Minister stood to make his speech. Gilgamesh was not a small man, but his voice could fill every last corner of a room when the occasion demanded it. That sort of talent, she had to respect, but at the same time, it seemed to eliminate the need for a subtlety that Loki found more impressive, and as a result, her overall impression of the man's talent was that he leaned on his charisma like a crutch rather than using it as a tool. Most injudicious. Now, if only she could figure out a way to undermine that charisma...

She contemplated slicing out his vocal cords and being done with it, but of course that was against the rules of the little game they all played. Her upper lip twitched, the thought alone almost enough to curl it into a sneer. Such a terrible analogy; though to some of these people, the lives of those they considered beneath them were doubtless even less valuable than pawns in an extravagant chess gambit. Gilgamesh was still talking, and while she usually made a point to try and listen to his spume, she had read this particular speech in advance, courtesy of a spy, which left her free to observe the reactions it was garnering.

Ah, how typical. At least half the room was completely enraptured. Perhaps allowing oneself to believe his religiously-justified drivel was indeed a form of bliss in ignorance. Ah, we mighty ones, we blessed ones, so do we guard the future of the worthy by destroying the present of the downcast! What mercy, what virtue, what sacrifice! It was about enough to make one sick, the subtext, if one allowed themselves to think about it. Her eyes drifted over a few less-satisfied faces and back to Lord Taylor. Were his hands... shaking? She might not have recognized it so easily were she not on such constant lookout for the same thing in her mother. Coincidence... or something else that bore looking into?

"Thank you, Prime Minister," her mother spoke, and Loki's gaze immediately snapped back to immediately in front of her, where the Queen was presently addressing the room from her chair, as generally happened once or twice per session. "I do believe, however, that by now we are all quite aware of your thoughts on magi. What remains to be decided, however, is whether or not there will be a vote on whether or not to bring the constitution as a whole document up for review. While certainly the possible inclusion of those once excluded will be a primary focus should this indeed happen, there are other things to be considered as well, and I think it is fair to say that nobody here believes the document ideal for today's Revelation in its present state. I will grant another opportunity for anyone who wishes to do so to speak on this matter uninterrupted, but after that I will call for the vote itself. Does any member of Parliament wish to be heard?"

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#, as written by Arke
District Delta

Etzel made careful note of that man, who had enough courage or curiosity to walk up and touch his mask. Of course, he didn't really care, but it was very unusual for somebody to do so. He left, but the still man had already memorized his face, his posture, and walking tendencies. Subject to change.

"It's a bit late for your hormones to be running up and down your body, miss." The doctor replied, watching with interest as the acclaimed medicine woman of Delta was losing her composure. Didn't rape happen by the minute in Delta? He wasn't sure, he only came to Delta for the rats. He listened to her stutter incoherently before presenting him a rational response in the form of a question. Behind his mask, he smiled sardonically. "I'm here to observe. I came too late to fetch a few subjects for tests that I run. I decided to kill time by visiting this... clinic that's renowned in Delta. If you need help, feel free to ask- but my methods are not familiar to you. I am rather... unorthodox."

He showed her the small vials belted to his waist, containing the various pain-killers, antibiotics, and poisons. Of course, they were all more or less the same color, only a few of them differed in light shades of red, brown, and yellow. The rest were clear as water. All of theme were scentless. Some of them were even tasteless. "I can offer you medical equipment, medication, and my advice." He added,

He sat down at one end of the room, appearing impassive as ever. Underneath the mask, was a creeping grin. Because every District aside from Delta shunned the Magi, he never had a chance to observe metaphysical magic at work. Sitting back, he pulled out his nasty-looking syringe and started testing it, flicking at the needle to ensure it's stability and inspecting the angle to ensure it was completely straight.


The Nexus

Listening to David Gilgamesh was like watching an over-sentimental play. He was more interested in the pattern the polished wood his hands rested on than his honey-coated words, but he forced himself to listen in order to find some sort of weak argument or something to spread around Beta to incite degrading rumors. Of course, his speech was nothing more than a sugared hate speech against the Magi. It was amusing enough he had to fight to hold back a pained smile. After he was finished, the Queen finally stood and offered one last chance to speak before the bill was taken into consideration. This was his last chance to fight back. The last few months he had been fighting tooth and nail to stop those sheets of paper from even going up into consideration, this was his final opportunity- if only to delay it for a few more weeks. He tapped the desk, and he felt steely gazes bore into him.

He had long been desensitized to these stares. Standing, he bowed to the Queen. "Thank you, your Majesty." He said quietly. He took a breath, and let his emerald eyes sweep over the skeptic crowd.

"District Delta is in an almost irreparable state of disrepair. There is slime, dirt, and creatures that run rampant. The buildings are rickety and cramped. And yet, we condemn human beings such as ourselves to live in this area that is almost constantly shrouded in pollution. They are cursed to live lives that will yield no opportunity, no happiness. They work to the point where they collapse to make ends meet, and among these are Magi. It is said, that those who dwell on the past cannot move forward. It is true. If we continue to view the Magi as nothing more than savage beings that nearly destroyed our race, we as a whole will never take a step forward. In the past, it is true that they decided to try and beat the gods. Is this true now? How can you be so sure that then still think that? How do you know that they want to repent for their sins? Will you condemn innocent Magi to a live of dirt and rats because of something that happened a long time ago? If so, you are no worse than the Magi of old." He paused, his voice beginning to shake. He took a breath, fighting the urge to reveal his symptoms in a raging fit of wheezing.

Caelin was genuinely surprised at his current state. However, he continued. Now as not the time to show weakness. "The fact that more people live in Delta and Gamma rather than Beta, is humiliating. We speak of them not as individuals, but as tools that we throw away when they don't work anymore. They provide the blood that pumps through our way of life. We have so much opportunity in Delta- Gamma as well! How many genius' have we wasted having them work mindlessly in factories? How many chances have we destroyed in our bitter caste by forcing Magi to work in sub-human conditions when they could be providing us a source to study magic itself? I cannot stand for this." He turned to bore his calming green eyes into Gilgamesh.

"It is when a government that cannot serve the people, that our condemnation has arrived." He said. "I cannot partake in a Classist vote against the people if I can help it."

With that, he turned and exited the room. As the door closed behind him, he walked down the halls toward the exit. When he was sure he was well out of hearing range, he stopped by a window and started coughing violently. Pressing a hastily-drawn kerchief to his mouth, he gripped the railing for support as his body lashed at him. As he calmed, he folded and hid the bloodied kerchief from view. His hands trembled as they drew the flask containing his life-line to the political environment. Without it, he would have been exposed to Parliament about his illness long before. taking a gulp, he remained still until he felt the burning sensation fade away.

"It's left for fate to decide the outcome now. Pity I cannot be there to hear about it first-hand." He mused in a hoarse voice, continuing down the steps and outside.

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Choosing to judiciously ignore the comment about hormones (age had nothing to do with one's sense of propriety after all, and she was genetically cursed with skin that could turn from white to red at a moment's notice anyway), Pandora took in the rest of the strange doctor's words with interest. The liquid-filled vials she could not tell the contents of any better than this man could manipulate magic, but certainly medical science was of more than a passing interest to her. Anything that could help the people she worked for was a most welcome addition to her day, and though she found it peculiar that he should choose to idle time here of all places, she certainly wasn't going to say no.

The syringe, she wasn't entirely sure of, but then now wasn't the time to get squeamish, and she sighed inwardly. He had been right, in a way, when he had implied that she was quite immature. Sometimes she had absolutely no idea what she was doing, and on occasion, it became rather painfully obvious. Insecurity, though, was an indulgence she could not afford, not when it came to her work. Certainly, there were a few other healers down here, but Pandora knew that of them, she had the capacity to do the most, as she had discovered in her days being educated at the Facility. Unfortunate as some of the realizations she'd come to back then were, the knowledge she had gained was invaluable, and with it came what she viewed as an obligation to use it the best way she could.

"Any assistance you could provide would be most welcome," she replied, choosing to spend the intervening time tidying up what little clutter had accumulated over the course of the morning. Her next major influx of patients probably wouldn't occur until lunchtime, which was not too long from now, but enough time to let her vision clear. Maybe she could even afford some food for herself- no. That money was going straight back to that permanently-hungover...person when she saw him next. With a few choice words, too, assuming she could find the guts. Oh, who was she kidding? There was no way she was going to be able to stand up to him. She couldn't even stand up to particularly stubborn and willful children, let alone anyone else. Medical supplies, then. Maybe the man currently seated in one of her chairs would have some recommendations for good basic sorts of things.

"Actually... there is one patient I would very much appreciate you taking a look at, if you would. As far as I can tell, she has the same lung disease as everyone else, but normally, I can take care of that for a good few months with just one session. I have to see her just about every week or so. She should be in shortly." One of the downsides to magical healing was that though Pandora could generally feel out what was wrong and fix it, she could not diagnose, and so often had nothing in the way of prevention advice. How did one tell a Delta occupant to stop breathing the air, after all? But maybe if the problem was dietary or something like that, the doctor might be able to help where she could not.

She might have said more, but at this point a young man, perhaps eighteen or so, stumbled in, and Pandora nodded to the masked physician before venturing in the youth's direction. That was odd; she'd never seen this particular man before, and she knew most of her regular patients by name. It was something of a rule, actually. If she saw the same person more than once, she pestered them (gently, mind) until they divulged that little piece of information. "Hello," she greeted cheerfully. Maybe a little overly so, for the shaggy head of brown hair snapped up, and the person appeared to try focusing on her, but his eyes were just a little too gazed over for that. Her first thought was that he might be intoxicated; his clothes were nice enough that he clearly belonged closer to Beta or Gamma than here, and the only cause people had for visiting Delta (doctors excluded, apparently) was for the exceedingly cheap, exceedingly toxic liquor or a visit with one of Ishtar's daughters.

He replied by collapsing on the floor, and Pandora immediately knelt at his head, trying to focus her senses on what exactly was troubling him. The answer was troubling, and she bit her lip, glancing up at the still-unmoving physician. "I think he's been poisoned." The feeling of wrong-ness that usually informed her where an injury was informed her that whatever was ailing him was spread across his entire system. Immediately, the hands at his temples began to glow blue, and she focused first on his vital organs, trying to clear whatever was infecting him out of there first, or keep them from becoming infected in the first place. It would slow the process, but she was unsure she had enough power to chase it out entirely, and most poisons didn't require as much to kill as this poor fellow had been pumped with.

"I don't suppose you can diagnose and neutralize this, could you?" she asked, voice strangely lacking in all identifiable emotion. It had to be, lest she lose control of her magic by putting too much of her attention on anything else.

-=-

District Gamma

The claustrophobic, dingy little apartment in Gamma was one of those places that nobody ever really looked twice at. The windows were clean enough not to look like they belonged in Delta, of course, but the facade was rarely-washed, due to being on the top floor of a building that was equally-cramped in its proximity to its neighbors. The third window from the right was about as unassuming as one could ask for, actually, which suited its present occupant just fine.

The inside was considerably less messy than one would expect, at least if one was one of those Alpha scum who thought that the lower classes periodically lived in nothing but their own filth. Oh, there was plenty of squalor around, but generally speaking, people did what they could to keep their own residences tidy, even if everything was rickety and covered in several layers of rust. This room wasn't much different, save the oddly-labeled bottles of chemicals that lined one shelf, alphabetical designations scrawled in a spidery, sharp hand. Strange bundles that only the initiated would recognize as wicking were piled below the shelves, and assorted weaponry occupied a corner all its own, all of it immaculately maintained.

On an old, but thankfully clean, straw mattress, a head of dark red hair was the only thing visible, the rest of the curious dwelling's occupant being hidden beneath a pile of blankets, woven, knitted, and stitched into various colorful patterns. As the sun reached the midway point across the sky, the encased figure stirred, uncurling in the manner of something feline, before emitting a soft groan and crawling out into the real world.

Zade's first thought was that she really needed to start completing jobs before dawn. Her second thought was that she needed to find the troupe again, and get back to the job she liked better anyway. Hopefully, they'd all be ready to go again. Maybe that one woman, the one with the purple eyes who really liked throwing pointy objects around, would join them for a show again this time. That had been surprisingly fun, actually. Zade wasn't exactly sure if she'd been joking when she threatened to use that heckler as a target, but it had amused the rest of the crowd either way.

Her stomach reminded her that her payment for last night's stolen artifacts was in fact substantial, and she was quite hungry. Well, that at least was easily-enough remedied; there was a small shop up in Beta that sold some really nice fruits. A bit of indulgence for someone of her income, perhaps, but one she was all too willing to pay for. Most of the stuff down here was a few days too old. She didn't want to think about what people in Delta ate... if they ate.

Well... let's see... Beta. S'pose I'd better tone down the color a bit. she thought idly, selecting something from her surprisingly extensive variety of clothing. White shirt, loose sleeves, that was boring enough. Russet skirt, sure. Brown vest and some slippers, just because she frankly despised boots. That would do, she supposed. It was best not to stick out too much around the inner districts; someone might get the idea that you didn't belong there.

A few minutes later, Zade was padding her way down to the main bridge between the two districts. They liked you to take the train, for the most part, but there were plenty of people who walked anyway, especially if they frequently did business between the two, and this was easily the most open division of the lot, since many of the less-profitable merchants had businesses in Beta but resided in Gamma.

"Mornin', Two-tone," she greeted the attendant blithely, raising a hand in greeting. She didn't know his actual name, not being the sort to ask really, and simply referred to him by his most notable trait: the fact that his eyes were different colors. She was actually pleased the store was actually open today; on more than one occasion, she'd shown up only to discover that the place was closed. The tailor next door said it was because Two-tone had a sick family and so he had to take care of them sometimes. Because she knew all too well what that one was like, she never heckled him about being irresponsible like she might have jested with someone else. It was possible to turn her sarcasm off, she just didn't bother with it too often.

"Anything interesting today?" she inquired. Zade's tastes ran along the lines of more tropical fruits, things that beta only saw infrequently, and usually charged exorbitantly for, but it was always worth asking.

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That's not right.

A scribble on the parchment resulted in passionate writing. A knuckly, large hand found its way through unwashed hair, dirty fingernails digging into an oily scalp.

It's wrong! You're doing it wrong!

This piece was crumpled up and tossed into a wood burner, the smoke slowly billowing out through a metal shaft and up into the mid-morning sky. His wrist flicked about on the parchment, his fingers diligently moving his wild handwriting all over a fresh page, hoping that maybe this one, this time would be it.

"Damn it!" Mars, crystal clear eyes wild with fire, bellowed and he threw his instruments to the ground. All night he'd been up. All the day before he'd pondered, examined, experimented, calculated... Nothing was coming out right! For hours now he'd worked on the same equation, all to no avail. Moving his stool back away from his littered desk, he turned it around, bare chest facing the pulsing, soft glow of violet. The light turned his gray eyes a pale purple, making him seem mystical. His arms dangled lifelessly at his sides and he stood up on bare feet, moving to cover the glass case around the glowing wand.

For years Mars had watched that wand. For years he'd continued his research on why... Now it was only nightmares and the scientific block that he could not overcome. His previous inventions and jobs were no longer coming to him. He was preoccupied with transfiguring and transmutation. No one thought it was possible, so they didn't bother with him any longer.

Walking slowly, methodically, up the winding staircase to his living quarters, Mars's mind was still reeling with the dividends, the sigmas, the chemistry and the possibilities. The violet glow was gone, snuffed out by the black-out cover he'd sewn to chase his thoughts away. But it never really helped. In the end, Mars was eternally haunted by the "what-ifs". The cogs in his brain were rusting and growing stiff with no oil to loosen them up. Opening his basement door, the hermit scientist was greeted harshly by sunlight he hadn't seen for over 30 hours. His basement was dank and dark with only a sufficient ventilation system to keep from choking himself to death. Covering his eyes with his arm, he made his way toward the bathroom in order to wash up.

Today was the day he'd go out for food and water. Entering the room, he stopped in front of a mirror hanging haphazardly on the ceramic walls. Before him stood a tired, wiry man pushing thirty. He barely ate anymore. Nutrition wasn't the first thought on his mind until he became so weak he could barely stand up. Mars felt like he was at the point now. But the grayness of his skin, nor the sunken look of his ribs, really caught his eye. No, in fact it was the large, faded yellow beak on his face. It opened and closed as he turned from side to side. The rhamphotheca was mixing nicely with his skin; fading from the soft, malleable tissue into the hard outer shell that encased the jaw bone. It had taken many years and many long nights to create the wand that had done this to him. The metal piece, which lay neatly beside his bed, was a part of him now.

Looking in the mirror, however, Mars was astounded at himself. He'd only wanted the disfigurement for disguising purposes. Lately he'd been wearing it more often. His work was not only engulfing his life but physically engulfing his body.

...How sad... Marissa's voice whispered in his brain. Shaking her away violently, Mars went to the bedroom and restored his normal face, wraith-like and sculpted. His eyes were narrowed at the sound of her voice and his heart was racing. Wouldn't she ever leave him be? Growling, Mars made a mental note to try and remember that the beak was not a permanent fixture.

After a quick bath, the beak was transfigured back onto his face and he pulled on a dark coat with a rather large hood to wear over his eyes. His boots had long since lost their laces and he just slipped them over his bare feet. Checking his pants pockets for money, Mars slowly walked out into the bustling world of Gamma. It was a few blocks to the grocery and market, so he would have to walk quickly to avoid prying eyes.

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#, as written by Rhaegon
Though Nuadha often worked hard, he usually got far to distracted to finish all he needed to do. This was normal and expect from a kid his age so most people didn't question it. They had no idea it was all a play just to keep a cover that was not entirely needed since most of them would have never known anyway. His days were usually not all to busy at the shop. He would call for deliveries, wait for them to arrive, set them up, then pretty much twiddle his thumbs as he waited for the few customers who would come in. Sometimes he would get really busy but most of the time he was not. His busy times mostly were around feasts or holidays. When he was doing nothing else he would fiddle with the chess board that set on his counter, often playing himself.

This day he had spent most of the morning gathering all of the deliveries that he had called in for. He was known in the Agricultural section for buying the strange fruits they had experimented with growing in environments that were not known for growing them. Today he had received a bunch of pineapples and coconuts. If they did not sell he would simply pack them up and send them down to Delta and hope that the people down there could use them. If they did sell he usually made a big profit since most other vendors would leave these kinds of foods alone causing the agricultural guys to sell them for really cheap.

He had just opened the first pack of them when the redhead walked in the shop. He had seen her in here before, her hair was a very distinguishing trait. She was a cute girl that had certain stance about her. She looked simply like she was going to burst into a dance at any moment. The scariest part is that at the same time she looked like she could kick your ass. However, Nuadha in his years had gained a bit of a way of reading people and when he read her she felt.. Familiar. That was the only way he could describe it. There was a lot about her that he wished to know. Of course She most likely didn't want to know anything about him.

"Mornin' Two-tone!" She said in a seemingly cheery state. Nuadha could only smile and raise his hand back to greet her. Sadly this was as close as he got to friends were the couple of people that came into the store and spoke to him in a friendly tone. He had never been close to people. It was not because he did not want to, it was because he never had a chance to. "Anything interesting today?" The girl had asked that question quite a few times before. Every time he had produced something that he thought was unique or interesting and half of the time she had, in almost disinterest, turned them down. Over the last few months of her coming in every week or so he had narrowed her tastes down to the wild side of things. He smiled and nodded holding up a pineapple.

"It depends, do you like Pineapples or Coconuts?" He asked cheerily as if he had finally hit the nail on the head and solved the puzzle of the girl.

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Minerva watched Lord Taylor leave with sympathy. She’d been ill long enough herself to know that something was not quite right with the young aristocrat. She could only hope that whatever his prognosis was, it was better than hers. It might not be such a problem for him to send for a magi healer, after all. If she did and it turned out they could not heal her… that was news that she could not risk making it to the general public. The Queen was sharper than most people gave her credit for, but she was also more compassionate than her advisers believed she should be. She would not take the chance that she would have to send Amon’s assassins after someone who would only be trying to help her just to keep them silent. Still, the woman knew that if nothing changed, her time left in her beloved city was measured not in years, but months. The diseased fluid that pressed upon her lungs and made every breath a labor and an exercise in control was enough to tell her that. She was imply glad that she was still good enough at hiding things that not even her daughter knew that much.

Would Loki make a good replacement? Granted, she was the heir, and even if Minerva did not know exactly how much of a hand she had in what went on in Parliament, she would be a fool to believe that someone as sharp as her own child could possibly take the passive role she professed to languish in. No, she was quite the deft politician, but the Queen wondered if perhaps she was not too much so. As much as she hated to admit it, she saw in her child the potential for a tyrant. Perhaps a well-meaning one, but a tyrant all the same. Maybe she simply worried too much; there was no way to know these things now, and she was merely shortening her own chance to make things right by placing this much stress on what was for now still a hypothetical situation.

“Lords and ladies of Parliament,” she broke the silence that had ascended over the assembled. “As you are well aware, the chief matter at attention today is whether or not to bring the Constitution, the very foundation of our city, up for a review of its provisions. Revelation has existed now for the better part of a thousand years. All that was before us has been lost to history, save what we know in the form of the Elisian Church and its teachings. I am asking you now, however, not to consider the past, but the present, and the future. What we have today is a Revelation struggling to accommodate change. We can do as our predecessors did- sit back and allow this to happen, push the task of dealing with our troubles onto our children-” Minerva glanced quickly back at Loki, who appeared to be watching Gilgamesh with interest but was otherwise stonefaced as ever- “or we can be the generation that became the turning point, the generation that revitalized our world. For this reason, the Crown fully supports the measure before you. Now, without further delay, let us hear the votes.” It was not within the Queen’s power to cast a vote in Parliament itself, though she did have considerable influence upon lawmaking. This, however, was one thing the legislature had to do by itself.

-=-

Loki watched as the members alternately stood to voice their opinions, and clenched her jaw when her suspicions were confirmed. Along with the radicals and a few of the moderates, as expected, Gilgamesh and his faction voted for a revision. Which meant that he thought himself in a strong enough position to determine exactly what those revisions might be. Such a thought was almost worse than letting the Constitution stagnate, and it appeared that she had her work cut out for her if she was going to stop him.

“It has been decided,” the Queen proclaimed, a small note of surprise audible in her voice, followed by one of resignation as she doubtless reached the very same conclusion. “Discussion of this matter will begin tomorrow.” Loki caught the fatigue in her mother’s eyes and made a truncated gesture to Alia, who immediately made the announcement of their departure, allowing the three to exit untroubled.

This thing with the Constitution was of paramount importance, but it was going to have to wait another few hours. For the rest of today, Loki would be paying a visit to the world outside her walls. Her mother needed to see someone; either a doctor that would keep quiet or a mage with sufficient talent to actually fix her. Amon had mentioned that one of his agents was also a member of the Physicians’ Guild; she’d have to find him, then. Tomorrow, she would contemplate what to do with Taylor and Gilgamesh, among others.

-=-
District Delta

Aram Azazel was not the sort of man to pass up an advantage granted to him, and he'd seen the opportunity in contracting that young thief. He made a habit of congratulating himself daily on that one, actually; be it as he doled out some of his stolen-goods profits to his fellow beleaguered citizens or turned it to a much more useful pursuit: making good on another arrangement, this one with a Beta blacksmith whose mage son had been forcibly exiled to Delta by force of social exclusion alone. Unlike most, that man had put his son above his status, and was still infuriated that such a thing had happened. So angry, in fact, that he was now a supplier for the rebellion, or the Liberation Movement, as Aram preferred to think of it.

No, opportunity was never to be ignored, which was why the man sitting in front of him was currently being treated to the best tea he had, and a full meal, besides. A luxury even for him, but not as beyond his means as it was the average Delta citizen's. The scarred fellow, notable for the disfigurement of his left eye but perhaps not much else, was eating as though he hadn't seen food in a year, which might be true, if you refused to see what most of his people ate as 'food.'

"And you say this will not be traceable to me, or to the Movement?" Aram inquired casually, as though discussing the weather. Across the table, Ishtar shot him a look of mild disapproval, but in the end, she would not fight him on this, and they both knew it. "We are not yet strong enough to be made more than a rumor in the public eye, you see."

The man shook the shaggy head of dark hair, setting down his empty bowl. "There's at least tow or three people they'd think of before they even considered you," he replied in gravelly tones, "and one of 'em don't have a leg to stand on as far as defending 'imself goes." He appeared singularly unconcerned, but then Aram supposed that was what professionalism did to you.

"Very well, sir, you have yourself a deal. Might I inquire as to you name?"

The man looked up sharply, his single good eye boring into Aram like a needle. "No names," he said sharply. "I don't ask yers, you don't ask mine."

Aram held up both hands in a gesture of surrender. "Fine, no names." It wasn't as though such a small thing mattered to him, not when the opportunity was this grand. Soon... soon his people would be free, and this was only the first step.

The setting changes from The Nexus to Marchfield Laboratories

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Having done the paperwork regarding the nearly destroyed elevator Giacomo returned to the Marchfield laboratories to continue his work on the improved steam engine. Which at the moment was nothing more than a confusing contraption of metal parts. It had been like that for a long time already and even the inventor himself was worried whether it it would ever see completion, but it seemed like today was a good day as just as he arrived the first of the seven massive 1.2 meter high pistons arrived ready to be placed inside his cilinder.

His ingenius idea to have dual powered strokes( power on both the up and down stroke) would give the engine more horsepower than any engine before. He walked to the blueprints to see which of the seven cilinders was the lucky one to recieve the first piston, since they were all just a bit difrent due to their postiton on the crankshaft they all had be placed in the correct piston or he might end up with more bend and twisted metal. It was piston three that was the first to recieve the piston. He gathered a few of the other scientists currently on site and told them what to do, since he needed a few more hands and eyes to manuever and install the piston.

The installation of the piston went as smooth as Giacomo hoped it would, though it had taken them over a hour to place the thing there hadn't been a single hitch and the scientists were dismissed. Just as he wanted to get a break he sees another delivery being made: A few butterfly valves, pressure gauges, pressure release valves and one-way valves were its content, though a small delivery compared to the piston it was something he had waited longer for this as for the piston. Wilst he began installing the newly brought parts he realised that he had been avoiding Promethues a lot lately and he expected him to barge into the room any second to get informed about the happenings that Giacomo had encountered after their last conversation.

The setting changes from Marchfield Laboratories to District Beta

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"Hmm..." Zade pursed her lips, making something of a show of being in deep thought for a minute before promptly plucking the pineapple from his grip. "You really are quite cruel, to make me decide," she admonished, but there was no missing the note of dry sarcasm to the statement. Setting the fruit down on the counter, she removed a utility knife from her belt and took a wedge out of the yellow flesh. He likely knew by now that she was good for it; she was prone to odd behavior of this sort.

There was, however, a purpose to her seemingly random activity. The cross-section revealed no rot, and she was pleased to discover that it tasted quite sweet. Slicing another wedge, she proffered it to the largely silent Two-tone. This, too, was just part of a personality that seemed to be comprised of random sections from competing identities; while she was capable of being quite cutting or bitter, she did have her moments, and Two-tone was a nice guy, besides. It wasn't as though she had anywhere to be at the moment. Reaching for her purse before her fingers became too sticky with pineapple juice, she laid out enough for her now-mauled fruit and a coconut, taking a seat on the counter herself in the absence of any chairs.

There was a chessboard in one corner of the room; it wasn't exactly uncommon for merchants to have such small diversions in their shops for slow moments, depending on what their hobbies were, but she wondered who he played with. Two-tone seemed a bit quiet to be one of those people with loads of friends that would just stop by whenever. It looked like a game was presently in progress on the board. Maybe he plays himself? The thought was somewhat disconcerting. Zade wondered why that was.

"So..." she said, aware that most of the conversation was bound to be about the same as her talking to a brick wall but not really minding, "how's the family?" It might be a sensitive question, but then she was never one to hedge, or care about personal reservations, for that matter. Sure, if she was more compassionate, she might have avoided asking for the sake of keeping the atmosphere easy as it was presently, but Zade wasn't particularly compassionate. Empathetic, occasionally, and certainly always curious and imaginative, but also blunt. It didn't help that in her experience, the best way to deal with the kinds of problems that came from sick relatives was to talk about it.

That she barely knew who she was speaking to mattered little in the end. In fact, it made it a bit easier. What was the worst that could happen? Two-tone could kick her out, maybe, or ask that she not come back, but no merchant wanted to lose customers, especially not ones that bought your expensive tropical fruits. He could refuse to answer; she'd respect that. Or, he might actually decide to talk, and they could both leave feeling just a little better about the day. Who knew?

The setting changes from District Beta to Revelation

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This was not exactly how the day was supposed to turn out. He was supposed to go to the grocery and find everything he needed, but of course, that was not to be. They had no bread left, no fruit, and of course... no licorice. The one thing he needed most, and they were out. He'd been able to get some milk and cheese, and they even had a few doughnuts to choose from. But when he'd gotten those items home and looked through his empty cupboards and icebox, it was obvious this would not last him at all. It wasn't a decision Mars wanted to make. He found he was very good at avoiding situations he didn't like, but he also knew that with the way he was working, a second trip to the market would not happen for a few weeks. A heavy supply of licorice was a necessity.

And grudgingly so, Mars was heading toward the Beta district. He dreaded going into districts so close to his past. Of course, his family never traveled outside of Alpha, but one could never be too careful. Not to mention the fact that his beak caused a greater deal of commotion in Beta than in Gamma. But he would do all this quickly and be out in no time.

It was like walking through an alternate reality portal. The streets were a little cleaner, the clothing a little nicer, and the people a bit merrier. Though happy and smiling, one look at the hooded man with the rather obvious deformity jutting from the shadows over his face, created a stir of emotions and shock. Whispering was audible to Mars, but he ignored most of the comments. More than half of the passersby just thought him some odd street performer from Gamma, though only half of that thought was correct. If only they knew the things he could do! If only they would open their eyes and see the potential that Manatechnology could give a single person. It gave the scientist chills to know that his own work had created this beak. All these people were noticing his research and experiments. Mars wanted to yell out and begin lecturing on the power of Mana and what good the Magi could do if only they were...

He had to stop for a moment and recollect what exactly he was doing again. Oh yes, licorice. In order for him to continue searching for the why's and how's, he needed that licorice.

Finding a grocery he entered to see only two people. One an obvious worker, the other either loitering or a friend of said employee. Mars slid to the left and disappeared down an aisle, searching for bread. Removing a wiry hand from the pocket of his black long coat, he gripped a loaf and made his way down another aisle. Once he'd gathered what seemed like an ample amount of food, he made his way to the counter and set it down. Looking through the darkness his hood created, Mars looked the worker in the eyes (a habit his father had passed down) and spoke in a low voice.

"Do you have licorice?" The beak moved oddly, opening and closing like a puppet's would, but his speech was impeccable. It sounded as if he had normal human lips when all others could see was the massive yellowing proboscis on his face. But he had an air of intensity surrounding him. The scientist would seem threatening to any other person. In fact, the tension surrounding him was the need to get his candy and leave as quickly as possible. Being in Beta District was nerve wracking and kept his mind from flowing correctly.

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#, as written by Rhaegon

The setting changes from Revelation to District Delta

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#, as written by Arke
"Of course. I'll gladly treat your patient of what ails her if I am able to stay and observe. We all still learn, even the wisest man." Etzel replied idly to the girl. He had a feeling it was some sort of mutation the future patient had, but he decided not to ponder it until he saw the patient himself.

The Doctor didn't even bother looking up at the well-dressed man that came stumbling through the door. As he continued playing around with the Syringe, making sure it was perfect for stabbing flesh (which he did to a degree of inhuman delight). As the girl pondered the symptoms he exuded, he looked up slightly and eyed the man, who was turning a rather unpleasant shade of blue.

What caught his attention was the girl's sudden change in attitude. His years of training instinctively told him she was trying to hold something back. Looks like she might not be in full control yet, and if this poison was strong enough the strength needed to neutralize the compound would send her into a coma- probably kill her.

"Alright. Alright. I'll see what I can do." He said, despite his tone sounding a lot more interested than his choice of words. Getting up, he walked over and inspected him. Looked like a quick-acting poison. He opened a vial, sticking the syringe in and drawing a precise amount of liquid. He injected it into the base of the neck, watching as the man slowly went limp. "This should stabilize and slow the poison's effect." He said shortly, pulling out a fresh, smaller syringe and taking a blood sample. Out of his satchel came a small beaker container, which he dumped a clear solution into. He then began meticulously dropping the blood in small doses. The solution turned a dark blue. Behind the mask, the physician scowled heavily.

"Looks like a nerve-attacking compound." He muttered, hardly expecting the girl that watched to understand. "Yes. No wonder he lost motor skills. If this goes on he'll become paraplegic. I don't recognize this, no... a new venom? No such thing- neurological toxins can be accessed in snakes. Difficult to make. Agricultural domes? Possibly. No, could be man-made. Takes time, yes. Yes."

He quickly looked at his array of devices. Only about a quarter could effectively treat the nerve eroding poison that afflicted the unconscious man. taking out three vials, he pulled out a new beaker. The thing about being a traveling doctor was that every used glass was not considered sterile. It was frustrating to keep replacing them on the go. Pouring a delicate amount from each, he took the tip of the syringe and hastily began stirring up a concoction- a crazed witch hidden behind a mask. The mixture turned from clear to brown, back to clear again. He was fairly certain nobody knew what the vials even contained before, but now this diluting solution should be able to counteract the poison for the most part. The man might have lost use of wherever his body was hit first however. Taking the medicine, he absorbed it with the syringe and plunged it into the bloodstream of the man in multiple places,

The man's skin slowly faded back to a normal color. As he suspected. "I see. It really was a neurological poison. Definitely slow acting. No snake could have this- they fight less, yes. Man-made, certainly. But with what? Shame. I can't get a sample of the pure compound. Might help. I don't have this- might be nice to examine. Definitely stable- took awhile to work. No.. perhaps-yes... no..."

Etzel's constant muttering caused many to regard him as slightly insane. He didn't mind, as it helped him form a strict line of thought that often produced answers to questions much more quickly. Looking down at the man, he felt his body up and down with his gloved hands. Without flinching, he reached under and checked where the sun didn't shine. Looked normal enough. He examined his new syringe once more, noting this had to be brought back and sterilized. He looked at his earlier syringe. Perhaps there was still some sample poison left. Grabbing it, he stuffed it in a sealed back and put it in his satchel he carried with him. He placed small bandages wrapping around the many needle wounds on the well-dressed man.

"Sorry sir and madam..." Etzel said hastily before taking off the man's clothes. Examining his body closely, he found a slight puncture wound on his chest, right under the left pectoral. He took and alcoholic scrub and quickly neutralized the wound before patching it up. Leaving the man undressed, he straightened. Turning to Pandora, he shrugged.

"It was some sort of attempted assassination, if my reasoning is correct." Etzel reported. "The poison is some sort of man-made item that could only have been created by trained apothecaries or assassins." He didn't have a problem with revealing this, as the information was vague enough that it could be spilled anywhere. "There isn't enough poison left to properly investigate. The rest is left up to this man to try and remember who nearly killed him." With that, he patted the man's head and sat down, regarding Pandora across the unconscious naked man.

Etzel thought he was being a bit cruel.

The setting changes from District Delta to Marchfield Laboratories

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Prometheus Vanderbilt rarely if ever left his top-floor laboratory and office within the Marchfield building. Once upon a time, he had been the sort of idealistic youngster that really believed his work could change not just the world, but the opinions of the people in it. Science, surely, could be a universal, a unifying force strong enough to destroy the boundary of caste and class, to smash unsubtly through the walls prejudice put between people. The understanding that everyone was at their core the same, no matter the idiosyncrasies of individual upbringing or personality, this he had thought enough to change everything.

It had, perhaps predictably enough to anyone but himself, changed absolutely nothing. The city was still a rotten milieu of hatreds and enmities, interwoven with just enough conflict to remain at a steady simmer but never come to a boil. And the knowledge had transformed the brilliant, idealistic youth into a bitter, hunched old man with no desire to see anything beyond the walls of his nest. Hn... nest... that might not be my word, eh Mars? he thought idly, as he had brainspace to do even and especially when in the throes of paperwork, as he was presently engaged.

Of course, the minute he takes Giacomo off systems maintenance, the rookie sent to replace the man forgets to run tests on the pistons... why did people have to bother him with such petty, trivial details?! Prometheus despised being a bureaucrat, and usually shoved such things off on his assistant. The man was former royalty, after all, surely the administrative tidbits were much more capably-handled atop his desk. But alas, it had to be the elevator in the Royal Palace that informed him of the fool girl's mistake. And anything that important had to be handled by the laboratory head personally.

Honestly, jumping at the beck and call of those aristocrats... what do I owe any of them? He groused internally, though he would hardly be surprised to discover he'd voiced the complaint aloud. Luckily, Prometheus was both known for being a few gears short of a mechanism, so to speak, and it was doubtful hat anyone would think twice if they heard his heated grumblings. He was also possessed of the uncanny ability to remember complex mathematical formulae whilst simultaneously forgetting that the palace provided him with both funds and actual physical resources, in addition to the fact that most of his underlings were of those noble families, as was he. Hypocrisy mercifully remained well off his radar.

"Can't even maintain a perfectly good steam elevator... looks like I have to go myself... personal inspections clause my two..." he trailed off, unable to think of the right oath to finish his little monologue and discarding its completion as irrelevant besides. well, with any luck, Giacomo would still be on it, and the old man would be able to kill two feathered pestilences with one well-placed projectile. He wasn't fond of birds; they tended to fly into airborne devices and complicate things by dying in there.

Calling for his smallcraft, he was able to make the journey from the upper end of Beta to the Nexus in the space of about ten minutes. If he'd bothered to look into one of the glass windows, he might have discovered that he looked rather more disheveled than usual, not that the knowledge would have prompted him to care. Though there was an apartment of sorts on his office floor, installed by the previous head of the laboratories, Prometheus slept little, and spent less time looking after his appearance. He was clean of course, but not much else could be said. White hair stuck up in tufts, a pair of goggles perched haphazardly on his head. His once-pristine white coat had traces of soot and various unknown substances rubbed into it, the results of some experiment carried out into the wee hours of the morning the night previous. His heavily-wrinkled face showed signs of a certain deranged fatigue that was all is own, but for all that he lost none of the keenness that made people think twice before proclaiming him entirely mad.

"Giacomo!" he called, shuffling into the room one of his best engineers currently occupied. "What is the status of this entire mess with the elevator? And have you reconsidered anything from the last time we spoke? I don't have forever, you know!"

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As Predicted Prometheus came into the room, yelling to Giacomo for answers. Unfortunatly Giacomo was head first in one of the cilinders and got the echo of his life, enough to startle him all the way out of it. He made his was to the ground and walked towards Prometheus. "About the elevator, your not going to like this...One piston and the pulley that holds the elevator up have been totalled, both beyond repair, far beyond repair in fact. The cilinder has more corrosion damage than an iron bar that has been inside hydrochloric acid for a few minutes. The pulley also has corrosion marks, but most of the damage is metal fatigue. I think the first signs should have been present before the last maintainance run. If they were spotted at that time they would be repairable." He said to Prometheus with all seriousness.

Then he moved on to the other subject. "About the new engine, its build is going as fast as possible, I install every part the second they arrive. But because the suppliers can't keep their deadlines I can't build continuesly. I am still missing six pistons, the engine top, the furnace and the water tank, the largest parts. From the standings on this point, Id'say the deadline needs to be moved forward." He pointed to the steam engine . "All the parts that I currently have already are installed, and my assistants have nothing to do at all, basically they only sit there, collect their paychecks and when a part arrives they all go into gear, but because there aren't enough parts delivered we can't realy move on." He shook his head and glanced to the assistants sitting on one of the tables.

"what my reconsiddering has brought me is this, cut my crew down to two heads, and ajust the financing to that, just lower it by the sum of the paychecks they would have gotten untill the current deadline. This gives you some free funds and free scientists to asign to new places. Everything that this project goes over the deadline will be paid for out of my pocket. Which at the moment is quite heavy, so it should be alright. The end result however needs some recalculations too, I was a bit too optimistic about the volume of the cilinders, it turns out they are a bit smaller than expected. Since the amount of steam that is sent into the piston doesn't change it means that it'll have a bit more horsepower, due to the higher pressure. If fact a very pleasant thing." Giacomo looked at Prometheus waiting for his response, and hopefully an aproval.

The setting changes from Marchfield Laboratories to District Delta

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The doctor agreed to help, and Pandora's relief was easily visible on her face. Not exactly sure what he would be doing, though, she kept up her own activity, protecting the patient's heart, lungs, and other vital organs as best she could. A few syringes later, and the odd observing physician was muttering to himself, or perhaps to her. It was hard to tell, though she took note of what he was saying when she could follow it. Whatever he did first sent the young man under, and slowed the progress of the poison as far as she could tell. At any rate, it became a good deal easier to fight off.

A nerve-attacking compound? Such things were but footnotes in her textbooks, however much she had enjoyed reading them. As far as Pandora could remember, such a thing meant that it would affect the brain and spine, maybe something about motor control as well? That frankly sounded absolutely horrible. She didn't know what was meant by 'paraplegic,' but it certainly sounded grim, and she redoubled her efforts, even as the doctor mixed something else and injected it in several places. The poison began to dissipate, and Pandora exhaled with scant-contained relief, removing her hands from the patient's temples even as her erstwhile observer began a more detailed examination that would not do her a whit of good.

She was about to stand when she was assaulted with a series of mental images, and she suppressed a groan. Not now... wait. Pandora abruptly stilled and trained her attention onto the images, and her eyes appeared to focus elsewhere entirely.

There was... a laboratory of some kind. A mixture of chemicals lined the shelves of one wall, organized in some way she could not understand. A hunched figure stood at a table, mixing things with names she could not pick out from the labels. All she was aware of were colors. The figure's face was darkened, making even something as simple as gender inscrutable. Sound was curiously muted, and even when another person walked into the room, this one with a much straighter bearing, she could not discern if any conversation was had. A distinctive scent pressed upon her nose, but she tried to ignore it and get a better grip on what was happening.

A glass vial passed hands, and the second figure gave a sweeping bow before exiting. Pandora, aware that a certain amount of control was afforded to her in these images, followed, passed through the door as if it were not there, but the figure turned the corner into an alleyway and disappeared. Hurrying after it, she too made a left, but what met her there was only blackness.


Blinking, Pandora was suddenly conscious of the present much more, and became quite aware of the fact that her patient was now without cover of any kind. She wondered if maybe the doctor had left him that way on purpose, but surely not. She should be clinically comfortable with things like this, and though she wasn't about to make a stuttering fool of herself for the second time that day, she did retrieve a blanket and spread it over him. No point in catching something from the slightly-chill air in here. She listened to the physician's summary of the situation and shook her head slowly.

"So someone really wanted him dead, I guess..." a trite observation perhaps, but it was not as though she did much trauma care. It was still a little hard for her to understand that people really did deal with death all the time. "I think... this might sound a bit crazy, but I believe that whatever did this was made using something red. And something yellow, but a much smaller amount." She tried to recall the exact proportions she had seen, but couldn't do better than a guess. "And three drops of something clear. The result was clear as well. It smelled like... strawberries." The young healer chuckled mirthlessly. "Figures, something that awful would smell nice, doesn't it?" She wasn't too good at meeting people's eyes, and it wasn't as though that mask made it any easier to do so, but she attempted it anyway. "I know that sounds stupid, and it's probably not even useful, but I'm good at imprecise, intuitive things, not... this." She gestured vaguely, encompassing the patient and the man who had saved his life when she could not.

The setting changes from District Delta to Revelation

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#, as written by Arke
District Alpha

A knock on the door alerted the tired noble sitting at his desk. Paperwork from his area stood at a small pile, infinitely smaller than those of other nobles. The small section of District Alpha assigned to him was constantly at work, complaints for the most tiresome reasons flowing in to assail the ill politician.

"Come in." Caelin said, reinforcing his voice to prevent any assumption he was ailing. The thick wooden doors swung open revealing a courier from the Nexus. Straightening his posture, he watched the courier bow before him and eye him pointedly. In his exhaustion, he forgot his manners. Coughing as if he were only testing the courier, Caelin nodded. "Yes.... Courier- your report?" He asked.

The courier bowed once more. "The result regarding the fate of the Magi has been made." He began, pausing for some dramatic effect. As Caelin looked on in slight disapproval, the man smiled and continued, "The decision was that the subject is to be pushed to a later date- tomorrow to be exact."

The nobleman sighed. It wasn't the best result he had hoped for, but it was good enough. After all, it wasn't like the man was going to die within the hours that separated today and tomorrow, right? "Very well. Is there anything else to add?"

The courier nodded. "The physician you requested for an annual check up was not present. The assistant said he was making a house-call." He said, his voice dropping slightly and moving rather quickly. Caelin suspected something with that statement, but paid it no mind. He quietly dismissed the man, leaning back at the paperwork before him.

"Another day, huh?" He mused, fiddling with his writing utensil. The pen tip dipped up and down as he pushed back on his chair. His work never ended. Straightening, he moved back to a sheet of paper. A rich merchant wanted his servant executed for spilling a tray containing his breakfast. Staring at the paper, he slowly crumpled it up and threw it away. He was not their mother. Such idiocy did not need attending to. No doubt he'd see another execution request after a while, but at this point and time he did not want to bother with it.

District Delta

As he inspected his utensils, he looked up through his tinted lens to see the woman seem to space out. After a moment, she seemed to come to, describing something he had never heard of. How did she get this information? Suddenly, he was extremely interested, taking note of whatever she spoke about. After finishing, the doctor leaned back where he sat in utter confusion. Something red. Something yellow. Something clear. The scent of strawberries or something similar. It would require time to crack this puzzle, but his mind was already working.

"Clear. Red. Yellow. The scent, perhaps is a byproduct... a result of a reactant? No... the scent should be muddled. Is it a result? It must be a compound found naturally. However, it is man-made. How can this be?" He muttered, tapping the chin of his mask. "The clear substance... is it a concentrate? Does it disguise the scent? Perhaps it might be a coloring. Dextrose. No. If it's natural, it must be found somewhere naturally. Hence the smell of fruit. Night Shade? No... too far. Doll's Eye? Too rare. There's no way."

As the doctor continued to ramble to himself, he holstered his syringe and began pacing about. What an odd situation. Etzel arrived to observe, and how he was here figuring out the poison that almost killed the naked man in the room. He wondered subconsciously if the rats were going to be active soon.

"I cannot say for sure, madam." He eventually replied. "The colors can be many things, and the amounts don't help very much. I'd assume the clear substance you speak of is a key reactant. I don't think that would be the poison, unless it is so concentrated it could spread throughout the body like it did to our poor friend. I'd assume it comes from the combination of the red and yellow items- the result a compound solution that can be found in nature... somehow."

He shook his head. "I can't deduce any more information from that vision. I do know, that this poison must have been found, or could have been found in nature due to the scent- which means citric acid is present. That would explain the nerve corrosion. It shouldn't be strong enough to corrode the nerves... or even paralyze him like that though. Hmmm... I'm lucky I came up with some basic solution else that acidity would have killed him. How could something be that acidic, yet able to spread like poison? The best I can think of is.. no.. the scent of that acid is too strong to be covered by citric acid." The doctor started rambling once more, completely oblivious to the situation as he sat back down- muttering to himself.

The setting changes from Revelation to The Royal Palace

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Incompetence! I am completely surrounded by incompetence! And incompetents, for that matter! Why must everything be done thrice before it is done correctly? Prometheus noted that his blood pressure was probably spiking, which the strange doctor with the mask had told him probably wasn’t a good thing. Or something. It was largely irrelevant anyway. What mattered was that there was absolutely no accountability in science anymore! When he’d entered the field, the requirements were exacting, strict! None of this ‘do what you can’ business. You were an expert in everything you were asked or you were summarily dismissed.

Take Giacomo, one of the younger generation that actually knew the right end of a flask. His most obvious mistake was an ostentatious blemish! He’d never forget to be careful with Mana again, why couldn’t all errors produce something like that. Reminder! They all needed reminders, or they would forget… something. Something important. Boundaries, possibilities, something.

“Fine,” he snapped, though the frustration in it was aimed elsewhere. “Send my assistant a memorandum listing the two you want to keep. If you think any of the rest of them are at all competent, we might move them to palace maintenance!” His voice drifted from mere sharpness to a shrill crack in the space of those sentences, but Prometheus did not notice, nor would he care if he had. It was not as though he could not allow for mistakes, it was the matter of where and how they had occurred. How was it that someone who professed to be educated in the workings of steam technology could fail to check a simple piston error?

The comments about suppliers and other such details, he did not address. They would arrive when those lazy fools who controlled the mechanics trade decided they would, and not a moment before. This, even he had learned to deal with, though his resignation was tinged with bitterness. The world bowed to business like it never would to reason.

“Do whatever you have to, Giacomo, and have the invoice sent to my office. Just do it quickly. I’ll not have any dead nobles from an equipment malfunction.” Shaking his head ruefully, the temporary mania already leaving him, Prometheus turned on his heel and took his leave. It was back to the lab now, to warn his poor assistant of the onslaught that was to come. Oh, and he needed to check on the Mana valve system. If the energy began to corrupt at the tertiary stage again…

-=-

Loki parted with her mother once the entourage had arrived back at the palace proper. She noted that the lift was still down, apparently not operational in the slightest, and frowned. Perhaps the problem was worse than she had thought. As if to confirm this, the Marchfield Director himself, Doctor Vanderbilt, brushed past her without even seeming to notice her existence, and Loki frowned. Someone as important as that, here to oversee something so small as maintenance? No… that didn’t seem right at all.

There were, however, other pressing matters to be addressed, and she returned to her office with her singular bodyguard shortly thereafter. Carlisle was a good sort, closemouthed and discreet. There was the small fact that he reported to Amon directly, but then neither man needed to know that she was aware of this. It was a complicated game, the one she played with her mentor, and one with many more layers to it than anyone else would expect. Should she be asked to explain the relationship, she would have to first choose the level upon which to answer. In any case, it was of benefit to the both of them, and that was reason enough to allow it to continue in the same fashion.

Selecting another sheaf of parchment from her desk, Loki tapped her fountain pen against her chin for a moment, contemplating how best to approach the situation. Now that she knew Gilgamesh’s angle, she was going to need all the help she could get to make sure he didn’t have his way. The problem was, she could not do anything directly. She had no voice in Parliament, and she did not wish to make herself a public face of any particular opinion just yet. Goldwater, on the other hand, had already done so, and she knew it was to him that she would have to turn.

Something nagged at the back of her mind about that, though. The Marquis was doubtless a decent person (insofar as anyone who danced in this little play of theirs could be called decent) but she had serious doubts about his knowledge of what he was fighting for. She possessed that knowledge, but it would not be the wisest thing to lay those particular cards on the table just yet. No, Goldwater had the power and the opinion, but what he lacked was the experience, the knowledge of what he really needed to do. He could very well end up fighting and conceding in all the wrong places. She would not, but as she had learned that day, she was not alone in this.

With that in mind, Loki penned a quick missive to Goldwater requesting a morning meeting the next day, if he would be so kind. He knew a little more than most people about where the Princess was angled in terms of the Delta question, so he probably would not dismiss it as an idle fancy of a silly girl. How the other recipient of her request would take it, however, remained to be seen.

To the Esteemed Lord Taylor,

Salutations and the blessings of Elisia to you.

I apologize if this missive appears to have come from a most unusual place; please understand that if matters were not so immediate I would be employing all the requisite formality. As it is, however, I am afraid I have not the luxury.

The matter of the upcoming Constitutional review is important to the both of us. I imagine it is quite obvious to you by now that the majority of opinions in Parliament do not currently favor your own position. Tomorrow morning, I intend to meet with Marquis Adam Goldwater to hear his thoughts on the subject, and I believe yours would be most enlightening as well. I would, therefore, humbly request your presence as well in my salon by the ninth hour of day, if it is convenient to you.

-Loki Blackwood, Crown Princess of Revelation


She scanned over the paper. The first bit was the standard court salutation. The rest was… well, quite a bit more direct than nobles usually sent each other, but there was nothing too incriminating in it. Should the thing be discovered, it would give away nothing more than the idle curiosity of an aristocratic lady. She was planning on Taylor being able to understand that it was more than that. Folding the paper twice and affixing it with her seal, she passed the document to Carlisle, who accepted it with a bow, disappearing after she informed him that he was to deliver it to the lord immediately. It was not as though she were incapable of attending herself for a while, after all.

The setting changes from The Royal Palace to District Delta

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When the doctor started speaking, questions though there might have been, Pandora knew none of it was directed at her. Clearly, he was one of those people that tended to think out loud, in this case in low muttering that she could probably listen to if she chose, but did not, particularly. Was it strange to want to leave him to his private thoughts even if those were not actually private? Maybe, it was hard to say sometimes.

For her part, Pan simply set about gathering up the patient's clothes and folding them into a neat pile, which she placed near his head. It would probably be an awful enough feeling to wake in strange surroundings without them; there was no need to make it worse by putting them somewhere inaccessible. Checking his pulse one last time, the healer brushed a few stray hairs from his face, shaking her head. Poor kid... who would want hate you so much that they wanted to kill you? Standing, she dusted off the lower half of her tattered skirt and straightened.

It need not be what she thought, though. There was no way or her to know what the young man on the ground was like when he was awake. There was always the possibility that he had either accidentally or intentionally ingested the poison himself, which, while a grim proposition, was not entirely impossible. Some people were simply willing to go that far to escape their lives, whether they intended the consequences to be permanent or temporary. If it had smelled so innocuous in the first place...

But she was no expert in such things; she just knew how to fix things, sometimes. It seemed that the doctor wasn't perfectly sure what had happened, either, and where the mystery of it might demand answers from him, she knew well enough that they would probably never be available to her. Not that such a thing didn't bother her at all, but she was used to unanswered questions in her work. It was just one of those things she had to get used to- not everyone was going to answer all her questions, and because of the nature of her craft, she didn't often need to push for them. The body of the afflicted told her what she needed to know, and everything else was just background noise.

Over the course of the next few minutes, a few patients filtered in, but nobody with anything more difficult than a few cuts or an everyday lung treatment, so she left the physician to his contemplation. If he could find the answer, well, that was just better for everyone involved. He seemed to have the right sort of mind for it, anyway, talking about acidity and bases and reagents and all sorts of other things that she knew in passing but could not particularly place together in any sort of working vocabulary. She merely hoped she'd helped.

Her other guests studiously ignored the poor man on the floor, and she was glad of it. If the people of Delta weren't always forthcoming in their answers, at least they didn't ask too many questions. The fact that they trusted her with their own in the same manner, without constantly demanding to know what exactly she was doing, was both a relief and a warmth to Pandora, and this situation was no different, absurd as that might seem. It was only when the hour after noon came and went that she remembered her grandmother wasn't coming in today.

"Doctor? I'm sorry; that patient I mentioned earlier isn't scheduled until later this week. You are welcome to stay if you would like, but please do not feel obligated." She offered him a smile, having long since given up on finding his eyes behind that mask, and went back to tidying up, running over a list of regular appointments and checking the unconscious man's vital signs again, just to make sure his heart was still going steadily.

***

Scheherezade was probably one of three of four people in the world who saw absolutely nothing amiss in a hooded man with a beak walking into her favorite grocery store. Then again, she did make her living with people who were generally considered freaks, herself included, though not for the same reason. When your job carries a daily risk of death, people tend to look at you a bit differently to say the least. At least when they know about it.

The beaked man asked after licorice, and she shook her head immediately. "None here," she replied matter-of-factly, "though there is a place down the street that has some. I could show you, if you wanted." This was perhaps a bit more accommodating than she was usually, but if the Gamma District performing types didn't help each other out, then there was no way anybody else would. Whatever this guy needed licorice for, she promptly decided she was going to help.

"I'll catch you later, Two-tone," she said to the grocer, laying out the payment for her pineapple plus an extra coconut, which she took, tossed casually in the air, and caught again, tucking it between her elbow and her waist-hip juncture. The pineapple she carried by the top, pretty sure that it wasn't going to leak sticky juice all over the place. "Hope you're open tomorrow, because I'm thinking it might be a good mango kind of day."

Shooting a glance at the beaked man, she raised an eyebrow as if to ask if he was planning on coming, and nudged the door open with a slippered foot, the intention being to prop it open for him on his way out in either scenario.

The setting changes from District Delta to Revelation

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#, as written by Arke
District Delta

"... Maybe if I did some therapy with him back at my office I'd squeeze something out of him.. yes.. I did have a nice electro-want ready that I've been wanting to use. No, maybe I can use that nerve-rattler compound- that'd be very fun." Etzel said softly to himself, smiling behind his mask. "I can't figure things out with such little information. If only I had a sample. Contaminated samples do not count, no.... I can't take any from that buffoon on the ground." His self-awareness was the only security system he had when he was in this kind of state. He looked up as the girl began to speak, telling him the patient he was supposed to diagnose was not due until later this week. He gave a quick bob of his head, deciding to put this investigation back until he had proper equipment to test his many theories. "Then I shall return later this week. I am a man of my word, lady- I will see this patient."

A cynical grin stretched under the mask. His word was worthless. The blood oath he had taken as a doctor many years ago had been broken, and he had lied to many patients- targets under the assignment of Amon. "There there. This will help you." He would say as he slowly tipped the untraceable potassium cyanide drink into the victims mouth. His word was just about as trusted as a vagabond's, if anybody knew his true identity.

He took out a few vials of medicine. "These are painkillers. One drop will numb a patient from pain, though he can't move properly." He said. He didn't mention that three drops will give the victim heart failure. "Please, if you are to use this, don't give anyone more than two drops." He said. "Consider this a gift for letting me observe, and to continue observing." He gave her a few disposable droppers as well. Turning on his heel, he left the warehouse, stretching his limbs. The people of Delta walked by, regarding the masked man strangely.

He pulled out a small blowgun, and loaded it with a knock-out serum filled dart. He looked around, eager to begin the rat hunt.

District Alpha

Execution request. Complaint. Execution request. Two more complaints. Did these racketeers have nothing better to do than to pester him? Caelin denied another execution request. Though he did read through each one just in case he didn't accidentally pardon a serial killer, this was becoming ridiculous. He sifted through another round of official wax-sealed papers containing more nonsense about raising taxes in Beta. They just couldn't have enough money.

It wasn't that they were being greedy. His district had suffered a recent downturn in economy. It wasn't severe in the slightest, but having to adjust to eating just a little less and saving just a little more was a big adjustment for people who were used to having loads of money in a stable balance of excess spending and excess income. He sighed. It was too much for them to fix to, and they would rather correct the problem by taxing the citizens than saving themselves and continuing their lifestyle.

He denied the attempt to bring the tax up once more, forcing himself to write an explanatory letter. He would be going against his own code if he refused something the collective body wants without good reason. So far, his citizens have taken well to reason and logic. When he finished, he sat back in his chair. The work was done.

A single knock. "Milord! A courier of the Princess has arrived." A servant said.

"Send him in."

The silent courier bowed low, and was acknowledged by the young noble before handing him a letter sealed by the royal family. As dictated, he immediately dismissed the courier. Any letter sent urgently from the royal family was to be read immediately and in private. He broke the seal and took out the short letter.

Needless to say, the princess was very direct. Refreshing, to be exact. He was tired of scanning through endless lines of text to find hidden meanings. The nobles beat around the bush so often, the end result was a leafless shrub a ghost of it's former self. He noted that the Marquis was coming as well, and smiled. It was ironic a man so much younger than he was knew more about what he fought for. He did not hold the Marquis in contempt, but sometimes his arguments were sorely lacking due and his lack of knowledge shone so bright, it nearly blinded the other nobles. Once again, he was exaggerating.

Extracting himself from the sea of words, he wrote back:

Milady Princess Loki Blackwood,

Salutations and the blessings of Elisia be on you.

I will attend.

-Caelin Taylor, Marquess of the Fourth Sector, President of Taylor Chemicals


He enveloped the letter in it's parchment casing and sealed it with wax. He handed it to the silent courier that waited outside, and without any more inclination, the courier left soundlessly. Caelin walked back inside and looked at his desk. He sat there, motionless at the pile of finished work before yawning and falling asleep right then and there.

The setting changes from Revelation to Marchfield Laboratories

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Giacomo listened to Prometheus reaction, the clear anger that he spoke with was quite expected by Giacomo. He knew that it wasn't aimed at him, since he hadn't done anything wrong. But it had been a long time that Prometheus had snapped to him like that, the last time had been after the accident, but he seemed less angry at that time than this time. "As you wish, I'll send them to the palace and set them to work there. They are a good lot, I selected them myself from their resume's and my personal experience, the suppliers are just missing deadline after deadline. I have so much time to spare that I am working on new designs already, and I've seen them do the same." He walked off to the engineers that were hanging near the table. "Heward and Sir Gray, you'll be staying on this project with me. The rest will be re-asigned to elevator maintainance in the palace, certain parts have been damaged beyond repair and I've yet to complete my controll run on it. Your first task will be to do the controll run for me, One of you will start in the wheelhouse, the other in the engine room. When both of you have done your part of the machine swap places and check it yourself. You'll write every problem, scratch, rust and anything out of the ordinary you encounter, and don't show your list to each other. When you've inspected both parts of the elevator report back to me, I'll look through the lists and compare, hopefully I'll see the same things on both lists. After that your job will be to repair as much as possible, order parts that haven't been ordered yet of the repair and de-install the parts that need replacement. Remember, poeples lives rely on your work, give it your all and if that isn't enough give 110%." He said to the engineers.

Having said that he walked off and began filling the required papers for the changes. It didn't take him long since he had no reason to make a story out of it, just a simple straight to the act letter. After that he went back into the pistons to install the last pieces he had on hand. When he pulled his head out of the piston to see what his assistants were doing he saw them both with large sheets of paper on the table, with pens in their hands writing down calculation after calculation and drawing piece by piece a design, creating a crude design to work from. They were busy with their own things and so was Giacomo who was done with installing the pieces. He climbed out of the piston and walked to his new design. The paper rolled open and directly an overload of calculations, materialspecifics, design measurements confronted the eye. Giacomo read through the piece of paper once more before contineuing the development and design of his next creation to be, his eye fell on a small symbol drawn in the lower right corner: VII in a small ring with bolts in the ring and underneath the symbol the text: Vernazza Industerial Innovations. He felt a small bit of pride seeing that, a reminder of what this design would hopefully bring him, something that his other inventions weren't able to give.

After being able to work a few good hours on the design his attention fell on the assistants that he had send of to work on the elevator. They had come with their lists. Giacomo took them and looked them through. No big problems besides the piston and pulley, they both had the same content, but in difrent words and order convincing him that they had done the inspection themselfs. "Okay, the two lists contain the same malfunctions and point so you can go and repair the repairable problems, and don't forget to do the rust repairs on the bolts, if those rust too far they might snap loose." He said the the two and they walked off. Giacomo went back to the design, wilst keeping an eye on Heward and sir Gray.

The setting changes from Marchfield Laboratories to Revelation

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Mars was sure this day couldn't get any worse. No licorice.

Paying for what foods he had, he followed the girl out the door. He certainly did not want to continue this hunt through the Beta District, but if she knew where a shop was that could sell him licorice, the scientist was certainly willing to go. Pulling his hood a bit farther over his face, he readjusted the bag under his arm and glanced at the young girl with his crystalline eyes. She was a fiery sort, seemed to have a wild attitude, and was certainly not from Beta originally. One couldn't forget that Mars was a scientist and he did a lot of observing, even of the human variety.

Knowing he shouldn't remain silent because of her obvious kindness, Mars thanked her.

"I appreciate you showing me to a shop. It may seem petty, but it helps me to think at very critical moments in my studies."

His studies.

Perhaps the equation dealing with the molecular level of the Mana inside his wand was off somewhere? But he'd gone over it so many times. And that would be like starting over! What kind of mad man would begin again after so much had been accomplished? Had he actually accomplished anything, though?

Yes! He was walking around in public with one of the greatest accomplishments his studies had produced! Marissa had even thought so... It was she that was making him continue on. Full transfiguration. And answers as to why it had reacted so badly when she...

"Where is this shop?" He sounded more irritated than he'd meant, but Mars just kept his eyes down. His thoughts had horrible ways of becoming catastrophic so quickly. It was safer in his basement where he could hide from those thoughts and from the people that brought them to the surface.

The setting changes from Revelation to The Assassins' Guild

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Fourth Moon, Eighteenth Sun, One Thousand and Thirty-Fifth Year of Revelation

The night of the assassination of Marquis Adam Goldwater was, to my recollection, a cloudy one, and chill. I must admit that the events that were to be precipitated on that fell eve were not something even I was able to foresee. The repercussions, however, were plain enough to myself and to the Princess, who was the first person I spoke to of the matter after discovering it.

The details at the time were shrouded; all that was known to most was that an assailant, a singular entity, gained entrance to the Marquis’s residence some time after the first hour of the new morning, still under the cover of thick darkness, and on a night when no natural illumination would be of assistance in discerning his or her identity. The kill itself was swift, and silent; it was not until later that any were even able to discern the mechanism. Bruising about the Marquis’s neck seemed to indicate the work of a pugilist; naturally I excluded the obvious possibility almost immediately. He may not have been as good at hiding as he fancied himself, and misguided besides, but he was far from that stupid.

The setup was obvious, and perhaps for that reason made it all the more difficult to ascertain how many levels of deception were concealed beneath, and where the truth lay. There are few rules in a profession such as mine; few that ultimately dictate our actions, at any rate. Above all else, I have tried to instill in my Guild a healthy respect of these rules, for each and every one of them is of paramount importance to our continued functioning as an entity.

I almost hoped it was not one of mine, that we might avoid the unfortunate consequences that were to follow. But, as Her Highness reminded me rather sharply, we must wish for nothing, lest it taint our judgment. It is when your pupils turn your words against you that you know you have done something right.

The investigation that followed the incident was a long one, both the official Parliamentary inquiry and the real one, conducted by myself, the Princess, and a few others that I saw fit to trust with the information. The culprit, it turned out, had done their job to an admirable degree of excellence, and even we were hard-pressed at times to see the innocence in the corrupted, the culpability in the blameless. It was not without help that we discovered the truth.

-From the Memoirs of Amon Gregory

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Loki's fingers tapped an impatient staccato rhythm on the padded armrest of the luxurious wingback chair she presently occupied. The piece had belonged to her father, and though the princess was not the sentimental sort generally, she had had it placed in her personal meeting room upon learning of its origin. The rich, darker colors matched well the rest of the space, and to was not so ostentatious as to make the rest of the room appear bereft of anything.

She had been told, once, that her father was a more astute politician than her mother, that for a long time, it was his behind-the-scenes stewardship of the Queen that kept her safe when her compassion should have seen her dethroned long ago. He had become ruthless in his defense of her position, and yet had somehow still managed to be the sort of person that the populace favored. Sometimes, Loki found herself wondering how he had struck that balance. It was a delicate one, the nuances of which she was trying to understand and execute simultaneously. She had been too young upon his death to remember much of the man, but in this alone, this desire to keep Minerva from those who would tear her apart, she felt connected to him on a very real level.

She had gathered from the faint traces of scent still on this bit of furniture that he was both a smoker of pipe tobacco and fond of reading. Parchment and hints of smoke were a rather soothing combination, strangely enough, though she herself had seen too many cases of lung damage to risk the former habit. A knock at the door roused her attention, and she bid the person on the other side enter. As it turned out, her guest was neither Marquis Goldwater nor Lord Taylor, as she had been expecting. Instead, Amon entered, crossing the room to sit without waiting for an invitation, his face set in stony impassiveness.

The mask was far too obvious. Normally, the nuances of his facial expression were carefully calculated so that he would not appear to be wearing one at all. Impassiveness was her tactic, since she had not yet mastered the full effect of Amon's disguise. It appeared, however, that it was beyond even him at the moment, and she could not understand why, nor indeed the reason for his presence.

He made it obvious soon enough, however. "Marquis Goldwater is dead. It would seem that he has been assassinated." Each word dropped like a stone into the empty space between them, and Loki barely swallowed back her own surprise. From his words, Amon was unaware of the culprit's identity, else he would have said so right away.

She stared him down, knowing that she did not need to voice the next question in order for him to answer it. Amon sighed, something she had not heard from him in a while. "I'm already looking into it. Duke Gilgamesh is the obvious answer, but as of yet I have found nothing linking this crime to him. It appears that some kind of toxin was used; I know a few people who would understand how to do something like that. Rest assured that there will be a full internal investigation."

Loki considered this for a moment, then nodded. "I am sure Parliament will attempt the same. This will not be something we can sweep under the rug, Amon. They will all fear for their lives now, perhaps especially Goldwater's allies."

"One of them is scheduled to appear here soon." It was not a question, and so she did not bother to confirm it. "Word has not gotten out yet; I was on my way to inform the Queen for the purposes of ensuring a united front on this. The official announcement will doubtless be out in a few hours or so. You may have to make your own move sooner than you were anticipating, Loki; this is something of an opportunity, though not one I think you would have chosen for yourself. You should know that someone was seen sneaking into a mansion in the general area of Marquis Goldwater's estate; it might be that thief you mentioned; the one who works for the troupe in Gamma."

Loki's eyes narrowed; she doubted that girl, Zade, was responsible for this, but it certainly would warrant some looking into. "I'll handle that, thank you. The last thing the girl needs is to be confronted by assassins accusing her of killing a nobleman. she has enough reason to hate both groups already, if my suspicions about who she is are correct. See what you can figure out about that poison; I think that would probably be the place to start."

"Of course." Amon raised an eyebrow slightly, but said nothing else, instead standing and inclining his head before taking his leave. Loki tried resuming her tapping, but her hand clenched into a fist instead. This made everything more urgent. And as much as she hated to admit it, Taylor's help may no longer be a mere convenience, but a necessity if she was to avert the bloody aftermath that could potentially follow.

The setting changes from The Royal Palace to District Gamma

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Zade collapsed into her pile of blankets; she was bone-weary and exhausted. The night had been a good deal more exciting than she would have liked. She’d been contracted to steal something, an ornamental blade, from Lord Morris’s estate. Easy enough, and she’d managed to sneak past all the security present to grab the thing and go. Unfortunately, someone had decided that the area and the time was optimal not only for theft, but also for murder. It was not until she’d been confronted by several armed guards and had to flee else be captured and executed that she had discovered this.

Of course Marquis Goldwater’s estate is right next to Lord Morris’s. Because the world is trying to tell me that there’s no hope for anything, she thought with a mixture of bitterness and wry humor. She’d spent the next few hours trying to lose the men on her way back to Gamma, hoping that she’d be able to slip down some back alley and disappear. It had worked- eventually. The meantime wound up being analogous to a race through a maze, and it was only the knowledge of the inner city that Zade had carefully acquired that had saved her from being hauled in to the prisons outside the city.

Now, she was footsore, and worried besides. She knew her disguise was pretty good; she wore all black from head to toe, and a mask covered the lower half of her face, but there was always a chance someone had caught some basic physical descriptors that were hard to hide- eyes, hair, skin tone. Hopefully her hooded cloak had obscured her gender enough that everyone would be looking for a male. She wasn’t much fond of the idea of relying on chance, though, and perhaps it might be wise to ask the troupe’s mage to switch her coloration as she did with Tinder’s hair.

But for now, she was going to need some sleep. After escorting the strange man with the beak outside of the store, she had been unable to find any of her old circus friends, which meant that she would not be needed anywhere today, and she doubted her presence anywhere would be missed. A plus to not being close to anyone in particular, certainly.

-=-

District Delta

Pandora had stayed the night at the warehouse, the better to keep watch over the unconscious young poison victim. Her sleep had been fitful at best, but then she was used to this sort of thing. She was up periodically every hour or so to check on him, and was presently convinced that he was stabilized, if not quite ready to wake yet.

The vials the doctor had given her, she had carefully stored somewhere they would not break. She was honestly unsure how to take the fact that he had given them to her at all. The concept of paying her for being allowed to help was a bit strange to the mage, but she had a feeling he was one of those people it would be best not to argue with once he had decided on a course of action. The medicine itself she was unsure of, but she attributed this firmly to her lack of knowledge on such matters and nothing else. She trusted his word for it, which while perhaps foolish wasn’t something she could force herself not to do.

Rather than linger on it, Pandora decided it might be best to purchase some food for her patient, as he looked like he could probably use some when he awoke. As it happened, the money-little as it was- that she had received yesterday would be of great assistance in this matter, but she would need to be careful with ingredient selection because her clinic presently lacked a stove or any other means of producing heat other than her magic, which frankly wasn’t any good for that sort of thing.

As her large blue eyes adjusted to the daylight outside, Pandora flipped the sign on her clinic door to indicate that she would be back soon, and made her way to Delta’s small, poor market district. The fruits and most of the veggies she stayed away from; those had to be cooked thoroughly before they even began to approach palatable. Same for the meats. The bread was a bit on the stale side, but it was inexpensive, and she purchased two loaves of it with her newly-acquired coin. She was actually fairly excited; such a quantity would be more than enough to get the young man back on his feet, and maybe there’d be leftovers that she could take home. She silently thanked Eos, though the memory of how exactly that had happened caused her to shake her head.

As it turned out, her loaves were not to make it quite as far as she would have hoped. The first went in halves to a couple different children she knew didn’t have parents. Such orphans were generally cared for collectively by the community, and Pandora was not one to refuse to do her part. The second made it back to the warehouse all right, though, and she was careful to hide it where it would remind nobody of their empty stomachs, least of all herself, though she did take a couple of slices. She hadn’t eaten since the day before yesterday, after all, and there would probably be no fewer sick or injured today than there had been then.

The setting changes from District Gamma to The Royal Palace

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#, as written by Arke
Today was colder than usual. Or was it just him? The fat nobles wearing little more than thin formal clothes to form a facade masking the vulgarity they displayed told him otherwise. Wrapped up in a thick woolen coat, the thin young noble breathed gently into his hands. His breath wasn't visible, so it wasn't too cold, but his body was like a broken thermometer at this point. He needed an assistant to accurately tell how hot or how cold it was. The epieu remained at his side, feeling the concealed short spear thump against his thigh.

The walk from his own estate to the Palace was trying. Why did architects see fit to add so many damned stairs? His own estate was as flat as possible, and was very wide- the slow incline leading up the floors was soft on his legs. He had arrived hours early, after waking from a restless sleep. He felt like an old man- early to bed and early to rise. Except he never truly felt rested. The mornings were bitter to him.

He presented himself to a guard, revealing his only weapon- and for good measure. The epieu was concealable, and any attempt to conceal a weapon would link him to a possible assassination or past assassination. He was not stupid, he had received word of Goldwater's death. The public face of the radical movement had been killed, but perhaps this was a good thing. Martyrdom always helped push a cause forward. A talk with the Princess would clear up the situation. He had avoided much contact with the radical group, as they thought his ideals were too much to cover in so little time. He kept his epieu in plain sight, being escorted down the hall.

"Princess, Lord Taylor has arrived." He said after knocking on the door three times. Caelin entered, bowing to the princess once before moving to a chair. Sitting down, he allowed himself to observe her for a second. From the get-go, he got a feeling of shrewdness from her- like a night cat. He couldn't deduce much- as with all other nobility, she could mask her emotions well. If Amon Gregory had been in the room when he entered, Caelin would have never known. That is, if Caelin knew who Amon Gregory was.

District Beta

The hunt was oh-so-successful.

In a cage contained several angry rats. Large, strong, and almost rabid in personality. The masked doctor was never too sure how the people of Delta dealt with these ferocious things, but they provided nice little scapegoats for his experiments. However, now wasn't the time. His apprentice was very angry at him for leaving. She was now taking her work leave, to get some rest and to visit her family.

He let her, and noted as he waved her off that she looked back at him quite a few more times than necessary. Walked a little bit too quickly too.

He walked back inside. Checking the front desk, he noted that she had finished all her obligations before she left. Briefly, he wondered how long it took her to finish the paperwork he left her. He waved it off, and began filling out a request for some chemicals from Taylor's Chemicals. Raw was best, especially when dealing with potions and compounds. There wasn't much else to do. There was a few patients here and there, but it was almost always the usual performer with a broken bone or ripped muscle.

Making his way back to the back room, he started cleaning the equipment he used yesterday at Delta's warehouse. Or hospital. It was business as usual.

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Loki was conscious of the fact that she was being studied, but she did not begrudge Lord Taylor this. It was as much a fact of an aristocrat’s existence as the continuous effort to make such scrutiny as useless as possible, for enemies and allies alike. One could never tell, after all, when one would become the other, and it could happen at the mere drop of a hat.

There was a certain level of implicit trust even in this meeting, though, and she knew it would be pointless to keep the entirety of her plan hidden for long. One could not make progress if one was unwilling to bend, after all.

Taylor himself was something of a conundrum. Whereas it was customary for nobles to attempt to exude cool indifference, or perhaps heated vigor when the occasion called for it, the man before her left her with neither impression. Rather, it would seem he was possessed of that rare warmth and actual compassion that she had known only to exist in a very small number of people. It reminded her of her mother, and the Princess wasn’t honestly sure how she felt about that. Deciding to put that one off for now, she waited for him to get comfortable before she opened her mouth to speak.

“I’m sure that you have heard by now, so I won’t waste my breath or your time on explaining Duke Goldwater’s absence. It is also likely that you understand the position this puts you in. While he was not the most… aware of individuals, Goldwater had a sway that could only be considered impressive, one that neither of us presently possess. Your problem, it would seem, is twofold: someone needs to fill his seat in Parliament, and someone needs to spearhead his cause.” Standing abruptly, Loki crossed to a shelf, removing a stack of parchments about three inches thick. Tossing it onto the small table between her chair and Taylor’s, she continued. “This is a dossier; it contains names and information on just about anyone who would qualify to take that seat. As you are doubtless aware, Goldwater was childless, and thus his fortune returns to the Crown, since he had no estate as such. The people listed are those wealthy enough to claim his seat and ambitious enough to want it. I am afraid that there is not a soul within who would support you and the cause you champion for any longer than was strictly convenient for them.”

Loki would know; she had been wondering about the same things herself for a while, and collecting that information had been a joint effort between herself and Amon’s Guild, in an effort to find someone, anyone, to support in the event of a Parliamentary death. They had thought they were waiting for Lord Saunders, the ninety-year-old senior member of Parliament, to die of natural causes, and had been counting on more time to figure something out, but the information was compete nonetheless. “The way I see it, your choices are limited. You could support a candidate who is unqualified or doesn’t want the position and risk weakening your cause, or you could give up and resign yourself to the fact that Gilgamesh will have another puppet to move about as he pleases. You could find someone else that I have missed-” here she shook her head slightly, as if only to herself- “or…” Loki turned on her heel to face Taylor again, and her violet stare was measuring for a long second. “Or you can take a risk, and support me in my bid for exactly that seat.”

That a member of the royal family should assume a seat in Parliament was, she had discovered through exhaustive research, unprecedented, but in no way illegal. Long had she felt that too much of what happened in the legislature was beyond her control; long had she suffered the weakening of her mother’s Crown. Too long, in fact: and now that she saw a chance to do something about it, Loki was more than willing to shed the guise of Minerva’s shadow and make her intentions known. Of course, this depended on a degree of cooperation from one faction of another, and she was most certainly not lowering herself anywhere near as far as it would take to ask Gilgamesh.

Retaking her seat, Loki rested a chin on her hand, raising a black brow. “I do not expect that this will be something you are willing to do without assurance, Lord Taylor, and so I concede: ask of me what guarantee you will, and if it is something I am willing to provide, you shall have it. If it is not, then you can walk out of this room, and this entire conversation will cease to exist.” This was a calculated risk on her part; he could ask her for very important pieces of information or promises she would not want to keep, and she would by the nature of her position be forced to comply. Still, that was only if he knew the right questions in the first place.

-=-
Marchfield Laboratories

Prometheus sat up abruptly, realizing with irritation that he had fallen asleep at his research again. Ah, the trials of age! It made so many things all the clearer, and yet… other things grew faded, and personal reserves of energy and the endurance required to execute three consecutive days of wakefulness were two of the latter, certainly.

There was a knock at his door, and the scientist responded with a grunt, which the man on the other end rightly and routinely interpreted to be an invitation to enter. The door swung inward to admit a tall, lanky man in his late forties, with a surprisingly youthful face and telling purple eyes. “Sir, the maintenance for Delta’s air filtration unit is scheduled for today, but unfortunately you had the engineer responsible fired last week and-”

Prometheus cut his assistant off with a curt gesture. “Fine. Send Giacomo to do it. He’s still waiting on parts to redesign the thing anyway; might as well get himself some experience with the current model. Which reminds me: do we have percentages on that yet?”

Joshua sighed and checked the parchments he was currently carrying. “Presently, the engine is running at eighty per cent efficiency, which is just enough to eliminate approximately half of the industrial toxins in Delta on a daily basis.” This was a set of figures he’d read before, and it seemed to make his employer a bit angrier each time. Indeed, the old man’s eyes flashed for a moment, and he set about muttering darkly to himself as he shuffled past a stack of paper as tall as he was. Knowing better than to interrupt Doctor Vanderbilt when he got like this, Joshua closed the door softly behind him and scrawled a note to Giacomo, which he then slipped under the man’s office door.

-=-
District Beta

Amon did not often pay visits to his former apprentices, nor his employees generally, but every once in a while, the bureaucracy required to get them to come to him was a bit more than he wanted to deal with, and the elegance of efficiency had its appeal most strongly in these moments.

Presently, he had journeyed from the palace straight to District Beta. If there was anyone who knew about toxins and could be trusted to keep mum about the matter, it was the man he presently went to see. Sometimes, the Guildmaster was surprised that none of his predecessors had thought to place an assassin in the Physicians’ Guild for just this reason, but then he had always been a bit on the unconventional side, which was saying something considering his occupation especially. Every so often, he found himself questioning what his own master would have thought of him teaching the ways of the Assassins to a noble, or personally scouting for recruits even at this point in his career, or letting certain former members of his Guild leave it with their lives… it would seem precedent was rarely on his side.

He found the building he was looking for without difficulty, the plain, nondescript signage doubtlessly belying whatever oddities took place within. As it was in fact a public building, the stately man entered without hesitation, adopting the persona of an affable Beta resident, perhaps someone’s uncle. His gait made noise only because he consciously made it so, his perfect posture stooped slightly, the corners of his mouth tilted upwards slightly as though they were always that way, and his eyes softened.

It was in this manner that he approached the young woman behind the desk. “Excuse me, Miss, but is the doctor in right now? I had an appointment, but I can’t remember if it was for today or tomorrow. I’m horrible about things like this, you see.”

The setting changes from The Royal Palace to Marchfield Laboratories

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It had been another all nighter for Giacomo and his assistants. His supliers had an awfull habbit of bringing the parts just as Giacomo wanted to call it a day. But this time it finally meant they had all the parts and throughout the night it had been one of the busiest bits of revelation. That morning they stood next to a completed steam engine. Giacomo was preparing for the first test, he and his assistants were loading fuel into the furnace and filling the steam tank. As the fire ignited in the furnace the steam tank was being put to the test for the very first time. The air in the workshop was filled with anxiëty, adrinaline and the smell of coffee, which had helped them through the night. Giacomo was used to sleeping whenever he had the chance and had frequently taken a quick nap as the assistants went to get another cup of coffee and it had payed off, even wilst Giacomo had been 'awake' for over three day he looked better than his assistants who just had their first all nighter.

The steam pressure slowly build up in the tank and suddenly the engine makes awfull creaking sounds, knowing that the engine was slowly going into motion Giacomo does nothing and focusses his eyes of the crankshaft. Slowly as the engine began to move the horrible sounds began to lessen in strenght. As the engine was pushed further and further towards it's maximum it became harder to follow the motion of the various moving parts, Giacomo and his assistants realised that they just have completed what earlier had looked like an endless task, they had completed the build of his engine and it worked. Though all of them felt reliefed they didn't show it. "Heward, Gray. Would you please stop the engine, I am going to write some letters for the public test run. Wilst I am busy you guys can clean this place up, should you have some time after stopping the engine." Giacomo walked to the exit of the workshop and walked to his office.

As he came to his office he notices that there is some paper sticking out from under the door. Carefully he opened the door and picked up the note. "It seems Prometheus has a new task for me." He said with a smile upon reading the note. He turned the piece of paper around and wrote: "Note to self: Build a mailbox onto the office door." He pinned the note to a small board on the wall behind his desk. The office was quite small, but it contained everything he needed, there was a desk with chair, a bookcase filled with books, a few blueprints and blueprint paper. Having his plans altered he discars his earlier thoughts to write the letters and walks back to the workshop.

Having arrived back at the workshop he sees that his assisants have stopped the engine and already were cleaning up. "Guys, there is a change of plans. I have to go to the air filtration unit in Delta. Prometheus has given me the task to do it's maintainance, as if he gave me an invitation to find the hidden defects. You guys can go home and rest up, I'll see both of you here tomorrow. We're going to try to get that awfull noise away, because if that happens on every start it's not an envoirmental friendly machine, is it?" He said to the guys before leaving the workshop to deal with the maintainance in Delta that was waiting for him.

The setting changes from Marchfield Laboratories to District Delta

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Pandora was still running about here and there, tending those who came in, when her unfortunate poison victim stirred. It was a strange tendency she had, to refer to people as her wounded bar fighters or wasting-lung victims, but it was something she didn't really notice all that often. Maybe doctors did it too? She somehow doubted the Physician from yesterday was such a one, but then you never knew.

Ash-blond eyebrows furrowed, and she shook her head. Why am I thinking about this now? He's coming to, and he'll likely have no idea where he is or how he got here. With a polite smile and many good-natured reassurances, she shuffled the rest of the crowd out the door and informed them that she'd be open tomorrow if they needed her then. A few of them shot her reproachful glances, and she flinched inwardly, but there was no immediate need to look at any of them, and she didn't want the poor young man waking up surrounded by strange faces. Her own would be odd enough, she was sure.

Kneeling beside him, Pandora spoke softly. "Can you hear me? My name is Pandora. You're in District Delta right now; you came into my clinic yesterday. Do you remember?" At this point, it was actually less about getting the information she was asking for and more about getting him used to the sound of her voice so he wouldn't be startled by it. Sometimes, when people went unconscious in stressful situations, they woke up on the defensive, and the last thing she needed was the rather unfortunate set of circumstances that might come of that.

Remembering something rather abruptly, Pan threaded her way past her examination chairs and the refuse of her night's stay in the place to retrieve the youth's clothing and the bread she'd purchased that morning. She kept clean water on hand, too, which was nice, though she suspected she'd have to pay another visit to the air and water treatment facility today to acquire more. She had something, a piece of paper a patient from Alpha had given her once, that said she got a certain amount of clean water every month on his dime. She felt bad about using it sometimes, but water was one of those things she absolutely could not do without.

"Nngh..." the boy's eyes squeezed tightly shut, then cracked open slowly. "I feel like I've been hit with a smallcraft..." He tried to sit up, but Pandora shook her head and placed a surprisingly firm hand on his shoulder to hold him down.

"I wouldn't do that just yet," she advised gently, letting go when he nodded. "Could you tell me your name?"

He looked like he had to think about it for a second, and sighed. "Jonathan... Weaver, I think. Either that or I am a weaver, maybe both." He grinned, and Pandora was relieved that he seemed to be quite coherent, all things considered.

"Well, Jonathan Weaver-who-is-a-weaver, you should count yourself lucky to be alive," she replied, gesturing for him to go ahead and try to be seated, which he did with some assistance from her. The healer, noting that he seemed rather uncomfortable in present circumstances, retrieved another blanket, which he draped gratefully over his shoulders. "Here," offering him some water and the bread, she pretended not to notice when he regarded the latter with distaste.

"This really is Delta, isn't it?" He met her eyes despite her efforts to the contrary, and Pandora could only nod.

"That it is."

"Er..." perhaps sensing the discomfort this caused, Jonathan cast about for something to say. "Look, I didn't mean anything bad by that, it's just I don't think I've ever been down here before and-"

"Don't let it trouble you," she interrupted quietly, holding her hands up in a gesture of surrender. "I'm not offended, really. But I am curious as to what happened to you. The doctor... erm, he was here yesterday when you came in... he thinks you were poisoned, and I agree."

"The doctor? There's actually a doctor down here? What are you then? The nurse?"

His curiosity about something so unusual threw her for a minute, and her smile was on the strained side. "Ehe... something like that," she evaded, trying not to make this any more complicated than it already was. He seemed to take the hint, and plowed onwards with his story.

"Right, sure. Anyway, I don't know what happened to me. One minute I was minding my own business, wandering around Beta. They have this tavern, there, you see, and the owner's daughter is really... well I didn't make it there at any rate. I was jumped by three guys, and one of them stuck a needle in my arm. Next thing I know, I'm stumbling around down here, and everything's really fuzzy after that. I had a lot of trouble breathing though."

A needle in his arm? Pandora gestured for him to show it to her, and she noted that there was indeed a second puncture wound there. "Probably a sedative," she murmured, and relinquished her grip. "You don't remember anything else?" But Johnathan shook his head, and she sighed. "Okay. Thank you for telling me. I'll give you some time to get dressed to go home, okay?"

---

A few minutes later, Pandora returned to find Jonathan straightening his cuffs with his back to her. At the sound of her approach, he turned and grinned. "Thanks, ma'am. I feel a hell of a lot better now. How much do I owe you?"

Now there was an awkward question. "Erm, well... the doctor who treated you lives in Beta or Gamma maybe, but..."

Jonathan shrugged. "Well, okay then, I'll leave it with you, and you can pass it on. How much?"

Pan grimaced and quoted him a number that she used when treating upper-class patients. She thought it was the standard Physicians' Guild fee, and didn't quite understand why he looked so surprised. "I value my life a little more than that, even if I am but a weaver," he explained, and counted out about twice that much, even over her protests. It wasn't long before he was simply gone, and she once again left wondering exactly why it was that these strange things happened to her.

The setting changes from District Delta to The Royal Palace

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#, as written by Arke
She was about as sharp as a kitchen knife. Unfortunately, even with her cool mask and indifferent aura, she inadvertently shared some of what she was feeling. Her concise, planned speech lead him to believe that she did not want to mess anything that she could control up. She listed many options- all viable yet almost certain to be terrible for his position in some way. He definitely could not support somebody that did not back his interests, or the interests of the radical party. Giving up another seat to the control of Gilgamesh was completely out of the question- any more dominance over Parliament, and the man would be able to pass laws and legislations without opposition. He certainly could search for somebody suitable to his cause, but unfortunately time and resources were both limited and he needed copious amounts of both to find a man that would be willing to support the radical party- not Gilgamesh.

However, the last option presented by the shrewd princess caught him completely off guard. His mask shattered, revealing a very surprised noble. Never before in history had he heard of such a thing. Women were far and few in Parliament, and including the Princess herself would be highly influential. Women's Suffrage was at a middling point nowadays, and it would give the radicals that much more reason to push- especially since she was hinting that she would help him in return.

"This is a risky road, Princess. What you propose is something that has never happened since the creation of this floating city. Not only will my own tenuous reputation be in danger, but the respect for the crown." He said, though the look in Loki's eye told him she already knew this. "You tell me that I may have anything within your power- but what can I ask for? I own Taylor Chemicals- a large chemical producer for the Marchfield Laboratories and the Physicians guild. I have all the money and economic influence I need." He needed to show that he wasn't completely without options. The skittish dance of words often dictated it necessary- speech is always wriggling, always finding a nook or crack to filter out into unwanted ears.

His deep, soothing green eyes began to twinkle. "However, you have a point. This unprecedented action might just be the torch necessary to light the flame that can hold back our rival." He said, pausing slightly. "As I said, I have nothing I want personally- but I want you to swear this. If you are to win and secure Goldwater's empty seat, you will ally yourself in a position favorable to my standings."

Suddenly, the young man paused once more- his eyes lighting up. For a brief moment, slight desperation pierced his recollected emotionless mask. "One more thing." He said softly. "You must secure me a heir by the end of two years."

He knew what this was implying, and was quick to act. "I do not mean for your hand in marriage- that is your own choice. I mean I lack the influence of the rest of Alpha and beyond to find myself a suitable heir. You know full well, I am childless- and like Goldwater, I am a radical member. It would be foolish to think that after an action I will take for you, that I will remain in the shadows and out of harms way." He said. He had come up with this reasoning on the spot, quickly hiding the fact that he feared his wasting body would be the cause of his demise. Two years was already trying his luck- he wanted to at least tutor his heir under his morals before he was to be sealed in a coffin.

The young noble's grim face showed that he was not teasing the girl.

District Beta

When the man swept into the small physician's office, the apprentice girl looked up. She smiled at the man, and as it was her duty, readily complied. "I'll check to see if the doctor is-" She was cut off by a high-pitched screeching noise. She hesitated, and called out to the masked doctor. She paused, then called out again.

"Alright, alright. I get it." Came the slightly agitated voice. Etzel walked out of the operating room, giving off the faint scent of rat blood. Once again, his experiments had gone wrong as a reaction between the intense light of the wand and the chemical injected in the rat caused the poor animal to screech in pain and explode. He had just barely managed to get most of the unsightly residue off. He looked through his tinted lens to observe the man that faced him before recognition struck him.

"Ah yes. Your appointment was today. Come, sir. I shall give you your examination as promised." He said smoothly. Amon hardly ever paid visits. He had only seen him a few times, and it was considered an honor for the guildmaster of any sort of guild to visit one individual for any reason. He nodded toward his apprentice, and guided the assassin's guildmaster to the back room. He shut the door behind him, refusing to lock the door due to how suspicious it was.

"Amon Gregory- it is quite the honor." Etzel said, inclining his head once. "To what occasion to I give my blessings for you to visit me personally?"

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She watched his impassivity break apart as a mirror struck with stone, and Loki allowed herself the smallest of smiles. Of course, it would have seemed to come from far afield of anything he would have been thinking, and that was the reaction she intended for the rest of Parliament as well. Lord Taylor would not need to be browbeaten into seeing the wisdom of this move, though, and she was actually somewhat surprised at how quickly he seemed to take her seriously. That was good; it would mean far less trouble for any conceivable political alliance.

Still, she heard out his concerns with as much respect as he had given her, though these were indeed things she had already considered. The possible damage to his own reputation was something she counted on him being willing to risk, though, when it came down to it. After all, one did not become an ardent supporter of outer-district citizens and the rights of magi when one was too timid to place one’s reputation at stake. Naïve and easily-manipulated as this man may seem, if that were actually the truth, he would have been long ago laughed right out of his position.

When he addressed her offer, however, he said essentially what she had been expecting- and then something she most certainly had not. Her eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly, and she had opened her mouth to speak before he corrected himself. Not that what he chose to correct was really the issue. Granted, she could not and would not ever use her marriage as a political bargaining chip, but for that very reason, that had not been her initial interpretation of what he said, though his backpedaling on the issue was amusing to say the least, and she resisted the urge to chuckle slightly. I am glad to know that my life is my own as far as you are concerned, she thought wryly. Pity not all think it so.

No, what truly troubled her was the reason behind the request. Granted, Goldwater had just been assassinated, and that could be taken to imply that nobody was safe. But such a request was not one someone like Taylor made on the impulsive basis of an incident the night previous. For all anyone officially yet knew, he might have been killed by an errant lover or a conniving ally, and there was only incidental reasoning for anyone else to suddenly fear the same things. This smacked of something that had been long stewing in the man’s mind, and she immediately wanted to know why that may be. Still, there was no reason for her to ask after it; his motivations were his own, to a point, and she was not so heartless as to fail in understanding that if they were not specified, they were likely not easily-discussed.

“As to the first request, you have my word that our goals do in fact align. I would not have bothered to summon you here if I believed otherwise.” The princess arced a perfectly-sculpted eyebrow. “As to the second… I am assuming a child would be sufficient? If there is any specific quality they need to have, I cannot promise I’ll be able to find it. Two years is a while, though… I will endeavor as best I can manage.” This in truth was quite well indeed, given the resources she had at her disposal. Perhaps a younger child from another noble family; most would be willing to give up their offspring when such power as Taylor’s might come to belong to it. However, ties to more than one source might be a bit messy, especially in the case of a conflict. But any child of Gamma or Delta would be rejected by most of Parliament… which left her fewer angles than she would have liked. Still, she was a woman of her word, and she would do this to the best of her considerable ability.

“I understand that there may be unresolved concerns you have regarding this, and if that is so, I would hear them. It plays to our advantage to be on the same page, yes? My guess is that Gilgamesh, if not explicitly involved, has planned for this eventuality, and likely already has a candidate ready for consideration. I do not think we should give Parliament too much time to get over the shock of what is about to happen, but it might be best to warn your allies of what is to come. Also, if you have time later this afternoon, I think there is someone you should meet.”

---
District Delta

The District Delta Air and Water Treatment Facility was a much less impressive building than its name would suggest, though any resident of the surrounding area would have told you to expect as much. Not that visitors often stopped to chat with the local population, of course. A squarish, steel building with rust stains aplenty, the only entrance was a set of double doors, sturdier than the rest because they were constructed of steel rather than mostly iron.

Inside, one would find a small area in the front of the building designed to admit those who had business there, though the woman behind the counter seemed inattentive at best, and just about to fall asleep at worst. Still, she was friendly enough, not that too many people visited to know that. Her most frequent visitor was a young woman who came every few weeks or so to retrieve a supply of purified water on some nobleman’s billing. A curious arrangement, but not one that the receptionist was interested enough to speculate upon.

Beyond that lay a few offices for the scientists that were required to work here once a week or so, to try and keep the place running for as long as possible. There was little they could do, however, to stop the gradual erosion of all the moving parts and engines, which lay further still beyond their rooms. Various parts whirred and groaned as they were forced to near-continuous movement, their efforts against the pollution of industry as a pebble against a rushing river. One wall contained all the wands that powered the reactions to purify the air before pumping it back out into the atmosphere. Below these rested the less-worked wands for water purification, since only cursory amounts were provided to Delta homes, and the rest had to be purchased.

---
District Beta

The room smelled a bit like burnt flesh, and blood, but if Amon noticed any of this, he did not comment, nor was it apparent on his face. Instead, he took a seat in the examination chair as though it were a rather ordinary one behind a desk, and crossed his ankle over the opposite knee. This was partially a habit and partially a precaution. Unbeknownst to anyone, the boot now easily-accessible contained one of his knives, which was a boon seeing as how he could not well walk into a doctor’s office wearing his blade. The action was not because he feared being attacked necessarily, but because his vigilance demanded that it always be so.

“Etzel,” he returned easily. As Guildmaster, he dealt regularly with all sorts of eccentric and odd personalities, and he was never one to get caught up in the formalities, nor demand that others do the same. Instead, he replied upon a demeanor that was generally polite, but never to the point of inefficiency.

“I have come to inquire after the nature of a poison,” he began tactfully. Unable to study the man’s face for reactions, he nevertheless clued in immediately to any change in body language, breathing pattern, or voice modulation. “Marquis Adam Goldwater was killed last night. It was made to look like the work of a pugilist, but there was a track mark in his abdomen as well, which seems to be what really killed him. The poison does not match anything known, but my estimation is that it has to have been some kind of neurotoxin, that whomever was responsible was able to create the farce of strangulation while he was still alive enough to breathe.”

Amon paused for a second, as though in contemplation. “The maid who found him dead reported that the room smelled of some kind of citrus fruit for a little while, before too many passages in and out destroyed the scent. I do not know if this is actually true, but I have no reason to doubt her impressions.” The gray-haired assassin steepled his fingers together in a characteristic gesture, looking steadily at the journeyman Assassin across from him.

The setting changes from The Royal Palace to District Delta

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Closing the door to the clinic behind her, Pandora struck out for the treatment facility, intent on retrieving her supply of water for the month. Normally, she had a small cart for this sort of thing, but like so much in the life of the people down here, it was unreliable at best, so she figured she’d have to make a few trips back and forth. That wasn’t so bad; she could always use a bit of a walk. She was more concerned with the amount of time it was going to take- the next wave of patients would be expecting her soon.

Sometimes, I wonder if I shouldn’t hire a receptionist, she thought to herself a touch wryly, then covered her mouth with a hand and suppressed a mirthful laugh. As though she’d ever have enough funds to hire someone just to make appointments. Running the clinic on walk-ins was simply easier, though sometimes she thought it would be nice if she couldn’t find another healer and expand the operation, maybe save up for some real medical equipment… Pandora sighed and shook her head. Silly dreams, all of them, but then sometimes she was certain that they were all that stood between herself and hopeless despair. When all was said and done, that sort of dream was all anyone down here had left.

The Air and Water Treatment plant looked much like the buildings surrounding it, and if one didn’t know what one was looking for, it would be very easy to walk right past it. Luckily, Pandora had more occasion to visit than most, and thus it was no difficulty. Wrenching open the heavy steel doors was a bit of a challenge for someone with absolutely no muscle mass, but it yielded eventually, and she stepped inside, greeting the receptionist with a smile. The woman, dark of both eye and hair, bore all the hallmarks of a Beta resident, from the neat and polished quality of her fingernails to the light floral scent she carried, product of special soaps that nobody Pan knew ever used.

“Good day, Ms. Barrowfield,” the mage chirped, earning a returned greeting from the woman. “I’ve come for this month’s water…”

Ms. Barrowfield pursed her lips into a thin line, and she looked a tad bit at a loss for words. Pan’s eyebrows furrowed; there was nothing unusual about the request, and usually she didn’t even ask to see the missive before handing over the supplies. “I’m sorry, dear, but I’m afraid there’s something of a problem.”

“A problem?” Pandora echoed, unsure where this could possibly be going. Had her benefactor suddenly changed his mind? Had she been using too much water and cost him too much?

“I’m afraid Marquis Goldwater, the man paying your bill, died early this morning. His fortune has returned to the Crown, and I’m afraid that if you wish to continue receiving funds for your clinic, you’ll have to petition them for it.” The middle-aged woman sounded genuinely sorry, but that did little to ease Pandora’s worry.

“Oh… I see,” she said slowly. That was so strange. Surely, if the Marquis had felt he was taking ill, he would have sent word to her? He was a kind man, and not nearly old enough or in poor enough health to her knowledge to die of a sudden affliction. What could possibly have happened?

---

District Gamma

A closed and stuffy apartment was hardly the best place to work on wicking and fire devices, so Zade was forced to take her craft out-of-doors. People like her were not such an uncommon sight, sitting about on sidewalks or perched on stair-rails, so it was not as though she would likely draw any particular sort of attention. Well, besides the occasional obvious leer, but she had learned to ignore that sort of thing long ago. Most of the people in Gamma were respectful enough to leave her alone, but the same could not always be said for the incidental visitor or three, not quite as accustomed to the bright clothing or exotic art forms of performance troupes.

She was trying out a new wicking formula for her rope-dart and steel hoop today, as both required a stronger flame due to the speeds at which they were spun. Both also required careful containment, though, because the nature of the performance meant that fire could get quite close to one’s hands. Such acts were feats of precision always, and if she was not absolutely certain of where she could safely catch something, it would be difficult to maintain the careless ease which characterized a good act. It also wasn’t as fun if you couldn’t exchange taunts with the audience while you worked, at least as far as she was concerned.

The sun was bright today, and the caress of it on her skin was enough to comfortably warm her even through the thin layer of smog that permeated the sky. Sometimes, she wondered if people in Delta could even see the sun at all. She’d only been there once, and that was close to the district divide. Even there, the soot blackened everything noticeably, and she was glad she had little cause to enter the place. She cast a brief glance in that direction, and as if by thought alone, a figure appeared, clothes streaked with soot and face drawn as if he had been recently feverish. He was clearly just passing through, though, probably one of those Beta idiots who liked to go contract with Ishtar’s lot. He eyed her appreciatively, but she just glared, and he passed without incident. It would not be the first time she had been mistaken for someone in that profession, though what exactly he thought she’d be doing out in the middle of the day if this was the case was beyond her. Ah well. No accounting for logic.

The setting changes from District Delta to District Beta

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#, as written by Arke
"Hm. Yes, I see- Hold on a second. Amon, who is Goldwater?" The doctor said inquisitively. He had no hand in politics, nor was he interested in it. Science was his main concern, and the ever-expanding universe of science left him too preoccupied to even think about the political situation in the floating city. He did recall the name, whispered amongst the people of Delta and Gamma during his many rat-hunts along with some other nobles. The only name he really did remember was based off a company he purchases products necessary for his experimentation from. The only information the doctor really bothered with when in the mud of politics is basic information of the target he was assigned to kill.

"Nevermind, this man's death intrigues me." He finally said. "As coincidential as it is, I have treated a patient that came stumbling through the door with a case very similar to that of Goldwater's affliction." Slowly he got up. As educated as Amon was, very few surpassed Etzel when it came to analyzing and naming poisons and anti-poisons. They were his specialty, after all. Walking over to the table, he picked up a booklet and flipped through it. Stopping at the last marked page, he turned grimly toward the guildmaster.

"I have narrowed down this elusive neurotoxin to several kinds. All of which are plausible, but I do not have enough information to completely rule any of them out." He began, smiling behind his mask. It was not often the guildmaster was subject to the apprentice's opinion. Even his own students taught him something from time to time. Sitting back down in front of Amon, he placed the booklet to the side and withdrew one of his standard metal syringes. While inspecting the tip, he started to speak.

"The first kind of poison is the venom taken from a type of endangered box jellyfish found in Marchfield Laboratories. It's a deadly neurotoxin that only requires small amounts to kill- though it's physical effects are devastating. Swelling of the afflicted area combined with noticable irregular stimulation in the blood vessels. The official cause of death would be asphyxiation. Though I can't say for sure this is the poison you are looking for because it leaves huge burn-like scars on the victims body.

"The second kind is a dried out Tobacco leaf. It leaves a sticky black tar substance that overstimulates the body and causes heart failure minutes after ingestion. However, the taste and smell is very strong- thus it couldn't possibly be covered up by citric scents unless the scents themselves were extremely concentrated. Depending on Goldwater's health, this may be a solid suspect as a weaker victim would die almost immediately.

"Another suspect would be a very rare poison found in a very rare frog. It's called Curare, and it is an extremely powerful neurotoxin that does not work when ingested, but when punched into the bloodstream, the effects are immediate. The victim will pass out instantly, and can be pronounced legally dead of asphyxiation after several minutes depending on physical health. This stuff is particularly nasty because it can deal instant, uncurable death. However, because it's so rare, it would cost entire fortunes to get enough of the poison together to kill. The price makes it a poor candidate, but it does fit the symptoms of the poison itself. The patient I treated will most likely have taken a very diluted or small dose.

"Penultimately, we have our good friend Cyanide and it's relative Cyanogen." Etzel rattled off, his face under the mask rather dream-like. "Nasty stuff- nearly undetectable. Very few people can smell Cyanide; which smells of almonds, and it is almost untreatable. victims of both poisons are usually pronounced dead by asphyxiation- though looking closely at it reveals this is not so. I don't understand it myself for the equipment I have is too weak, but there is some sort of reaction where the body itself cannot recieve the air the lungs breathe despite both of the being perfectly healthy. Victims that take in cyanide or cyanogen will be out within a minute, and dead soon after.

"Finally, we have a plant called Gelsemium. While it doesn't work as fast as the others I listed, but it does give the perpetrator time to properly address the corpse and how he wants to set it up. Symptoms include muscle weakness and dilated pupils- you should check the corpse for those irregularities. Official cause would be respiratory failure."


He stopped, looking directly at Amon. "I've done extensive research on this. There is no such thing as a poison- much less a neurotoxin with a natural citric scent. It must have been added with the poison, to disguise it. Note that whoever did this probably wasn't very smart." He finished, sitting back. "This is all I can tell you with the information provided. I hope this helped."

The setting changes from District Beta to District Delta

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After a long and very mind clearing walk Giacomo stood in front of the treatment facility. From the outside you could see that the entire construct was in a state of decay. Nothing more than the rust and missery that held it together. A shiver was send through Giacomo's spine as he realised how well it blended in with the surroundings and what it would mean. Giacomo at this point was very glad with his humble residence in Beta, which he presumed would still be larger than the largest of delta residences.

As he walked into the building he could no longer tell which smell was which as the smell of the rust of the building and the smell of his slightly metal dusted and greasy coat combined in the air. As he looked around in the building he was confronted with the truly saddening looks of both the insides of the building and the shortage of poeple that used the building. It send another shiver down his spine as the fact that this place was the only thing that prevented the industry from fully poisoning the air in Revelation. He now knew that his project wouldn't just another invention, it would be to keep Revelation alive. He walked to the reseption, which he thought would be the best maintained thing in the entire building.

He walked to the reseption and he overheard the conversation. Giacomo had known Goldwater, not too well, but he knew the man. They both disliked Gilgamesh with all their heart. For Giacomo it was from his roots in Gamma that he disliked the man, as far Giacomo heard all the man did was try to undermine everyone that wasn't able to pay for a residence in beta. The fact the he hated Gilgamesh was enough reason to help the woman, but that wouldn't be his only reason to help. "Pardon me, my name is Giacomo Vernazza, I am here to do the maintainance work on the air purification unit. I overheard your conversation and I'll gladly take the bill for the water. Having clean water in a clinic after all is one of the most basic neccesities." He said as he neared the two.

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The air was electric envy, lit by the silence of his departure and less dense than all around it. The air bounced with its envy, frantically, within the confines of a leather chute, pinned down at four sides with steel rivets. Inside, a pilot light was tapered to a nozzle, which was tapered to an oil can, which was stolen from an Elisian supply ship earlier that Fall. Fall, of course, was a Fleet season that occurred when Revelation's great engines roused the clouds about them into horrible storms, resulting in chilled weather and famine for months at a time. Not a Revelation season, when leaves fall from trees and crunch under your feet, smelling like nutmeg and age. No Fleeters knew the smell of nutmeg.

Sky stretched out for miles on either side of the balloon ship, a lone vessel that sailed below the great city. Somewhere, distant now, was the Fleet. Every monocular and sextant they had on board, every sonar phonograph and calculated azimuth, could do nothing now to detect the ship. It was free from their surveillance, free from their control, and most of all, free. The ship gained a mile each day, drifting past constellations that, once celestial to Icarus, now appeared as mere buoys that floated lifelessly beneath Revelation, lighting the way for souls lost at sky. The sight of these great pools of kerosene, as radiant as they were idle, was enough to wake him from his listless stupor; ballasts would have to dropped.

The balloon had halted some endless distance from the city, an aerial junk heap next to the metallic Eden. Icarus moved about his craft with caution, careful not to disturb the reins of linen that hung around him and directed his infant dirigible. Rust and tarnish painted floor beneath him, scraps of a former home now pieced together in this wild attempt at escape. In the past, what hands had truly held him from desertion? Limitations in his equipment, perhaps, but prior to that no one kept him from stepping overboard, plummeting to the Earth in a final act of spite. No one would care that he was gone.

Choice thoughts that won't get me far, Icarus frowned as he shook them from his head. A great cumbersome piece of iron, once a small anvil, had formed a nice front to his ship, but was largely aesthetic. A slight sigh escaped the Fleeter's lips as he acknowledged it must be scrapped. Some number of planned ballasts had already been discarded, but after reaching a terminal altitude with all of them gone, sections of the ship had to be sacrificed as well. These weren't things Icarus could wholly account for while constructing the vessel in secrecy, but not beyond his contingencies.

"Farewell," The words escaped like gentle flower pedals and tumbled off into the night air with the anvil that, after several nuts were carefully unfastened, came loose. The ship banked hard from the loss, coming up on the opposite end with enough force to throw Icarus from his feet. He fell to the corner of the gondola with a thud, striking his head against an iron suspension and getting knocked out cold. The world fell away from him into darkness.

*---*

Burning custard... Heated rust, or perhaps charred mutton? The scent in the air was... more abrasive than all of those. It didn't stop at the nose, no, it worked its way up to the brain and clouded the senses. It fell like needles against the bottom of the lungs and warranted a cough. What is that? Icarus' mind swam from sleep, awake enough to worry. His eyes opened, but the smell... it was tangible and clouded the air, thick enough to be seen, filthy and black. It sifted about the basket and into his mouth, tasting like decay. "S-smoke..." Icarus' lips fell open as the air sent disease into his gums, "Smoke!"

Consciousness bled through the Fleeter's body, racking his heart against his ribs and bringing his feet to the ground. The ship, it's dying, I've killed my own ship! Thoughts raced through his mind as he got his bearing, feeling the direction of gravity and falling helplessly against the side of the craft. The pilot light glowed gently through the smoke, but the chute... The balloon itself was not aflame, there wasn't any fire on board. Icarus buried his face in his jacket, straining his gaze against tears as he looked for the source of the great smog that obscured his vision and infected his breath.

The balloon ship dove through the clouds of smoke and erupted clean on the other side, the gondola swaying gently with Icarus on-board. His eyes saw light so brilliant that they lost all sense of color and depth, interpreting the scene before him as mere silhouettes. Towers formed, then railways which arced across the sky. Great chimneys appeared with similar smogs billowing from them. The sight was given colors, reddish browns and gold at first, then bright blue sky and olive shrubs. A city rendered itself before him, daring Icarus' nerves not to overload on stimulus alone. Ten million bricks stretched across the landscape, ten thousand shack-homes and ten hundred factories. People, quite unlike the Fleeters he'd known, but people dotted the streets below. Their queer dress and frantic movement was like that of electric puppets, one in five of them pausing to marvel at the scrap ship above.

Icarus sank against the confines of his carriage, heart heavy with the realization of his journey's end. This place... The buildings of Revelation rose about his craft, it's the one I've been casting for... shadows played across the sinking balloon, fighting winds, Earth's pull, my home... The Fleeters he'd left behind. -What war might they be waging this instant? What self-genocide, what hunger?- The city was around him all at once, larger, taller than he was. The ship's basket kissed the cobblestone below, first gently, then again with feverish passion that skidded against surface and spat sparks out from under it. Bent tins and saucers were shed sporadically as the vessel demolished itself on the pavement, tossing its rag-doll pilot from its confines and into a violent tumble across streets. This place, his impotent body skipped like a stone, it's now my home... The Fleeter came to rest at a curb, two blocks from his felled balloon, in the diseased streets of his Revelation felicity.

The setting changes from District Delta to District Beta

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#, as written by Smith
Time crawled by in a haze-obscured blur as Eos sunk deep into another bottle of Delta Whiskey. The bitter taste had long since fled from his mouth, replaced by a dull tingling. The cloaked man stumbled on the curb of the sidewalk and cursed, looking around as if to see who had tripped him. To Eos's suprise, he was no longer surrounded by the ramshackle huts of Delta, but had somehow wandered into the brightly-lit world of Beta. Small flocks of nicely dressed citizens stopped to gawk at the booze-addled Eos for a few moments before his growl sent them skittering along. Not my scene anyway... He thought, tossing aside the empty bottle and spinning on his heel. The homeless man almost made it five steps back the way he had come when a troupe of five or so lavishly garbed young men--who were no less intoxicated than Eos himself--appeared.

Each brandished a silver dagger or rapier, the lead even holding up a cinquenda. The one in the lead, a long haired red-headed little fop of a man waved his blade around in lazy menace, a lopsided grin spreading on his handsome features. "Looky what we 'ave 'ere gents...a vagabond, in our midst!" The others proceded to chuckle and giggle, turning their noses to the air in mocking condescension. "Wadd'ya say we show this fellow where rats belong-"

With startling swiftness the red-head lunged at Eos with his rapier. Despite his apparently drunken state, the noble was girded for battle. The steel passed by only inches from his scalp as Eos dropped to the floor with his arms outstretched like some ragged bird. Before the noble could recover from his overbalanced strike Eos was already laying him low with a rising palm-press to the solar plexus. Eos straightened himself and placed a foot atop the rump of the noble who was now splayed out on the sidewalk. The other four men were no longer laughing. "What?" Eos said with his own grin. "Din't like my joke, gents?"

In moments the other noblemen were upon him swinging their weapons with rage-driven recklessness. Kids these days...

---

"Say what?" Private Nills had been minutes away from the end of his shift when a frightened pair of ladies appeared out of nowhere raving about some 'raggedy demon man'. He couldn't help but smirk at the discription as he followed the two and waved for the three other guards on his patrol to come along. It disappeared almost as quickly when they turned the corner.

Three men, Beta goers by the looks of them were lying on the cobbles, knocked senseless or possibly dead. Two others circled around a shred-covered scarecrow whose features were obscured by the formless cloak they wore. The last nobles left standing were pale, looking as if their intent to attack the unarmed street urchin might not be worth the risk. Still, before Nills got within distance to stop them the two struck. The ragged man slid his left foot back and sunk somewhat to evade the thrust of the man behind him, grabbing his outstretched arm and pulling down. A sickening crack filled the air for a split second as the young noble's arm was bent at the elbow at an unnatural angle. In the same movement the other noble received an elbow to the collarbone which preceded another sound not unlike dry twigs snapping. As Nills and his fellow guardsmen arrived at the scene the last two Beta fighters slumped to the ground in moaning heaps.

The ragged combatant stood erect once more, not moving. Nills could feel his stare from the darkness of that hood. A voice from behind was the only thing keeping him from paling.

"S-sir...didn't the patrol bulletin say that the Marquis was slain by-"

"A pugilist." Nills finished. His spirits lightened somewhat at that revelation. If they managed to subdue this fugitive, there would be a substantial bonus to his pay. He waved a hand and as a whole the patrol leveled pikes at Eos. "You are under arrest, for multiple assaults upon citizens of District Beta and under suspicion of murder in the first degree." To the suprise of the crowd gathered and Nills himself, the ruffian held out his hands in supplication.

---

David Gilgamesh was armored with his trademark sardonic smile as the next convict was dragged in. He was not a fan of those days that he was required to act as judge, but it was never boring. It was a private game of his to guess what crime the newest criminal had comitted before hearing the report. As a dirty pile of rags he could only assume to be human was hauled in by a pair of guards, he made his choice. Petty theft.

As the captain gave his report of what had actually transpired however, Gilgamesh's smirk faltered slightly. Judge duty was generally quiet...it was rare when a man convicted of any transgressions of consequence arrived in his court room. He motioned for one of the attending guards to pull back the man's hood and allowed a long moment of silence to pass before speaking. "What say you, sir..."

"Eos."

"Eos," David continued, "to these charges set against you."

Eos smiled and glared up at the Prime Minister with hatred plain in his eyes. "Not guilty. Although killing pomped up nobles is a favored hobby of mine."

Gilgamesh wore a cold smile to match that of the criminal kneeling before him. "You could have kept your mouth shut. That actually might have sounded better than the inane drivel spewing from your mouth..." The prime minister waved the entire procession away with a dismissive gesture. "Place him in holding until one properly equipped for interrogation arrives. He is to be given no sustenance whatsoever."

---

Eos landed hard in the corner of a dingy little cell with an unceremonious thump. His shackles had long ago rubbed the skin of his wrists raw and they itched terribly. He made no complaint though, and stared at the dirty floor. "That's what I get for telling the truth eh?"

The setting changes from District Beta to District Delta

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Pandora's first thought was that she should refuse the man's kindness. From his manner of dress, he was clearly not from out here, and perhaps ironically, she had a bit of a problem accepting charity. Maybe it was simply because she could not bear the thought of being indebted to another somehow; the ingrained tendency of a magi who had been told of times when a 'debt to society' had forced her kind behind the walls of a lightless, loveless Facility that condemned them for what they were and nothing else. Perhaps she was afraid of losing whatever tenuous hold she had on... well, freedom hardly described her circumstances, but autonomy would do for the moment. though her choices were perhaps limited, at least the ultimate selection of each action was hers, and that was more than the indebted could say for themselves.

Yet... there was something about this man that belied his well-made clothing and he absence of Gamma-Delta soot on his person. What it was, she could not say. She might have been able to, but as it was she was highly distracted by the odd energy emanating from him. It was not the most familiar of sensations, but it was one she recognized, after a fashion. Like magic, but weak, twisted, confused. Mana... the luminous blue that peppered the skin of his face was enough to determine the source. Perhaps he was a scientist of some kind? That would make sense, if he were here to run maintenance.

"I..." she stopped for a minute, then considered. The clinic really did need the water, and he was offering. Could she afford to let her selfish desire for the little freedom she could claim overrun the need of her patients for the relief this water would bring? Of course not. There were more important considerations than her personal comfort level with the situation, after all. "Thank you." Pandora flashed a wan smile, and bent at the waist deferentially.

The receptionist, who had watched the entire exchange with a raised brow, shook her head with traces of humor and produced a slip of paper. "Very well, if you would just sign here, Mr. Vernazza?" The actual cost would be next to nothing on a scientist's salary, but then living down here did tend to make mountains out of molehills where money was concerned. Noting that Pandora was without her usual cart, Ms. Barrowfield thought it might be prudent to make a further suggestion. "The engines will hold for another ten minutes, if you don't mind me saying so, but Miss Pandora here is going to require some assistance in lifting all the water..." she shrugged and left it at that, disappearing into a door behind her to retrieve the supplies which she'd kept waiting just in case the healer managed to find a way to pay for them.

"Erm... you don't have to do that," Pandora amended once the woman was out of earshot. it would save her an extra trip of course, but she could manage. Either way, as soon as the woman returned, Pan grabbed one of the two crates, filled with small units of water, and hefted it to rest against her hip. It was the only way she could carry them for any extended period of time, lacking anything that could be considered muscle mass. Quickly using her freer arm to heft the door open again, she murmured her thanks and goodbyes to Ms. Barrowfield before heading out, propping the door with her foot in the case that the scientist had in fact chosen to accompany her.

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Giacomo set his signature on the paper and he gave a glance at the costs, in Beta he had seen bread that was more expensive, it made him wonder why the nobles didn't pay for water instead of clothes as charity, it was more beneficial than a piece of fabric and much more needed. As the receptionist basically asked him to help the lady, he looked up at the machine. He smiled as she said that it would hold for another ten minutes and said: "Well, at this point you shouldn't be surprised that you are without work tomorrow, even I can't maintain this machine at this point in it's decay. There is no saying how long it will hold, exept that I can garantee that it will hold for today. Should you hear anything disturbing, exit the building directly."

When the receptionist came back with the crates of water Giacomo grabbed one and shouldered it. Compared to the equipment and materials he was used to working with this was quite light. He walked after the lady and exitted the building through the door the lady had held open. "I ain't that familiar here, at least not as familiar as I used to be, and I am clueless to where your clinic might be, so if you would lead me the way." He said.

As they made way to the ladies clinic he suddenly remembered the strange way the lady had looked at him earlier, maybe it was because of his mixture in unusualities. After all he was a man from Gamma who had worked himself into Beta in the scientist guild, and of course there was his 'appearance' that wouldn't fit anything of the ordinary. He decided he had some things to expain to her, as in any case it would be unusual for a man from Beta to offer anything without a favor, maybe she thought he wanted something to have done with his problem. "It's rather unusual for someone from Beta to give something without anything in return, isn't it? I'm not into politics that much, but I'd blame the poeples ignorance for this. They don't know how it is to live in such, it would be rude to say misserable so let's keep it with unfavorable conditions. Something I have, I actualy was born in Gamma and lived there for quite some time. My parents payed themselfs into their deaths to send me to the scientists guild, they in fact gave their lives to give me the bright future I have. Well, as bright as it is, I am still stuck with the most grimm of all views. I've seen and undergone things that will change a man, this... This is one of those changes." He says and he runs his hand over a crystalized piece of his face. "It's a bother, but one that I'd rather live with than without." He continued.

A block further Giacomo sees an object fall from the sky, just in time he could use his monocular to see what it was. A small aircraft, with a living human inside. Mere moments later a loud almost explosion like sound and the rumble of the earth confirmed his fears, the craft had in fact crashed. "There was a human on board, maybe even more, we have to go and help them." Giacomo said with a dead serious expression on his face. From walking Giacomo jumped into a sprint going straight for origin of the large plumes of smoke that came from the crash site.

The setting changes from District Delta to The Royal Palace

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#, as written by Arke
The strung up noble was relieved of his worries. The Princess seemed easily agreeable and had thought it out. Her agreement to his terms would prove beneficial. However, he words danced around the first question- her motives did seem to align with his for the time being, but she could change at any moment. However, as observant as she was and as experienced as she was, she lacked an important thing: Charisma. Many nobles (especially female) were elected through charm, and the princess was just about as connectable as an angry bear. In this case, she would be something similar to a wolf. He did, however, conceal his slight uncomfortable feeling when she asked the reason behind his second request. Of course the reasons she states for asking sounded alright, but he knew instinctively that such a request wasn't something to be poked on by natural curiosity to this extent. He suspected that she wanted to know for personal knowledge, and his ailing health was something he couldn't just simply reveal to a new ally, as trustworthy as one seemed. He smiled in response.

"The reasons behind my second request are personal. This page, I wish to tear out and burn." He replied, uncrossing the arms he held and tapping his head lightly. He was lucky the medicinal concoction kept his symptoms down, as nobles didn't ally themselves with others unless they were sure of his/her strength. He took out the flask and took a drink, taming his body from the symptoms of his affliction.

Her latest mentions amused him, though. He had few allies, and fewer friends and loved ones. There wasn't much he had to do. However, if she were to be elected, Goldwater's seat was almost sure to be full of paperwork that might not even include being the leader of the radical party. There was much organizing in his side, and even if she wasn't interested in being the leader, many nobles had backups of work due to the time they spend on worldly pleasures. Goldwater's may be significantly less, but it wasn't to be certain. Any documents unfinished would be nagged on the princess to finish if she were to take his seat. Luckily, she was young, but unlike himself, she seems to be perfectly healthy. Despite his relative youth, the noble did show signs of fatigue despite his attempts to hide it.

The setting changes from The Royal Palace to Revelation

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The setting changes from Revelation to District Beta

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Amon considered the possibilities intently. He was immediately able to rule out those which would leave notable blemishes; in the brief time he had been there, they’d been carting off Goldwater’s body, and no such things had been present. He had not had the time to check for pupil dilation or similar symptoms, however, and he would have to wait for the physician’s report on that. He briefly considered trying to get Etzel access to the corpse himself, but that seemed like much effort for what would ultimately be little yield.

No, the most likely suspects were the last two. Which brought up the question of why someone would wish to make a poison smell like fruit. It was not to ensure ingestion; in Goldwater’s case at least, the toxin had been injected directly. There was no way to tell if the bruising about the neck and chest was pre- or post-expiration, which meant that whether or not there would have been enough time was not going to help him determine what it had been.

It was possible that the scent had been introduced simply to disguise another odor, or perhaps simply as a misdirection. If so, it was a juvenile attempt in either direction, which led him to believe that at least when it came to the poison itself, he was not looking inward to his Guild. Still, he could not discount the possibility that more than one hand was at work here, and one of those could very well be closer to him than he liked to imagine.

Still, Etzel said something that caught Amon by surprise. “This other patient… under what circumstances did you treat him? I take it from your tone that he survived, and if that is the case, I would very much like to speak with him.” Any information about a possible test case (for he was almost certain that was what this other incident must be) would be most useful to him, especially since it was explicitly against everything any of his instructors taught their students. No, testing a poison on a person only to let him out of one’s sight was far too irresponsible for an assassin. It sounded more like something a scientist would do, if by accident. An assassin would have restrained the man if he was using a poison that might not work.

-=-
The Royal Palace

Loki only raised a shoulder in a gesture of compliance when Taylor refused to answer the indirect question. It might have been a bit unfair of her, to clothe it in the terms she had, but then what about the business of nobility was fair? His play on her words did produce a genuine smile though, however small. It was rare that she actually found reason to enjoy being in the company of a member of Parliament, but then it was also not so frequent that such people truly tested her wits.

She was barred from saying anything further, though, by the reappearance of Carlisle, who looked slightly troubled. “Milady… the guards have brought in a suspect in Marquis Goldwater’s… death. Gilgamesh has had him sent to the dungeons, but it will take some time for Parliament to gather itself enough to begin the official questioning, and he is being held without sustenance.”

Loki steepled her fingers and tapped them against her chin, all trace of amusement vanished as quickly as it would appear. Interesting… To her knowledge, the current public opinion of the cause of Goldwater’s death and the actual one were significantly different; as of right now, only she and Amon (as well as any of his Guild that he might have trusted with the information) had any reason to doubt that he had been killed with the bare hands of another, yet this was most certainly not the case. Therefore, any suspect brought in under charges of killing him was likely not in the least responsible. Still… to have been caught already… Someone has made a rather obvious target of themselves. The relative odds of this person’s innocence did not make the matter unworthy of being looked into, however, and she was going to have to rectify the no-sustenance situation besides.

Casting a glance at her most recent ally, Loki raised a brow. “I am sorry to have kept you for so long, Lord Taylor. ‘Tis a rather unfortunate tendency of mine, in the right circumstances. Pease do not feel obligated to stay any longer; I am sure there is much business for someone of your stature to attend to.” She stood, then seemed to pause, as though contemplating something. “Though, if you wish to join me in questioning this prisoner, you are more than welcome to do so.” She did not often waste time doubting her own capabilities, but Taylor was a clever man, and she had a feeling that he would pick up on some things that she did not, which might be useful. Still, his level of involvement with this side of things was something for he alone to decide, and she would not force the issue.

“Very well, Carlisle, lead the way if you would.”

-=-
The Facility- Dungeon

The prison was dank, lit only dimply, and smelled of thing perhaps better left unidentified. That said, however, it was not perhaps as bad as one would imagine. For one thing, it was surprisingly free of rodent life and unsavory insects, courtesy of a few mangy-looking cats that seemed to prowl the hallways outside the cells. The animals knew better than to enter the dwelling-places of those housed on the other side of the bars, and so their patrols were limited, much as those of the guards, to the hallways. At night, it was a bit of an eerie sensation; the feline eyes would catch even the smallest hints of light and become luminous themselves, bored, predatory stares drifting back and forth past the occupants.

Most of the people within were quiet, though every once in a while, someone would be hauled either in or out kicking and screaming. It was always a bit worse when they were going out; so few left the prison to be set free that it was a small wonder why. The cell in which the prisoner in question had been placed was at the far end of such a hallway, deep in the belly of the floating city, below a rather large, imposing building in Alpha. If one knew their history, one might shiver at the implications, that the penitentiary was kept below the Facility.

A separate entrance now directed those whose business entailed seeing the imprisoned from the mage-children who utilized the upper levels of the Facility for classes, but tat didn’t stop Loki from thinking it was all rather distasteful. Her grandfather might have ended the permanent imprisonment of magi here, but that did not mean keeping children so close to the high-profile criminals was a good idea. There was, of course, a secondary prison in Gamma, which was much more accessible to the assassins, but this was the place where those who would be judged in front of Parliament itself were kept.

The princess followed Carlisle down several flights of stone stairs, resisting the urge to wrinkle her nose at the odor. It was dark enough down here that between her clothes and hair, she quite nearly blended in to the surroundings, save for the fact that her starkly-pale complexion was almost luminescent down here. “Is this the one?” she asked her bodyguard neutrally upon arriving at the last cell. The man simply nodded, and Loki approached the bars, though not so close as to be within arms’ reach of the man behind them, thank you very much.

“Eos,” she stated simply, having been provided with the name on the way here. “Lord Gilgamesh believes you are responsible for the death of one Marquis Adam Goldwater. I would hear your reply. And please-” she amended before he had a chance to speak, “I assure you that you are better off with the truth than an attempt to be coy.” Though Carlisle’s tale of his hearing had been rather amusing in a way, Loki herself was not one to waste time with the frivolous bickering of egos. He would tell her what she asked for, or he would not, end of story.

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#, as written by Smith
The Facility- Dungeon

The smell of prisons, jails, holding cells, it was always a very similar fare of scents. Mold was a staple, even in newer facilities for some reason as was the strange damp musk of evaporated...unpleasantness, that always seemed to hover right in front of one's nose. Probably the only two things that set this one apart from most, Eos noted, was the mildew tang of slightly wet fur and a faint undertone of sterilizing agents. Either they kept this place cleaner than it looked in the poor lighting, or there were numerous surgical tools and--their cause of course--interrogations. It was strange that there were so few prisoners though...were executions coming back into fashion?

Eos distracted himself by stroking an emaciated feline that seemed to think this man wasn't stuck up enough to kick his furry behind out. It was correct in that assumption, and Eos had to give it credit for playing it smart as well: Just in case the cat's newfound source of comfort decided to get hostile, it had it's claws brandished and ready as it paced before him. The shackles binding his hands behind Eos made the petting awkward at first, but both he and the bony animal adjusted. After an hour or so of this the cat was lying asleep on his lap. Hm. Seems I have a way with the hairy ones...

“Eos,” The voice that rang off of the cell walls was smooth and silibant, unwavering despite the vexation that made her voice sound slightly sharper than it should have. It made his blood boil underneath the skin. Eos's head shot up and he was in motion. “Lord Gilgamesh believes you are responsible for the death of one Marquis Adam Goldwater. I would hear your reply. And please-” By the time she had finished her sentence a series of popping sounds fired off in rapid succession, the shoulders being displaced and unhinged then shifting back into place again as the prisoner brought his arms back in front of him. “I assure you that you are better off with the truth than an attempt to be coy.”

At this point, Eos was reaching through the bars, hands splayed out revealing the black disks tattooed in the center of each palm. The man's dark eyes were blank and distant and a fire glowed somewhere within. He disjointed his right arm to give the left three more inches of reach past the bars holding this woman from her death. Fingers grasped the air a hair's bredth away from the treacherous whore's nose. So badly did he wish to break that lovely face into a thousand bloody pieces splattered along the--"You aren't the Queen."

Eos's eyes focused once more on the world before him and he slowly retracted his arm. With casual indiffference he regarded Loki and slid his dislocated arm back into place without so much as a wince. Curious, appraising eyes roved up and down the form of the sable lass as her entourage was largely ignored. "You look almost exactly like her...you know, except for the whole guilty eyes part. Whenever she looked at us...the bitch couldn't keep a straight face." He flashed a wistful smile. "Am I being released for good behavior? And why isn't that snake Amon here? I figured he'd want to put his favorite dog out of it's misery...." His trail of thought died in his throat. Eos looked at the princess quizzically. "Are you even old enough to know of us...?"

He wiggled his fingers to indicate his hand. The vagabond had heard absolutely nothing of what Loki had stated earlier. With his free hand, Eos picked his ear, looked at whatever had come out distatefully and flicked it at the princess's escort. A few feet away, the cat was stretching and staring at him expectantly. Neither noticed the bloody furrows left by the feral creature's claws on his thigh.

The setting changes from District Beta to District Delta

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Pandora was somewhat relieved when the scientist acquiesced to the secretary's suggestion and shouldered the other crate. She felt kind of bad for making someone else help her, but then he didn't seem to much mind. He seemed to catch her looking at the crystals a few times, though, and she grinned sheepishly. It wasn't that she thought them particularly horrific or anything; on the contrary, she was more interested in the qualities she could not see rather than the aesthetic effects. She'd had very limited exposure to mana, and it was something she would readily admit to being curious about. She didn't have the kind of mind required for science or anything, but mana had always seemed to her something that might bridge the gap between Mr. Vernazza'a world and her own.

She listened attentively as he told her his story. Some people might have been startled to be on the receiving end of such a personal story, but Pandora was well-used to being the sort of person people spoke to, for whatever reason, and she did not mind in the slightest. "You're right; it is not often that people exercise their charity down here, but..." she trailed off for a moment, trying to think of how exactly to phrase what she wanted to say, but she was spared the difficulty when she heard a tremendous crash, and Mr. Vernazza's words afterward only served to confirm the swell of dread that had risen to her throat. Someone was injured.

Several residents had emerged from their homes at the noise, and Pandora met the eyes of a woman she knew, lowering the water in her arms to the ground. The woman gave a solemn nod; it would remain under her care until Pan could return for it. With that, she was off like a shot, taking two strides for every one of her companion's but nevertheless keeping up.

She rounded a corner and stopped short, a sharp intake of breath marking her surprise and despair. There, on the half-ruined stone street, lay a young person, almost as small as herself. Upon closer inspection, she figured it was from much the same acute malnutrition that plagued so many of the people she knew. That was hardly the most immediate problem, though, and Pandora bit down hard on her lip to stop any sound from escaping. He had clearly fallen from great height; Mr. Vernazza had said an airship, but the thing looked like no ship she had ever seen, being more a large balloon than anything else.

Pan scarcely had time to contemplate the implications, though, because the youth was clearly in grave danger. She knew not from how high he had fallen, but unless she missed her guess, he had hit several obstructions on the way down. Kneeling beside him, Pan called her magic to her and attempted to figure out exactly what she needed to do. The results of the scan hardly helped; this boy was a mess of health problems, from broken bones to openly-bleeding lacerations to infections, the latter particularly far too old to have come from this accident. Truthfully, she was not sure how to handle the situation; there were just so many injuries.

Calm down, Pan; you need to focus. Think. Which ones are the possibly-fatal ones? many of these things could be fatal if left unchecked for too long, but right now, she just needed to stabilize him and stop him from dying right this second. Right... the most likely cause of a death from falling would be internal organ damage, especially if something was pierced by a bone... Which meant she should start there. Taking a deep breath, Pan concentrated, her magic manifesting in its typical blue-white glow as she went to work repairing the damage he had sustained to his heart and lungs. Those were in decent condition, all things considered, so she moved on to the heaviest bleeding wounds next, sealing them off and expelling any possible infections.

The broken bones would require more time, and for that, it was probably best that he was back at the clinic. Opening her eyes, Pan stood, resisting the urge to swoon. "Mr. Vernazza? Can I ask one last favor of you? I need to get this boy back to my clinic, but I can't carry him..." Light as he looked, Pan was far from able to lift any person not a child, and that was when she wasn't already woozy from exertion. She was, however, okay to walk, and would be able to lead the scientist and by extension the patient back to the nondescript warehouse without incident.

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Giacomo had been able to keep up with the lady, but he knew that there was not realy anything for him to do at the site. Only his healing wand would have any use, he thought. But he quickly reviewed his thought as he saw the lady use magic to heal the wounds, he could clearly tell it was the real deal by the absence of a wand and the fact that he was the only one that had mana imbedded in himself. As he saw the lady at work he observed her medical treatment, it was close to what a regular doctor would do in these situations, but at a much faster and more efficiëntly. The word: "facinating" Rolled uncontrollably over his lips as the monocular zoomed in and out observing every action and change on the young man.

Then the lady asked him to carry the boy to her clinic, Giacomo put the crate down and walked to the debris. Some of it had retained shape and could be used to create a crude one-man handled brancard. Though not the most smooth ride for Delta it would be much safer than carrying the boy. Quickly the blowtorch emerged from his pockets and he welded a few piece of metal together creating the carrying surface, then he grabbed pieces of rope theat were long enough and made a double tugrope out of it. He placed some of the leather onto the metal part to create a cradle and the brancard was made, crude, but made. It had only taken a few minutes to build, but the boy should have such time, as this would in the end be safer with the wounds he had than carrying the boy in any sort of way. "This should do." Giacomo said as he carfully carried the boy to the brancard. He picked the crate up and shouldered it again and took place at the tugrope. Now he could drag the brancard which would glide over the rough roads due to the large surface and carry the crate back to the clinic.

As the lady guided him to the clinic the sound of the metal scraping over the road was continuesly hearable, it gave the idea that it wouldn'thold for much longer, but Giacomo was quite familiar with sounds like these and could point out which ones were signals for trouble and which ones were just the sound of working metal, this one was of the latter catagory. After reaching the clinic he brought the crate inside and walked back outside to pick the boy up with brancard and all, assuming it would be safer to kep him stable rather than unnecessarly carrying the boy unsupported.

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Things... were... slowerthanusual... Icarus... thought... but... couldnotthinkatall...

He felt that he was adrift in a great ocean, sadder than he ever was in the air. In the air Icarus felt free of constraint, but now he was bound by the choppiness of waves. Great white foam choked him up, the salty taste bitter and true. Icarus moved his arms but they could do nothing but flail, violently to keep above the water and alive. Alive... why does that seem so difficult right now, to live?

Far above the surface, the heavens began to darken. A single ominous cloud shot across the sky like a black obelisk, churning into one thousand rain drops that fell about him like ash. The water rippled at their touch, welling into craters that Icarus sank into and slammed against. Every bone in his body was wracked against a wall of icy saline, again and again. The sky roared and a magnificent bolt of lightning came down at Icarus, missing him by just a mile, singeing the skin of his face.

The dark pillars of the sky fell apart into white bullets, dropping in formation and careening towards him. Seagulls. Their wicked approach was marked by caws, harsh raven caws that were everywhere, every moment, cawinglikehell. Each gull tumbled as if dipped in plaster, stitched in a pale and impish skin that reflected Icarus' own colors. Frightened. The war birds crashed into the water around him, exploding on impact and shrieking helplessly. Each splash crackled into boiling steam and deafened him. Stop it... Icarus couldn't will the words to his mouth. "Stop it, you're killing yourselves! You'll die, every one of you!"

Distant, a single gull now screamed. It twisted idly in the air, each wing in bondage, strapped down with a rusting cable that cut its cold white feathers. The infant bird struggled, bled, and fought without release, crushing its own frame against the constraints, wanting only freedom. "Please... No..." The weakened dove struck the water's surface, falling to the ocean floor as a lifeless stone.

Icarus felt his face wet against the waves and bitter water. His eyes were sore and his stomach was an empty pit... He felt his world collapsing into itself. The light which was once great stars beyond the onyx sky had dimmed into faint glints and he couldn't will his arms to fight the waves any longer. Even the ocean, which had fought him with great vigor, now seemed to fall dead like a vast graveyard. Then, there was light.

The sky opened and before Icarus was a fiery pool of kerosene. The great lamp, a buoy of Revelation, set a calm over the Fleeter and every wicked thought. All of the panic and worry and urgency he had felt... was gone. The waters settled around him and it occurred to Icarus how absurd it all felt. I've never been submerged before... I've never even seen an ocean. His body kept afloat, held by some inner buoyancy that tugged at his core. It tethered him to some powerful life force that brought him out of the dark. Icarus felt that, if only he could see beyond the black sky's veil, he would see a savior.

The setting changes from District Delta to Revelation

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#, as written by Arke
District Beta]

"Where? Well, this might seem odd but as I went down to Delta for a rat-hunt I visited a rather esteemed clinic there." Etzel said idly, unaware of Amon's troubled brooding. "The woman that ran the clinic had somebody run in and suddenly collapse on the floor." She asked me to treat him, and of course I did. Not just because he was in need of help, but it was odd for him to be in Delta- he wore clothes more befitting a resident of Beta or Alpha. He had a very dilute poison similar to your case, but the main differences would most likely be how slow it acted. I had enough time to stabilize him and form an antidote. The poison that brought the Marquis down must have been less viscous or the agents in the poison must have been stimulated. Either way, I had duties to attend to myself so I left him in the care of the woman that owns the clinic. Whether the victim of the poisoning is still alive or at the clinic is a mystery to me." He paused.

"Her name is Pandora Elling, owner in the southern district where the most accidents regarding industrial equipment occur. Incidentally, that is where the highest concentration of strong rats breed, providing excellent subjects for experiments. It's not like I'm allowed to work on humans themselves, no. I must settle for something plentiful. A pity the apes down at the laboratories don't breed quickly, otherwise I'd be buying subjects off them. Hmm. Maybe I could. Start my own little ape family and take some for experimentation... Yes... when the occasion is important... That would be excellent." He trailed off, completely forgetting Amon was there. He stood up, still idly tapping the syringe tip with his finger and moving over to the cage of snarling rats. They always bore witness to what happened to their brothers, and for some reason they just got even angrier and desperate. Which was good. Etzel needed subjects that would try and fight back at whatever foreign substance he gave them. Force feeding tablets was the worst.

He suddenly remembered that Amon was there. "Anyways," He offered "I have no other information to give you. I'm not sure whether those two incidents are related. Seeing as though the poison exhibits the same characteristics and symptoms, they have an extremely different span of time for the poison to take effect. Most of the suspected poisons I listed to you take effect almost immediately, while the toxin I treated had a much slower rate- to the point where I was able to counteract it while keeping the patient relatively stable."

He paused. "Will that be all?"

The Facility: Dungeon

To be honest, the young noble didn't have too much to do. He was always on top of his work, finishing it before it really piled up. This left him with much free time, hence the time to make frequent trips down to Delta and Gamma. He agreed to follow the Princess and her escort down to the facility to visit the suspect of Goldwater's assassination. There was a reason to this, because the case of Goldwater related directly to his party. The loss of the public face was certainly an event to be taken seriously.

However, the suspect didn't seem to match the description at all... at first. As he observed quietly, he took immediate note of the strong scent of alcohol. A drunkard usually didn't have the motor skills or awareness to slip past guards and other forms of security. The second thing he noticed was his reaction to Loki's behavior. This was certainly unlike the stereotypical drunkard. As he realized that the man figured out the person he was trying to reach, he fell back into an easy speech.

The third thing he took note of was what he said. "You look just like her" must have been referring to the Queen (if "you aren't the Queen" wasn't obvious enough). There was no way he would have saw the Queen unless he was crazy, or the Queen herself made forays into Delta or Gamma. There were other options, but they were so improbable that he put them to the back of his head. Then he heard names that he didn't recognize. This was alarming, because a noble was almost expected to know the identity of everybody within Alpha. Somebody who associated with royalty, yet remained unknown to public face. This was something to take note of.

The man's small speech gave much information, though he couldn't pin it down due to his lack of knowledge. Who was Amon? He had heard the name before, but information regarding this person was so shady that none of it could be depicted as fact. He was this "Amon"'s favorite dog. A worker? Perhaps an apprentice? Finally, his last words: Regarding the Princess's age. Old enough to know about what, exactly? There were many things hidden because of age- even in the relatively old ranges. Old enough to know who? Was it a hidden guild? One not put to publicity or general knowledge? Perhaps, Amon and this man Eos were connected in this group. After all, he used the pronoun "we".

Slowly, he thought about what he heard about Amon. Some said he was a shadow, that he was the leader of the Guild.

The Guild was a group of Assassins. The most powerful Guild. It was fairly well known, due to it's influence as the police force of Revelation.

Caelin's eyes lit up as he came to his conclusion. This man was quite possibly an agent for the Assassins. Perhaps not an assassin himself, but there were many branches an agent can fulfill. Information, Espionage, Sabotage. Those were jobs an anonymous civilian could easily employ better than a Assassin. He said nothing, as it would break the flow of information to the perceptive noble.

The setting changes from Revelation to District Delta

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Mr. Vernazza's ingenuity saved the poor boy a rather uncomfortable and potentially dangerous transport to the clinic, and she was relieved that the scientist seemed to know enough of medicine to judge that he would be much better off moving about as little as possible. The resulting contraption was loud, and drew a few puzzled looks, but the wonderful thing about the sort of people who lived in Delta was that once they had seen enough to guess what was going on, they immediately understood the necessity and didn't complain about the unruly racket being made in front of their homes. If Pan was there and the noise was helping someone she was looking after, that was more than enough to convince the average citizen to go about their business.

Truly lovely, that was; Pan wasn't sure she had the stamina to try and explain at the moment. How did one explain something like this anyway? This boy... he fell from the sky. It sounded strange even as it echoed around in her head, heard easily over the din of any and all other thoughts she might have had about anything and the duller-more primal aches that signified hunger and exhaustion. Those, one eventually learned to ignore. What was it that doctors said? Mind over matter? Maybe that wasn't doctors at all; perhaps it was one of those things her grandmother had told her once, or perhaps even a false memory, conjured because she needed it so regularly.

Once inside, Pandora immediately set about gathering all the things she could conceive of needing. She knew she couldn't treat all the problems she had sensed in this youth with magic, at least not all at once, unless she was of a mind to end her own life in the process. Magic had its limits, and she knew fairly well where her own were. Still... he was in obvious need of serious care, and she was the only one around with the qualifications to offer it. Which was just as well; though a physician might have been better for him in his present condition, the initial trauma care might well have been impossible without magicks.

"Thank you very much, Mr. Vernazza," she told the scientist, perfectly happy to use his improvised transport as a sickbed for the moment. His assistance had been invaluable, and she was glad of the fortuitous circumstances of that morning. She didn't have much time to spare, however, and she needed to get back to work. Hoping he would understand, she took a few minuted to do a more detailed physical examination, rather than a purely magical one. The bandages on her patient's chest had her worried; they were far from fresh, and she almost dreaded what would happen if she peeled them back. Still, there was a chance there might be an infection under there somewhere, and even if there weren't, there might well be soon if she did not act. Broken bones did not often kill people; untreated infections were one of the leading causes of death down here.

"This is going to sting," she murmured to the boy, since her best guess for what lay underneath here was raw skin if nothing worse. To mitigate this, she used one hand to channel some energy to his skin; not enough to heal any wounds, but enough to ease pain. The bandages, she replaced with fresh ones, after making sure that this would not simply exacerbate the problem. The gum infection, she let be for the moment, and went to work on the bones. So many of them were broken or fractured that she felt her ribcage twinge in sympathy.

She certainly didn't have enough left to fix them all completely, so she settled for setting them and starting them down the path that time would complete (or she would later). Walking would cause a great deal of pain, but unless he tried running, it wouldn't re-break anything. The cracked ribs were another matter, and she felt compelled to actually fix those as much as possible. Nothing worse than being in pain for simply breathing, after all. Pan instinctively knew, though, that she'd overdone it.

Struggling to stand, the healer retrieved two blankets from the back of the warehouse and draped one over the boy, wrapping the other about her thin shoulders and clutching it together with trembling hands. Turning back to the scientist, she managed to gather the will to speak. "Please do not be alarmed... I am going to fall unconscious in a few moments. He will be fine, as will I, but I probably won't wake for at least an hour. You should not feel compelled to stay if you do not wish to. If you get hungry, though, there should still be some bread over there. Actually, if you wouldn't mind... if you're still here when he wakes up, could you give that and some water to him? I-"

Pan never did finished her sentence. The black spots at the edges of her vision grew thicker, and eventually the whole world went dark. She crumpled to the ground and stayed there, curled in on herself and apparently fast asleep, though she could not be roused as one sleeping might be.

The setting changes from District Delta to The Facility

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Loki did not flinch away when the fingertips whistled past her nose, nor did she blink once at the resulting current of air. She might well have been cast of stone for all she responded to his erratic behavior. The Princess did note the black circles on Eos’s palms, though she had no idea what they meant, if anything. Of course, the fact that he implied knowing her mother only served to temper her irritation with curiosity. Not that it would do him much good, all things considered, not when he was behaving like this at his only chance for freedom in the near future.

He knew Amon, though… had called himself Amon’s dog. The only logical conclusion was that this man had once been an assassin. But even that did not make any sense. Amon Gregory did not leave loose ends, and if this…assassin was so incompetent as to have been caught by the city guard, there was no way it would have been impossible to cauterize the particular festering wound he represented.

She was tempted to ask why it was that she should care if she knew of a man who had spent the last however-many years in an alcohol-induced haze of existence, but he’d said “us,” not “me,” which immediately informed her that something was going on here that she did not know about. Amon… you have some explaining to do.

Loki spent a moment in contemplation, trying to decide exactly what to do with this man. The likelihood of being able to get one of Amon’s agents (or former agents, as it seemed) to talk if he did not wish to was quite low for one who drew lines where she did. Clearly, he did not well understand that she was his best chance out of here, even if she wasn’t feeling all that charitable at present. Still, it was obvious that he was not responsible for Goldwater’s death. The Marquis had been killed by poison, a method a good deal more subtle than Eos’s personality would suggest. He would have probably admitted to it directly anyway.

Now there’s a good point… If nothing else much worked in his favor, Eos was… direct. A good deal more so than Amon, apparently. If she was to discover what he was referencing, why not ask the story of him, rather than wait to inquire of someone who might be less willing to discuss it? She shot a glance at Taylor, but he was probably a bit further behind yet than she was, because to her knowledge, he had no personal acquaintance with the Guildmaster and perhaps thus less implicit reason to be so intrigued.

“Perhaps you are correct about that,” she replied to Eos's rather unsubtle implication regarding her ignorance of who (or perhaps ‘what’ was the more appropriate term) he was. “Fine. You have been rather frank, allow me to do the same. I have the power to free you, but I’m not in the business of doing things for nothing. Neither, I imagine, are you. I want this tale you seem so keen to tell, and I want all of it. If you are forthcoming with it, you’ll see the sun again. If not…” she shrugged as if to convey complete nonchalance, then crossed her arms neatly over her chest. It was a deal he was free to take or leave as he chose; it was not as though she were completely without other options. Either way, she was probably going to let him go, not being of the sort to happily keep an innocent (though that too seemed the wrong characterization) person imprisoned. But he didn’t have to know that.

-=-
District Beta

“Hmm… Pandora Elling… I suppose it would make sense to pay the clinician a visit. Thank you, Etzel; you have been most helpful. If anything further about this occurs to you, you can find me in the usual place.”

With that, Amon reassumed his shuffling demeanor and exited, smiling crookedly as he called over his shoulder. “Thank you kindly, doctor, I’m sure I’ll be back eventually.” His mind was already occupied, choosing the best guise under which to make a surreptitious visit to the Elling woman. He’d have to make an adjustment to his wardrobe, of course, but- ah. Loki had asked him to drop by her office first. Apparently, she had been planning on securing an alliance with Lord Caelin Taylor, and he wondered how far she would take it. In court, there were allies with whom one shared goals, and then there were allies with whom one shared information.

He supposed he would find out when he got there, and for now he could pass on the information he had gained from Etzel about the poison, and check for an update on Parliament’s actions in the matter. They tended to move slowly as a body, but that was not to say that individuals were not already trying to establish positioning in the wake of such a major figure’s demise.

Amon had the feeling that he was going to be quite busy indeed for some time to follow.

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#, as written by Smith
The Facility, Dungeon

Surprise was not feeling that graced Eos much anymore, but it was apparent on his face now. It quickly melted into an appraising smirk, and then suspicion. It wasn't every day that one got to rat out a secret organization and live to see the sun again without extensive torture...even then, it was never a sure thing. Eos leaned against the bars and allowed his arms to rest on the horizontal beam supporting them. His eyes grew slightly more lively, a spark returning to the man's weary visage. "So mommy hasn't gotten around to telling you yet."

With a wave of his hand, he adopted a storyteller's voice--if a tad mocking--and spoke as if regailing the past to a child. "I'm not sure how long ago it was when they first thought of the concept, but it isn't a recent thing for sure. Somewhere along the line of history when monarchy and parliament began to clash even more fiercely than they do now, one of the kings or queens secretly had the Guildmaster of their time create a seperate branch of the Guild, one that could circumvent those rules regarding the killings of nobles and their ilk." Eos sneered at the word 'noble', but kept going. "Around one hundred of the most promising children from around Revelation, be they from Alpha, Beta or even Delta, were abducted or bought. Since the slave-market...oh, well, in case you didn't know, your pampered-highness, the slave market has always been a booming industry. The slavers go unnoticed as long as they pay off the right people. Now where was I...oh yes!"

About a hundred of them, ages ten to sixteen I guess, taken to...somewhere. They never told us where we were, and knocked us out any time we were required to leave or reenter. It was a cold place...they trained us. Subjected us to daily tortures of the mind and body, required us to kill one another and even some of the full-fledged assassins to survive another day, until only the strongest two remained. From there the Guildmaster took over training." He absently flexed his hands, clenching them into fists. "Eventually they became a pair of killers whose skill was unparalleled bar that of the Guildmaster themself. These individuals were subject to the whims of only the current monarch and Guildmaster. Their main purpose was to dispose of rival politicians and those who might undermine the authority of the crown, and do it with flawless execution. Not a trace. It never even looked like murder...they might as well have disappeared." He paused, held up both hands and indicated the ebon disks inked upon them.

"We are called the Hands of Tartarus." Eos put his hands down and smiled ruefully. "Amon taught us everything we knew about the world. It wasn't an expansive education, but it was enough most of the time. There are two Hands: A Fist, and a Palm. Fists are the martial ability. We crsuh and kill in the most brutal, effective ways without causing the target to bleed and leave signs of struggle. Palms were much more subtle...the brains. They learned of seduction, subterfuge and poison. The only thing that all Hands have in common are their faces." He waved a hand before his own face and adopted a neutral expression. Dark skin, strong chin, stubble, dark eyes, slight scarring...in other words..."We look no different from the average civillian. Those stories of dashing assassins bedding hundreds of women and somehow going unnoticed are all rubbish. True assassins are those whose faces get lost in the crowd. People you'd never take a second glance at. Because of this fact, and our skill, we thought ourselves invincible...Amon never told us that our position was a temporary one."
---

The Throne Room, 5 Years Ago

Two figures, clad in gray, unremarkable clothing followed a man dressed in a much more sophisticated manner through the great double doors and into the throne room. Eos, smiled and winked at his the other Hand in attendance, Selene. The dark haired woman--also quite unremarkable, but not to his eyes--returned the smile and whispered to Eos.

"Any idea why we're here? We just got back from a mission...I'd like at least a few days off." Selene feigned a displeasured countenance to which Eos had to keep himself from smiling at.

"Maybe a formal thank you? The Queen never shows any grattitude. Not even when we quelled that rebellion in the mak-" A feminine voice rang out from somewhere up ahead, prompting both Hands of Tartarus to focus their attention of the dark-robed woman. Queen Minerva Blackwood. Eos thought he saw a girl's face pale and lovely, around his age, peering through a door at the back wall behind the throne. He smiled and returned his gaze to the Queen.

There was a long silence that passed then. Eos and Selene began to glance at one another quizzically, Queen Blackwood regarding them with sad eyes. Eos caught a subtle gesture Selene made with her left hand. Setup? She said in signalspeak. Eos furrowed his brow in confusion. There was no reason for the Queen to...then he noticed. The older woman's eyes kept darting towards the banisters up high and the columns lining each side of the room. Without any concious thought his left leg slide back a few inches. How had they not noticed the absence of guards until now? Even the escort had left. One question came to mind, which Selene gave voice to.

"Where is Master Amon? He always accompanies our excursions...why not this time?" Her voice was steady but Eos could see her hand ready to snatch at the wand hidden in her dress.

The Queen could only meet their eyes for so long before averting her gaze. "You are both here because you are traitors to the aristocracy of Revelation, and the substantial and irrufutable evidence of murder." The words hit them as solidly as a blow to the chest. It didn't take long to sink in. "You, Eos and Selene Gregory, are hereby sentenced to death." As if on cue the rails high above them grew alive with the movement of dozens of armored men wielding crossbows trained on the pair of assassins.

Selene had already drawn her wand and Eos was halfway through clearing the gap between himself and the Queen when the guards had to refocus on the bounding pugilist. Before Eos could grab onto her though, Amon Gregory stepped out from behind the grand throne and fixed him with a stare that stopped the young man dead in his tracks. "You knew." It was not a question. The Guildmaster nodded, his face unreadable. "Why?"

"Necessity." Amon took a step forward, Eos taking a step back. He was facing the one man in this world that he truly feared. "Five years. That is the time before a pair of Hand must be replaced with a new set." Another step forward, another step back. "You learn too much on your missions. You obtain something that could never be removed from you, no matter how much torture, how rigorous the training or how inhumane the practices you went through; Free will. The power to make your own decisions, form your own opinions. Like how yous, Eos, refused to kill children even upon direct order?" The Guildmaster's gaze fell upon Selene. "You think I was oblivious to how much attention you paid to the ins and outs of this political dance? How you always made sure to accidentally damage a document here or there to cover up for some noble or another you realized had even more power than those you targetted?"

Eos didn't understand, but couldn't take his eyes off of Amon to see Selene's reaction. He responded for her in an uneven voice. "So I don't like high-pitched screaming...who does?"

Amon smiled at the poor attempt at humor for a brief moment. "The fact of the matter stands. You both will die here today, the secrets of Tartarus going with you to the grave." The Guildmaster was upon Eos before he could even blink.
---

Present Day

"...there was a big fight. Selene kept us alive for a while using some shielding wands...experimental I think. I remember holding her, looking for some way out. She was bleeding so much." Eos had pained expression on his face and his eyes threatened to spill tears. "A voice called out through all the shouting though. It said 'The window'. So I crashed through it, and somehow made it to the ground without dying. I always thought it was the Queen, it had the noble lilt to it. Probably a guard though, who was warning her fellows to take precautionary measures against such a thing."

He sighed, slumped against the bars and looked at Loki. No longer did an estranged ruffian regard her, but a keen intelligence under a rough shell. "We made it as far as District Delta before...before Selene succumbed to her wounds. Don't know how she did it, but Amon couldn't track us. I guess it was a spell from one of her more recent wands." He shrugged as if the thought was a passing fancy. Eos backed away, drawing himself up to his full height and crossed his arms. "My freedom?"

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#, as written by Arke
The man's story, true or not had a profound effect on the nobleman. There were some biased inaccuracies based off his own personality, but he didn't really dwell on it too much. He found himself rather enjoying the story, as it sounded like something he would read in a book. Now, as it ended, he found himself questioning why he was down here. Obviously this stuff wasn't meant for his ears or he'd know about it. The Hands of Tartarus? Not even a rumor relating to them in Parliament- the chattiest group in the entirety of Revelation. He remained as impassive as he could, the dank air rivaling that of Delta. As the storyteller closed his tale he assumed an air of self-importance, something that put off the nobleman.

He had always been aware of the slave trade. The very reason he couldn't do anything about it was already stated by Eos- everyone kept their mouth shut. With no evidence or support, he couldn't do a single goddamn thing without Parliament bitching at him that he overstepped his power. Most of Parliament- well, the more malicious members were aware as well, but realized that the slave trade was so large that it held a sizable chunk of running revenue in Revelation. Cutting it out would put Revelation in an economic slump while many looked for jobs and people stopped spending.

It was an endless cycle- as people were too afraid of economic downturn they fueled human enslavement to continue their current lifestyle- which the children will inherit.

Taylor shook his head. He preferred not to brood about these things, but now that he was in on all of this, he was certain things would get a lot more serious.

"Princess. Releasing the prisoner from captivity will definitely hurt your chances of acquiring Goldwater's seat. Especially if Parliament has created fake evidence of Eos' murder." He said. He didn't try to whisper, as if what the man said was true, he couldn't hide a single thing from him. "Even if his story is to be believed, we have few sources where you can confirm this," He stressed the last phrase. "That is the Queen, and Amon." His calm emerald eyes rested on the ceiling. "Not only this, we NEED some sort of scapegoat of excuse for this murder- otherwise Parliament will believe we're letting a murderer back out into the streets that targets members of the radical party. That is not good for our cause. Do you have the judicial power for this task?"

Taylor didn't need Eos to know that he was looking out for him. He just needed Eos to realize that his story was based on his word alone at the moment- and even the story (if it were true) couldn't be used as evidence to bail him from Goldwater's murder. In fact, it might be twisted around- giving Parliament a motive. Eos might have murdered Goldwater in revenge- as the nobility brought down his beloved one.

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Giacomo observed the doctor as she examined her patient. He was struck by the similarity of the way she examined the body and how much it resembled his manner of examining a machine, exept the scale and the material difrences. When the doctor however announced herself falling uncounsious, quickly followed by the act itself, he was quite put off.

He had other matters to attend to, but leaving now would mean leaving all the patients in the waiting room in the hands of fate. It seemed like a bad decision to Giacomo. He looked through the patients that were in the waiting room, they all had seen the doctor faint, and you could feel the desperation of some just pierce through your heart as you looked into their eyes. They needed a doctor, but he was just a scientist, what could he do. Not a moment later he recalled how resembling he had found their ways of examining a subject, maybe he could pull this off, he at least had to try.

Giacomo went through what materials he had to do the job. He had every medical supply in this building to his disposal, the viles and flasks of anti-poison he had for his work in the treatment facility, which would house the same poisons as the oustide air. He had a basic healing wand, it wasn't much, but at least it was something, and he had water, loads of it in fact. Knowledge, that too was important. Having the best equipment was useless unless you knew how to use it. He began summing up the knowledge at his disposal. He knew first-aid, he had studied the poisons of Delta's air for ever since he started working on his version of the purifier, he had knowledge about structural repairs, which could help creating a proper, at least temporarly, support for broken bones.

HE looked through the patients in the waiting room picking out those with the highest priority. There were a few cases of direct poisoning, which could be very dangerous very quick, those were definatly high priority. Giacomo walked to the entrance of the waiting room and cleared his throat to get everyones attention. As the eyes turned his way he spoke: "Okay poeple, the doctor is unable to help you at the moment, so in her stead I shall do my best to help you. I am just a scientist, so don't expect the same miracles from me as from her, but I'll try my best."

Having said that he opened the belt pouch that contained his anti-poisons. He went through the patients that had poisoning symtoms. Firstly a quick examination to see which poison needed attention, then a small dose of the anti-poison. One drop would suffice, two drops would work faster, three drops however made it potentialy a poison in itself. So playing safe he dosed just one drop.

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Loki listened in complete silence to the entirety of the tale, impassive all except for the mention of a voice. For just the briefest moment, something flitted carelessly across her face, but it was gone before it was truly registered, at least with her. When Eos fell silent, Taylor spoke up, and to this too she did not respond for several slow seconds. In the intervening time, the princess let fall her eyelids, breathed once, twice, then refocused her gaze straight forward. Though it was her compassionate ally she addressed, her appraising eyes did not leave the prisoner's face. Unconsciously, her head tilted ever so slightly to one side.

"You are right of course, Lord Taylor. If Parliament had any inclination that we had freed this man, or even that we were here, the chances of my taking any part in it, and likely as well the chances of truly seeing anything in this city changed would be as nothing. However... a very wise man once told me that it is not the truth that matters, only perception, at least perhaps in cases like these. And as someone not so wise once deigned to say... there is more than one way to skin a cat." The princess fished around in one of the deep pockets of her dress and produced a single bronze key, tarnished with age and use, and a sly smile bloomed over her too-pale countenance.

"No guard not already affiliated with a certain ally of mine ever saw us come in, and none shall see us leave. Whether or not they see you, Eos, is largely of your own choosing. I would, as ever, recommend the window." Her eyes flicked for a moment up the stairs and to the right, enough of a hint for one who knew what she did about how to communicate without words. Since they'd had the same teacher, she had no doubt he'd understand the meaning well enough. "I do believe it shall be rather overcast tonight," she commented in an idle voice, handing Eos the key. "Makes it so dreadfully difficult to see anything around here."

With that, she turned on her heel and led the way out of the dungeon. There were still many things to be done, after all; trying to coordinate a seizure of power with a full-scale independent investigation into a man's death was no simple task, even for one such as herself.

---
Three days later, District Delta

Ishtar watched with something between irritation and disgust as her husband continued to chew his fingernails. It had always been the one thing about him she simply couldn't stand. Being one for immaculate hygiene herself, she had never seen the appeal. And the noise! In such penetrating quiet as this, the noise was almost enough to drive one mad.

Seeking for some form of distraction, she shifted warm doe-eyes across the room, searching for anything else to look at. Men had gotten lost in those, eyes, once; they still could and did if she approached it the right way. It was really quite unfortunate that she seemed to have no such hypnotizing effect on their guest. Perhaps it was because he had but one of his own?

She had decided the first time she met him that she did not like this man, this scarred stranger. Of course, neither the fact that he was scarred nor the fact that he was still a stranger had anything to do with this. No, it was nothing like that. Rather, something about him reminded her of rot, festering slime and foul disease, the kind she'd always warned her daughters about and some other kind that was not of the body, but the soul. How she hated that Aram associated with such a one! But... whenever she brought it up, she was informed that she was being petulant and unfair, to judge a man before knowing him.

How laughable that was. It was in her very nature to make these kinds of judgments, and that sort of intuition was a valuable one, not the sort to be dismissed. How many times had that special instinct saved someone's life? She'd lost count, but she knew that her own as amongst them several times over. That was the way it was when you entered her profession: you learned whose money to take quickly, or you learned painfully. Perhaps both.

The man (whose name she had still not been given) ignored her, which all in all was making her feel like a rather useless fixture here. How she despised the feeling. But alas, when one is only given half the information, one can hardly be expected to act otherwise.

At long last, Aram set down the report he'd been reading and spoke. "Very well... I see you managed to make it look like something else, but how long do you honestly think it will take them to figure it out? Nobles aren't the brightest bunch, but assassins don't employ idiots." Ishtar resisted the urge to sigh, but only just. If they continued to habitually dismiss the intelligence of those who ran Revelation, their little rebellion would go absolutely nowhere. Had he already forgotten what happened to the last one? Quashed flat by a pair of assassins nobody saw coming, and for what? So few even knew of it anymore.

"Let them. Even if they discover the ruse, there is nothing in the truth pointing them any closer to you." One-eye replied, shrugging carelessly. Ishtar's lips pursed; no, she did not like this man at all.

"Fine. Your payment is ready; had to contract that thief-child more than I would have liked, but she does good work." Of course she does. It was my idea to hire her in the first place, dearest.

One-eye left at long last, and if Ishtar was a little colder to her husband than usual that evening, he was certainly too busy basking in the glory of his own success to notice.

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#, as written by Smith
The Facility, Dungeon

Eos watched with a wry little smirk as Taylor and Loki conversed of how best to handle him. It was always a treat to see the nobles of tommorow working under the table. Without a word the dusky skinned man accepted the key and watched Loki walk away. His gaze drifted south a bit and he couldn't suppress casting an admiring glance. Hate to see you go, but I love to watch you leave... Remembering himself, Eos cast the male noble an apprasing look. He was not to blunt as to miss the subtle ploys that the nobility wove. He offered a shallow nod of gratitude and watched wordlessly as they left. It wasn't until the cat began to rub and purr again did the Hand move.

The gate slid open without a sound, suprising considering it looked rather decrepit, allowing it's captive to stride out of the cell and start toward the stairs. In another minute or so Eos was scaling the roof of one of the lower towers, the cat padding along to match his pace. The key was clenched between Eos's teeth and as he vaulted down to grasp another handhold images of the conversation held only a brief time ago surfaced in his mind. That fellow, Taylor, had been given a dose of information that may well prove fatal--and he knew it. Too much of that had been news to him. The raven-haired woman was much harder to read, yet...she recognized key parts of the tale, and was not perplexed by the mention of Amon Gregory. What exactly where they teaching princesses these days?

As the newly freed Eos landed on the cobblestones at street level, a certain cat watched from a window sill high above. He smiled and waved...then frowned, thinking himself daft for bidding farewell to a cat. Then the cloaked man proceeded to walk down the street, back to dust, grime and booze.

---

District Delta

It was a laborious task, but mumbling ravings aside, it had to be done. His muscles corded as Eos hefted a shelf and all of it's contents, carefully sliding it into a corner. Once it was set down and he made sure nothing on it was broken or fallen, he sighed and went over to the center of the room to slump down in a chair. Despite it's relatively snug fit, the plain room that served as one of Delta's finest doctor's offices appeared more spacious than it had before. Shelves and cabinets lined and stacked against the walls and no clutter, no more scattered sheets of paperwork on the ground and even the bloodstains on the dining/operating table had been scrubbed out! Well, mostly.

Eos, dressed in naught but cotton breeches and an apron to cover his torso, wiped his brow with a rag and looked around. He smiled. Pretty damned good for a guy who hasn't cleaned a damned thing in three years... As if realizing it for the first time, the not-so-dirty-for-once Eos looked around and thought: I'm in someone's house...

With that thought in mind he headed towards one of the cupboards and withdrew a sack of dried fruit he'd purchased earlier. The key Loki had given him was inlaid with gold for some reason, and sold very well(after he snapped off a prong to render it useless of course). After pouring a cup of water he brought a plate of the sweet bits to the bed on which Pandora lay. He set the cup and fruits down on a nearby nightstand and knelt down to rest on his haunches, chin level with the bed. With practiced ease the man slowly raised his callused hand to poke Pandora's cheek. "Oi." Another prod. "Ooooi. Breakfast time. You didn't tear the hem of my cloak just so I would let you starve, did you? Hurry up and get better so I can stop mooching off of you..."

For the past three days or so Eos had been somewhat of a caretaker for Pan and her home, cleaning, making basic food and occassionally tending to the one patient she had admitted, Icarus. Luckily those others who came seeking help only had gashes, cuts and a couple fractures. Having a good grasp of first aid and basic survival skills, Eos was able to stitch up the wounds and place stints on damaged legs and arms. The patients regarded their substitute physician with apprehension and even fear when they recognized him. Dark eyes lost in concentration, Eos just toned it out. Still, it was a little offputting when, as they left, the families and vagabonds looked back with something approaching gratitude in their gazes. It was not something he was used to.

Since then, both Pandora and Icarus had been drifting in and out of conciousness, almost always only lucid enough to drink and eat a bit before passing out again. Eos sighed and moved away for a moment to bring the chair closer to the foot of the bed. He wondered exactly why that other man...Giak? Giacoo...something like that, why he had been so nerve-wracked about leaving the place in his hands. Eos seemed the trustworthy sort, right?

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The fever-dreams brought on by overuse of one's magic were always strange, though Pandora was given to believe that her inclination towards the metaphysical just made hers worse. Fragments of images flitted across her mind's eye for an indeterminate amount of time, ghosts of the past or figments of events to come, she could not say. The lives of other people played out in sketches and through haze, a masterful shadow-puppetry of humanity, puppeteer unknown. None of it made any sense to her, but then such things rarely did.

Occasionally, she had moments of clarity, during which she could actually feel her own body again rather than floating as half-alive wraith through visions of other places. It was pain that reminded her that she had collapsed, though she was beginning to wonder why she would not wake. Ordinarily, hunger and the urgency of having someone else to care for would have driven her malnourished muscles to straining against the bonds of sleep, and even her fatigue would not hold out against her will for that long.

But this time was different somehow. Her own self-awareness was such that she knew her chronic overuse of her skills was catching up to her. If she was properly fed and hydrated, this would not have been a problem. As it was, though, she never really fully recovered from her repeated bouts of exertion, and somewhere in the back of her mind, she hoped that Mr. Vernazza had simply left. She knew not how much time had elapsed, but it would be horrid of her to inconvenience him any further than she already had. She was concerned for her patient as well, but somehow she was under the impression that someone was still in the area, and seemed to be caring for him- and her.

Try as she might, she could not figure out who this might be, and her apprehension grew to fill her half-consciousness, only to slide away again as the visions reclaimed her for their own charge. Who could it possibly be? Her grandmother and grandfather hardly expected her back every night, and probably wouldn't go looking for her until a week or more had elapsed, since she slept at the clinic so often anyway, in the back of the room. Even this was not enough to wake her, though, no matter how she wished it were.

Whatever stranger now watched over them was, she gathered somehow, not the most experienced of caregivers, but she still felt a strange sensation of security. That, she attributed to her altered consciousness, but even so, it was most odd.

-=-
"Oi." Pandora stirred, but did not open her eyes. "Ooooi. Breakfast time. You didn't tear the hem of my cloak just so I would let you starve, did you? Hurry up and get better so I can stop mooching off of you..."

Something made contact with her face; Pan's eyes flew open and she sat up sharply, causing her skull to contact painfully with Eos's jaw. "Ow!" The room swam with the effects of moving too fast, and she almost fell back onto the bed, bracing herself with one arm while the other rubbed the injured spot. She blinked several times, trying to clear her vision. A somewhat familiar face swam int view, and Pandora frowned in a puzzled sort of way. "Eos? What are you doing here? Where's my patient? How long was I out? When-" She cut herself off, realizing that she was probably asking too many questions.

All the same, him being here at her clinic made absolutely no sense. He wasn't visibly injured, and he'd said something about...breakfast? there did appear to be fruit on the bedside table, which was unusual in and of itself. Pan seldom bought fruit; it was sort of expensive, and besides that, you had to go into Gamma at least to get anything still fit to be eaten by the sick.

A thought struck her, and she looked at him oddly for a second before deciding that no, that really was the only logical explanation. "I think I owe you my thanks," she continued quietly, "and perhaps something for your trouble." She wasn't sure exactly what she was going to give him... maybe free clinic visits for a while? It wasn't as though she'd ever asked him to pay anyway, though he did...

-=-
District Beta

Zade grimaced, increasing the pressure on the rather obvious wound and gritting her teeth. She rather despised herself for having to get this treated, but she wasn't good enough at self-treating to deal with something like this. The guard's rapier had caught her a deep and bloody gash across the arm, and the blood loss was starting to make her lightheaded.

It had taken her running about in random patterns and climbing buildings for several hours to lose the pursuits this time. Apparently, that dead noble was making things rather more difficult to sneak past the guards; none of them seemed to be asleep on duty anymore. It was now dawn, and she was still attired in the characteristic getup of her nighttime pursuits, which was to say all black and loose fabrics. She'd since ripped her left sleeve off and was using it to stem the crimson flow of her own blood from the wound on the same limb, but that fact that she was injured probably only made her more suspicious.

Still, she had no choice but to find a physician or a healer, and soon. She was still in Beta, not wanting to risk the bridge at rush hour in the morning like this. Instead, she was wandering the back alleys of the merchant district, looking for someone who might be able to help her. "Dammit..."

It was just as she'd decided to give up and risk being seen that she came upon the rather nondescript sign. What were the chances of the place being open at this time of the morning? She didn't know, but it was worth a try at least. Less chance of being seen in there than out here. She worked the door open with her injured arm, painful as it was, and hurriedly stepped inside. "Hello? Is anyone in here? I need help." There was nobody sitting at the desk in front, but if the door was unlocked...

The setting changes from District Delta to District Alpha

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#, as written by Arke

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#, as written by Arke
"Of course, Princess. Best of luck, Sir Eos." He replied, instantly feeling babied. He certainly was outside of the loop, something even he was uncomfortable with as a noble. He had left without another word.

The last couple of days had not been generous for the nobleman's health. The physician he had contacted had told him that this kind of illness had several stages. This was the second stage. Spontaneous bursts of coughing and blood were common. Wounds won't heal properly, and physical endurance decreases drastically. He had been lucky enough to last a year. Every foray into Delta and Gamma he faced healers that were unskilled, unwilling, or just unable to cure his affliction. Who cared? It's not like they were obligated to help a noble- a group that had condemned them to this impoverished side of the city. However, luckily his physician had brews to slow the poison and dull the symptoms. This stage would be the longest. The third stage is when he would be confined to bed because his body just didn't produce enough strength past consciousness.

Once again, he shook himself from his reverie. He must not lose hope yet. For all he knew, a cure could be discovered in the next hour. Perhaps lady luck will smile and allow him to use his power to bring back a measure of hope to Delta. He stretched at his desk, looking at the small stack of paperwork on his desk. Parliament will soon gather to discuss the new legislations and revision of the constitution. He ordered thick woolen coat to be brought to him, as he felt chilled and was sure outside wouldn't be much better. He pulled on the coat and thanked his servant. The morning air was much more brisk than he expected, and he was almost certain Beta was still in a state of semi-consciousness as a few motivated shop owners set up for the day. He preferred walking the two miles to the Nexus, as it provided him with the mental comfort that he was still strong enough to do just that. He hadn't been able to practice wielding his epieu since a couple of months ago. Perhaps the Nexus would still be closed. He never really did get an exact time to meet- so the earlier the better.

He wondered briefly how Loki was going to announce her bid for Goldwater's seat. Even now, his advisors were meeting with Loki's, predicting funds and the practice of rhetoric- because in all honesty, Loki's personality put off most of Parliament. If they wanted somebody as young as her to take seat, she needed to show more than just her status, she needed to demonstrate something as close to perfection as one could achieve. Or just shock them into unanimously voting her into power.

District Beta

Mornings were the best time to capture them. Visibility was at it's best, and they would be nibbling at the last scraps of food- drowsy and impatient to get back home to their dens. A total of seven captured, the quiet streets of Delta were alive even when the populace was asleep. Now that he was back, he could easily set up shop and open for today without any delays.

"Oh? What's this?" The masked doctor murmured. A woman was glancing around inside his shop, asking for help. His apprentice wasn't greeting her, so he assumed she was still in bed. Lazy woman. He walked up to her, impressed by her physical stature. "I will treat you." He said, barely heard above the screeching din of a cageful of rats. He unlocked the door and brought the girl inside, placing the cage in a far corner of his operating room. He didn't ask any questions, as a doctor should. They provided care to all, regardless of situation. Etzel smiled behind the mask, examining the wound.

This was interesting. A laceration across the skin, breaking a major artery. This was no self-inflicted wound. "My, my." He commented, looking it up and down before taking a wand. It was an emergency wand, instantly sterilizing an area. He tapped his gloved hands, then the woman's arm. The pricking sensation wasn't too bad- at least on his end. He touched the wound, examining it. "How did you come across this? You're lucky you haven't bleed out, madam." He moved over to a cabinet. He withdrew a bottle of salve and bandages. Applying the salve, he felt the pungent odor assail even his own nose that was covered by the mask. He whipped a needle and string from the pocket. The wound was too wide to heal properly with bandages alone. He stitched the flesh together without painkillers, as in her state of blood loss it was too dangerous- it might lead to cardiac arrest. "Just relax. The pain will be gone soon enough." He said soothingly, tying a small knot and cutting the string. "It'll dissolve by itself within a few weeks." He said. "Don't. Touch. It. I mean it."

He began wrapping the wound up, cleaning the blood using a swab. This was all within half an hour. Usually the performers in the inns came to him when stuff like this happened. One had nearly slashed his hand off when an acrobatic stunt went awry. He straightened, examining his handiwork. "Okay. I think I'm all done here." He said approvingly. "For a laceration that requires stitching and salve, I'll charge you ten silvers. He didn't mention the fact that he knew she had been in some sort of situation involving weapons- and her black rags were not helping that assumption. However, the way he implied it would attempt to give her ample warning that he knew something was up.

The setting changes from District Alpha to District Delta

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The past three days had bled together. In one instance there was light pouring out through a window, covering the walls and the ceiling and causing Icarus to stir. He could taste something scarcely metallic, perhaps blood, and then something analgesic... It had the distinct taste of being artificial.

Icarus recalled an instance in his childhood when he was maimed by a tensile wire that had snapped during a storm. A Fleet elder gave him some scavenged medicine to numb the pain, and the taste was similar to this one. As a boy he was grateful, but reflecting on it now he had likely been given the aid to silence all of his wailing cries. I'm hurt now, I know this is true... The words bounced in Icarus' head and started ringing. It was relieving to acknowledge that he was wounded; it meant that he hadn't died.

The Fleeter stirred about a day later when the buzz of patients in the small clinic raised above a dull roar. The crust of sleep over his eyes made it impossible to see anyone, but silhouettes passed over him again and again. Icarus couldn't comprehend who they were, as desperately as he wished to, and furthermore couldn't speak to ask them. Every breath that he forced between his lips came out as a long sigh, too inaudible to be called even a moan.

Quietly, Icarus was grateful. He had realized that, through some miracle recovery, his ribs didn't hurt as they used to. There wasn't the dryness and irritation of sores on his chest and sides that was so familiar. His body felt immobile, like a dead husk, and yet somehow felt better than it ever had before. But just before impact, the Balloon Ship had been moving fast and the ground... How could that be?

Something smelled sweeter than Icarus had ever known. There was sugar on the air and an aroma so distinct and powerful that he couldn't sleep through it. Functions throughout his body kicked on one at a time: a deep breath cleared out his throat and triggered conscientious breathing; a muscle spasm jerked his limbs quietly and returned control of them; and a simultaneous popping of his eardrums relinquished sleep's hold. He was awake and starving.

"Wherwhowhahow..." Icarus' lips fumbled out syllables without really knowing what he meant to say, but his voice was so raspy and dry that they could hardly be told apart from a cough. His eyes peeled open and petered back and forth until they came to the pairing of Eos and Pandora across the room. The vision was blurry and unfocused, but the shapes of humans were unmistakable. Icarus' mind, which was currently working much faster than his body, put together just what had led up to this moment. Those people are Elisian... They must be, I landed in Revelation! The realization was enough to jerk him upright in bed, a motion which made him woozy and caused him to lay back down.

Damn... Can't command myself, Icarus gazed down across his numb body and then shot a glance to the other bodies in the room. But these people... They looked after and relieved me. The thought made him feel useless and guilty. He couldn't communicate everything he wanted to, his lips wouldn't move fast enough. Instead, he found words that he could express without stuttering and let them fall out of his mouth with enough force to be heard. "Thank you..."

The setting changes from District Delta to The Royal Palace

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The princess exhaled softly, placing her quill back in the inkwell before her perfect posture slumped, the back of her head lolling back against her desk chair, purple irises disappearing behind slightly-bruised lids. Now was not the time for this. Pain shot through her temples in a throbbing rhythm, matched to the sluggish pace of her wearied heartbeat, subsiding momentarily only to flare to life again in the next instant. This happened to her occasionally, nowadays, these severe headaches. Amon had suggested she see a doctor or a healer about it, but she had refused. There was no point in it anyway. What would they do but give her painkillers that would dull her mind besides? A mage would be able to relieve the pain without any adverse effects, but she didn't much fancy keeping one around just to treat her every time she worked late into the night or scoured fine print for too long.

That was assuming she could even find one in the first place, and the first location to which she would send any such soul would be her mother. Though she was still hiding it adequately, Minerva was getting worse. There was very little the Queen could hide from her daughter any longer, and Loki knew that though she was in no immediate danger necessarily, she was ailing slowly and painfully. One of many things that occupied her ever-whirling stream of consciousness lately. It joined the maelstrom compounded by Eos's story and her impending speech before Parliament, not to mention her promise to Lord Taylor, which was actually her present occupation.

She forced the heaviness from her lids and righted herself. The child, whomever they might be in the end, wasn't about to find themselves. Loki had a young cousin that might do; her uncle worked for Marchfield, and so the only way the boy would ever have any degree of noble status was if both she and her mother were to die or if some sort of foster arrangement was made. Of course, the same lineage which made him such a tempting choice was problematic for precisely the same reason, assuming her uncle would even agree in the first place.

She was tempted to suggest Taylor find a Delta orphan of some variety, but that would never pass muster with Parliament, much as it might with the man himself. At least, not yet. She had to think that it might be possible one day, else she might begin to believe that all her efforts were for naught, which might just drive her mad.

Assuming she wasn't mad already. The thought brought a sardonic smirk to her lips, and Loki shook her head, not relishing the unfortunate stab this produced in her head. No easy answer, then. Fine... might as well leave it be for now. She had other, more impending deadlines to deal with, after all. Filing away the document in her desk, then, she withdrew another one, a list she'd been making based on informal information-gathering of her own. There were a number of healers in Delta and Gamma, but most of them did not run public businesses. Not that she could blame them, given the way those who admitted they were magi found themselves treated. There were a few, though, and she needed to pay one a visit, to see about getting a consultation regarding her mother. This, she could not trust Amon's people to do. Only the Guildmaster himself knew of her mother's condition, and that was only because she'd been unable to prevent him from discovering it.

Standing, Loki scanned down the new parchment, memorizing what little information was contained there, before stowing this as well and locking her office door. Carlisle, usually her shadow, was notably absent today, and this was not without reason. Returning to her private rooms, Loki donned her disguise: a simple linen shirt, laced vest, and pants, mostly in inoffensive, neutral colors. Releasing all the ridiculous pins from her head helped ease the pain there, and she sighed with relief. She'd have to consider a haircut; it was just so bloody heavy this way. Pulling on her scuffed leather boots, she tucked a long-bladed knife away in each, and a shorter one up both loose sleeves. Adjusting her cuffs to ensure that none of this was visible, she nodded and disappeared out the door, ghosting through the palace hallways until she reached the street. It was time to pay Delta a visit.

---

Edward Walsh was a nondescript man of approximately forty-five years in age, but he was also probably the smartest of the city guard, and hence had been appointed head of the official Parliamentary investigation into the death of Adam Goldwater. Presently, they were following up on a lead which they had quite accidentally stumbled upon. During the Physician's examination of Goldwater's corpse, which Walsh had of course been present for, he'd spotted a strange mark on the man's chest, which the Physician hadn't had a good explanation for.

Officially, the cause of death was respiratory arrest, caused by asphyxiation, caused by strangulation, but Walsh wasn't quite so sure. Something in his gut told him that that puncture was suspicious, though he didn't really have any idea how to go about verifying that. Of course, he was immediately suspicious of scientists given that such strange things as those people did had always offended his more Elisian sympathies, especially that business about creating false magic. Real magic was bad enough, in Walsh's opinion; they didn't need artificial magic as well. Did anyone read the Prophesies anymore?

Which meant he had to get answers from someone. Any of them would do, probably. Walsh didn't really know the difference between one kind of science and the next. Plus, he had the power of an official Parliamentary mandate behind him, which meant that he could basically question anyone. Trying to go straight to Vanderbilt had been his first instinct, but his superiors had informed him that might not be the best idea. Fine then, first bloke he saw, then.

"Excuse me," he said to that person, who happened to be a dark-haired man with some sort of ocular devise affixed to his face. "My name is Edward Walsh, and I'm investigating the death of Adam Goldwater. I have a few questions for you." If there was one thing that could be said of Walsh, it was that he was ever quite direct, a quality not always appreciated, but always upheld.

The setting changes from The Royal Palace to Marchfield Laboratories

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The last three days after leaving the clinic were quite non-eventfull. He had finished mainainance, send invitations around the nobles and to Prometheus for the unveiling of the steam engine, and even had enough time to finish the blueprints of the new air-purifier. Unfortunatly it meant a lot of new paperwork, as could be expected with burocracy. He had forms for funding, he had to buy a piece of ground in delta as it would have to be build on the spot, then he would have to write forms to get permission to build an experiment on industerial grounds, not to mention the forms for getting access to the crucial component Mana.

Giacomo was in the workshop where his steam engine stood, writing these forms on one of the desks there. At least he was untill he was disturbed by someone. He stood up and turned around, standing face to face with the individual. He was obviously from the city gaurd, but Giacomo had no idea why he would be here. Then the man spoke and told him that he was investigating the death of Goldwater and that he had questions for Giacomo.

Giacomo sighed and put his pen down on the desk. "Well then, you may ask your questions, but please make it quick, I am a busy man as you undoubtebly can see." He said as he waved in a showing manner to the desk full of paperwork, the blueprints on the wall and the steam engine. He was interested in what had caused Goldwaters death, since he had never heard anything about the cause, and because the last time he had seen Goldwater he seemed to be in better health than himself. He had to subdue his curiousity as the man had said that he was investigating the death of Goldwater, which lead him to believe that they weren't sure about the cause either.

The setting changes from Marchfield Laboratories to Revelation

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#, as written by Smith
Stars clouded Eos's vision and the man reeled back, almost falling from his chair in the process. Almost immediately afterward a barrage of questions erupted from Pan's mouth at an alarming rate. Slow the hell down! Human's can't think that fast! He would've given his thought voice, but Eos was too busy rubbing his jaw. He observed how the newly awakened Pandora took in the cleaned room and smiled. Her mention of some sort of recompense was slightly offputting though. Eos continued to rub his stubbly chin in a more thoughtful manner for a short while mulling over the offer. There was only really two things he wanted;

"Alright, i'll hold you to it. I'd like either the ability to walk through walls, or alot of sex." Eos stared at Pandora and gently pushed her back down onto the bed to pull up the covers, his expectant expression leaving her to fill the silent void created by his silence, completely serious. Of course, he grinned and snickered. "Only joking short-stuff. Not that you aren't my type, but i'm more of a wine and dine sort of fellow. Although..." He allowed his gaze to rove Pandora's form, concealed only by the thin woolen blanket. "You are already naked and in bed. Half the work's done for me already!"

Before any forthcoming rebuke could be delivered the Hand arose from his seat and backed away a couple paces before stretching and rubbing his bare shoulders. "You were sweating yesterday, and I'm no doctor, but being in dirty, wet fabrics don't help people get over sickness." He nodded towards the foot of the bed where a few summer dresses and several pairs of...undergarments, lay. All brand new. "I wasn't exactly sure what size you were, so I bought a few I thought'd fit. The undies...erm...were awkward to place in front of the shopkeeper." The only thing Eos had taken the time to procure with his acquired money was a new shirt and some rough linen pants, the latter of which he was wearing.

A sudden movement off to his left sent Eos spinning into a defensive crouch--which gave way to a dubious look. The other sleeper, Pan's patient, was awakening. He wasn't sure what ailed the boy and quite frankly didn't care. He had been asleep for at least as long as Pandora, if not longer and must have been thirsty as well. Eos walked off towards his pack and withdrew a flask of fruit juice, handing it to Icarus. "Not the most eloquent fellow, are you?"

Suddenly Eos returned to pull back his chair to keep both of the wakeful sickly ones in view. "So, who wants to hear a joke about my penis?" With no response forthcoming, he said: "Eh, I don't blame ya. it's too long anyway." And he broke into uproarious laughter.

The setting changes from Revelation to District Delta

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Pandora squeaked, a horribly silly sound which only served to compound the embarrassment that was already flushing her a bright scarlet from scalp to collarbones. A glass jar shattered on the nearest shelf, and she flinched, hoping it hadn't been busy containing anything. Clamping a lid on what was truthfully probably a bit of an overreaction, she coughed uncomfortably. Sitting up again, she clasped tightly at the blanket and tried to force something off her tongue that sounded at least mildly intelligible. Unfortunately, she really, really couldn't. Technically, he'd done what she would have (well, barring a few of the rather lewd things he'd said, mind), and medically, she could not fault him for any of it.

She couldn't really decide if it was a good thing or a bad thing that she wasn't quite able to bring herself to appreciate the logic at the moment. Probably bad, as being able to do so would have made this considerably less awkward. He gestured toward a pile of clothes though, and already childishly-large eyes went wide. Where had he managed to find the funds for such things? Besides that, why on the ruined earth below would he ever bother to go through all that trouble? She bit down on her lip to stifle the chuckle at his obvious discomfort. Really, there was so much strange about this situation that she really was starting to find it funny more than anything else. Better than the skin-flaming shame that was probably the only alternative at present. She was pretty sure this was the kind of situation in which a joke might be a good idea, for both their sakes, but the only possible thing she could think of involved his apparently lesser-than-suggested familiarity with women's underclothes, and she was quite certain she did not want to know.

She was spared from actually having to say anything by the stirring of the patient she and Mr. Vernazza had come across in the strangest of ways. Deciding that right now, being a healer was unquestionably more important than any of it, she stood, completely missing whatever Eos said next and shuffling with blanket-impeded steps over to the pile of clothes, randomly grabbing a few things and crossing the floor to the screen which she usually used to conceal her medical supplies from general view. Luckily for her, it worked quite well.

The sanitation spell was not in her field of expertise, but it was so basic that it didn't need to be. She had the feeling she'd been out for quite some time, multiple days for sure, and she always felt much better when clean. Baths were better, in her opinion, but then she hardly had that much water to spare. With the fumbling speed only available to complete nervous wrecks, Pan donned the garments, which turned out to be a rather pretty short-sleeved white dress which fell to her knees. Well, pretty to her, anyway. She might even fit in someplace like Gamma in it, which truthfully was a little strange. Not that there was time to worry about that, though. She had a patient to tend. Emerging from behind the screen, she tilted her head to one side and fixed Eos with a strange look. "Would you mind telling me what has happened in the last... few days? I need to know so I can treat him."

Sitting beside the boy, she offered a smile. "I was worried about you there for a while. It is not every day one sees a person fall from the sky, after all. Could you explain how that happened?" Hopefully, whatever explanation she got would also account for the numerous infections and other strange maladies she'd found as well, the things that would not have been caused by his rather emphatic contact with the ground.

-=-
District Beta

Zade had seen stranger things than this doctor's mask, but never on a physician. It was... odd, to say the least, and she was beginning to wonder if she'd chosen the right course of action in coming here. The blood seeping onto her hand from holding the cloth so tightly to her wound informed her that she had, regardless of the man's eccentricities.

She followed him to the... well, she supposed it was an examination room, but there were an awful lot of rodents in it. Zade had always disliked rodents. She was not afraid, exactly, more like... repulsed. They reminded her of the early years of her life, spent sleeping amongst them and worse, things that she rarely deigned to waste time recalling. She was glad of the sterilization wand, even if it did sting like little pinpricks.

Well, this place is just a feast for the senses, isn't it? she thought dryly, catching a whiff of some kind of paste-like slave or some such. She didn't know all the names for the finished products, though oddly enough she'd probably be able to name most of the components by scent, though she would only really be able to say what color they burned if they were at all flammable, and whether or not the result was noxious. The result of a very... practical education, one based largely on an experimental process for which she was both scientist and test subject. Or perhaps both doctor and caged rat.

He asked how she'd sustained such a wound, and Zade fixed him with a measured looks for a moment before speaking. "They don't call my home the district of charlatans for nothing, doctor. Some people take offense when I think they owe more than they are willing to pay. If you've ever seen a doctor's office in Gamma, you would understand why I came here." She knew he would most likely recognize this as a lie (something about his demeanor told her so), but that was not important. He would not likely demand the truth, and the deception was just convincing- or perhaps probable was the right word- that he could not be faulted for believing it by any third party- like, say, the city guard.

She hissed when he stitched the wound, but otherwise made no sound. It was not entirely unbearable, and it certainly beat the continued agony of an open wound becoming infected if it didn't exsanguinate her first. The bandages came after, and she relaxed slightly, though the implications of his next words were far from lost on the savvy thief. So he did know, then. There was something strange about this man, though she could not place it beyond the obvious. He looked and acted like a doctor (albeit a strange one), but there was something more subtle than that at play, a certain reservation of gesture... she could not put her finger on it, and that bothered her perhaps more than anything else about it.

"Of course," she replied, extracting the fee (which was about what she had expected) from her purse and placing it on the table. "Good day to you, doctor." If there had been something implied in what he said, she left her words completely free of any such thing, unwilling to play the game when she knew not the opponent. That was the thing about that sort of match- Zade was not one to enter into a contest she felt she could not win. Lost causes were for a different sort of person than she.

With no further words, she nodded to the man and opened the front door, stepping out into daylight and disappearing around a corner.

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Icarus accepted the flask from Eos, his gratitude in his eyes, and brought it to his lips. He drank the fruit juice... less than gracefully. He took long gulps and lifted the flask high, tiny streams running down the corners of his mouth. The taste of sugar, the burn of citric acids, the substance... That taste is amazing!

Fleeters didn't have many luxuries, especially culinary. The closest thing to fresh fruit he'd ever tasted before was synthetic; rubbery peels stretched around bloated, fleshy pulp with the taste of water. That's all it ever was, fibrous water. Icarus had once ate the rinds of a pomegranate. The sweet scent betrayed the taste, perhaps, but the memory had clung to him. Those rinds were the sights of Revelation, a distant hint of something rich and full, yet unattainable. Now here I am...

Icarus lowered the flask when the last drop touched his tongue, seeing before him the prettiest woman in white. Red escaped his cheeks and face at the proximity to her. She looked... small. That wasn't something Icarus could often say. She looked thin enough to be a Fleeter, but her clear skin and warm features betrayed that notion. And her eyes... Those eyes say she knows only good. She helps and cares for others... This woman is why I'm alive. The thoughts weren't prophetic on his part, but rather projective on hers. This girl, Pandora, had the features of a healer. The voice of savior.

As she queried about his descent, Icarus was surprised. He'd spent all of his life looking up at the great city, and now it was he that was falling from the sky onto them? Still, the juice had cleared his throat and livened the systems, the least he could do was explain (and thank that mystic creator of beverages, Eos. Surely only a god could provide such a drink). "Your home is soaring through heaven. Mine floats... far beneath it." With a much clearer voice, Icarus had an accent that pronounced his vowels and softened the consonants. "I left my people... hurting, lost, malevolent hearts... For heaven."

While the red about Icarus' eyes punctuated their green color, a wanting look escaped them. It was the want that had plagued him his entire life: a want for this city. "I wasn't careful and a mistake hurt me. But now I'm fine." Those last four words had the slightest ring of a question and the heavy resonance of gratitude. "My people know yours... but perhaps you don't know us. Perhaps we were a forgotten inconvenience... The remotest prison."

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#, as written by Smith
With an amused sigh Eos slumped forward in his seat, resting his elbows on his knees and propping his head up on his hands. It was a shame that joke hadn't received so much as a chuckle, he thought, but this was a slightly more refined crowd than the normal drunken riff-raff Eos normally associated with. The man regarded Pandora with a half-quirked smile and calmly recounted the events of the past couple days or so.

"Well, skipping the boring parts, mostly scooping you up from the ground and some more tantalizing tidbits--although now that I think about it that part wasn't exactly boring..." Eos's gaze seemed distant for a moment, as if fondly looking back on a memory before snapping back to the present. "Where was I--Oh! Yes, stripped you, cleaned a bit, redressed the bedding for the two of you...hmm...got distracted with a few patients, mostly kids with wet coughs and a few with some more serious ailments." He glanced at Icarus and then back to Pandora. "I don't know how you do it really.Well, not without growing bitter and aloof. Hmm..yeah, it was pretty much wash, rinse and repeat from there."

Eos rose and moved closer to Icarus as Pandora dressed. Upon her swift return he noted Icarus and his enraptured expression. One that was mirrored on Eos's face. He subtly poked the younger man in the ribs--which should still be sorely bruised--as a 'back off' and smiled at Pan. "He had alot of bruising to the thoracic region and legs..." The Hand rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "No broken bones I could find. Didn't your chart say he fell from a great height though? Shouldn't something be broken?"

His newfound interest in the reserved young medic that had never been much more than a necessary annoyance was pushed to the back of his mind as Icarus told his tail. The boy spoke as if there was humanity outside of Revelation, like life could exist anywhere else. That couldn't be true...could it? Eos moved back to sit in his chair but paused a couple feet away, opting to head to the door instead. The apron was discarded and replaced with a simple white shirt which had been lying on a shelf. Now, at least fully clothed, if still without shoes Eos opened the door and looked back at Icarus and Pan. "I'm half expecting to find one or both of you passed out again when I get back. Please, eat some of the fruit. I'll be back with proper food in a bit."

That said Eos was out the door and heading down the street at a steady pace. His thoughts swirled around what little he'd been taught about the world in his bubble of a childhood. Nothing was ever mentioned that even came close to a world aside from this one. It was something to think about as he made his way down the main street of Delta. People with their eyes cast towards the dirt and cobbles trudged by without paying the dark, tall man a glance...but occassionally a smile or two would shine through, though he was not aware.

The setting changes from District Delta to Marchfield Laboratories

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Walsh wasn't much of a card player; it was all too easy to read the displeasure on his face at the scientist's brusque attitude. There was a line between being direct and being condescending, and it was one that the detective personally thought was crossed all too often by people talking to him. A man had died, for Elisia's sake! But of course one could never expect a scientist to care about living, breathing, flesh-and-blood people. Could justice be quantified? nay, and it made the very concept of passing insignificance to such folk.

"Yes, well..." Walsh took no seat; none had been offered and he would have declined anyway. "The official cause of death is listed as strangulation, but... I believe that there may have been something else involved. A poison; something manufactured by someone with knowledge of chemicals, but not of subtlety." He stared Vernazza down for a few moments, as though scouring for any visible reaction, but overall the man seemed rather nonplussed and self-assured. "I have limited knowledge of what you all do here at Marchfield, beyond the obvious."

Something clicked in his head, and Walsh held up a black-gloved hand hastily. "Not that I need the full run-down, mind you. I just want to know if any research into things like that is conducted here, and if so, who I should talk to about it. You must understand that this is not a part of the official inquiry, not just yet. Think of it as a fact-finding mission of sorts. I need as much information as possible." What he very deliberately did not say was that any names this man gave him were going immediately to the top of his suspect list, barring obvious reasons to exclude them, of course.

In awaiting the man's reply, Walsh surreptitiously scanned the room. There was some kind of open leaflet on the desk, one of those that went with official invitations to presentations, the sort of thing lords and ladies would attend for amusement and fascination, other scientists for barely more academic pursuits. He couldn't read it, so he knew not what this unveiling would be all about. Not that he much cared; Walsh was far from the status of anyone who'd be invited, and certainly not interested besides.

The walls had various charts and technical drawings on them, most of which he didn't bother trying to decipher. All in all, it wasn't far from what he would expect of a mid-level Marchfield type.

-=-
District Gamma

Loki felt immediately more comfortable as soon as the steam engine crossed the invisible border that separated Beta from Gamma. Her chances of being recognized as nobility diminished greatly once she was away from anyone who bothered to keep track of the faceless Other that the aristocracy represented to her city's more beleaguered citizens.

The first time she'd come here, she'd been horribly afraid she'd be recognized, disguise or no. How presumptuous of her that thought had been. How very arrogant, to assume that those working their fingers raw to eat would give a damn who sat on the gilded thrones in the Queen's audience chamber. Most of them would never see Alpha in the course of their lifetimes, and they had little reason to care who occupied it. The realization had left a bitter taste in her mouth; for all her cynicism, Loki still wished to believe that the throne of Revelation could truly be something that every citizen had a stake in, the ruler someone they could turn to, rely on, in times of need.

But when every day was nothing but need, she could hardly blame them for forgetting. With that sobering thought, Loki tightened her grip on the hand rail of the passenger car, bracing for the lurch that would signal a complete stop. Normally, she might just stay on board until the rickety, poorly-maintained thing reached the terminal stop at Delta (separate, nicer trains took scientists out to the Domes), but she had some business here as well, at least today.

Disembarking with the rest of the roughly-dressed crowd, Loki squinted against the glare of the afternoon sun, and used a hand to shade her eyes. There was nothing to be done about it, of course, but not for the first time she mused that it would help to have slightly less stark skin. A life spent mostly indoors was not a common one out here, and she always felt slightly conspicuous, as though the lack of blemishes and well-maintained hair were not bad enough. At least her guise was of a player; they tended to be a little more gaudy than anyone else, and more unusual-looking.

Knowing exactly where she needed to go, Loki threaded her way through the train stop's crowds and to the wide street beyond. Several smaller troupes were already getting underway with the day's performances; they would not be able to compete with the larger, more organized groups at night, when the money flowed as freely as the cheap booze.

She stopped in front of a rather nondescript tenement building, leaning against the dirtied siding as though she belonged there. Attitude was half the battle here, as Amon was constantly reminding her, and she had long since adopted her own version of the charlatan's swagger, albeit with better posture than most. The disguise was imperfect, but the large knives crossed over the small of her back tended to turn aside lingering curiosity. Crossing her arms over her chest, the princess leaned her head back against the wall. If it dirtied her tresses a bit, all the better.

You're late today, Scheherazade.

-=-
The Nexus

Amon walked without disguise through the streets of Alpha. He was not protecting anyone else's cover today, and though he wore the accouterments of many an Assassin, not many knew his face. Certainly, fewer still were aware what the particular trimming on his garments or the twisting Ouroboros emblazoned across his sable cloak would mean- namely, that he was not merely an ordinary member of his organization. His gait was an aristocrat's, underscored with the noiseless subtlety only he could affect to its fullest extent.

Sometimes, he wondered at what he had sacrificed to become what he was, and thought that perhaps the loss may have been too much. But then, he was never one to dwell on such thoughts for long, even if they did come more frequently with age. The well-groomed noble lads and ladies occasionally caught him off-guard; he was easily of an age to be a parent to such a one, though... perhaps not quite one of the same demeanor.

But such things were inclined to send his mind drifting to unpleasant things; things he had long endeavored to place behind him. The boy at least had his freedom; Amon for all his might could offer no more than that. A pitiable reward, laying as it had at the end of a road so unlit, but perhaps not one without some modicum of possibility to attain those things the Guildmaster himself had long since passed up in the pursuit of others.

He came at last to the offices of one Taylor Chemicals, having been informed by one of his people that the proprietor of this particular business was to be found within today. Staying well clear of the Parliamentary Building would grant some discretion to the meeting, one of which the young lord was not yet aware. It was a relatively unobtrusive building, being clean, architecturally sound but not overtly extravagant, and well-maintained as such things were expected to be in this district. It was not the actual factory, of course- such things had no place here.

Amon revisited his debate for a moment. Getting inside past the receptionists would be no issue; the question was whether or not it should be conducted openly or by more clandestine means. He reevaluated his logic and came to the same conclusion as he had when he received the request from the Princess to provide some information to her colleague: the fewer people that knew of it, the better. Additionally, being able to get past any security measures without problem would perhaps reinforce his point about who exactly he claimed to be.

The briefest of smiles ghosted over Amon's face, turning his lips upward ever-so-slightly. The one disadvantage to being a shadow was that should you choose to step into the light, people were disinclined to believe you.

Not a sound issued from the man as his preternatural stealth carried him up the floors, hidden from passers-by more concerned with their work than anything else. How very... industrious of them. It was not long before he reached the correct door, and he had another moment of amusement, deciding to simply knock and see what came of it.

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Giacomo listened to the man as he spoke. The man wanted to know who possesed knowlege of chemicals, enough knowlege to create a poison. Giacomo himself had some knowlege about poisons, but he was no expert, afterall the only poisons he had studied were the airborne poisons of Delta. Sending him through to Promethues was the most obvious option, but he knew he would probably have to face his rage for doing so afterwards. One thing he couldn't understand was why someone would come to Marchfield for knowlege about poisons, true they were the scientists, but Amon Gregory's men were the ones that worked with poison almost on a daily basis.

Giacomo spoke with a slight hasitation in his voice: "Poisons you say... Well, in any case I have some knowlege about poisons due to a protject of mine, but that knowlege is fairly ristricted to the airborne poisons found in Delta. The cause of death has been identified as strangelastion, right? Well, many of the poisons of Delta work in on the respitory system, but there are more poisons that do the same, or even can mimic that particular cause of death. Though if the used poison is similar to the ones in Delta you'd need rather large quantities, for poison at least, unless you could get your hands to the pure stuff, but thats only available inside the air purification unit and taking it from there would be a severe risk to ones health, even if you came prepared with the nessecarry anti-poisons."

Giacomo took a deep breath and with more confidence he spoke on: "But other than me I wouldn't know who inside Marchfield would want anything to do with poisons, maybe Promethues would know one or two that know something too, but I don't want to get him mad at me for making him do even more work. I think for poisons your best choice might be to go to 'the guild' and ask around there. On a side note, as I am a scientist I know quite well what plays here, but please tell me... What is the obvious that happens here?" A simple question out of curiocity, but one he would very much like to have answered.

The setting changes from Marchfield Laboratories to District Delta

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Pan busily took her patient's vitals as both of them filled her in on the necessary details, beginning with two pale fingers to a frightfully-thin wrist. His heartbeat seemed to be strong and steady, if still a bit sluggish, likely because he had just woken. It was a much better indication than any that had been given three days prior, and she smiled a bit to herself as Eos related the rest of his condition. He expressed some confusion about broken bones, and she simply shook her head distractedly. "Those were the first things I fixed after the organ damage," the healer murmured, examining some of the bruising that remained on the young man's arms.

She was somewhat worried about the patients he related seeing in the interim, especially the more serious ones. If she remembered correctly, she would have been scheduled for about ten lung treatments in that space of time, not to mention any actual sickness that came thorough- she'd have to contact those people and reschedule. Maybe a few house calls were in order, just to make sure.

She was brought back to the immediate present by the strange inflections that marked the falling boy's speech, and she listened intently to his words, brow furrowing slightly as she struggled to remember. Something about the circumstances he described sounded vaguely familiar, like a passing reference a teacher had made offhandedly in class once at the Facility, or a hastily-scribbled notation in the margin of a book, the handwriting only half-legible. Perhaps she had simply dreamed it. Then again, with her at least, that did not mean that the feeling could be dismissed as unreality.

Before she could say anything about it, Eos was making to the door, promising food upon his return. She opened her mouth to protest, but then he was gone, and she shook her head with a scarcely-audible sigh. "He's more generous than he thinks," she said to nobody in particular, then turned to the room's only other occupant. "Oh, forgive me my manners. I do forget them sometimes. I'm Pandora. He's... well, he's Eos, but I'm not really sure why he's here." With a thin-shouldered shrug, Pandora rose, dusting herself off. "I think most of your really bad injuries are taken care of, but if anything hurts, please tell me and I'll heal those as soon as I can. But first..." She crossed the room again, retrieving the fruits that were her purported breakfast. Returning, she handed one to Icarus and sat beside him.

"I think... I might have heard something about your people, once. Wasn't it... exiles? Political exiles, something like that? Criminals, maybe...? Er, not that I mean to offend or anything, I just..." She trailed off awkwardly. She'd gone and spoken without thinking again. Or perhaps it was better to say that she'd simply thought aloud, without regard for how he might feel about such a characterization.

---
District Gamma

When Zade finally made it back to her tenement building, she found someone she had not quite expected. "Eris," she greeted the statuesque woman with the unnerving eyes. Like most of the monikers she used daily, Zade assumed that this was a stage name, but hardly cared for the truth behind it. "Come in." Truthfully, the girl wasn't certain why the knife-woman was here, but she wasn't about to turn away the company, not when she had shown up in this manner. There was just something in Eris's expression that suggested that wouldn't be the best idea anyway.

Leading the way up several narrow staircases, Zade pushed open her battered wooden portcullis and gestured to a number of cushions on the floor. "Have a seat. Tea?" Without really bothering to wait for an answer, the redhead threw another log on the dying embers of her fireplace, and grabbed the pot of water that stood next to the thing, hooking the handle over the metal protrusion designed for precisely that. She didn't bother much with making idle conversation; Eris had proven that she was not the sort of person to enjoy that, and it was a quality Zade herself could appreciate.

A few minutes later, the tea was served, and she seated herself across a low table from the older woman, on another worn cushion. "I'm guessing you didn't come here to chat. Is there something I can do for you?" She was half-hoping that the purple-eyed lady with the aristocratic face simply wanted to discuss hiring her for a show, but a feeling deep in the pit of her stomach told Zade that this was probably a bit too much to ask. Today, it seemed, she would not have peace.

The setting changes from District Delta to District Gamma

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#, as written by Smith
Not having found any eateries that would garauntee a meal that wouldn't cause dysentery in District Delta, Eos made his way through the waning crowds into Gamma. He had always found it astounding how quickly the air changed from a fetid haze of grimey dust one had to grit their teeth to filter out to an air of...clean, was not the word. It was still rather dingey, but couldn't hold a candle to the smell of waste that seemed to permeate Delta. With at least some half-decent clothing on--as the absence of shoes was not particularly noted in Gamma--Eos perused the swindling merchant blankets that seemed to always be in service. "The sector of charlatans indeed..." he whispered.

The first seven or eight blankets had some food, but most was either moldy, rotten on the inside or too good to be true. Twice a merchant eyed the half-full coin purse that hung half-revealed from Eos's pocket. A cool glare was levelled their way each time, although the concealed forms lying in the shadows of the nearby alley ways were not reassuring. Still, eventually an older man with wispy tufts of colorless hair for a beard provided cabbage stew with some sort of brownish meat that was probably better left unidentified. It wasn't bad, and the elderly shopkeeper had some old chef's tools and sterilizing agents so Eos was sure that the food was at least prepared properly.

As the younger man sat down to wait for the merchant--Rikard as he soon learned, he was regailed with a tale of how a lowly Gamma-goer came across such 'glamorous' tools of a trade. Rikard was originally a man born into a relatively wealthy merchant home in Beta. He carried on his family's tradition and learned to sell, haggle and produce various foods. Food was always necessary, Rikard had said with a gap toothed smile. The younger Rikard was quite a success, married young and was summarily robbed blind by the woman whom he devoted his life to. His family disowned their foolish son, saying it was his own fault for marrying a woman of a lower station and left him with nothing. Now, fifty years later, he was living as a two-bit cook scraping by. The bowls were wrapped in plastic and cheap cloth to keep them warm before being handed over to Eos. He fished around in his coin purse for a moment before a shriveled hand was placed atop of his. Eos looked up in puzzlement to see Rikard's lopsided grin.

"It's hard enough," the old man said, "to come by anyone willing to look you in the eye instead of your coin purse 'round these parts. Even scarcer for someone without wrinkles to listen to a man my age prattle on about the past. Keep your coins, i've taken time enough as payment."

Eos smiled sadly, then clasped Rikard's hand. In it he left a single gold coin. Twenty times the worth of the food he had just purchased. He spun on his heel and quickly walked away before any word of protest could leave the old man's mouth. After a couple blocks Eos slowed his pace and glanced half-heartedly at the remaining blankets and stalls hawking wares. Most of it was trash, but a single trinket caught his eye. A copper necklace with a pendant in the half-circle shape of the rising sun. I haven't watched the sunrise in so long... A deep pit welled in his stomach, one caused by the thought that he had betrayed Selene's memory. The notion oozed through his mind like a greasy wisp of smoke while Eos carried the food back towards Delta. He was nearing the lodging area of Gamma now, almost at the border.

Without thinking he squeezed the sunburst pendant that now hung from his neck.

The setting changes from District Gamma to The Nexus

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#, as written by Arke
The knock on the door alerted the tired noble as he sat up in his office. Was it a call to attend today's... debate? He wasn't too sure- but he didn't remember getting a memo that a visitor would be meeting with him today. No, he was sure of it. Was his vision correct? Was he now to die because he found out too much? It hurt him slightly to consider the fact that the shrewd princess would have him killed the day after Eos spilled the truth in front of him. What made this very sensical was that he wasn't expecting a visitor. An Assassin? Quite possibly. Suddenly, Taylor seized himself before he could go any further. Paranoia was not something to be descending into this early in the game. She still needed his support- she couldn't kill him, yet.

"Come in, sir." He replied to the knock as calmly as his surprised voice would allow. He quickly sorted his work papers in preparation. He had been going over a small stack of forms from Beta when the visitor knocked on his door. The proper mix of chemicals was a delicate process, and as the head of the company even he can't afford to relax when his office is around the tanks of sometimes volatile compounds. Grown with a knowledge of these substances, he had a vague idea of what could mix, and a very clear idea about what NOT to mix. His father often entertained him with feats such as igniting an arch of bubbles, creating snaking foam structures out of a small amount of liquid, and changing the color of flames from orange to green to blue. Since the upper class did not consist of mages, this was an amazement to Taylor.

He (mentally) shook himself from his reminiscing and straightened once more.




District Beta

As the thick diameter of steel drove closer and closer to Scree the Rat, he knew fear for the first time in his poor rat life.

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As soon as he was bid enter, Amon did just that, closing the door soundlessly behind him. Turning around, he studied his unwitting host for the briefest of moments before smiling thinly. Just like any other expression, it belonged on his face, though it would not be difficult to discern that there was something behind it, the slightest tensile tightness, a readiness for the unexpected, perhaps. Loki had told him point-blank that Taylor was not dangerous unless he was crossed, lacking the willfulness and wanton cruelty of some people, but he had ever been a man that formed his own impressions.

"Forgive me my... unconventional entrance, Lord Taylor," he spoke in the smooth tones of cultured politeness, bowing shallowly at the waist, "But it is perhaps more advantageous for both of us if I remain unseen." Amon showed the man his hands as he crossed the room, coming to stand in front of Taylor's desk, though far enough back so as not to unintentionally crowd. He slowly removed his shortsword from his waist, placing it on the ground in a gesture of good faith. The practical ramifications were minimal; he was otherwise armed and could kill a man with nothing but his hands if the occasion called for it, but the symbolic meaning was clear enough.

Lacing his hands together behind his back, the Guildmaster spoke once more. "My name is Amon Gregory, milord. It is one I understand you have heard recently, though not in precisely the way I had expected." Something flickered across the man's face then, but it was gone too fast to be truly deciphered. "The Princess has deemed it time that she show her hand, so to speak, and thus I have been sent. I expect you have questions, and I am here to answer what I am able. She regrets not coming herself, as well, but there are certain other matters that she must see to at the moment."

For all appearances completely at ease, Amon smiled again, but this time it was considerably more genuine. "I suppose that I could do you the favor of giving you a place to begin. I am an assassin, Lord Taylor, the Guildmaster, in fact. I have known Loki for a number of years now, and she frequently employs my agents for the purpose of gathering information. It was I who informed her of the Marquis's death, though I did not order the deed done and at this point have little more information on the culprit than you do, though if you are so inclined, I will tell you what I do know."

-=-
Marchfield Laboratories

Walsh listened intently, jotting down notes where he deemed it appropriate. It seemed that there was little information to be gleaned here, though; this man didn't seem to know much more than Walsh himself. Figures...

The scientist's final statement was a question, directed at Walsh. Holding back the tirade that threatened at such an obvious bait question, the detective tried to go for diplomatic. "Engines, trains, artificial magic," he said with a shrug, barely suppressing the disgust he felt at the word magic.

With that, though, the detective was done. "Thank you for your assistance, Mr. Vernazza," he intoned flatly, inclining his head. "If anything else strikes you, please do contact that Guard. I will leave you to your... duties." With that, Walsh turned smartly on his heel and exited, mind whirring away. He'd have to talk to Vanderbilt... not that he could do that without higher-level clearance, which he wasn't about to get unless he could prove it was poison, which was going to be problematic at best. The body was being committed to furnace tomorrow, and the medical examination was already complete.

He'd heard that the best suspect for the crime had escaped prison, too, which mean that he couldn't question the man. The escape in itself was most extraordinary; he'd never known anyone to make it out of the Facility like that. That place had been designed to imprison crafty mages, after all. But of course, any inquiry down this direction was quietly diverted, too, and he wondered who was squeezing the commander's throat so tightly as to manage that one.

It'd have to be someone high up... maybe another noble was responsible, and not that rebellion that people were whispering about, or the Guild? He'd have to think on it.

-=-
District Gamma

Loki wordlessly followed Zade up the narrow, creaking stairs and to the girl's apartment. There were several bottles and jars of chemicals present, but that didn't really arouse much suspicion. The redhead made a living setting things on fire, after all, and poison didn't seem her style. As far as Loki knew, killing people wasn't her style either, but it would be counterproductive to dismiss either notion entirely.

The injury in her arm was interesting, as was her present choice of wardrobe. Loki herself was fond of black, but Zade she knew to dress more brightly, and her current ensemble assuredly set bells ringing in one's mind that warned of thievery and clandestine activity. The former, the Princess had known about for a while, and the girl knew she knew, if the complete lack of alarm she exhibited at being caught thus was anything to go by.

She sipped her tea, an exotic, spicy blend that she had gathered from many such visits Zade preferred to milder sorts, and waited patiently for the inevitable question. When at last it came, Loki set her cup down and folded her hands in her lap, fixing her associate with an appraising stare. Holding her tongue for enough time to make the silence uncomfortable, she spoke. "Someone killed a nobleman, Zade."

Letting that sink in for a moment, she continued without waiting for a response. "I know how you feel about them, I do. They don't deserve what they have, and I know you feel you're getting back at them by stealing things. But... surely you didn't?" She infused just enough uncertainty in her voice to compel an answer, looking the part of the concerned colleague, a slightly too-nosy acquaintance perhaps.

The setting changes from The Nexus to District Delta

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Eos' mostly innocent gesture of jabbing Icarus solicited a small squeak from the boy, who took the warning without comprehension or serious reaction. He simply blinked and took it for what it was. Perhaps you're not supposed to look at pretty girls in this land? Or maybe Eos had a preexisting relationship with the girl that Icarus had disturbed. That would have been a fair guess. When he left the two alone, Icarus' eyes brightened, not because he was gone, but because he had promised food upon returning.

Silently, Icarus was already starting to like the man. He was generous, had a strong physique, and bore dark features that resembled more oriental Fleeters. He wasn't necessarily handsome, but had an outward personality that matched his form- dark, defined, and more than a little tarnished. He didn't know if these things would make him a hero in this land, a noble, or even a vagabond, but they seemed desirable to the young balloonist. And the way he spoke to Pandora... not a hint of trepidation.

Icarus' admiration slipped back into reality when the girl in white had begun to speak. She said many things at once and Icarus, noting the formations of her sentences and speech, listened attentively. He realized quickly that Elisian speech sounded different from his own and decided that, by hearing it enough, he could imitate it. Pandora seemed intelligent, if not a little tangential, and full of kindness. Her language was probably a good example of proper syntax and manners to follow.

Pandora offered him a fruit and Icarus accepted it from her, recognizing its smell from the drink; sweet. His olfactory was currently at a stage in development where all sweet things smelled similar, including the girl. Her mention of injury seemed odd- actually, he felt better than he ever had before. The fall and the impact were sudden, but when the pain of it had subsided it seemed to wash away much more than that. In fact, all of the bandages that had accumulated around his chest were gone now, with fresh ones in their place. The care he'd received in mere days seemed to eclipse the neglect of his entire life- with exceptions, certainly, but few.

Icarus had just carefully broken the skin of the fruit with a small bite when Pandora's speech came to an uneasy stop. He lowered the orb from his teeth and sat for a moment, considering what he could say to put the girl at ease. She wasn't wrong, from what he could pick up, and certainly not mean about it. Perhaps, he thought, a subject changing would be best. He spoke quietly and carefully to maintain a clear pattern in his words as his olive eyes met Pandora's blue. "I... I'm Icarus. I feel really great, not hurt... at all. Thank you for helping me, you and Eos, but... who are you? Mages? Physicians? And Revelation... Can I see it?" Icarus had moved into an upright position, his speech quickening. "I mean, I got here after such a great long time and your home... It's really amazing that there's walls everywhere. I'd like to see those outside places too though, the buildings..." His gaze fell from hers and he placed the fruit into his mouth to stop talking. He meant to ask about her but then the city... He took a small bite and added, carefully, "...If that's okay..."

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Pandora covered her smile with her hand. It wasn't really fair of her, to have to stifle a laugh at his eagerness. He'd never seen Revelation, after all, and she imagined it must all be a little overwhelming to someone who had not lived in the city their entire life. Still... his enthusiasm for it was not something she would have expected of someone who had spent his life exiled from it. If anything, that would have perhaps engendered bitterness... but then, she supposed she really had no way to know.

The way he shot questions at her reminded her a bit of herself. He also seemed to realize the rapidity of his barrage in about the same way she tended to; with a little bit of embarrassment and quite a bit of sudden silence. Pan beamed at him and shook her head. "Well, let me take those one at a time, shall I?" she inquired lightly, biting into the skin of her fruit. Apricot? It was somewhat familiar in flavor, but clearly not something she consumed on a regular basis. "In answer to your first question, I am a mage." She was unsure how he felt about mages, and allowed a small pause in case there was a hate speech coming, but no such thing occurred right then, so she continued.

The second point was actually a bit difficult to address. "This... warehouse is in the middle of District Delta. I don't know if you knew this, but Revelation proper is divided into sections. People like me, who live here... we're not that welcome in certain other places, you see." She spoke slowly, phrasing the sentences as delicately as possible. Why, she was largely unsure, but... he seemed to have such an idealistic view of this place, and if all it took to fascinate him were complete buildings...

She realized she didn't want to be the one to shatter that by introducing him to the less-savory aspects of life here. Optimist she might be, but Pandora was no stranger to being hated. It was far from a pleasant feeling, and she wished to keep Icarus from it, if she might. Maybe she was simply a coward, afraid to be the bearer of bad news. Hopefully, she was just considerate, but it was hard to say for sure. "I'll show you what I can, though," she promised, trying to lift her own mood and his both. It might be nice, to watch someone who had never seen anything of it discovering her home. "After I'm certain you've recovered, of course."

---
District Gamma

Zade wasn't really sure exactly how Eris knew of that Goldwater person's death, but she saw where the suspicion was going and shook her head empathetically. "No. Absolutely not," she replied to the implication in the woman's last sentence. There was a slight tremor in her voice, one that she hated but could not help. She'd be a fool to deny that Eris was clever, and intimidating to the point of actually inducing something close to actual fear. Perhaps if Zade had ever played the games of court, she would have been better able to hide her emotional reactions, but as it was she was skilled in no such thing.

"You're right about one thing; I do hate the nobility. Whatever they think gives them the right to live so much better than the rest of us, and consign us to districts where the air is so dirty it kills us... I'm sure that no such thing exists. But I..." she shook her head, bitterness subsiding into weary resignation. "I'm not an assassin, Eris, you know that. I was... nearby on the night it happened, but that was because I was casing Lord Harrowmont's estate. I ended up stealing something- gave it to the usual customer." Her words had run away with her, and she'd said more than she meant to, but at the very least, she'd avoided giving Azazel's name. She had a feeling he would not be too pleased with that.

Zade lapsed into silence, staring hard at the scant half-inch of tea that remained in her cup. She wasn't sure why Eris was here or asking these questions, but then she recognized well that she knew very little at all of who the woman actually was. Not her real name, not a address, not even an actual profession beyond the fact that she could throw a knife blindfolded. For all she knew, Eris was the assassin herself. The thought did not sit well with her, and she felt an uncomfortable stirring in the pit of her stomach. This could get bad, fast.

The setting changes from District Delta to The Nexus

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#, as written by Arke
An assassin! As he had predicted, but as the man explained himself, he realized his true intention was not to slit throats, but for information. The young nobleman listened intently to Amon Gregory, nodding as the assassin finished each point. So the Princess had wanted to visit herself- of course, as high royalty she had something better to do than visit a sickly young nobleman for anything else.

So, Loki was planning on releasing news of her race for senate? Of course, she should be assured that he had his support in all of this due to their agreement. "I see." was his only reply. When it came to dealing with assassins, Taylor had very little experience in the matter. He never consulted one, nor has the need ever arisen that he should hire them. His own police force of District Alpha had been able to solve all of his problems. He decided, that he would be as respectful as possible. Amon Gregory was the guildmaster, after all.

Ahh, Goldwater. Once again, his name comes up. He had heard, and dismissed it as a death by asphyxiation of an assassin, but Amon's revelations showed that his chemicals might have something to do with this murder. Lacing his fingers together, he leaned forward.

"And I will answer you to the best of my ability, Sir Gregory." He replied. "However, you informed me I would be able to ask questions of my own." He paused. "First, do you intend on ever killing me for the knowledge you and I both know passed in the dungeons? Second, do you think the Princess has a chance of securing Goldwater's seat? And third, as a reference, how much of the chemicals I produce has been used for your... business?"

Most of them were just out of pure curiosity. He already knew that the Princess was planning on running very soon, and he still had Gregory to recount his witness of Goldwater's murder before making any decisions in what may have transpired that fateful night.

The setting changes from The Nexus to District Delta

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Icarus was somewhat confused by the idea that Pandora was explaining... yet not at all. The fact that there was a degree of segregation in the city was shocking, but certainly not a foreign idea. The Occidental Fleeters had always fought with Oriental ones. Bands of balloonships would crash into one another and light the sky with bursts of meaningless violence. Reigns would be cut and fire jumped about aircraft. Hydrogen burned like no other.

It was widely agreed that the Occidental Fleeters had it much better. Whether that meant cleaner water, stronger ships, or a healthier crew, Icarus couldn't tell. To him, other Fleeters were just the men in masks- cold, lawless pirates that slew innocents without cause. This was the influence of the elder Fleeters and one of their many ideas that was propagated, much like the Elisian myths. Perhaps it was a want for a better life that so quickly dispelled those things in his head.

Pandora's magehood was of little concern to the young Fleeter. Had it not been for the magic of select few crew-members, the Fleet would have perished of starvation and toxicity long ago. Still, the blood of magi in the Fleet was awfully diluted, so those with powers were typically revered as ideal mates. This wasn't a concept Icarus cared to dwell on. Instead, he was honored to know that it was her own personal life-force and strength that went into saving him. Had it been a traditional doctor, the recovery might have been impossible.

"I'll still recover..?" Icarus felt a body of steel around him. He felt a healthiness that wasn't familiar at all. It felt great. Still, he considered that this was very likely the girl's profession. Whatever she said would be right. "I mean... Thank you. I look forward to going out to see Delta. After all, that puts us..." He thought for a moment to consider the tongue. "F-fourth..." The word fell awkwardly from a confused mouth. Icarus considered what this meant before asking, "How many districts are there?" The city was massive, that much was true, but he was certain he had landed in the outskirts of it.

Waiting for his answer, Icarus took another few tentative bites of the fruit. He felt the need to be careful and ration the treat, for a subconscious fear that Eos might not return. Perhaps it was an abandonment issue or adjustment to such kindness, but things seemed to well for something not to go wrong.

The setting changes from District Delta to District Gamma

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#, as written by Smith
Feeling the thick stew sloshing around inside it's container combined with the beefy smell set Eos's stomach to rumbling. He had forgotten to eat yesterday, too caught up in caring for the mage and boy to concentrate on hunger. Now that he was for the most part alone, walking down the quieter part of Gamma his body made it evident that it was unhappy. Eos tried not to grumble obscenities about the annoying faculties of the human body as he passed through the cluster of Gamma's 'wealthy'. At least, that's what they would want you to think.

As Eos strolled on past a relatively nice gated manse, three conversing figures caught his eye. He would have spared them no more than a cursory glance had not the one man speaking looked so...familiar. Skin, hair, size and height meant nothing in the description Eos recalled in his mind. That man...the one with one eye. An empty socket of gray flesh that stared back at you with disconcerting focus, as if the vacant orbit could actually see you. It was seeing you. Eos remembered that one feature so vividly, remembered wondering if the man left his eye like that as a reminder of himself to his mistake...or as a reminder to others of what exactly he did. A name did not surface in his mind along with the picture.

A short-haired woman, the one talking to One-Eye, made eye contact with Eos. The dusky man's eyes widened and he shuffled uncomfortably, not realizing he had been staring. The woman smiled and tilted her head quizzically. "Do you require something sir? Or is it suddenly polite to eavesdrop."

The gall that perpetually permeated Eos returned with a swell and he held the packaged food to his torso a bit tighter. His eyes glinted with playful fire and Eos flashed a lopsided smile to match that of the woman. "Food, water, sleep and air is all we truly require, milady. Food, I have in my hand. Water can be found in any well. Sleep is something that we all catch up on eventually, and air is quite free." to demonstrate his point, Eos inhaled deeply. One-Eye and the other man scowled deeply and were only kept from saying something by the woman. Eos shrugged and continued, "You do have me at the eavesdropping though. Very rude. If you could point me towards the gate to Delta I would be out of your hair in no time at all."

Throughout the conversation, despite speaking to Ishtar, his eyes remained locked with One-Eye's singular gaze. Not recognition lit up on the older man's face although it was plain that he held Eos in little regard. Ishtar pointed further down the roads. "You're on the right path."

Without further comment she turned back to her companions leaving Eos's half-hearted thank you hanging in the air. A cold hand churned in his stomach as he made a short walk of the remaining distance between himself and Delta. That man was someone important, if not to the city, than to himself.

---

District Delta

Without warning Eos pushed open the door to the makeshift clinic and brought his load to bear. "I come bearing gifts!" he smiled, some of the luster had faded from the expression as compared to a couple hours ago, and placed both bundles on the side of Icarus's bed. Unwrapping them with no little amount of haste the beef stew was uncovered. The meaty aroma immediately filled the room as steam wafted off the still-hot food. Eos himself had moved to grab a green apple from his linen sack still sitting by Pandora's former resting place and bit into it. Sitting down between the two, he looked to Icarus then Pandora. "You wouldn't believe the walk i've had. I miss anything?"

The setting changes from District Gamma to The Nexus

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A wry smile curved one half of the Guildmaster's mouth, and he regarded the nobleman with some measure of good-natured amusement. Not the condescending sort; on the contrary, he was rather impressed. "Loki did say you were rather direct in your cleverness, but I must admit I did not expect to be asked such blunt questions. Allow me to answer just as pointedly. Your third query first: Taylor Chemicals does about a fourth of its business with the Guild directly, and approximately another ten percent indirectly. We are most satisfied with your products." A nod of acknowledgement, as though this were nothing more than a simple business discussion.

Then again, for the two of them, it really wasn't. Amon's 'business' was, he freely admitted to himself, being excessively nosy and having a hand in everything that happened in the city. In addition to the death, of course. a member of Parliament such as Lord Taylor had the responsibility of being much more publicly responsible for what was essentially the same thing- without the actual assassinations. "Your first question is one I cannot answer to any degree of completeness. At this time, I have absolutely no intention to end your life. Not only is it illegal, I perhaps ironically find it to be distasteful to kill someone for their knowledge. This is not to say, however, that I would under no circumstances consider it. Indeed, I did consider it- what you are privy to is one of the Guild's darkest secrets, and the most dangerous part is that your knowledge is incomplete- as is Eos's. However, I have been informed in no uncertain terms that choosing to do so would end the most lucrative alliance I possess, and I have no wish to do that, or as it is, to take the life of someone inclined in your particular direction."

Perhaps that was a little too much directness, but Amon did not much care for where he stood in relation to the man's sensibilities- business was business, after all. "The second question is the most difficult one, and in truth, I do not know if the Princess will succeed. She is, as I'm sure you have surmised, quite good at what she does, but she is far from infallible, and still young. I do not believe it impossible, though, and she has my full support in her bid."

Amon paused for a moment, as though deep in thought about something, and then inclined his head. "If you find that I have answered your questions to your satisfaction, I would ask but one of you- is there a way I might see your company's sales records for the past three months? If not, I merely wish to know if a certain set of chemicals have been purchased in a group: namely, the ingredients for a fast-acting neurotoxin and a citrus concentrate. It is my belief that these agents were used together to kill Adam Goldwater, and that the death was simply made to look like the work of a strangler of some kind. I am of a mind to bring together certain... resources to find the answer, but this piece as yet eludes me, and any assistance you might provide would be invaluable."

-=-
District Gamma

The girl was afraid, and Loki sighed inwardly. That had not been precisely her intention, but she had forgotten that what passed for mild intimidation amidst the wolves was probably a fair bit more horrifying within the flock, so to speak. A quaint reference, that, one she'd discovered in an old book. Sheep were raised in the domes, of course, but wolves, which had apparently been some kind of large canine, were on the earth below, if anything could survive down there.

Setting her cup down, Loki reached into a pocket within her breeches, withdrawing an envelope and sliding it onto the table between them. "I believe you, Scheherazade, truly. But I had to know for sure before I gave you this. I ask you to consider what is written on it without judgement, and to take it as a friend asking a favor. If you find the terms agreeable, I'm sure I will see you again soon."

The Princess rose gracefully to her feet and left then, without another word, leaving the redheaded girl to her thoughts and perhaps an interesting revelation or two.

-=-

Carlisle, Loki's usual bodyguard, was not idle in his time off, either. In actual fact, he was running errands for Amon today, though if he knew either of them (which he privately suspected he was in a better position to do than most), it was probably a joint effort anyway.

He exited the doctor's office with a sigh. The man himself had not been in the front of his office (though he might well have been in the back, as Carlisle hadn't really bothered to check), so he'd left the missive with the pretty girl who minded the desk. He looked down at the remaining two sealed envelopes, adorned with the royal crest, no less, and double-checked the address on the one. District Delta? Who would they want to send a message to all the way out there? It had a name on the front: Pandora Elling. Carlisle didn't recognize it, but he figured this Pandora person must be pretty important.

That one, he stuck underneath the door to a nondescript warehouse, having been told to be as discreet as possible with its delivery, and the last would be dropped off at Marchfield on his way back, at the receptionist's desk for one Mr. Giacomo Vernazza.

The setting changes from The Nexus to District Delta

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"I expect you will," Pandora informed Icarus brightly in answer to what was probably a rhetorical question. "Though magic does most of its work as quickly as I can direct it, the process is somewhat draining on the patient." Not nearly as much as it was on the physician, of course, but she wasn't going to bother him with that piece of information. Truthfully, she was being cautious more than anything. Though all his vital signs seemed fine and he was probably more than ready to stand and walk out of there, she wanted to make absolutely certain before she let him do that.

Which brought another rather troubling thought to mind. Where exactly would he go when he was fully recovered? If he was indeed a refugee of sorts, that meant he likely didn't have any established connections here, and thus nowhere to go. She didn't even know if he carried any currency that might buy him a room for a while. The healer pursed her lips; the obvious solution was to keep him here, but it wasn't as though she had a lot of extra resources to offer him, though... perhaps that would be normal.

Another question distracted her, and she shook herself from her short-lived reverie. "Well, if you don't count the domes- the Agriculture Domes where most of the city's food is grown are on the edges of the floating land- there are four districts. Alpha is in the center, but the center of that has a special name- it's called the Nexus. Then there's Beta, Gamma, and us, Delta. I lived in Alpha once, when I was still in school..." She seemed to zone out for a second, considering the best way to explain the Facility to someone who didn't know the history behind it, but she was spared the effort by Eos's reappearance.

The smell of the food hit her like a blow directly to the stomach, and she stared wide-eyed for a second. How had he possibly been able to afford all of this? Either the few days that had elapsed between his last visit to the clinic and the time he showed up to tend to the both of them had resulted in some very gainful employment, or... please tell me he didn't steal this. She was torn between the desire to ask and the fact that it would be extremely rude of her. She wanted to trust him, she really did, but she knew next to nothing of him.

One glance at how thin Icarus still was constituted enough to defer the question until he had eaten, at least. "Oh, we were just talking about the city," she replied, rising to her feet to retrieve what eating implements she owned. There were two bowls, a plate, and several spoons. That would do, she supposed. Returning with the items, Pandora handed a bowl each to Eos and Icarus, but stopped short of actually serving anything, her attention caught by a small movement in her peripheral vision. "Hm?"

She approached her door, crouching when she saw what appeared to be an envelope sticking out from beneath the rusted aluminum. The seal on the back was very official-looking, but she didn't recognize it immediately. She would have no reason to, after all. Eyebrows furrowed, she returned to her seat, breaking the seal with her index finger and pulling out a sheaf of weighty parchment. It smelled like libraries, collections of old books, much like the Facility, once you got past the scent that wafted up from the dungeons beneath.

Miss Elling,

It has come to my attention that you are a healer of some repute, and I have a task for which I would like to enlist your services. I cannot say more than that, for I myself do not know the name of the condition. If you would be so kind as to take the train to the Nexus this evening, I would be most pleased to meet you there and lead you to my home. This letter should get you past any difficulty you might encounter. Please take the enclosed sum as a gesture of my goodwill.

Sincerely yours,
A.G.


Sure enough, the letter contained a pair of gold coins, and Pandora gasped as they fell straight into her lap. "Oh my..." Currency this far out usually only appeared in copper, though there was a certain man who did business down here who was known to carry silvers. But gold? This was enough to run her clinic for months, with proper supplies and everything! The young woman swallowed thickly and handed the letter to Eos. "What do you make of that?" she asked softly. She had of course been hired by noblemen before, but never in a way that was quite so obscure or roundabout, and she was uncertain how she should handle it.

The setting changes from District Delta to Marchfield Laboratories

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Some time had passed since the city guard had distrubed Giacomo, he in the meantime had finished the paperwork and was, quite expectable, sleeping with his head on the desk. It had been a long time for him, he hated paperwork and yet he was forced to do so much of it, to him it was boring and harder work than backbreaking construction work, which he obviously favoured over any type of work exept designing and engineering. Having woken up from his sleep he picks up the letters and other paperwork and walks to his small office. There he notices that a letter has been shoved under the door, not unusual for the receptionist or for just about anyone in Marchfield who had some written information for him. It made him once again aware of the need of contructing a mailslot of some sort in the door. Giacomo opened the door and noticed that the letter was sealed with a stamp that he didn't recognise. He quickly put the paperwork on the desk and opened the letter.

Sir Vernazza, He read. It was obvious that whoever wrote this had business with VII and not with Giacomo in personal, since in that case it would still be Mister Vernazza instead of Sir Vernazza, but in his case since he had no employees it actualy meant the same. He continued to read:
Sir Vernazza,

We require your services in the maintainance of the steam elevator in the palace. Due to unforseen circumstances it requires extra maintainance, it seems the engine has failed due to an unknown cause and the elevator won't move at all. The timing however couldn't have been worse, tomorrow there will be a meeting in the palace on the top floor and it would be ashaming if the guests would have to use the stairs. So you'll understand that we require this problem to be fixed before tommorrow.

Sincerly yours,
A.G.


After reading the letter he thought: "Highly unusual for them to request something of this urgency, not to mention the fact that it seems to be written by Amon, his handwriting still hasn't changed, just as legends speak over his swordmanship. In any case, I'll have to hurry it's already close to the evening." Giacomo walked out of his office and locked the door, still holding the letter in one hand. He then walked out of Marchfield crumpeling the letter to a small ball as he walked.

The setting changes from Marchfield Laboratories to The Nexus

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#, as written by Arke
So his chemicals did have something to do with the assassin's guild. A grand total of 35% of his profit came from the assassins, so even if Taylor had been thinking about cutting them off he would risk bankruptcy. However, the less he knew about what the chemicals were used for, the better. After all, business was business- and he couldn't let his sense of justice get in the way of his profits- especially during these times when he needed the most to assist the Princess in securing Goldwater's seat and potentially tutoring a heir. He gave his own dry smile when Amon mentioned that he was planning to kill the young noble.

"I assure you, Sir Gregory, I will keep what I heard a secret. Also, you won't have to worry about my silence for long." He inclined his head. Moving on before the guildmaster could inquire about his last statement, he hastily pulled out a folder and studied them. "You may well understand, Sir Gregory, that our company deals with the assurance that most purchases are conducted with the privacy of the customer in mind. Unless you have valid search warrants from those of Martial authority that can be used in legal court I cannot allow you to personally view these records."

He nodded. "I will assist you any way I can, of course. Citric concentrates aren't sold, but rather the acid itself is sold. I'm breaking regulations here, but a unknown buyer purchased a unusually large amount of citric acid." He wrote something down on a slip of parchment. "However, neurotoxin ingredients are much harder to track. We don't specifically deal with them- most if not all of our venoms are handled very carefully, and all of it is sold to clinics as research for anti-venoms and the Marchfield Laboratories for additional research. If your suspect has purchased a neurotoxin, I can assure you with great confidence that the perpetrator will have some sort of link to the medical or scientific field." Looking through his files once more, he shook his head. "There are no outside purchases of ingredients or toxins outside of the medicinal areas and scientific areas these past three months."

He slid the papers back into his folder and placed them in his desk. He slid the paper over to Amon, and leaned back. "That is all I know, if it relates to Goldwater. I hope it has assis-"

Suddenly the noble experienced a fit of hysterical coughing. Hunching forward, he grabbed the canteen at his side and took a swig as his spasms subsided slightly. The physician was right. At this point, the medicine would have to be taken in much more regular doses in order to hide his symptoms. Looking up slightly, he realized he had regurgitated blood and stained the polished wood of his desk. He sighed inwardly. There was no hiding this from the assassin- lying would be laughable to one that was able to see through such fallacies.

"I trust... that you will not say a word to the princess." He said hoarsely. His calm, green eyes was blazing- a rare sight on the usually mellow nobleman.

District Beta

"Thank you... come again." The apprentice said, waving off a woman and a rather traumatized-looking child. Scowling at the back door, she walked over and opened it. The masked doctor was sterilizing the room. "Must you always be so frightening?" She asked, "The kid looks like he was pushed off the edge of the city!"

"I don't do well with children." He replied shortly.

"Whatever, but you've got yourself a letter, Master." She said, sighing. Etzel walked the length of the room and took the letter. "It's unmarked. I don't know who it is, but-"

"Hmm, sealed. Anthrax? No, they wouldn't be that obvious. Maybe some sort of gas- but it would diffuse out of the paper. She'd be dead. Unmarked is marked, seal of the killer. Perhaps a special paper? No, it feels and looks like regular mail."

"A-are you listening to me?" The apprentice asked rather hotly. "Oh, phooey!" She turned and stormed out.

Etzel had already held the letter at arm length and stabbed it with a syringe. No gases. No depressurization. No liquid. It was safe. Opening the letter, he began reading the contents.

Doctor,

Be at the Palace by tonight.

A.G


"Oh, okay."

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Amon regarded Taylor neutrally in the wake of his coughing fit. That certainly explained the earlier remark about timing. "Contrary to the impression I may have given, I do not make a habit of telling Loki things that she neither knows to ask for nor needs to know. I would however, recommend that you do not keep your own silence for much longer. It can only prove a detriment to your cause if you do not disclose what might become an obstacle to future plans," he pointed out adroitly. "However, I hardly think it my job to assure your success, so I will not press the point."

Pausing for a moment, Amon stood, collecting his sword from the ground and reattaching it to his side. "You have my thanks for your assistance, Lord Taylor. Though I myself am loath to be thought of as an errand-runner, my charge does occasionally forget this, and so I ask that you meet us in the Princess's receiving room this evening. The pieces of Goldwater's murder are being assembled, so to speak, and she believes you should know of it, should you have any wish to." The Guildmaster's tone conveyed very subtly, but clearly, that he might have been more inclined to leave Taylor out of the loop, but perhaps that was simply his ingrained penchant for secrecy talking. The fewer people who kept a confidence, the better, but this was Loki's affair as well as his own, and she had insisted.

-=-

Black-cloaked assassins were stationed around the palace, and each had been given a very specific directive: find a particular person and bring them to the proper room, with as few words as possible. Another man had been sent to the train station that terminated at the Nexus, better to guide the healer who should be approaching from that direction. All would be in possession of the same seal that had graced the letters the people in question had received, and would expect that to stem the tide of questions. All would be led to a room on the south side of the massive building, the guards posted along the way mysteriously unconcerned with their presence (a deft change of the watch schedule to include most of the Guild members with positions in the Palace Guard).

-=-
The Royal Palace

Loki sat with Amon to her left, an empty chair to her right, at a surprisingly humble table. She'd considered the possibility of using the throne room, or at least something marginally more impressive in terms of authority, but had decided that ultimately, any of that would be counterproductive. she was disinclined to sit upon her mother's throne, anyway, a mixture of loyalty and apprehension greater than she could name made the thought most unpalatable indeed.

She still could have staged the room a bit more, but she had not. All she wanted from these people at present were answers, and she knew that at least a few of them would be much more likely to give her those if she approached this as diplomatically as possible. She had a feeling that each of the people she had summoned had a vital piece of information, some of which she knew, others she did not. The important thing was placing them all together to see if they might somehow intuit connections with their own memories and knowledge.

The room itself was warm in feel, decorated primarily in rich reds and brown. It didn't have as many books as her office proper, but there were still a few shelves along one wall, but the space was currently predominated by the cherry-wood table at which she was stationed, and the evenly-sized chairs scattered around it. The Princess was out of her attire from earlier that afternoon and back in formal dress, but unlike before, she wore her weapons openly about her waist. the contrast amused her, and perhaps it would lend some variety of credence to her intent, should any of her guests prove better-assuaged with an assurance of the ability to act through more than one channel, so to speak.

Of course, there was also the distinct possibility that someone would prove hostile, and she wished to dissuade all such inclinations as much as possible without the necessity of bloodying her carpet.

-=-
The Nexus- Estate of David Gilgamesh

The one-eyed assassin eyed the red-haired nobleman with something approaching distaste. He sometimes wished someone else were both unscrupulous and stupid enough to utilize the unique service that he and his men offered, and would hire him to be rid of the vermin at the desk, but alas... it was unlikely he would like them any more than this one anyway.

It mattered little. The coin he was earning this way was more than enough to blind him to any manner of depravity, and at least Gilgamesh's was directed solely at his enemies, be they real or perceived. Azazel had no idea just how throughly he was being played like the five-stringed lute; it was almost laughable. Oh certainly, the little rebel was charismatic and passionate, but he lacked the real subtlety that Gilgamesh had, and for that reason, he would lose every time.

"Do it," the Duke ordered flatly, and the one-eyed man bowed silently before leaving, making a gesture interpretable only to the men he had hidden on the premises.

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It had been six months since Pandora had last seen District Alpha, six years since she'd been here for anything other than a visit to a patient. Education at the Facility finished for young magi at the age of seventeen, and she had been no different in this respect. Unlike most of her fellows, she had had cause to return.

Flanked by Eos and Icarus, the former of whom had wanted to come for reasons she had not inquired after, she stepped off the train line that terminated here at the Nexus. Icarus, she had brought along because he had expressed a desire to see the city, and it was not as though she was routinely welcomed up here, so she had seized the opportunity when it presented itself. She had resolved that if questioned on her company, she would claim that they were both her assistants- certainly an odd trio they made, but then it would probably be written off as the strangeness of Delta folk and ignored thenceforth. She didn't much fancy the idea of lying, but... when the truth could possibly get them arrested, she was willing enough to do it.

Before she had much time to wonder about where she was supposed to go, she was met by a woman dressed all in black, who appeared to be in her late thirties or so. "Pandora Elling?" she rasped, her voice clearly largely unused.

"Y-yes," Pan managed to stammer, and nodded when the woman held up a device with a seal engraved upon it- the same one as on the letter. Casting a dubious look at the two individuals in her company, the woman appeared to choose to ignore them, and simply set off further in towards the center of the city. The healer hastened to follow, taking a stride and a half from every one of the much taller woman's.

The architecture here really was extraordinary, a precise combination of science and artistry that left the young mage in awe every time she saw it. The buildings were all so tall, stretching skyward as if to challenge the moon itself. More impressive even than that, though, was the fact that nearly every road was lined with real, honest-to-goodness trees. You never saw trees in the outer districts; the air was much to polluted and the building far too close together for any such plant life to survive of have space.

As they wandered further and further in, she could see the Royal Palace coming into view. Of all the buildings in this place, there was no question that the Queen's abode was the most beautiful, all exact angles and sweeping arches, vaulted ceilings and stained windows, a veritable gleaming gem set in the very center of the city itself. Her patient must be quite well-off indeed, to live so close to this marvel of a structure.

When they reached the front gates and were admitted, Pan swallowed thickly, her wonderment turning swiftly to nervousness. "Um... are you sure this is the right place?" she ventured cautiously, receiving a curt nod for her trouble. The only people who lived within these walls full-time were the blood relatives (and those related by direct marriage) of Queen Minerva herself. Was it truly possible that she had been called to treat such a one? She was assaulted by a sick apprehension that roiled uncomfortably in her uncharacteristically-satiated stomach.

Through the twists and turns of seemingly-endless hallways were they led, until they reached a rich wooden door that was probably worth more than Pan's entire warehouse. The thought was an intimidating one, and she tentatively turned the knob and stepped inside.

Seated within were two people at the head of a table. The first, Pan thought was probably the most beautiful woman she had ever seen. She looked like a gracefully-carved statue or something, with rich, dark hair. There was something inherently unreadable about her face, and even to the intuitions afforded her by magic, the woman in the black dress was a rather imposing mystery. She suddenly felt very out-of-place indeed; more than she usually did amidst nobility, even, because there was something about this woman that just exuded flawless control and the slightest hints of intimidation.

The man next to her was dignified in posture and appearance, maybe in his fifties from the lines on his face and the gray to his hair. He was dressed similarly to the woman who led him here, and she had the sneaking suspicion that he was A.G. If so, she could sense no malady from him, which worried her a great deal. The cast of his face was a tad friendlier than the woman's though, and so it was to him she gave the expectant look of a child who does not quite know what to do.

The man smiled slightly, and gestured to the chairs around the large table. "Miss Elling, yes? You... and yours... may take a seat. Everything will be explained momentarily." If he was surprised by the extra company he did not show it, though she knew that his eyes followed not her, but another as she entered with tentative steps and heeded his advice, selecting a chair to the left side of the table, closer to the man than the woman.

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#, as written by Arke
The young nobleman smiled slightly at Amon's response. it was a matter of pride- asking for help of any kind is viewed as a sign of weakness in the court unless the situation changes the meaning. He had the money, and the power- if he wasn't able to control this without help he would be viewed as young as well as powerless. A more cynical excuse was that Taylor hated the current situation of Revelation- and quite honestly if he wasn't able to start a change he didn't want to be living on the floating city any longer. His frequent trips and attempts to restore the slums of Delta and Gamma has left imprints of starved faces going about business like autonomous shells. To be honest, they haunted the young man. If this disease was the result of his mingling among the sharp toxins of Delta, he would gladly suffer what effects it may have to have a general idea of how they lived. It aided speech making, and made his honesty more apparent when dealing with Parliament- the mass of ignorant fools that deals with fallacies and self-interest. He debated going to Loki and canceling the search for a heir- one mistake and the child would grow up to be just like one of them. He'd rather all his fortune go back to the throne.

"I will be at the palace tonight. Thank you for your message, Sir Gregory." He replied when the Guildmaster relayed the Princess' message to him. He was only a small pawn, despite his status. He had no intention of knowing the details behind Goldwater's death, unless it helped him dig out more information regarding the poison used to assassinate the man. At this point, Taylor was fairly sure that he didn't need to know anymore.

Gregory exited without a sound- impressive because the door really needed a new oiling on the hinges. He debated whether he should express his concerns about his life to the Princess. At this point, he couldn't divulge this information- it would only show to weaken his already small voice. He needed it to back the Princess in parliament when she decided to run for a seat. If she could secure a seat, no doubt she'll be able to learn the ways of the politician- and Taylor could relax. He wiped the bodily fluid off the desk and turned to look out the window to a gray chemical factory. The sad thing was for the poor noble was that he resigned himself to fact that he was going to die soon. He should begin writing some sort of will so his workers get reimbursement. With his death, Taylor Chemicals would drop and people would be laid off for a short while.




The syringes he hid on his body remained unfound as the guards regarded the masked doctor curiously. He shouldn't have gotten in this easily, but he was fairly certain Amon might have had something to do with this. Unless, of course, the man wanted him dead. Suddenly, the paranoid doctor began looking around for spots to avoid, escape routes, and debated hotly whether to test any food offered to him for poisons. Out loud, of course.

As the others might have grew to realize this man may not be altogether in the head, Etzel moved over to a indistinct area of the room where he had a clear view of the happenings. The princess sat, and he recognized Amon to her left. As he looked around, he noticed Pandora Elling, the strange beggar, and a kid enter the room. Strange- the invited residents of Delta to something like this? He was about to go down and harass the beggar for touching his mask, but decided better of it. He still hadn't figured out a nice escape route if Amon suddenly called an arrow storm on his position. First, he would duck behind the pillar to his left, and possibly kill a pursuing assassin attempting to finish off the weakened target. What next? He would be pinned down by archers. He talked to nobody but himself, but the rather sparse area provided him with some space in which to act insane without much outside knowledge. The tinted lens hid his eye movement as he observed each attendee for potential weapons. He noted that a rather gaunt-looking nobleman carried an epieu not-so-subtly.




The gathering was rather calm, and in quite a small place when regarding the size of the palace itself. He didn't question Loki, nor did he approach her- after all, the one time he met her was in private. However, if he caught her eye he would blink slowly, then walk away. He made sure he had taken a dose of his poultice before leaving for the palace, and he had his canteen completely filled before he had arrived. Gilgamesh was present, but he ignored him. Unless he was speaking, there was no reason to confront the man.

He quickly took a seat and tried to look inconspicuous. Even in the palace, which was supposedly warmer he felt rather chilled. There were few people, and he recognized very few of them himself.

The setting changes from The Nexus to The Royal Palace

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Icarus was lost among all of the notions. He had interpreted Pandora's explanations with all the attention and focus he could spare, but they still came across as backwards and strange. From what she had told him, Icarus understood that they were in the poorest and most decrepit district. This much made sense. There was also a classist attitude shared towards this district by the higher ones, limiting their travel to the outer areas. That was clear. But he was lost to the whirl of events when Pandora received a letter that superseded the social laws and allowed her to travel directly to the heart of the city, all the while offering a generous donation of gold to encourage her attendance. And he was to join her.

The young Fleeter regarded his invitation as a boundlessly generous act of pity. Perhaps, because the mage had found him, she felt obligated to watch and guide Icarus. While this behavior seemed sensible, he had never personally seen it done before. Even his own parents had never seemed obligated to raise or know him, so the kindness he'd seen from Pan was still largely foreign.

It was the opportunity to go out and to see the city that made Icarus willing to accept the gracious offer, and by the time they set out he was in an only mildly cleaner condition than before. Pandora had spared him a sanitation spell earlier that day, and the result was a fair color of skin that he never knew he had. The large, elastic-like jacket that Icarus wore was buttoned to the top, covering his bandaged form and adding a twinge of secrecy to his otherwise innocent figure. His olive eyes were plain and took in the sights with a careful and silent consideration for all that they meant.

Then Eos joined them. The Fleeter's suspicion, a result of his great empathy, was that this was a ploy to establish himself as Ms. Elling's most viable suitor before Icarus could. The attitude that the otherwise generous vagabond had shown up to this moment could point to nothing less. Though Icarus had no conscious intention of filling that role himself, he felt somewhat challenged by Eos' constant presence. If ever they were to walk together, or to sit on a train, he always seemed to situate himself directly between the Fleeter and Pan. It was a passive maneuver that spoke much louder than words: Get out of the way, shorty.

Icarus couldn't be too bothered by the lack of balance in their party, as much as he was distracted by the sheer sensory overload that was Revelation. The people were strange, the buildings extraordinary, and the trains... Well, he'd never seen a train before. However, the most startling thing Icarus saw was the definite shift between the districts of the city. He saw a Deltapause, a Betapause, and eventually an Alphapause: an unsettling band of merging structures that outlined the broken city. It was an odd sight, given that from below, the city always looked like a single large being. The great casts of iron and the shimmering brown belly of Revelation was seamless. From below, there were no borders and classes. Just heaven.

When the trio made its way deeper into Alpha, led by their older female guide, Icarus finally saw the brightest and flawless structures of the city. Eos' dialogue on the train had prepared him for a wealth of upturned noses and snobbish glares, but it seemed that no one in this region could even spare them a glance. The highest class was far too busy to acknowledge them. Still, more eye-catching than the people was the fact that this district was host to an entire fleet of airships. From time to time the hum of such aircraft would litter the air and Icarus would lose himself to their glory. The very idea of such propulsion put his Balloonship to shame.

After some time it became clear to the Fleeter that they weren't in just any fancy structure. The abundance of guards and the sheer quality of the architecture hinted that this was a place reserved for only the finest citizens. This was a palace of government. At this rate Icarus was calm, but inside there was a fear. Pan had called his people something. What was it? Refugees? Exiles? Up to this point Icarus had no reason to place himself against them and judge the difference, but it occurred to him that maybe he even looked like a refugee. Perhaps there was an inherent flaw in his appearance that made him stand out and that would identify him as an intruder. Perhaps he would be made to leave.

If for no reason else, this was the reason for the cold sweat that had broken out on Icarus' forehead when they had come to sit in the same room with two very official looking individuals. An armed woman, an example of beauty rivaled only by Pandora in his recent memory, sat beside the most accomplished looking man he had ever seen. This individual had achieved enough in his life to smile at this very moment, while Icarus was absolutely terrified. Sheepishly following Pan, he took a seat just one space away from her, so that Eos might separate them once more.

The setting changes from The Royal Palace to The Nexus

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The evening was setting in, as Giacomo made his way to the palace. To save time he took backstreets that one normally would avoid when the sun was under. The few streetlights that stood along those streets didn't do much more than make the streets look scarier. The metal tools in his pockets crashed against eachother as Giacomo hastenly made his way to the palace, through the nearly empty streets. Avoiding the market streets was always a good idea if you needed to go somewhere fast, as even in the evening those streets were crowded, but taking the route less traveled also meant meeting the more shady side on the population, and Giacomo wasn't armed. Fortunatly the others on these streets didn't seem to pay much attention to Giacomo and many didn't even bother to look away from the stones that they were walking on.

After a long walk to the palace he was stopped at the entrance, not too surprising, but these were no ordinary gaurds. They were clothed in black, like the guilds assasins. "Giacomo Vernazza, I presume?" the one in front of him asked as he showed a seal, exactly the seal that had been on the letter. Giacomo had no idea what was going on, and nodded as an answer to the question. He was on edge, as one would expect. Things were just so, uncommon. First the strange letter, written by Amon about the elevator in the palace, something he had no bussiness with, and now these men, obviously amons assasins. The man in front of him waved him to follow. Seeing this as the best option, given that he is standing against armed assasins, he follows the man.

The man led him to a small room of the palace, there he saw many familiar faces. The doctor from Delta, the baloon boy, Amon Gregory and ofcourse princess Loki, who wouldn't recognise her. He looked at the setup of the room and decided to take a seat next to the doctor, which would seat him right in front of Amon. He looked through the room, it was quite stylish, not realy his taste. But then again there wouldn't be many who'd like his interior either.

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#, as written by Smith
Alright Eos, stay calm. You're just overthinking this. the odd trio walked across Alpha with a distance surrounding them. It was much too obvious that they were not of 'proper' stock. An estranged look here, a sneer there, although not particularly dauntng they added up. Eventually even the man who sent other scurrying back into their holes with a glance was writhing under his skin--and the scrutiny. Thankfully, Pandora led them to the palace in short order. The guard at the door irked Eos some more, the audacious woman making Pandora squirm.

Inside, familiar scents and sights hit him much harder than he would have thought. So many memories came flooding back, images coming to mind unbidden. Too many. Taking up the rear of their little procession Eos took a shuddering breath and squeezed his hands into tight fists. Don't think about it. The past is the past. It wouldn't have happened that way if it wasn't meant to be. somehow that felt hypocritical. At this very moment he was using an old teaching that his master had repeated several times when the younger Eos came back from a failed mission.

Now, a bit of wisdom he had repressed through binge drinking and lazing about in a drunken haze for the past several years was helping to cope with the death of some whom the person who had taught said wisdom basically killed. Irony. It's a bitch sometimes, Eos thought sullenly. Dark thoughts began creeping past the inner mantra the Hand tried to shield his mind with, threatening to absorb Eos in a self-depricating stupor once more when they stopped walking. Eos didn't realize this until he bumped into Icarus. "Sorry," the taciturn man said while looking around the room.

Odd to meet people here, he thought. Nobles usually preferred small rooms with overly large tables, conspiratorial papers stack high and half-naked young boys serving exotic foods. Well, they could always tear off Icarus's shirt and fill that position. Despite the depraved notion it actually made Eos snicker. Still taking in his surroundings, Eos almost cried out when he saw the freakishly masked man from the clinic sitting not too far away. More inspection would have been warranted but the unsettling body language Icarus expressed led him to believe he was uncomfortable with...something...the fact that he separated himself from their lady companion attested to at least one of these factors.

So, the darker skinned of the three took his seat inbetween Pandora and Icarus. Or, at least he would have, if his eyes weren't glued to who else sat at the table. The girl from prison. Little queen in training...still looked too much like Minerva for anything but contempt, yet she did save him from a possible hanging or numerous rounds of torture. That meant something at least. Yet it was not the princess who warranted his rapt attention. It was the cleanly-dressed blight of a man at Loki's side. Eos froze, taking time to do something he rarely did when faced with an obstacle: Think.

That lasted all of two seconds before the former Hand of Tartarus snapped. Reaching back, Eos caught the back of the heavy oaken chair in a white-knuckle grip and sent it sailing across the table towards Amon with seemingly effortless ease. Eos leapt on to the table after it, completely ignoring all other guests in the room and making a mad dash for the bastard who had destroyed what pittance of a life he had shared with Selene. Two feet from the edge the pugilist vaulted into the air to bring down his heel in a vicious kick that would splinter wood and bone alike, aiming to shatter Amon Gregory's ribs in a gory mess.

The setting changes from The Nexus to The Royal Palace

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Amon watched Loki's visitors file in, one by one, admittedly quite surprised that there was such a variety. In some senses, if all of these people were needed to solve it, Goldwater's murder had been as close to the perfect crime as one could commit within the bounds of the city. Very few people would have the willingness and knowledge to consult such varied parties in their search for the answers.

There was of course Etzel, who Amon had summoned to both explain the poisoning agent they were likely looking at as well as contribute to any discussions of purchases made from Taylor Chemicals or suspicious activity in Marchfield. The latter, he gathered, was what the scientist was doing here. He was mildly interested by this, as Loki rarely gave scientists the time of day due to their (oftentimes) "long-winded and inefficient natures." He supposed she'd picked one she could deal with, or one that would keep his mouth shut.

Lord Taylor was in attendance as well, but the next group he had to admit he had not quite been expecting. Miss Elling herself was not exactly what he expected a respected Delta healer t look like. For one, she was a good deal... younger than he was expecting. But that wasn't even it, not really. It was the fact that she seemed so very... bright. Amon had met a number of mages, and without fail they were bitter or at the very least discontent. This ash-haired wisp of a woman seemed happier than she had any cause to be.

Behind her filed in a youth of in Amon's estimation not yet two decades. He looked much like a Delta denizen as well, and he stuck rather close to Pandora, leading him to believe that they were acquainted. He seemed inclined to take everything in with fascination, and perhaps more than a little wariness, much as a thief caught in a larder, or perhaps just a child where he well-knew he was forbidden to be. Strangely, the lad left a seat between himself and the young lady, and Amon's eyes instinctively flicked towards the door, following the man who entered with a hawk-like intensity.

He leveled the briefest of looks at Loki, whose expression informed him in no uncertain terms that she had not planned for this. Good; it would have been foolish to do so. Eos knew only half the truth, and that half was more than enough that it was quite likely he would-

Amon vacated his chair quickly, as the one Eos had thrown flew in his direction. Sighing inwardly, he caught it and set it down again, not having much desire to see the room destroyed. His former pupil's foot followed, but the Guildmaster simply was not there when it landed. The man had spent a lifetime perfecting his art, and had never once permitted himself to fall out of practice. Eos, from what he had gathered, spent much of his time in an intoxicated state, picking fights with sons of Beta that could no better wield a blade than the average Guild recruit.

"Come now, Eos, surely you see the futility of this?" he questioned, circling the man where he had landed. The truth of the matter was, Amon had both hoped for and dreaded this particular meeting, and it could not have come at a more inopportune moment. There were the other people in the room to be considered, after all, and the information he had hoped to give the former Hand was not something he wished to make common knowledge of. He did not draw his sword for two reasons: first, he did not wish to kill the very same person he had worked so hard to set free, and second, he didn't need it to pose a significant threat.




Loki hadn't really needed to wait for the flying chair to guess what would happen. Eos had nearly strangled her for resembling her mother, and she doubted that hatred was one-tenth what he felt for Amon. Still, when the fight did begin, she pinched the bride of her nose with a weariness she disliked showing, and turned to the others. "I advise you not to move." Despite the tone, it was very clearly an order, save to Taylor, who was free to interpret it as a request, and the Assassin-doctor, who worked for Amon, not herself.

They were still one short, and Loki was concerned that Scheherazade wasn't going to show up. If she'd really been casing the residence next door to the place the murder had occurred at almost exactly the same time, she had to have seen something useful, but the princess needed her to attend here in order to better understand what questions to ask of her. There was also the matter of who she was- but no. It would be beyond even what Loki was willing to do to use her in that way. Not now, at any rate.

She turned her attention back to the confrontation. Not even she was privy to the full version of the tale that had transpired between the two men, though she had been told enough to know that not all was what it seemed in this respect. She just hoped whatever happened, they'd get it over with, and soon. There was a city at large to be considered, and she had no desire to waste anyone else's time, besides.

The setting changes from The Royal Palace to Revelation

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#, as written by Smith
Without any sort of shoe or boot to cover his feet, the impact that followed would have pained most men to the point of immobility. Technique was key in his training however, and Eos rolled on the ball of his foot to redirect the flow of force and shifted into a stance in which he stood solely on his leading leg with both arms held parallel with the floor. Two hunks of velvety fabric and splintered wood lay on either side of the instegator of the conflict, what remained of Amon's seat. So many things were running through the young man's head that it was hard to tell that there was any sort of coherant thought at all...but Amon's words gave him focus.

"Come now, Eos, surely you see the futility of this?" Eos fell in to a crouch and sprung at Amon with hands bared in claws. The jump fell short by design, and the Hand slapped both palms against the floor, shifting his weight to bring both legs around in a series of spinning kicks. The Guildmaster hopped backward before the attacks even got close, but Eos was not deterred. With fluid grace that felt as if it had never left him, Eos slid back to his feet and launched a flurry of striking palms and bone-breaking elbows that should have laid any man low ten times over. And despite Amon not being just any man, nor was Eos just any street urchin.

Amon's form was flawless, both legs braced perfectly as his upper body worked in a blur to block, disrupt and redirect the rain of blows that fell upon him. One after another Eos's strikes were rendered useless or simply flung wide, and he struggled to keep up the Guildmaster's speed. That was the one thing Amon had always had over Eos in terms of physical ability. It didn't matter how strong his attacks were, how precise or solid, they meant nothing if the opponent could react appropriately. As the rage built with every foiled attack Eos grew less and less wary, his eyes scanning Amon's defense frantically searching for some chink in the armor.

It was a shock when the room spun from floor to ceiling and back again. Amon cluthed his former student's hand and leaned to the side, allowing Eos's own momentum to flip him over the makeshift fulcrum and slam the younger fighter into the ground with a loud smack. Eos was face-down on the floor in a hunched over position with Amon holding his arm behind him in an iron vice. He tried to push up, but Amon jerked the captured limb, threatening to break it at the shoulder. That might have mattered if Eos valued his life a little more. The man surged up with every once of strength he could muster, threatening to topple Amon as his arm began to snap when Eos felt the Guildmaster's other hand press against the base of his skull. Now, Eos paused. With one quick thrust Amon could have him on the ground again unconcious, or maybe even damage his brain with the jab.

From behind, Eos heard Amon's voice, still smooth and silibant. Those listening intently may have heard the level tone quaver for a moment. "Are you quite done?"

Gritting his teeth, Eos realized for the first time since seeing Amon again that there were others in the room. Unable to move his head the loser was forced to speak aloud. "Quite."

The hands binding him slowly withdrew, leaving Eos to rub the slightly stretched muscles in his shoulder. He turned to meet Amon face to face. A smirk found it's way to his lips as he saw the Guildmaster favoring his right hand, the one he had placed upon Eos's neck. Something was probably broken, he thought triumphantly, when Amon was parrying. Without another word or even a second glance Eos made his way back around the table to stand in the vacated spot between Pandora and Icarus. His eyes shifted from Amon to Loki, finally choosing to rest on the later. No apology for the disruption was offered.

His breath was no longer a feverish panting, and Eos was fairly calm now. He had wounded Amon. When this meeting was over, he would have an advantage when he next attacked. The fact that Amon was ambidexterous slipped Eos's mind.

The setting changes from Revelation to The Royal Palace

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Pan's eyes went saucer-wide when Eos flung the chair across the room, following swiftly after it. she opened her mouth to say something- what, she had absolutely no idea- but the dark woman silenced her with flat words that made little sense to the healer. Don't move? They're trying to kill each other! How could the rest of them be expected to sit there and do absolutely nothing at all.

Still, there was something about the way it was said, about the fact that the woman's uncanny eyes followed every motion without discernible proof that she felt anything about it, that threw Pan off just enough for her to settle uncomfortably back in her seat, worry etched over her youthful face. She had to admit, she had never expected that Eos was this skilled. When he had showed up at her clinic the first time (and on subsequent occasions), he was always quite badly wounded. Granted, it was not as though he appeared to actually feel the pain he should, but that she had attributed to a mixture of alcohol and acclimation. She had not expected whatever this was, and to be honest, she was a little frightened by it. What kind of people needed to know so much about how, when, and where to strike?

If Eos worried her, she was thoroughly petrified by the other man, who had seemed so genial and dignified upon her entrance here. Certainly, there was something intimidating even in that, but the fact that he was not in the slightest fazed by what had thrown her for a loop suggested that he had known what was coming, and been so calm anyway. What in Elisia's name was she doing here in the first place?

With movement almost too perfect for her to track, the confrontation ended, and Eos returned to his seat as though nothing had happened at all. Pan realized she'd been gripping the edge of the table, white-knuckled, and slowly eased her grip on the innocent wood.




Scheherazade did not much enjoy being late, but the moment she'd seen the black-cloaked figure waiting at her usual entrance point into Alpha, she'd known that getting where Eris had directed her to go was going to be difficult. That was most definitely an assassin, and as a criminal, Zade had no desire whatsoever to run into one of those.

Sneaking around was something of a forte of hers, but it was what assassins were trained for, and so she knew she had to be as careful as possible. When she'd first read the note, she'd been confused, then disbelieving, but it was the last line that had really done it.

Trust me.

Against her own better judgement, perhaps, Zade did hold some measure of trust for the older woman, and truly there wasn't quite enugh cynicism in the girl yet that she wouldn't do a favor for one of the few friends she had, even if said friend was asking her to meet at a specified room in the Royal bloody Palace of all things. Of course, when Zade had read the word "meet," she had naturally assumed that she was to remain unseen, and so the fact that the assassin was actually supposed to be her guide was completely lost on her.

It took some work, but she managed to get past the gate without incident. She knew she couldn't well just march into the building; she'd have to scale it and find the right window. Sticking to the hedges that lined parts of the building's facade, she privately thought that it would be a really interesting challenge to get to the top, but unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for her health should she have tried), the specified place was on the second floor.

Counting windows as she passed, she figured it would probably be one of the closed ones, since they probably didn't want any of the guards knowing what was going on. Lucky for people like the thief, buildings in this part of town tended to favor the aesthetic over the practical, which meant handholds aplenty if you knew how to look. With great care, she made it to the window she guessed was her destination and climbed onto the jutting sill, sliding the thing open and clambering inside.

She had closed the window and turned around before she had the distinct impression that she was very, very dead. Sharp golden eyes scanned the room warily, at last landing on Eris's face, only... Zade uttered an oath usually only heard in the worst bars in Gamma. With the very discernible manner of a trapped animal, she considered hauling the window open and making a break for it, but something told her she would not be successful at this. Eris was regarding her neutrally, and Zade glared at her.

Trust you? Trust you indeed. Still, it looked like there was little chance of escape. Maybe that was what the old man with the bum wrist had tried? Gritting her teeth, Zade selected a chair that placed her back to the window, well away from everyone else. "Sorry I'm late," she ground out, still warily eying everyone in the room. She was surprised to discover that she recognized a few faces- that was the doctor who she'd seen but that morning, and the blonde woman matched a vague description she had of Pandora Elling, whose name was well-known by people who risked grievous injury on a daily basis. She looked scared out of her mind, and frankly Zade wasn't sure that was entirely unreasonable at this point.

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Amon returned to his chair, but not before dropping into a courteous bow. "Apologies, friends. I had rather expected that Miss Elling would be alone." His smile was pleasant, but imperfect, as it did not quite meet his eyes. Even as he retook his seat, knowing that this confrontation was far from over, he heard the sound of a window opening behind him and turned slightly in his seat. Loki had not mentioned that her last guest was capable of passing his men without attracting attention- and that was something that certainly warranted his.

"Sorry I'm late," the young woman offered waspishly, but he could detect the undercurrent of uncertainty in it. It was far from his place to do anything about it, however, and so he remained silent.

Loki did not. "Of course, Scheherazade, have a seat." She gestured at an empty chair before turning to meet the group at large. "Right... now that we have all becalmed ourselves for the moment, I believe it would be most prudent to inform you of why all of you are really here. My apologies for the deception; a necessary evil, to ensure both your attendance and safety. There are those who would rather the information you carry does not reach any degree of completion, and it would have remiss of me to indicate that I knew you had it."

She tapped her fingertips on the table but thrice, something of an odd contemplative habit of hers. she was scarcely aware of it, but it indicated to the man beside her that she was trying to think of the best way to phrase her thoughts. "For those of you that do not know, my name is Loki Blackwood." the name would automatically associate itself with the appropriate title, so she saw no need to bring it up. "I have summoned you here because a man named Adam Goldwater was murdered, and I believe that each of you is in some way connected to it. The facts are not simple, but I shall do my best to make them so: The Marquis was murdered in his estate by method of an unknown poison, a neurotoxin. It was, however, made to appear as though he were strangled..." here, her eyes at last met Eos's persistent ones, but they quickly moved on. "Only a few people know that this was not the case, but we still have no idea who committed the crime nor how the poison was made or obtained.

There are, of course, a limited number of places with the resources necessary to manufacture such a product, but my supposition is that it took place within the Marchfield laboratories. I do not, as of yet, have any information that confirms this. But between the rest of you, I think, it can be found. I would like it if you could all tell me exactly what you know of it. I assure you that if compensation is what you seek, it will be done."

With that, the princess leaned back in her chair, steepling her fingers thoughtfully, waiting for someone to begin.

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Giacomo followed the fight between Amon and the crazy man with an analyzing eye, though Amon was considdered to be the most prominent fighter in Revelation he seemed to have been hurt in the fight, wilst his opponent didn't have anything, but a minor exhaustion. Making him conclude that he was holding back, a lot. Then as Loki explained the situation he remembered the city gaurd that had disturbed him earlier this day. They basically had the same question, where did the poison that fatalized Goldwater come from. Again Marchfield was placed directly in the firing lines, wilst he would more likely set his money of the guild to be origin. Though the fact that Amon was present and sitting next to Loki made a clear statemtn that he didn't have anything to do with it.

Giacomo cleared his throat and then spoke: "I, as a scienstist from Marchfield with a relativly high clearance, haven't heard anything about a poison being manufactured in Marchfield, and we sciensits aren't realy secretive around colleages. I have some close connections with a group of scientists that work closely with the physicians to make anti-poisons and am well aware that many of those anti-poisons are poisonous in itself, but none would be able to kill without leaving very clear post-mortum syptoms, nor would they be fast in poisoning their victim. Giving the victim more than enough time to visit a physician, even in the final stage of the poisoning. So I presume that they aren't involved with this." His voice was calm and reasoning, as one would expect from a scientist, and the entire time as he spoke his eyes were directed at Loki.

He then turned his eyes towards Amon and continued to speak: "However, there also is a small group of scientists from the weapons development department that use the below surface laboratoria and are closely work together with the members of the guild. I've never been in those laboratoria, as my machines are always build in the ground floor halls, due to their size, but what I hear about it they are moslty working on balancing weapons to perfection and developing gear. Though I don't think it's the full story, I just don't have the time to see it for myself. However there is someone present that should have a good understanding of what happens down there." He was obviously meaning Amon with that last sentance, but he didn't want to go as far as to ask it directly.

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Pandora followed the discussion as best she could, but so many of the names involved were unknown to her, and truthfully she was still a little overwhelmed by the fact that her hostess was none other than the heir to the crown. So puzzled was she that most of what Mr. Vernazza was talking about missed her completely, though she did regain enough of her faculties to speak next.

"Underground laboratories... um, I might be able to help with that," the healer stated sheepishly. "Er, that is... as most of you know, I'm a healer in District Delta, but my magical leanings are also partially metaphysical and..." she paused, trying to sort her thoughts into an order that would make some semblance of sense to anyone else. "I recently treated a patient that had been poisoned, you see. The good doctor was there, and I really know nothing about chemicals, so he's probably the one to ask about that, but... the thing is, I saw a laboratory without windows, and it smelled like citric acid or some kind. Well, at least that's what the doctor told me it was. I just smelled strawberries."

Her lack of proper terminology was beginning to embarrass her. It figured that she was in front of these important people and couldn't manage to sound like much more than an inarticulate child. "The two people working on it seemed to be hesitant for anyone else to discover them, even down there, so I think maybe it's being done in secret?" She flicked a glance around the room, half-expecting to be thrown out at any second, though why, she was only vaguely-conscious of. Contrary to this, the older gentleman who had fought with Eos was looking rather encouragingly at her, though she wasn't certain if this was a good thing or not. "Unfortunately, that's all I could see. Sound was difficult, so..."

"Did you see a face?" the assassin (for surely that was what he must be) asked, and she shook her head.

"Nothing so useful as that, I'm afraid. Magic is... tricky, sometimes."




"I saw a face," Zade murmured from her seat at the opposite end of the table. "Not the same one, obviously, but now that I get to thinking about it..." the thief hesitated; she had little desire to reveal her chosen profession to the room at large, but then she figured if the bloody Princess already knew, it probably wasn't that secret anyway.

"I... steal things, occasionally, from nobles. I happened to be working the estate next door the night Goldwater was killed. Place was a bloody uproar afterwards, too, and I have no doubt those damn guards thought I was the killer." She sounded disgusted, and rightfully so. Zade left the killing to people who had a taste for it- she rather preferred her day job, thank you very much.

"Well, I didn't think much of it at the time, seeing as how I was busy running for my life and all that-" her hand hovered over her upper arm, but she did not touch it- "but there was a man there, nearby. Black cloak and all. I didn't think much of it at the time, since I had no idea anyone had just died, and really you see assassins all over the place in Gamma. I remember him, though, because he had only one eye." She shrugged. "No idea who he is, and I'd never seen him before, and haven't since, but he was there."

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#, as written by Arke
"Underground laboratories. Weapons. Hmm, sounds like a nice place. I wonder if I could get clearance. Yes. Perhaps a sneak of the happenings- could be very useful. Would need more subjects- Rats. More rats." Etzel muttered to himself the entire time. When Pandora mentioned him indirectly, he looked up, broken from his ramblings. He decided to pay attention for once. His fingers quietly tapped the table. He didn't like it here. It was too small, few points to escape. Though his apprentice didn't know it, there are exactly thirty-three different points of exit throughout his small clinic in Beta. Suddenly the girl, Zade, finished speaking about the situation at the dead Marquis' manor. He had giggled when Zade gave the murderer's description. He realized most of the attention had turned to him.

"Oh yes. I was present in Ms. Elling's Clinic when a man, garbed in cloth from Beta or Alpha stumbled in. By her request, she kept him stable while I developed a suitable antipoison while taking a swab of his blood where the poison made it's point of entry near the navel area and mixed it with other reactants to check the acidic levels. I was lead to believe that it was some sort of corrosive poison due to the man's synapses firing erratically causing abnormal body movement while our healer kept his body fairly inert which was a surprise considering most neurotoxins are no produced anywhere but Alpha. This man took far longer to die in comparison to Goldwater, which I suspect had a much more concentrated amount of poison injected in him if it took him that long. This man had a scentless, diluted amount of toxin to test rather than outright kill. I don't know whether the perpetrator has confirmed that the target survived but I am sure that they are the same person regarding the similarities between the two poisons due to the inherent incapacitating nature and the mark-less corpse save for point of entry. I have gathered several possible candidates based on my limited knowledge- Jellyfish Poison found in the Laboratories, Tobacco Leaf Extract from the Laboratories, Cyanide and Cyanogen from the Chemical Plants, Gem Leaf Extract from the Laboratories, and... and... That's right, the Dart Poison Extract from the frogs in the Labs."

He didn't particularly care if everyone understood what he was talking about. He couldn't explain any further anyways, his mind worked too fast to slow it down for others that couldn't comprehend it, though he had a slight feeling most of the understood some of what he was talking about.

He contemplated standing up and leaving at this point, but unless Amon or the Princess dictated it he was stuck here, fiddling with his hands and table and looking around uncomfortably.




Growing up with chemicals meant that Taylor understood what the masked doctor was talking about. He was rather impressed that he was able to concoct a counter-poison so quickly after a patient had stumbled in half-dead from the toxin itself.

"I can assure all of you," He said after the doctor had finished, "That no Cyanogen has been manufactured- and all Cyanide has been tracked from the production line to the destination." He realized some might not know who he is. Bowing his head slightly, he smiled warmly. "I am Caelin Taylor- Head of Taylor Chemicals dealing with most ingredients volatile and inactive." He paused. "There has been no record of manufactured Cyanide going anywhere besides large Clinics and the Laboratories regarding research." He sat back. There was little he could contribute to the conversation, so he simply conceded with that point.

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The princess had chosen to sit in contemplative silence for the most part, allowing Amon to ask the questions when he felt it necessary. She'd had a feeling it was a good idea to bring Zade here, and she had not been wrong in this. Thus far, it was becoming quite plain to her that the chemical for the poison had been manufactured somewhere in Marchfield, and without top-level clearance, but disguised as normal product shipments, which likely rules out mass quantities. A small effort, then, but all the more dangerous for it.

At the mention of a one-eyed man, though, Amon stiffened almost imperceptibly beside her. Now there was an interesting observation, and it told her that they were onto something indeed. And that was indeed the main problem now: the who of it. A rogue faction of scientists would not possess the finesse necessary to undertake a task of this magnitude, especially not if they were so incompetent as to let their test subject escape. If the doctor was right (and despite her misgivings about a man who spoke aloud to himself alone in the middle of a room full of people, he was Amon's, and for that reason alone she had to trust that he knew what he was talking about), that man he and the healer had treated was indeed an experiment, and the people in question were capable of taking someone from Beta at least without fear of repercussion.

Which either made them very stupid, or very well-connected. She was inclined to believe that this could be the work of that pseudo-rebellion that stirred within the lower districts, but for that one small detail. She knew Zade often stole for the same client, which meant that whomever he was, he was wealthy enough to hire scientists, but it was highly unlikely that such a man (or woman, as the case may be) would take the unnecessary risk of kidnapping a Beta denizen when there were plenty of people that would be less missed wandering around your front door. Reprehensible, yes, but also pragmatic.

"It seems," Amon ventured, "that there is a traitor in my Guild." Loki's eyes snapped to him, and the man stood. "I thank you all very much for your assistance; you are free to leave if you wish. It would seem that this is more an internal matter than I had hoped." He was still calm as ever, but his sometimes-protegee, sometimes-adversary knew him much better than that. She was opening her mouth to ask the healer to stay (she wished to see about securing the blonde woman's assistance for her mother) when the door flew open.

An acid-tongued rebuke was half a breath from Loki's lips, but when it was Carlisle who staggered through, clutching a profusely-bleeding side, it died unvoiced. "Traitors," he said, looking directly at Amon rather than herself, and she knew it must be bad indeed for him to break his cover so. He managed two more steps before collapsing onto the ground in a heap.

There was a beat of complete silence before the hall outside erupted in the sounds of a clash. It would seem that the few guards Amon had posted were attempting to fend off the attackers, and without another word, the Guildmaster was out the door, sword drawn. Loki looked to the rest of them. "Escape out the window if you wish, but if they know of this meeting, they surely know of you."

One of the rogue assassins had made it to the door, and the princess set her mouth in a hard line before unsheathing her own knives. They weren't just for show, after all. The assailant, a man perhaps in his mid-thirties, looked positively sick with glee for the chance to kill the princess herself, and she noted that she'd have to watch her back if she was indeed the primary target. A longsword swung in a broad arc towards her shoulder; Loki stepped out of the way and stomped hard on the man's kneecap, causing him to stagger forward. He turned it into a somersault before one of her blades could find his back,, and she caught the slight glint of light as several needles were thrown at her.

Swatting them out of her way with her left knife, she wasted little time in throwing the other one. It had just enough time for one end-over-end turn before embedding itself with a soft thunk in one of his shoulders. Shame; she'd been aiming for his throat, but he'd moved. Flicking her eyes around the room, she decided to take the fight outside, into the corridor. There were noncombatants here, after all, and she did not wish to injure them if she could avoid it.

The damn dress made moving a chore, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. At least he followed her out. Of course, all thoughts of such small mercies fled immediately upon seeing the devastation in the hallways. No less than ten bodies already coated the carpets with blood, and she knew that she had personally taken the precaution of having this wing cleared of its normal patrol this evening. There would be no reinforcements, and she estimated the number of attackers at a solid thirty-five or so. Amon wasn't going to be a great deal of help; he was presently dueling what appeared to be the commander of this little regiment of fools, and with nothing less than a broken wrist already.

Shit.

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Giacomo listened to the conversation and his attention spiked when he heard about the poison presumingly containing cyanide. Cyanide was a substance the scientists worked with almost on a daily basis, they often were so accustomed of being near the stuff that they handled it like any other substance, with care, but not out of fright of the concequences. The barrels of Taylor Chemicals were labelled and if one dissapeared it would be noticed within seconds, but there were other unmarked barrels, the result of a failed experiment to extract the cyanide from almond and abricot cores. This cyanide was roulated around Marchfield as nobody wanted the contaminated junk, it was useless for those who didn't have the weeks of free time to purify the cyanide, and of course no scientist had such time. The worst part was, nobody seemed to know which department had them in their storage as of present.

His thoughts were disturbed by the sudden introduction of a voilent fight in the palace. There was even one that was assualting the princess in this very room. Giacomo wasn't realy a fighter, but he wasn't going to sit around. He jumped up and grabbed the blowtorch from his pockets, if used properly it was more effective as many common weapons, but it did require one to get up close and personall. He ignited the blowtorch and a small nearly explosive sound from the sudden ignition of the gasses sounded through the room and possibly the hallways. With his other hand he grabbed for the largest wrench he had on him, which was about the size of a shortsword. You never knew when you'd need your tools, and exactly that was the reason he always was loaded with them, fortunatly for this moment he held true to that in any case.

As Loki dissapeared into the hallways he ran after her, accidentally igniting a rogue assasins pants as he came out of the door. The man already was on fire, but he still voilently swang his sword at Giacomo, who could barely avoid the attack. In this case his Monocular was a dissadvantage, although it didn't mangificate with the set of lenses that were in use, it still distorted the sight a little, a dissadvantage one couldn't use in a situation like this. With the wrench he pulled the monocular from his head, exposing the underlying crystalic skin. It startled the assasin for a moment, and Giacomo took the chance to slam his wrench into the mans gut. The man dropped the sword and before he could reach it with his hand Giacomo had placed the blowtorches flame on the hilt, heating the metal and igniting the leathery grip. Not many materials stood a chance against a flame specialy made to heat or even smelt metal. He looked around and asside from him, Loki and Amon it seemed like they were the only opposition of the assasins. Things seemed to be more than problematic.

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#, as written by Arke
As the debate went on, the doctor became more and more distressed. Such meetings were not for him, especially in such high-end and confined areas. His self-mutterings began to be more and more apparent- it was his sixth sense telling him to leave, and that something was happening. He didn't know anything about the attack that would happen moments later, but Etzel nearly went crazy trying to restrain himself from flipping the table and jumping out the window screaming.

When Carlisle came in the door with a grievous wound in his side, and a single word: "Traitors", he jumped up and started shouting.

"I KNEW IT. GODDESS BE DAMNED I KNEW SOMETHING WAS UP." Etzel screeched, withdrawing his syringe and leaping after Loki toward the door in a frenzy. "KNEWITKNEWITKNEWITKNEWITKNEWIT"

The assailants were many in numbers, but they had to split into small groups to target. The black-garbed man did no hesitate at the doctor's appearance, rather swung a curved blade in a overhand arc. Side-stepping, Etzel jammed the syringe into his side and injected the contents into him. The man flopped over, and moments later started convulsing and screaming like a madman. His fingers clawed at the carpet so violently it left deep rut-marks on the floor. Etzel jumped back, holstering his syringe and drawing his fighting daggers. It felt good to finally act upon his instinct, to finally let his body do as it wanted. He rushed the next assailant, knowing he wasn't going to be underestimated again. Especially after they saw the man who had been injected with god-knows-what (well, Etzel knew but it'd take too long to explain it). He parried the swing of a short sword, attempting to slash the man's sides, but the man dodged and attempted to cut upward into Etzel's arm. Etzel swung around, taking two furious swipes but missed. The man had ducked, and leapt toward Etzel's legs. The masked doctor settled his stance, pushing his center of gravity closer to the ground and rooting his legs in an angular position. The man hit Etzel like he would hit a wall, and Etzel stabbed the man in the neck and upper back several times before leaping back once more to face the rest of his assailants.

He would be lying if he said he were calm, because Etzel was not made for open combat- He was the healer, the one that dealt with unsuspecting targets. Usually his attacks had more finesse, but at this point he was merely trying to survive and after building up all that tension from sitting around while his body screamed at him to escape left him almost rabid-like in movement.




The nobleman of Taylor Chemicals listened intently as the conversation shifted around. He paid attention, because in this regard he was part of a case to find out who killed the Marquis. All the information he could get would be good, especially if he could figure out who killed the man (as unlikely as that was). However, when the wounded man stumbled through the door, holding his side Taylor knew something was wrong. Immediately, his hand dropped to a hold on his holstered epieu, and as the doctor vaulted over the table and broke toward the door he drew it. The princess rushed the door as well, possibly to escape. The window was not an option. Hardcore Parkour was not something the weakened nobleman would be able to do, and he would be separated from the group- as well as possibly setting himself up for an ambush. His travels in Delta weren't all fun and games, you know. They taught him to be wary, aware of his surroundings. He decided to help deal with the assailants in any way he could, but engaging in direct combat with them would be suicide- he could handle one at a time at best.

He drew the short spear, preparing himself as a single assailant broke past and rushed the fur-cloaked nobleman. With a deft flick, he caught the man by surprise and disarmed him before ramming the spear into his gut. Taylor drew back, beginning to feel winded from just that much effort. He was going to have to avoid contact- but how? He saw no other way out but toward the door.

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As the discussion continued, Pan began to grow slightly unnerved by the mutterings of the doctor, seeing as how they were growing a trifle more frantic than usual. She was nothing if not a tolerant personality, and it didn't bother her so much that he was talking to himself as he seemed to be getting nervous. she didn't really have a grasp on much of the rest of what was being discussed, so she was forced to pay a large amount of attention to it.

Otherwise a little out-of-place, she idly scanned the room with her magic. Maybe something was throwing the doctor off that nobody else knew about. Everything seemed fairly ordinary, except... Pan's eyes widened, and she shot a surreptitious glance at the nobleman- Lord Taylor, had it been? That man was very sick, to say the least, but the strangest thing was that it reminded her in ways of the lung disease she treated in Delta. She cut off the extra perception at any rate, suddenly feeling as though she had stumbled upon something private and feeling rather ashamed of herself.

Still, she really wanted to ask him if he'd consider consulting her about it. It seemed... well, rather grave to say the least. Maybe he was one of those people that hated mages? That might explain it. Maybe it simply wasn't curable by magic, but she wasn't going to try and figure that out without permission. Of course, just as she was trying to figure out how to ask about it in the first place, a man stumbled through the door and collapsed on the floor. Pan's first instinct was to rush to his side, and she did just that, only just catching the Princess's words over the doctor's shrieks. Before she knew it, half the number were out the door, and she was trying to stabilize the man on the floor.

His worst wound appeared to be the gash in his side, and she coaxed his hands away from it, trying to get a better look. It was bleeding freely, but not so deep that it had punctured any vital organs. She reckoned another inch deep and he would have died before he made it this far. With some whispered words, Pan set to work on the wound, but it was impossible to tell if he'd already lost too much blood to survive. She had the distinct impression that this would not be the only injury she tended to today, so she simply stopped the bleeding and started the wound towards healing on its own.

When a black-cloaked man slipped through, Pan froze. She had absolutely no combat skills whatsoever, and the best she would be able to do was cast a shield on herself or the injured man, which still left Icarus and Lord Taylor at risk. She needn't have worried, though, for at that moment, the nobleman drew a small spearlike object and stabbed the intruder. Pan averted her eyes, unable to watch lifeblood spilling onto the floor without feeling as though she were going to vomit.

He can fight, but he's ill. It can't be good for him, she thought to herself, chewing her lip contemplatively. Making a decision she stood suddenly, clearing her throat awkwardly. She had no more clue how to speak to nobility than she would to enter a discussion on chemical properties. "Excuse me," she tried, looking anywhere but at the person she was speaking to, and then just decided to go ahead and do what she was planning on doing anyway. A basic energy transfer was something most mages could do, but directing it to reinforce vital systems was the work of a healer alone. It wasn't the same thing as a medical treatment; all it would do was enable Lord Taylor to fight without being overcome by his illness for a while.

"Please forgive me if I presume anything," she said, extending one arm outward, palm flat towards him. It flared blue-white for a second, and then dimmed, task completed. With that, she coughed and scuttled off awkwardly to attempt and drag the injured man (who was now stable enough to be moved) behind the table and away from the door. It proved to be impossible for someone as frail as she, and she glanced over at the ex-fleeter. "Um, Icarus, would you mind... helping me with him?" She knew he was a good deal stronger than her, at least where the upper body was concerned anyway.




As soon as the guard stumbled in, Zade knew this was all going to go south rather quickly, but she hadn't exactly expected half the table to spring into action as fast as they had. She followed a shade more slowly, knowing that she cold to a certain extent fight but not kill, and wondering how useful that was even going to be.

She didn't have much time to think about it, for the moment she cleared the doorway, a man swung at her with a saber, and Zade ducked in just enough time to keep her head. Quickly she flicked her rope-dart into a centripetal motion, flinging it out at the man, who dodged deftly to the side, trying to close and strike at her back. The girl skittered away, feeling an uncomfortable tug as the saber sheared off several strands of red hair from her ponytail. That was far too close a call, and she spun around, meeting aggression with aggression and flinging one of the dart ends with expert precision.

The assassin bent backwards, the razor edge barely grazing his nose, but she circled, tossing both ends in alternation, only for them to be parried by the solid saber each time. Her assailant, clearly impatient to kill her and move on, ended the pattern and dover, swinging at her legs, a mistake. Zade simply tossed herself into a backflip, foot catching him under the chin. The interruption in her motion caused her to land sideways, but he was staggering backwards, and she looked around the hallway for something to help her out.

The lantern on the wall was almost too much to ask for. It was one of those magic ones, but they still issued more than enough heat for her purposes. Zade dashed for the thing, holding the ends of her rope-dart to the heat and trying not to burn her fingers. Looking over her shoulder, she noted that the assassin had recovered and was stalking towards her, apparently not thinking enough to be confused by her strange actions. She turned back to the lantern, imploring whatever gods were out there to give her a break, just this bloody once.

As if on command, the wicking started smoldering, and a tiny flame sprang up in it. With a relieved sigh that cut off as soon as Zade realized she had no time for it, she swung round, the motion nurturing the flames at each end of her rope dart. The assassin blinked at this, rightfully wary of being burned. For her part, the girl grinned, playing her part as well as she knew how. "Dodge this," she taunted, spinning the left end a few times before letting it fly. Predictably, the man hastened to do just that, which meant he didn't she the other end snaking around his saber. With a quick wrench, he was disarmed, and she used his distraction to step into his guard. Knowing that assassins could kill with their bare hands, too, she wasted no time in finding the spot she was looking for between his shoulder and jawline, delivering just enough pressure to send him to the ground unconscious (a rather useful trick for dealing with people causing you problems on the wrong side of the district).

Of course, this was but one man, and a woman soon enough stepped up to replace him, this one already barehanded and looking a tad more cautious. Oh great... this was going to be a long fight.

The setting changes from The Royal Palace to Revelation

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#, as written by Smith
Conversation...Eos zoned out almost as soon as it began. Words had never been his forte. That's what Selene had been around for. Besides, he was well aware of the fact that he was only attending this meeting at all by the good graces of the snobbish little boor of a woman who fancied black so much. It was a small miracle that he had not been removed--in a forcible manner no doubt--on account of the earlier outburst. For the moment Eos stood though, impassive and uncaring of the words being exchanged. No matter how much he tried not to his gaze kept drifting back to Amon. After a while he resolved to just attack the Guildmaster as soon as the meeting came to a close.

Surprisingly that time arrived at a much more expedient pace than expected, Amon standing to dismiss those gathered. Eos tensed to spring, silently edging backwards as not to harm Pandora or Icarus in his mad dash. A mental groan echoed off the spacious walls of Eos's mind when some drama-queen thug burst through the door trying to staunch a grievous wound. Why must vengeance elude those who seek it so? he thought with a scowl. Over the next several moments the room made a choppy transition from civil to savage. Eos observed with his arms crossed even as the first assailant broke the line, only to die by the blade of some pimp-wannabe of a noble. Pan's request for aid broke his objective inspection of the brawl and drew his attention.

Ignoring the fact that he had not been addressed, Eos grasped the collar of Pan's newest patient and dragged him to the far end of the table where he would not be immediately noticed. He looked to Pandora herself, and then to Icarus and grimaced. It would have been nice to have some sort of equipment to hand them but it had been years since Eos had anything besides his hands and... "Oh." grabbing the nearest chair, the Hand snapped off all four legs with a few quick jerks. He handed one makeshift club to Icarus and Pan respectively. "Go for the groin. Body-blows are useless and most people expect a hit to the head. Make em wish they'd been born women."

A grin flashed across his face then as Eos flipped onto the table with an eye-catching flourish and rushed towards the melee. He vaulted off and up into the air, landing in the midst of three of the men who had dared to attack nobility. One had exercised the good sense to look up and scored a shallow gash across Eos's shoulder before being forced to engage in close range. Without bothering to right himself immediately Eos used the momentum from the drop to swing his leg around in a wide arc that swept the legs out from under all three men. The first to go down was the first to die when Eos jabbed the jagged end of one of his chair-legs into the man's throat. The second was brained with a similar instrument, and the third recognized the danger in time to lunge at their attacker with a hastily drawn knife.

Eos came around in a crouch to knock the arm away and jumped forward to grapple with the rogue. Amid the tumble of punches and cuts, a muffled crack could be heard and the rogue ceased struggling. His head was cradled to Eos's breast between two arms of corded muscle. Eos dropped the dead man and began running in Loki's direction. He slowed down when he witnessed the pampered dark princess down an opponent of her own and--Shit. "Pan! Kid!" he called back from the doorway, "Screw the wounded! We're leaving!"

He turned to Loki and sucker-punched a combatant that was intent on having the heir's throat slit. Eos watched him go down in a coughing heap and lifted his leg high to bring it down in a rib-cracking heel drop. It felt so much better when it connected with something...then he realized he had something to say. Walking past Loki, Eos fell into a wide stance awaiting the next wave. "Color me impressed, Nite. When did you blue-bloods start picking up swords instead of hiring 'em?" Two more foes came on then, and Eos managed to flip one onto his back before being driven back towards Loki by the second. Without the benefit of a weapon to parry with the pugilist was forced to go on the offensive or dodge. With a smirk, a duck and a quick breath Eos realized how out of shape he was...it had been too long since anything that required a measure of skill had tested his mettle. It was fun!

The setting changes from Revelation to The Royal Palace

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Slowly, the number of assailants thinned, and those who remained realized they were encountering far more resistance than they had thought. Redoubling their efforts, the rogue assassins felled the last of the guards and focused their attentions on the targets that chose to fight back. Amon knew it looked grave; there were still just under twenty-five men left, and he personally was powerless to do anything about it. His broken wrist screamed at him, but not a trace of that pain showed on his face, the man deeming it better to continue holding it as though he could use it than sparing himself the pain and making his weakness apparent. Ambidextrous, he was, but he did not need to present any targets to his opponent.

The one-eyed man was someone Amon knew well- a master assassin by the name of Gerard Bordeaux. He had been one of the strongest, most vocal opponents of the Guildmaster's ascension to that title, though not because of Amon's relative youth at the time. Gerard had been even younger, and still more ambitious than his present adversary had ever been- and that had continued past the official appointment. His missing eye was a punishment for insubordination, after which Amon had thought his hatred had subsided to at least a grudging respect. A gross miscalculation, it would seem.

Gerard, armed with a hand-scythe, swung at Amon's legs, but the older man jumped, twisting himself to the side in midair to slash at the dark-haired traitor's shoulder. It grazed, but barely enough to draw blood before Bordeaux dove to the side. His recovery was slower than the Guildmaster's landing, however, and in the next second Amon was upon him, pressing his advantage. The hand-scythe barely blocked a downward sweep from the shortsword, but without both hands, Amon lacked the strength to wait to out-muscle him. Instead, he delivered a heavy kick to the side of the downed man, leaping away nimbly as his opponent rolled away from the blow, throwing a poison-tipped needle over his shoulder in the process.

The projectile embedded itself in the wall some distance away, but Gerard was on his feet once again, and the two men circled each other, looking for all the world like two predatory cats locked in some invisible stalemate, each looking for the involuntary twitch, the unnatural intake of breath, that would betray the other's next intention. It was as much a battle of wits as of arms and armaments. Were they younger, more foolish men, they may have been trading insults or banter as they went, or even trying to gain information, but both were eerily silent, not even the footfalls of boots on carpet making enough noise to be audible over the clashes some distance away.

It was a waiting game, a matter of patience, and in this, both had been trained, but only one had achieved mastery. It was in this that Amon alone could be considered the victor, and it was in this that the outcome was readable to those who knew the language. Gerard tensed, coiled, and sprang, but the Guildmaster was ready. The slash was wicked, but a minute movement set it whistling centimeters from the target's ear, and in the scant seconds before it would lash back to embed itself in his shoulder, Amon stepped forward into Bordeaux's guard, sinking his blade to the hilt in the other man's chest. Stepping to the side to avoid the reflexive return of the scythe, he pulled the blade from the other man's flesh, watching with the same cold indifference he gave everything else as his colleague crumpled to the ground.




Her first opponent fell, and Loki felt something behind her. Instinctively whipping around to guard, she watched as Eos's fist connected with the would-be assassin's jaw, sending him sprawling to the ground. How... efficient. Loki was rather fond of efficiency, and so when he spoke, she answered. "Probably about the same time we discovered that hired swords can develop their own ideas," she replied in a deadpan. It was a joke- sort of. The truth of the matter was, she had in fact learned to fight because she didn't really trust anyone else to do it for her. It also helped to be armed when journeying into Delta, just for precautionary purposes. She had a tendency to poke around in business that some people thought wasn't hers, and not everyone was appreciative of that fact.

Two new assailants stepped up, and Eos flattened one of them, but was forced to duck the second. Loki shrugged mentally and used the space created by his absence to hurl another knife. This one hit exactly where she intended it to- the man's left eye. He fell without another sound, and she turned back in time to parry the assault from yet another black-robed figure intent on playing regicide a few years too soon.

The two of them were soon surrounded by a group of at least seven opponents, both armed and unarmed, and she sighed, adjusting her position so she was back-to-back with the ex-Hand and thus probably a little less likely to die. "Hmm... seven. I'll wager you upkeep on that girl's clinic for a year I get four before you do," she challenged, still in the same flat voice as ever. Whether she would succeed was largely irrelevant; the sum was a pittance, but she liked to keep things interesting, and she was also admittedly a bit curious if it would mean anything to him. She would not have picked a mage-healer to associate with Eos... or maybe that was the other way around.

Whatever his answer, she was soon occupied, beset by two men at once. A quick glance from the corner of her eye told her that another was joining the woman currently engaging Zade, whose weapons were now quite literally on fire. Loki had known she could do that, but hadn't been certain it was practical. From the look on her opponent's face though, it was at least psychologically daunting. Still, the girl was not trained to kill, and two assassins at once would be difficult. Another two slipped past the group and towards the door, and Loki cursed under her breath. She'd have to hope Taylor could hold them off; as far as she knew, he could use that epieu of his, so it should be fine.

The talkative doctor was confronted by three, but he was somewhat near the scientist Vernazza who was only dealing with one at the moment. Of course, that still left a fair number that hadn't picked targets yet, so that could change at any time. Loki bent sideways to avoid an incoming knife, but hissed when it scored her a shallow wound across the cheekbone, warm blood already dripping down her impassive face. With a steely glare, she thrust forward at the offending attacker with the pommel of her knife, breaking his nose, her second weapon blocking the crude axe swing aimed at her side, though not without effort, and her arm trembled with the continued strain of holding it there. That one clearly thought he was going to overwhelm her with brute force. Broken-nose staggered backward, which gave her enough time to kick at axe-man's groin. He jumped back, but the new angle of his hold was bad enough that she could shove it away. Her last throwing knife found purchase in his esophagus, and she turned back to the man with the bleeding face. Karmic, if she did say so herself.

She would have probably chosen this moment to sweep his legs out from under him, but present circumstances (in the wardrobe sense) prevented this from being a decent idea, and so she swept her combat knife low instead. Instead of jumping back like a smart person would have done, he simply stood there and took it, which placed her in a rather poor position if he managed to get his own dagger around in time to stab her in the back. So instead of trying to yank her knife out of his leg, she let go and grabbed his wrist, grappling with him for a few moments, as he had returned the favor and eliminated the possibility of her simply stabbing him with her second blade. He was larger than she was, but Loki was more... well frankly, she was a little more unpredictable, and so when he tried to twist her around so her back was to his chest and he might be able to work the knife into her gut, she jerked her head backwards, slamming the back of her skull into his already wounded face.

He let go then, and she ripped his own knife from his grip and slid it into his chest cavity, picking her own up from the floor where it had fallen in just enough time to surprise the woman who'd thought to take advantage of her imprisonment and make an easy kill. It was never any bloody fun when they ran straight into your knife, now was it?

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Finally the assasin before him had burned to the point where he was either in a coma or death, whether of two it was he wasn't sure and he had no time to determine it. He looked around and saw that they still were overwhelmed by the assasins and that those who were protecting them were dead. He had to move quicker and more effective. He sprinted to the next closest opponent and as he tried to stab him with a daggers held in his hand he lodged the mans wrist into the wrench snapping it as he bend the arm out of the way. His torch went in for the kill pointing the hotspot of the flame straight at the heart. Quickly the flame burned a hole into the flesh of the man and he was deperately struggling to get his body out of the flames path, not that it would matter much as the mans clothes had ignited as well and he would soon die from burning in any case.

From the corner of his eyes he saw another assasin coming at him swinging a sword at him, he could not hold this position and evade the attack, instead he bend the still wrenched arm in the path, hoping it would stop the blow. And it did after a grusome sound indicating more bones had broken or even shattered in the mans arm the blade got stuck, presumably inside the bones of the arm. As the second assasin tried to pull the blade out he positioned himself rather unfortunate and with a quick move with the wrench the pommel of the sword was driven into the mans stomache sending him to the ground hurling blood and his stomache content. A rather unpleasant sight, but so was the sight of the open and burning heart in front of him. The mans eyes had completly gone white and blood was rushing from hs mouth, presumingly because the lungs had been perforated too. He wouldn't do anything anymore, unless he wasn't dead yet then he would still do one thing, die.

His attention turned to the assasin that attacked him as he was burning the heart of another out. The man was still on the ground groping his stomache and unarmed, Giacomo seemingly had hit him harder than expected. He lifted the wrenchand brought it down quickly smashing the head of the assasin wide open, breaking the outer skull bone on the site of impact. Another blow would smash straight throught the underlying bone and into the bone. And so he dealt another blow with the wrench. Another dead, but there were more, too many more.

Another of their group was fighting three assasins at once. Giacomo quickly helped him a hand by smashing the wrench into the back of one head quickly followed by the blowtorches flame that was send down his spine. The mans unawareness of his surroundings had sealed his fate, but he couldn't give the man more attention as another weapon was aimed at him, a hammer this time. Giacomo could see a fatal mistake, the assasin was too far in his swing to stop or change it's direction now. Giacomo avoided the attack barely and as the attack swung through he hit the man on the fingers with his wrench. The sound of snapping finger bones confirmed his thought, the man was holding on to tight.

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Pan had accepted the broken piece of chair from Eos, but had little to no intention of using it. She wasn’t exactly trained for it, after all, and in truth she doubted she had the resolve to do anyone harm. Someone had once told her that in order to do more damage to you opponent than yourself, you had to mean it. Every strike and bow had to be carried out with the full knowledge and intent to cause someone harm, and she had spent too long trying to repair the damage caused by people who could muster such resolve to have any of it herself.

That was not to say that she was completely without willpower though. When she heard the shout that carried into the relatively quiet room, she shook her head fiercely, though the speaker was not there to see. She would not, could not, abandon a patient, under any circumstances. This would be no different, no matter what Eos said. Granted, she was beyond grateful to everyone else for risking their lives out there, but that was precisely the reason for her stubbornness. Despite her naiveté, Pandora was not stupid, and she knew that they would suffer serious damage out there. She intended to be here to fix it.

Laying her first two fingers along her patient’s throat, she nodded to herself, satisfied that his pulse was steady and he was simply unconscious, which was probably best for his recovery right now. A noise from outside drew her attention, though, and she sucked in a hasty breath as two assassins appeared in the doorway. Quickly, she tapped into the lesser-used side of her talents, and erected a shield over the door, but not before one of them made it inside. She could feel the other one beating on the translucent wall of her energy, and grimaced. Holding one of those took a fair amount of focus, even if the energy output wasn’t too bad. If that assassin came for her, she’d lose it for sure.




Zade was panting heavily by now; her weapon of choice left little opportunity for blocking, and so she was glad she could dodge. Well, mostly anyway. She had an ugly wound along the outside of one thigh, and it burned when she tried to move, but there was little choice to be had in the matter. Her opponent was covered in minor burns, but seemed only to get more aggressive for it.

“I knew I shouldn’t have come here,” she mumbled bitterly, ducking to the side to avoid yet another blow. A deft flick of the wrist sent the flaming blade-end of the rope-dart to catch the woman at the end of her extension, and centripetal force did the rest, the rope wrapping several times about her torso, pinning her left arm in place. Not much time then; the right arm was the one with the weapon, after all.

Zade kneed her opponent in the stomach, for all her desperation not willing to kill the assassin who would do the same to her. She knew it was stupid to think so. If the situations were reversed, the assassin would have aimed higher and strangled the life right out of her, but she just couldn’t do that. It was the only thing that separated her from the likes of the nobility and their lapdog hired muscle. Zade lied, cheated, and stole, but she didn’t murder.

The woman doubled over, and a slippered foot kicked the pommel of the blade in her hand, sending it flying. With troupe-trained reflex, Zade caught it, gripped the blade between her teeth, grasped at the pouch of sand on her belt, and used the contents to put out the flames. The rest was a matter of tying an intricate knot, including the right arm this time.

No sooner than this was done, another appeared- this one a man armed with a longsword. Zade had naught but a long knife, spare wicking, sand, and her wits. The first hit caught her on the shoulder; she gritted her teeth and snarled, thinking fast and hurling yet more sand for his eyes, exhausting that particular resource. Wasting no time, she stepped into his guard while he was still unable to see, but her options were limited. Burying the knife in his shoulder, Zade shifted and threw the man over her hip, jumping atom his back and pinning his arms with her knees. She was slight, but leveraged what weight she did have to keep him there, feet lashing ineffectually a safe distance from her back. Bending forward, she took a deep breath and wrapped an arm solidly around his neck, trying to cut off his airflow long enough that he would pass out.

It was a long process, fraught with error on her part, and a few times she had to shift to try a new grip and gave him a few breaths by accident. Her fresh wounds, oozing blood, caused black spots to cloud the edges of her vision like so many dancing specks of dust. If anyone else attacked her right now, she’d be pretty done for, but luckily she was a bit removed from the main flow of action.

At long last, she felt the assassin go limp, and released, hoping he really was just passed out and not faking it. She didn’t think she could handle much more of this.

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#, as written by Smith
A smile found it's way to the man's lips and he couldn't help but grin at Loki's audacity. As the girl got into position at his back Eos couldn't help but feel...relieved. Complete again. Those assassins at his side of the field were not nearly as cautious of their quarry as Loki's opponents were, and all drew knives and dirks, any weapon to stab with. All at once the five attackers came in aiming to make a pincushion out of the Hand. Eos had no time to assess the situation and instinct took over. He leaned back slightly, shifting a small portion of his weight onto Loki and planted his left leg on the ground, bringing the other around in a swift arc.

The five assassins drew back, but not before three were disarmed and one clutching a damaged wrist. It was too late anyway: They were in his range of attack now. In this lapse in defense Eos shifted back into a standing position and met the nearest foe's face with a friendly balled fist that flattened her nose into a bloody mess. Another step and Eos had his hand shooting out in a jab to the sternum. The unfortunate target of the punch stumbled backwards several steps and yelped, doubling over in pain. Eos was crouched now and kicking at the kneecap of his third foe. The man cried out and went down with a wet crack clutching his awkwardly bent leg. The final two assilants on his side of the circle hopped out of Eos's effective range.

Still, his message had been sent. They were drawing more brutal weaponry and circling with wary glares. A rough shove forward sent the two dancing back again, mistaking his stumble for a lunge. Eos glanced back and wheeled around to see the bear of a man trying to crush Loki, at least from his point of view. A two-finger thrust to the base of the skull and one bloody gap in the man's flesh later, Loki's attacker was on the ground. Catching a glimpse of the edged wounds in the fellow's chest though, Eos was unsure of who dealt the killing blow. A sudden exhalation caught the fighter's attention and Eos wheeled back around ducking slightly and landed a punch squarely in the black-clad man's neck.

Eos heard a hollow crunch as the windpipe collapsed under the force of the blow. The man's momentum sent him tumbling to the ground in a nerve-shocked heap. Stepping back again to feel Loki's leg against his, just to make sure she was still there, Eos finally responded without turning. "That makes four and a half now. About that bet though...i'd much rather have a chat over some of that cold stuff you nobles are always eating nowadays...what was it? Iced cream?" while enjoying that, he could poke the young princess's brain and glean some information about the current Guild works. Although Amon didn't show it, the girl made it obvious she thought she had some sway over him. This brought on another smile as Eos patted away a sweep of another foe's mace.

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#, as written by Arke
Three? No problem. That was the initial thought of the doctor, but he was reminded mere moments later that they were assassins, trained ones. He was exchanging glancing blows with all three of them, managing only to slice a few centimeters of epidermis. Suddenly, one moaned as a wrench gave off a resounding "crunch". He started screaming as flames shot up his body. Looking over briefly, he saw Giacomo- the scientist and gave a curt nod before turning his attention back to the other two. Now that one was gone, he could handle the rest easily enough. He ducked one's slash, kneeing him in the face before turning and parrying the sword stroke with his daggers. The small blades shot to the man's face, slicing his nose and left eye before the Doctor was forced back. Half-blind and bleeding, the man charged just as Etzel side-stepped, kicking his leg out and moving his hand to trip the man over his leg. He then collapsed with him, sending both daggers into his back. The second assassin had just regained composure.

Etzel braced himself, bringing both daggers up to perform a hard block on the assassin. Collapsing the daggers, he let the sword slice into the assassin under him and he grabbed the man's arms. Throwing him over, the Assassin landed hard on his back, just as Etzel somersaulted over and gave the man a deadly elbow to the solar plexus. Rising into a crouch, he stabbed the assassin's face several times before getting up.

The masked doctor caught sight of the scientist struggling with another assassin, and seeking to repay the favor he made his way over and gave a devastating heel kick into the man's side, then proceeding to tackling him to the floor and begin stabbing the man in the upper torso wildly. Blood dripped off his waxed robes, leaving the doctor nearly spotless even after all the wounds he had inflicted. He looked down on the assailant just as he rose into a standing positions. He hit the heart three times and slashed the lungs five times.




Caelin suddenly felt the flow of power as Pandora transferred the energy upon him. He felt stronger, relaxed, and more powerful than he used to feel, but his gaeity crashed as he heard the female medic cough. This was one of the reasons why he refused to let a mage heal him. He was hurting them, and being the kind man Taylor was, the cough made a resounding echo in his head. Even in this state, the girl decided to take care of the wounded man (Carlisle). He decided to give some protection, seeing as he was one of the few that didn't bolt out the door immediately. He would make up for this grant in power. He watched as two other assassins slip into the doorway. He noted that some sort of forcefield had been erected, leaving only one to attack the girl.

"I'm your opponent!" Caelin cried, intercepting the assassin and butting him with the end of the epieu. The assassin immediately turned on him, slashing with the wicked kilij he carried. Caelin deflected the blow, forcing the assassin away from Pandora and her patient. He exchanged a few blows with the assassin, feeling the energy drain at an alarming rate. He had to end this quickly. Slashing out, the assassin leapt back and Caelin rushed him. As the assassin landed, Caelin trapped the killij with his arms, feeling the blade sink into his left arm. He took the epieu, and sliced the man's neck- sending him sprawling while clutching his neck. The lord cursed in a low voice, moving toward the doorway and watched the assassin back away. Suddenly, a dark robed man- the Doctor tackled the man, and begin stomping on his pelvic area gleefully. A mixture of relief and concern was visible on the noble's face as he backed away to cover Pandora and Icarus from the assailants. "Don't waste your energy on the shield if unless necessary." He advised. "I can fight- it's my duty to protect all of you."

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One by one, the assassins fell under the onslaught from those who had been at the meeting. The man, having lost their leader and expected much less resistance, grew somewhat panicked, less organized. They had known that Gregory was going to be a major problem, but they had not expected either of the nobles to be able to put up much of a fight, and the other visitors were supposed to include a doctor, a mage-healer (thankfully not a combatant) and a scientist. That left three of them completely unexpected, and it was rapidly becoming clear that the scientist was much less meek than his contemporaries, to say nothing of the bloody masked fiend and the half-mad pugilist.

As had been agreed, exactly two men slipped out a nearby window, leaving the others to handle the situation as best they could. It was time for contingency plans. They did not have a success to carry back to Duke Gilgamesh, but they did have a wealth of new information. The Princess and Lord Taylor were cooperating for some reason, and both of them fought like nobility had no right to. Gregory was committed enough to join the fight, and they had resources that could simply not be accounted for.

Of the remaining men, five surrounded the main target, the Princess, and the fist-fighter with her. This time, they did not waste time worrying about crowding each other, and every single one of them drew something bladed and attacked simultaneously. Two more went for the scientist, eyes fixed on his blowtorch. Surely that thing would run out of fuel soon? Either way, they were going to be extra-careful about avoiding it. Another three chased down the manic doctor, overwhelming whatever traces of barrier remained and bursting into the meeting room, bristling with weapons. One each went for the masked man and the Lord, the third headed straight for Pandora and Icarus.

The cowards of the lot, four in total, tried to back the red-haired girl into a corner. It was obvious that she was the most injured of the group, and each of them was determined to walk out of here or die having killed someone. They noted with glee that one of their comrades was tied and the other not dead but unconscious, and surmised that the pretty little mouse was not quite so ruthless as they.




Amon turned, ignoring the body sliding from his blade to the ground and surveyed the situation. Every remaining assassin was occupied somehow, and none of them with him. It figured, of course, but he had a feeling that these were the better half of the squad. Or at least, judging from the fact that they died somewhat less quickly, they were smarter. One of the two; he hadn't really been going at this with a mind to evaluate performance, exactly.

Sharp eyes swept over the scenes of engagement, and he determined that the thief was most in need of assistance. The Guildmaster ran, passing Vernazza Eos, and Loki before springing off the top stair of the set that descended into the small well that set Scheherazade and her assailants away from the rest. He landed with precision on the back of one of her attackers, sliding a boot-knife effortlessly into the woman's jugular vein, leaping off with equal grace and maneuvering himself to stand at the lass's back. He held his shortsword out with his left hand, offering it to her. "Your resolve to maim is admirable, but sadly misplaced," he informed her gently over his shoulder. "If you are determined to adhere to it, however, I shall do the killing, but you must still fight."




Loki raised a brow in something akin to genuine surprise, which was swiftly followed by amusement. "Hmm... I think I could manage that. I'll bring it to you, though; you really don't want to try and enjoy something surrounded by people looking down their noses at you, yes?" Four and a half... a tie might as well be a loss, so why not? She had a feeling she was going to be pressed for information, and the fact that Eos was trying to outwit her was just funny enough that she'd allow it, if only to see how he planned on doing such a thing.

As the next (and hopefully final) lot of assassins charged them, she could not help but think of how much fighting with him reminded her of doing the same with Amon. It was a comparison she doubted Eos would appreciate very much, but it was perhaps all the more true for it. That made sense, she supposed; the Guildmaster had taught him to fight just as he had taught her, albeit in different settings, and for different reasons. He had always insisted though, that she know how to effectively cooperate with someone else, and in that moment, she could have laughed for his brilliance in this. Because if Eos knew the same things she did, then he would catch on to what she was about to do.

As the assortment of armed people charged, she tapped his leg with her foot, just once. If he remembered his signals, the two of them would switch places in the blink of an eye, when their opponents had already committed to attacking someone armed and positioned very differently from what they would then find themselves facing. She'd always enjoyed that ploy- the Princess was far from above the use of clever deception in a fight, the more last-minute, the better.

Ducking to avoid the slash of an axe, she blocked with her knife the sword-thrust that came from where she would have been if she'd been forced to dodge instead, say if she were barehanded, perhaps. The swordswoman's obvious surprise caused Loki's lips to twitch, and she shoved backwards, leaving the woman a large gash on her arm. The third of the five was carrying a claymore of all things; hardly a weapon for an assassin, but he probably had cover in the guard or something, who knew? That was going to be a- "duck," she informed Eos matter-of-factly, and did the same thing herself, bracing herself on the floor with her hands and kicking at the burly man's ankles. This caused him to stagger, and she rolled away from the wild, uncontrolled swing that followed. She was only just aware of the return of the axe behind her, and suffered a glancing blow to her ribcage for the trouble.

A rather sarcastic comment about the relative strength of corsets to armor came to mind, but she didn't bother with it, instead gutting the woman with the axe for her trouble. This gave the man with the Claymore time to recover, though, and she was suddenly glad that the injured swordswoman seemed to think focusing in Eos was a better idea. It wasn't, not by a long shot, but that was her mistake, and Loki wasn't going to correct her. Instead, she crossed her knives to block yet another incoming swing, sliding backwards under the force but maintaining her balance with careful shifts in footing. Disengaging, she moved backwards to what she determined to be "neutral" position (or more precisely, where she'd been when this exchange began), but she did not stay there.

Shifting from a more defensive stance necessary for taking on multiple opponents and living through it, she became the aggressor, moving into the claymore's range, trying to provoke the man into striking recklessly. "Come now, assassin, surely it should be a simple thing to kill a mere princess, should it not?"

For someone used to provoking ever-cautious nobles, a combative assassin was no difficult thing, and she almost rolled her eyes when he fell for it, leveling a glare at her and sweeping horizontally. Loki, knowing full well that she'd ducked already and he would be expecting that, instead jumped, utilizing the equality this gave their relative heights (she was not short, but he was tall) and actually tossed one of her melee knives, satisfied when it buried itself in his chest, just below his clavicle. He dropped his weapon, and that finished him. She rushed him and drew the other knife across his throat, using a foot to push him off the first one.

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Lord Taylor told her not to sustain the shield, and truthfully she wasn't too fond of the idea herself, but still the basic concern that formed the foundation of Pandora's personality (along with the ridiculous hopefulness that kept her smiling) meant that she tried to protest. "But you're-" she cut herself off. Did she not dislike it when people tried to stop her from doing what she believed was her duty? She doubted very much that this man would appreciate being coddled because of his condition, and so she wasn't going to do that.

The Doctor was here now anyway, so that was something of a relief to her. Where exactly he had learned to fight like that was not something she wasted much time considering; she simply accepted that it was possible and let the last of the selective barrier dissipate- in time to admit three more assassins. One of them took one look at this and Icarus and charged, and Pan's first thought was, absurdly enough, that this was not the part of her city that she wanted the boy to remember the most.

The second thought, much more practical and swiftly on the heels of the first, was that she had to do something. She had an unconscious man and an innocent to protect, after all, and the other two in the room who could do anything about it were a bit preoccupied at the moment. The blond woman gripped her broken chair leg in one hand, knuckles turning bone-white. What was it Eos had said? Go for the groin, they expect to be hit in the head. Well, Pan was sure that was all well and good in most situations, but since the charging figure with the morning star was in fact a woman, it seemed a little misplaced here.

The woman swung while Pan spent far too long thinking, and the healer's eyes grew wide as saucers before she remembered herself and emitted a shrill noise of some variety that she was absolutely certain she had never heard before and ducked. Oh gods, ohs gods, what am I going to do? I'm not built for this, I can't fight, all I can do is- magic. She really could have smacked herself in the face right then, only it would have wasted more time and probably hurt besides, so instead she tried to think of what she could do. Combat spells were completely out- even if she had been capable of them, the idea of hurting someone else was one she found repugnant. Alteration and physical-world spells were bad too, mostly because she was horrible at them, so there was no possibility of something as advanced as a full-body bind, for instance.

Healing wasn't exactly the opposite of what she wanted to do, but it was close. Which left Metaphysics. But that was things like barriers, wards, seeing or inducing sleep states and particular kinds of dr- oh. Well, yes, that would probably do. Pan expanded her awareness to encompass the area, but she invaded nothing but the woman's mind, whispering soft, soothing tones into the center of her consciousness. Sleep, she urged gently, and it was so. The woman stopped mid-strike and simply fell unceremoniously to the floor.




Zade was bleeding freely from at least two or three different wounds, and her vision was getting blurry. Unfortunately, the assassins seemed to have little consideration for the fact that she was not at present terribly dangerous. She was in fact largely weaponless and also more tired than she could recall having been in a long time. It had been an annoyingly long day, even with the afternoon nap she’d taken. Her arm was still in stitches, for gods’ sakes!

She was backing up, looking around desperately for some way to resolve this situation, when she noticed the man- Amon- behind her opponents and swallowed. Part of her, as silly as it might be, believed that he was coming to help them. Of course, this part was swiftly quashed as the woman fell beneath his elegantly-efficient onslaught. Before Zade quite knew what was going on, he was holding his shortsword out to her, telling her that, no, she need not kill, but he wasn’t going to do everything for her. Or at least that was what she got from it at any rate.

She couldn’t well turn him down, not when she was smart enough to know that the Guildmaster was the one thing standing between her and a rather gruesome death. So it was with much reservation that she accepted the length of steel. She’d never used a shortsword specifically, but the mechanics were surely similar enough to the wider, single-edged scimitar-type blades she sometimes set on fire and juggled, weren’t they?

Either way, she was about to find out. A man with a wodao rushed her first, and she ducked out of the way, attempting unsuccessfully to get in past his guard and thrust; he simply stepped back, and the space between them was his range again. She half-expected the blade in her hands to flare with some kind of weird magic or something, but it was as far as she could tell a perfectly ordinary blade, but well-balanced. It was actually a good size and weight for someone like her, and she remembered that she was actually a couple inches taller than Amon, though it was so easy to forget given his presence.

She swung and parried, trying to get accustomed to the sword itself, and she knew that Amon moved to account for her mistakes. If she forgot about an opponent, he was there to block. If she ducked backwards, he was not in the way. She wondered at the fact that someone could control an area like that, and yet he had not killed all of them yet. Was it possible that killing his own people bothered him somehow? Or was he trying to do something else? Zade came to the realization that he might well be attempting to teach her something, for he only moved in to deal killing blows when her hesitation to do the same became obvious, and he only allowed in one opponent at a time. When all was said and done, she handed the blade back to him mutely, not exactly sure how to react to this knowledge. Something about the look on his face informed her that he knew she was aware, and he offered a courteous dip of his head as a form of acknowledgement.

She wasn’t really sure how to feel about that, either.

The setting changes from The Royal Palace to Revelation

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#, as written by Smith
Sweat rolled off of dark skin in little droplets and air came in burning, deep breaths. His hands ached and those cuts he had sustained slowly trickled fluid onto his new clothes, staining them a red that appeared almost black on the fabric. Eos smirked at his unexpected left Hand for the day. "You're somethin' else. The last princess I met..." the sentence ended abruptly as the next round of fodder stepped into the killing field. Honestly, that was what it was, as the area within ten or so feet of the princess and the pugilist was littered with so many corpses it was hard to see the tile.

Without any concious effort the Hand slid low and curved around Loki as she did the same. Their positions reversed, Eos roared in challenge at his surprised--but not quite stunned--new foes. The nearest, wielding bladed steel gloves met Eos with a fighting style similar to his own. That is, if the definition of similar was 'horribly inferior in every possible aspect'. It was almost as if the enemy fist-fighter was moving in slow motion as Eos' hand shot straight out like a striking viper to sink three fingers into the man's eye-socket. Metal claws managed to scrape feebly against their target's chest before going limp, but Eos was already orienting on the skinnier man who was hovering just out of reach for some reason-

"Duck." Eos dropped onto all fours just as the steel whistled past. Before the displaced air even made contact with his skin the ex-assassin launched into the air in a backwards flip. The maneuver sent him above the swordswoman who he had not even notice as of now and in landing, the perfect position to grasp her head and wrench it violently to the side. Both hands rose into flat blades as Eos and the last of his targets stared one another down. "Quack."

Despite the hilarious response he had offered, Eos cursed loudly. The ruddy-skinned asassin had used his allies distraction to not one, but two load a hand-crossbow and already aimed down the first's sights at Loki. Before he could vocalize a warning the triggers were pulled. Knowing he could not save the princess from a grievous, most likely fatal wound without putting himself at risk the Hand fell back into his normal ways of thinking. Screw her. She was still nobility, and as a result, not much better than the common murderer, rapist or thief. He allowed the bolt to fly at the sable princess' chest.

At least, that's what he thought he did. Eos frowned in puzzlement has he stood in an odd position. His right arm was extended, clutching a bolt dripping poison as his right leg was bent at the knee to provide extra reach. The second projectile was lodged inside Eos's midsection. The marksman's eyes widened in utter disbelief--almost as much as Eos--and the man dropped both ranged weapons to fumble at the mace on his belt. Too late, Eos was on top of him stabbing at the man's eyes and throat repeatedly with the pilfered bolt. When the deed was done Eos tossed the improptu weapon aside and sat on the man's chest for a long moment as if considering.

An instant later he swayed uncertainly and fell to the ground. His vision swam and grew gray around the edges. His tongue felt swollen and Eos swore he could hear the blood in his veins slowing with each pulse. He weakly turned to regard Loki from the floor. "Mmf..."

That was supposed to be a sarcastic You're welcome., but the realm of wakefulness eluded Eos once more. The room fell away in fragments and the Hand blacked out from a combination of venom and having a kidney ruptured.

The setting changes from Revelation to The Royal Palace

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#, as written by Arke
Three more. The noble knew this was going to get dangerous- though with the unexpected arrival of the doctor, he felt a little more at ease- though his fighting style was a cause for concern. It was rather gleeful in taking the blood of his enemies.

At this point it didn't matter as they were fighting for their lives. He could only take on one at a time, so Taylor tried to make it quick. However, the assassins seemed to be getting smarter. This one had a pair of short swords. The combination of blocking and striking left Taylor dancing back and forth trying to avoid the deadly edges. If he blocked on, another would slice him. He needed to trap both. He slashed, which was promptly parried and countered. Taylor felt the rush of the sword shoot just past his neck as he trapped the blade with his bleeding left arm. The man tried to pull back, but Taylor darted in, jamming the short spear into the man's left shoulder. He dropped one of his swords, but was far from dead. His dominant arm, still held a sword, and the assassin had obviously been trained to withstand the pain. Swinging his left arm in a haymaker, Taylor had to duck and try and come under with a slash to the leg. However, the assassin pivoted, bringing the blade down and nearly lopping off Taylor's left hand. Taylor then rolled into the man, forcing him back and vaulted upright, twisting the epieu into a reverse grip and sinking it into the man's upper torso. He was fairly certain he had missed the heart, but the length of the spear tip had sunken completely into the man and caused a mortal wound.

However, the Assassin still had some spunk, and with a deft slash of the blade, cut into Taylor's left side. Stumbling back, Taylor watched the assassin try to limp after him, but blacking out from blood loss. Taylor struggled to his feet, determined to live up to his name as a nobleman. His left arm had been bleeding for quite awhile, though and with another wound on the nobleman, he couldn't fight both, the assassins, and the disease which ravaged his body at the same time. His vision blurred, and he was only standing for a few seconds before he dropped his short spear and collapsed to the floor.




"Miss Pandora Elling." The doctor greeted tersely. He had just finished stomping on a man's pelvis until it was little more than a crumbly mush when three more assassins burst into the room. The nobleman to his right was visibly weakening, but he had his own matters to attend to right now. The Assassin facing him wielded a mace. Not the best way to subtly kill somebody, but it was very effective in making sure somebody WAS dead. Even a blow to the leg would have resulted in a cracked femur- an death sentence to those who received it. Well then, it was time to get out of the way.

The assassin gave a vicious overhand swing, a resounding thud reaching the Doctor as it made contact on the ground. Etzel had quickly sidestepped, kneeing the man in the right side and then grabbing his head and swinging him over to his left. He would have then stabbed him, but the Assassin recovered and broke his grip. He then did a backhand swing, nearly crushing Etzel's skull if he hadn't instinctively ducked. Etzel then slashed the man's left leg, sending him stumbling to the side. The doctor took the opportunity to give the man a devastating heel kick to the neck. Falling back, the assassin began to wheeze for breath, cutting off Etzel's attempt to follow up with another swing of the blunt weapon. The assassin then tackled Etzel, sending him to the floor. He raised his mace, preparing to crush the masked doctor, but Etzel rolled the man over as he raised the mace- using the upward force the man utilized to gain the high ground and began viciously stabbing the assassin in the chest. Two death blows and three flesh wounds that grouped together to be another fatal strike.

Getting up, he looked over to see the nobleman had collapsed. "This is where your magic has it's advantage, Miss Elling." He said. "I'll take care of the sleeping one, and you try and take care of the nobleman. I'll cover you." He withdrew his syringe once more, pulling out a vial and punching the needle through the thin foil that separated the liquid from open air. Withdrawing it's contents, Etzel threw the empty glass vial away and injected it into the woman's neck. No doubt she was going to die- it was a lethal dose of depressant. Within minutes, her systems will all shut down and she'll die in her sleep. He then put his syringe away, and readied himself in front of the group.

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Death filled the area around them as the assasins one by one fell to the ground, but Giacomo now faced two that seemed to be wary of his torch and were hesitant chosing their weapon of choice. Afterall, the wrench and blowtorch covered both ends, the wrench was a heavy and slow weapon with lots of potential power, to which one would draw a light and quick weapon like a dagger, however the blowtorch was a quick weapon that only needs to touch to generate a waterfall of misery to the victim. In the end they drew daggers and kept their distance with Giacomo, a wise decision knowing the fuel would run out eventualy. It gave Giacomo the option to wait untill the others would be done with their opponents and help him out. Unfortunatly that didn't seem to be a viable option, as the fuel would probably run out before that. And almost as soon as that thought was processed by Giacomo's mind the flame began to die down, it's size deminishing with every passing second untill the flame is to weak to hold itself and ceases to exist with a hiss.

A slight smile can be read from the assasins faces as they draw closer into the safe zone made by Giacomo's torch... Like a mouse drawn to the cheese on the trap. A slight grin makes appearant that the assasins had made a mistake. But before they could react the blowtorch was brought to their faces and a sudden burst of gass sprouted out of the nozzle, the cold gass slow to ignite due to absence of enough oxygen gives the men a cold embrace in their lungs. At least untill the still gass spewing nozzle managed to mix the gass with oxygen and by the nozzles residue heat ignites the gass, turning the air in front of the torch into an infernal fireball. Followed by the screams of the men who were literraly screaming out their lungs, both from pain and in a desperate attempt to survive by forcing the flames out of the body. It however was in vein for one of both, but the other by miracle and by being further from the gass cloud. The still standing man however had coughed up blood and no longer seemed to be as fit as he was, which was not strange. And even Giacomo who was acustomed to the heat of the torch due to the near daily exposure to it had to drop the blowtorch due to the extreme heat from the fireball.

Both of them weren't in their best shape, but neither would show any sign of weakness untill the other was downed. A soft hiss between them confirmed giacomo's thoughts, even with the short moment of sparing the gass it was not enough. His blowtorch was now completly drained of fuel and useless. As Giacomo passed a glance at the blowtorch the assasin went for the chance and tried to stab giacomo in the heart with a head on attack. His attack however proved that he was at his last legs, as Giacomo was able to dodge the attack with relative ease. Still clutching the wrench in one hand he went into his pockets with the other, drawing a rather small claw-hammer out of it. Not heavy enough to make it's flat end usefull, but the clawed back end was known to be a potential headsplitter, at least so he heard from the usual stories that roulated around through Marchfield. Though they were quite often overboard with the concequenses, they did help keep poeple on edge about the dangers of the tools, at least for a while. But now it was the deadly side that Giacomo wanted to use. The assasin still recovering from the failed attack was now easy to hit for Giacomo. Without even needing to resort to using the hammer he swung the wrench at the assasins head, missing it due to a sudden move of the man, but it only changed the place of impact as now the neck and spinal cord were in the path. A loud cracking noise followed by a bloody sight of the internally incaptation and partial external decapitation confirmed the fate of the man, nobody could survive that. Nobody would even want to survive such a horror.

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It was with a sinking feeling in her gut that Loki identified the characteristic twang of crossbow bolts being fired. In her current position, she surely would not be able to dodge. Still, she swung around, trying to pinpoint the source of the sound. She most certainly did, but instead of the death swift on the heels of such information, she was genuinely surprised to see Eos stabbing the offending marksman with his own bolt, another one lodged in the Hand himself. He collapsed on the ground with some garbled sound thereafter, and the Princess's impassivity chose that moment to crack.

"You idiot!" she hissed, kneeling beside him and smacking his face with a palm to try and keep him conscious. It wasn't good if he passed out, was it? The effort was in vain, though, and there was a moment of sheer, irrational panic as she realized she had absolutely no idea what to do in this situation. For him to have passed out this quickly, the bolt had to have been poisoned, which meant he needed medical treatment as soon as possible. But she had no idea how to treat poison, and the palace physician- the woman could have smacked herself.

"You're going to think I owe you for this, aren't you?" She grumbled, glaring at Eos even though it was painfully obvious that he could not hear her. "Well, consider the key to your cage and the indignity I'm about to suffer even, hm?" With great effort (she was not uninjured herself, and he was an awful lot of dead weight) she managed to maneuver one of his arms over her shoulder and stand, half-dragging his oh-so-unhelpfully-unconscious self back to her meeting room.

"Miss Elling, Doctor Vasili. This man had been shot with a crossbow and poisoned." She didn't know much about how mage-healing worked versus the traditional kind, but decided that if either one could help, both had best be given the information. As carefully as possible, she deposited Eos on the floor, noting with further distress that Taylor was apparently unconscious as well, though Carlisle seemed to be doing much better, which she suspected was the handiwork of the mage-woman also.

Still, having two possibly-mortal wounds to tend would be easy for niether of them, and she crossed to her desk, yanking open one of her drawers and rummaging around until she found what she was looking for. "Healing wand," she explained. "It won't help any of that, but it should deal with anything else." So saying, she waved it over the wound in her side as well as the cuts and scrapes she'd accumulated over the course of the fight, grimacing as the Manatech stymied the bleeding from her side. She'd have to be careful; the wound would like as not tear open again if she moved around too much.

A noise at the door caught her attention, and she observed that Amon was helping an injured Zade into the area, so Loki set to work on her next. For once in her life, the black-garbed woman's thoughts were plain as day upon her face, and once the initial panic of seeing her allies bleeding on the ground fled, it was replaced by a steely anger that bespoke a mind already at work, seeking for answers, and perhaps more importantly, vengeance.

This was a personal affront; not only an assassination attempt on herself, Lord Taylor, and Amon Gregory, three important figures, but also the innocent. Not that she considered everyone here to be an innocent, but the healer and her young assistant probably qualified, and the positioning of bodies in here indicated that they had been targeted as well. Someone was going to pay for this.

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Pan heard her name and glanced up. "Doctor," she returned, deciding that really once this was all over, she should probably ask him what his actual name was. She knew not why he greeted her, exactly, as she had not heard him extend the same to anyone else. Professional courtesy, perhaps? He did have some rather unusual mannerisms generally... and she really did not want to think about what he was doing to that man's bone structure.

Unfortunately for all involved, Lord Taylor's battered body gave out on him about then, and she was up and moving even before the physician urged her to do so. Ignoring whatever he was doing to the woman and reassuring herself for what it was worth that it was bound to be painless anyway, she darted to the noble's crumpled form and laid him out straight, trying to determine exactly what she needed to do first. It was obvious that whatever strain of the lung disease he carried was killing him, and not terribly slowly, either, but she did not think that to be the root cause of his main problems now.

No, that was almost certainly the profuse bleeding issuing from both his left side and his arm. Suppressing the sympathetic wince, she determined that the one in his side was deeper and set about peeling back several layers of thick clothing to get to it. How did he not suffocate from all the heat? Surely- the thought was cut off as she realized just how thin he was under the bulky garments. That explained much of it, she supposed. The healing was going to be tricky; his own vitality would be of no aid to her at all. Normally, a healthy or even somewhat-healthy human body could provide a good deal of what she needed to conduct a healing, but that would not be the case here unless she wanted to risk closing his wounds only to stop his heart or weaken his lungs even further.

She was about to start when the princess returned, supporting an unconscious Eos. Not him, too! When the stern woman, who honestly looked more frightened now than Pandora expected she ever had (especially having noted that Pan's self-appointed guardian was not the only injured party), mentioned poison, Pan's eyes shot to the doctor, hoping (and quite honestly seeing no reason not to expect) that he would help. "I think..." she volunteered, looking back down at Lord Taylor, "That I can close the wound if the poison is removed beforehand. I expect that this is where the physician's art is superior to my own." A subtle echo of an earlier conversation, and she had no more time to waste speaking.

The work would not be complete, not in one go, because she needed to save something for Eos's sake and also because she intended very firmly to do something about the more permanent condition (as it might be the only chance she got), but she could still keep him from dying, she knew that much. "Okay..." she breathed, steadying her nerves for a moment and assuming the levelheaded persona that she needed for this. The characteristic blue-white enveloped her hands and she willed the blood vessels to repair themselves first. That was the most important thing: stop the bleeding. It was minute work, much like weaving, if she had to put a craft to it.

The headache began as soon as the vessels in his side were normal and the muscle knit together. The skin, she disinfected and left. Ordinary stitches or bandages could accomplish that much better than she. His arm received the same treatment, and she had to blink a few times to clear her blurred vision after that. It was clear to her that the corruption in his lungs was advanced, and she had not the capacity to do nearly enough about that right now, but... she could try and stop it from spreading for a while, fortify what of him remained less damaged, and so she attempted that instead, hoping that at the very least the pace of his deterioration would slow for a while and he might get some strength back in his limbs. That would have to be it for now; she was starting to shake already, and Eos was still in need of assistance.




Zade was just about finished. Though none of her wounds alone were fatal, she had accumulated quite a number of them, and several had been bleeding for long enough that she felt lightheaded and like she might collapse. So when the Guildmaster offered his assistance, she swallowed her pride and accepted.

It seemed that at least two people were much worse off than she, but then she had not been able to pay enough attention to the main battle to tell what was going on. Eris- Loki was wearing an oddly-human expression for once, and that made her think it was probably bad. the woman was presently wielding a wand, and for a moment Zade had the thought that there was no way anyone she knew could afford one of those. But of course, this woman was not actually the Eris she had known, but the bloody Princess, and nobility just had the things laying around all over the place. She would know- she'd robbed enough estates.

She would not make eye contact with the older woman even as her wounds were tended to. What kind of bloody stupid Princess spent her free time slumming with the troupers and Delta-folk anyway? Did she get some kind of weird kick out of it? Being around the "common" people? Scheherazade sneered. this was why she hated the nobility. So damn self-righteous, they took everything good and ten thought they had rights to the rest, too. Bastards.

She had come to understand that wands really weren't that great compared to mages, and this one did little more than stem the bloodflow for a bit the tingling sensation probably meant it disinfected, too, so Zade tore off her other sleeve (why no make them even from this morning?) and fashioned a makeshift bandage with it. She'd be damned if she accepted any more blue-blooded assistance than absolutely necessary- it was their fault she was in this situation to begin with.

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#, as written by Arke
The masked doctor noted with some panic that another wounded was brought in. Not because he felt any particular concern for the man, but because that's one less person fending off potential assailants. However, when the mention of poison was brought up, his ears perked slightly. This was new. Ranged weapons? One look at his hand and the wound that had been inflicted on it definitely meant a projectile. When Pandora noted she'll take care of Taylor while he was unconscious, Etzel bowed his head slightly. "I shall take care of his as best i can, milady." He said, taking out the syringe he had just put away, and sheathed his twin daggers.

First, he needed a sample. He took a swab, and wiped down Eos' dirty drunkard hands. Dear lord, there were so many contaminants. He diluted the small amount in a vial filled with a detection compound. The compound instantly turned clear. Highly acidic. That was not good. "Nope. Not good at all." The doctor began muttering to himself. He whipped out a piece of paper, tearing off a small amount and dropping it in the vial. The yellow paper turned a deep crimson. Very concentrated poison. "Even worse. Hmm. What kind of poison is this concentrated? He's still breathing. Which reminds me." He stuck his syringe into another vial, injecting a small amount of blue-clear substance. "A slowing reactant. Poison won't spread as quickly." He quipped, not really sure why he was explaining this. "Now. What poison could this be? Cyanide... no... Cyanide can't be this concentrated. He'd die near-instantly. Cyanogen? No. Oh heck no. Hm. What is this?" He flicked the wound, and through a very trained eye saw small amounts of particles lift from the surface. Oh no. Acidity had nothing to do with this- it was just some form of liquid concentrate. What this was...

"Oh dear. This is very bad." He commented. Looking up at the princess, he tilted his head slightly "This is anthrax. If it had hit anywhere outside of the extremities, he'd-" he saw Eos' midsection. "WELL." The doctor shouted at the unconscious man. "MAYBE YOU DESERVE TO DIE FOR BEING SO STUPID." Nevertheless, he shook his head, and checked the pulse. "As I was saying. This is anthrax, princess. Unless I get the necessary items ready, this man is going to be vomiting blood and... well.. passing very liquidey byproducts. Feces."

"Symptoms... Lesion of the internal organs... loss of appetite... Oh, and the mortality rate of this kind of infection is about 60%." Etzel reported, while his hands were working on Eos' midsection. "I cannot treat him here, unless you have a biological lab. This is something that I need living agents to take out. I can only stall it's effects for now." Unless Pandora could destroy it. He wasn't sure about the mechanics of magic behind this- but it was worth a shot.

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Luckily Pan was done by the time the doctor started shouting, otherwise her surprise might have sent magical energy surging into Lord Taylor's body, and that would have been rather unfortunate for both of them. she was going to need that energy, and an overflow might be toxic for someone whose system wasn't able to process that sort of thing.

She had come to the conclusion that while the amount it took to heal was beneficial to the non-mage, much more could overload their systems, something that synthetic Mana did not do. But that wasn't important right now. What was important was the fact that the masked physician had just said "die" in a sentence directed at Eos, and Pandora wasn't sure she could handle that right now. She listened carefully to the rest of it and shook her head.

"Unless there are any of those bio-labs close by, I think maybe I should try," she offered, making conscious effort to maintain the 'professional physician' voice despite the fact that the person being discussed was one of the only friends she had. It wasn't really working. She glanced to the doctor, and then Lord Taylor. "The life-threatening issues should be... taken care of, but he'll still need help." She wasn't going to divulge the fact that his life was still in very grave long-term danger to anyone who didn't know, but he would need stitches and so forth. "Switch?"

Without really waiting for a response, Pan scooted until she was next to Eos instead and checked over his wounds quickly. The actual lesions could be taken care of, but the poison... that would be hard. Poison was one of those things that was much harder for a mage than an antidote, but... well, there really wasn't an antidote at the moment. No choice then.

This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you, she promised silently, and then she was busy trying to find the places where the toxin had already begun to take effect. Eos was healthier than Lord Taylor, so it wasn't as hard as it might have been, and the damage was still mostly localized, so she set to work neutralizing it with magic. It was a tedious process of about ten minutes or so, and she was forced to break her own concentration a few times, mostly to deal with the symptoms of acute magical overuse. Unlike the more chronic sort of exhaustion that just put her under for a while, the acute sort of problems were characterized by nosebleeds, for starters.

That, she could ignore and work through, but by the time she was done, Pan was shaking like a leaf and coughing blood onto the carpet, well away from everyone else. Crawling back so she was leaning back against a table leg, she focused on breathing, trying to ignore the fact that by this point, she had absolutely nothing left in the way of either energy or dignity. "Still... bleeding," she managed, gesturing to Eos. "Wand or... stitches should help."

She could sense the damage being wrought on her own insides, and knew she'd probably pushed it a bit too far this time. She tried to adjust her positioning again, but wound up falling back against the table leg with a whimper. That wasn't good- something had probably ruptured. If she had a bit more energy left, she would have been able to identify it, too. Pandora knew she didn't want to die, but for the life of her, she could not figure out a way to save herself.

She glances between the assembled faces, and something about the crystals embedded in Giacomo's face gave her pause. Mana- yes, that would do it! But how to explain? A mage's body was a natural conduit for magical energies; it was the reason they could use them. Long past the point anyone else would be poisoned by overexposure, a mage's only worry was running out, as she had. But hadn't Mr. Vernazza told her once that he worked in Manatechnology at Marchfield? Surely such a person would be in possession of a wand or two? That would work; it would have to.

Clenching her eyes shut against the labor of gathering enough breath to speak, she managed a hoarse whisper. "Mana... if you... I can absorb..." but she couldn't force any more words than that, and erupted into a painful coughing fit.



"So... what? Are we on somebody's hit list now?" Zade asked the still-conscious, not really certain of what was going on over with the unconscious people but not really able to do anything about it either. She was more concerned with whether or not she was going to have to worry about all this happening again at some point in the future.

The blond girl did not look s great, but Zade couldn't understand what she was asking for. Mana? Wasn't that the stuff in these wands? She looked between the others, thinking that maybe one of them would be able to elucidate.

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Giacomo looked in almost disbelief at the scene before him, three of those who had been targetted by the assasins seemed to be in horrible shape. The idiot who had attacked Amon upon sight, Taylor and the mage-healer from Delta, all three in very bad shape. To not look at the scene for a moment he grabbed his monocular from the ground and placed back on it's place. He then heard The mage ask him something about mana, it took him a few seconds to assemble the loose words into understandable terms. She wanted him to let her absorb some mana. It was quite strange, he never knew that the syntetical substitute for the real stuff could be absorbed by mages. He knew that mages could transact the real stuff in cases of emergency, but absorbing mana was of a whole new calliber. Think about the possibilities, and what else it could mean. If she could absorb mana, then maybe, maybe he could absorb the real thing with the crystals.

Almost losing himself in his thoughts he comes back to reality. The mage needed help and he was probably the only one that even knew that it was possible to extract raw mana from wands. It wasn't all that hard to extract it from a wand, as a wand could basically be seen as a flask, and when a flask breaks the content will spill out. He pulled his flare wand out of his pocket, knowing that it served the least use in this situation. dropped it on the ground and smashed it with his hammer. The metal was bend enough to make it release it's mana. He looked at his crystals, they glowed blue-greenish, confirming his thoughts. The wand was an idusterial flare, not as powerfull as a military emergency flare wand, but it contained many uses. Which meant it held a load of mana, but it also made it much more fragile as the mana would seek out any defect and use it to escape, in this case that was usefull as he didn't need to do as much damage as an oridnary wand would need to spill it's content.

He then looked at Loki and even though he would know better than to speak to someone who looked like she could burst into rage at any point he spoke to her: "It seems that someone knew about the meeting, even though we were left in the dark about it. I know that Goldwaters case is very sensitive, especialy now that the information of his real cause of death is leaking out, but this goes too far. To silence us with death rather than with the usual threats and bribes, it gives me the idea that there is something bigger behind it." Of course if Giacomo had, in any form, followed the political debates he would have known that Goldwater had been speaking for the poeple in Delta and Gamma, And that Taylor sided with Goldwater. "The fact that they dared to raise a hand against me, I will make them regret making me their enemy." He sprouted into the room looking at one of the assasins corpses. He kicked it against the head and looked as it moved. His mind was no longer fully with the current situation, his mind was working over-hours making mental blueprints for machines of war. Weapons that were as much inspiring as dreadfull.

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Loki took to pacing back and forth across the room as the healer and the doctor did their work, but she could not help the fact that her eyes strayed to the collapsed men frequently. This was not how things were supposed to go. This meeting was designed to be secret. they were supposed to fit together the remaining pieces of the mystery surrounding Marquis Goldwater's death, and then they were supposed to walk away unscathed, paid (in the case of those who were not otherwise obligated to attend), and informed (mostly herself, Taylor and Amon, who would have use for the knowledge).

But someone, somehow, had discovered what was going on, and there was little question that whomever it was had a role in the incident. She had her suspicions, of course, but just because Gilgamesh was a horrid bastard did not mean he was also stupid.

Though... if he had succeeded, it would have been a very smart move. The only people who knew the truth would be silenced, permanently, and the fact that their deaths would have been the obvious work of assassins would have been enough to diminish any sway the Guild itself held. It was a risk, alienating the most powerful guild in the city like that, but if the person behind this somehow knew where Amon's loyalty lay already... did that mean they knew of her as well?

No... or at least not necessarily. Just because the foolish princess was involving herself in the investigation did not mean any of the other things she had going were her own work. In fact, her presence probably diminished any suspicion cast on Taylor also. If anything, it made Amon look the mastermind, and the rest of them his pawns. That, she could work with.

A noise brought her from her reverie, and she observed with surprise that the mage was now bleeding from the nose and coughing blood onto Loki's carpet. Not that she really cared about the carpet, mind. Still, she did not recall the woman having any injuries earlier, and now they looked essentially life-threatening. What she said made little sense to the Princess, but it seemed to mostly be directed at the resident scientist anyway. He responded by smashing one of his own wands, which initially confused her further.

Which reminded her... Vernazza was not a trained combatant, but he had managed to survive a fight with trained assassins. She wondered if he'd be interested in a personal contract of some kind, perhaps additional funding in return for a consulting position? That might work; it would help to have a scientist around who knew what was going on. Inquiries could be so much more... direct, that way.

He spoke to her, and she nodded, impassivity gradually returning as she sorted through her thoughts. "In answer to your question, Zade, yes. I believe we are now all on someone's 'hit list,' and that someone is likely well-funded. Mr. Vernazza, at this stage I know little more than you, but your suspicions are mine as well." Pausing, Loki's gaze swept the room. "Whoever did this has just made it personal, and I doubt they will stop at one attempt. What is worse, they have information now, on all of us. Whatever this was, it was only the beginning, I think." The thought was unsettling at best, and she turned from it.

"How are they, Doctor Vasili?" she asked of Taylor and Eos. Either way, her vengeance would be entirely unrelenting, but if one of them did not survive... Loki's eyes narrowed. If one or both of them did not make it out of this, the person responsible would be inviting much more wrath to his or her doorstep than they had any right to expect.

The setting changes from The Royal Palace to Revelation

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#, as written by Arke
Etzel noted disinterestedly that the girl had some sort of connection with the anthrax-riddled man. He accepted the switch, smoothly moving over to Taylor. He inspected the man, noting that most of the bigger problems have been fixed by the mage. Of course, she was in fairly bad shape afterward, but the healing was amazing- no trace of trauma where it was healed. The nobleman still needed help, and the doctor noticed all the layers of clothing that were cut away to reveal his very, very pallid body. "Next time I would prefer it if our meeting was held in a much more secure place." He muttered to himself. This man was relatively easy to deal with, though he did look over and observe the power transfer radiate from Pandora herself.

It was rather amazing. When she had finished, though she looked pretty bad herself she had cured Eos (supposedly) of Anthrax and thus avoiding the regurgitation of blood and passing of aqueous feces substances. He looked him over once, and believed that he was in slightly better shape. He bandaged up Taylor's wounds, cleaning them and even considered sticking a lollipop in his hand. He wasn't stupid, Pandora failed to mention that the nobleman was extremely sick, but due to the hippocratic oath, he wasn't going to divulge this secret to anyone.

HAHAHAHAHA. Yeah right.

"It's amazing how long he's been living with this." The doctor commented instead, not spilling it outright. Some part of him wanted to maintain what little shred of the oath he still kept- secrecy. He then moved over to Eos, wiping away excess grime and disinfecting the wound as best he could. He then applied a thick salve to the wounds, his own little touch. It wasn't as though he didn't think Pandora didn't try her hardest, but with the amount of strain she went through he was just making sure all of the Anthrax would be suppressed and dulled for Eos' natural defenses to pass it from his system.

When the princess asked their condition, he shrugged. "Our little ragged friend is going to be very well." He began, looking at Taylor. This would be a perfect time to divulge the nobleman's biggest secret. However, he didn't think it would be very fun revealing it while he was unconscious. "The nobleman will be fine too. Minor wounds- the idiot just let them bleed for too long. He moved over to the dead assassins, inspecting their bodies for signs of life. He found that one was still barely alive. Not taking the chance that he may divulge something with his dying breath, he quickly stomped on his neck.

The setting changes from Revelation to The Royal Palace

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Mr. Vernazza broke a wand, and Pandora immediately set about absorbing the mana escaping from it. It wasn't the same as magical energy, and would probably make her feel somewhat sick to her stomach as a result, but it was better than dying. Almost as soon as it entered her system, her pain began to ease, and she could sense her internal organs being repaired. The bleeding ceased, as did the ache in her chest that had resulted from the cough.

She was still too weak to do much of anything useful, but at least she wasn't dying. A sigh of relief escaped her, and she looked up at the scientist. "Thank you, Mr. Vernazza," she said, relived that she could at least speak in complete sentences now.

"It's amazing how long he's been living with this." Pandora's head whipped around, painfully so, to see the doctor- the Princess had called him Doctor Vasili- stooped over lord Taylor. So he knew, too, then. She hoped he wouldn't say anything further; weren't doctors supposed to keep some kind of confidentiality with their patients? She didn't know enough to say for sure, but perhaps that was why he did not comment further.

At the news that both men would be all right, though, she was relieved. That was good to know. Pandora had lost patients before, but it was not something she thought she would ever get used to. The fact that one of them had been injured helping her and the other one wouldn't even be here but for the simple circumstance that she was made her feel exceedingly guilty as well. It's fine, Pan. They're fine, so stop thinking about it. The what-ifs and wherefores weren't going to do anyone any good now.

But Mr. Vernazza and the Princess were discussing conspiracies now, and she wasn't quite so sure the what-ifs would desert her so easily. The idea that someone might be after them even when they departed this place sent an involuntary shudder down her spine. Assassins after Eos and Icarus, just because she'd brought them here. This was the worst possible- well, except for everyone being dead, which had perhaps been the most likely outcome. Pan pulled her knees to her chest and listened, knowing that she couldn't contribute much to the information or theories but sensing that it might be important to know.




Zade swore under her breath. She knew well enough what this meant. Namely, she would have to learn to defend herself a bit better, or she'd be dead within the next few months. Damn it all. Last time I do a favor for a friend, she thought sardonically.

The setting changes from The Royal Palace to Revelation

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After the assassination attempt, the group split apart once more, but as they had anticipated, the days that followed were nothing like the ones before. Each of them was a target now, of forces that even I could not at the time identify with anything more than nebulous speculation. There was loose contact between them in the year that followed, though they did not gather in one place again, not perhaps wishing to present such an obvious opportunity to those that would rather they were dead.

Even alone, each would deal with at least two assassination attempts in the year that followed, and it would force more than one into hiding. Even as this continued, though, greater things were stirring within the city. The middle of the year would see the Princess assume the late Marquis’s seat in Parliament, much to the irritation of David Gilgamesh. In showing her hand, she had made him a very public enemy, and their hotly-contested disputes would become a fixture in Parliamentary meetings.

Even as the two largest sides of a government conflict remained at loggerheads, a movement that had only begun to stir with Goldwater’s contracted death would begin the steady rise to a boil. Without the funding provided by its most proficient thief, the Liberation Movement had to find alternative methods of acquiring supplies, and it seemed as though each one of these was more public than the last. It was a week shy of the anniversary of the attack on the palace when the Revolution began in earnest, precipitated by what was perhaps the single most formative event in the history of the city: the moment Dr. Prometheus Vanderbilt discovered The Cure.

-From the Journals of Amon Gregory

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#, as written by Smith
Even from the his lofty position so high above the gathering, Eos could imagine a wicked grin forming across the face of a certain princess. It did not materialize, of course, but Eos felt he knew Loki well enough to recognize what would and what would not make her smile. If only the girl appreciated jests as much as she did the cold satisfaction of inching closer to the kill, Eos thought, they would be on better terms. Taylor would have gotten a kick out of them. Probably.

Eos adjusted himself to get more comfortable on the beam. Below, the next to be questioned stepped forth. It took Eos a moment to make out the face from that distance, but eventually he came to the conclusion that the man speaking was Gilgamesh's boy. It struck him as odd that Seth would take part in this engagement at all. Surely Gilgamesh would not have even allowed the boy to come unless he was sure that Seth was utterly incorruptible in his faith for his father. Of course, Eos pondered realized with a thoughtful frown, it was possible that Seth had told his father nothing of the events that took place between Loki and himself. Eos gripped the edge of the beam. Despite these thoughts, he could not help but view Seth as an enemy.

When Seth said that Loki was the one who had broken in to his estate without hesitation for the entire assembly to hear, Eos almost bit through his tongue. That kid was either honest to a fault, or he was intentionally trying to play both sides. After a moment's consideration, the former was much more likely. That man did not have the predatory edge that a good, cutthroat politician requires to survive. As Loki raised her voice to get the trial moving again, Eos smirked. She was really something. Most people would have just deflected the entire focus back on to Gilgamesh, but Loki scored points for honesty by admitting her guilt. If they did come out of this, her actions would be seen as a necessary evil and Loki would be given no more than a slap on the wrist. Smart.

The assassin's wolfish smile widened somewhat upon recognizing Seth's awkward shuffling. This shift in demeanor was just another thing that could be picked at. Eos shook his head; That boy had no place in this room. The irony of that statement was lost on the assassin, however. He continued to listen until the word 'sacrifice' came up, which gave Eos pause, but did not keep him from his vigilance. As Eos absorbed the statements he was scanning the room for any deliberate movements, any signs that someone was getting ready to end the trial prematurely. There were too many cases in history when one party was losing, that a zealous follower took out an enemy and allowed their leader to go free. It did not occur to Eos that, despite his watch for Gilgamesh's zealot, he was playing the same role for Loki.

As the tale unfolded, Eos found his attention focused solely on Seth. So much so that he was slow to respond when Carlisle appeared out of thin air. The younger assassin's hand was glued to his cinqueda, ready to slash open Carlisle's throat for a split-second. When the man spoke of Loki, Eos relaxed. So she was worried. How sweet. Eos offered Carlisle a small nod before returning his regard to the proceedings. It was not until Carlisle indicated a group of like-dressed individuals did Eos unhook the latches on his suitcase. Within lay a set of ten throwing-knives bundled together, a grapple and hook, and several smoke bombs and... He flashed a grin at Carlisle and held up a sack containing a quintet of spherical objects a bit larger than a fist. "Granada. Flip the switch, wait for it to tick twice, and throw it. Make sure you aim for clusters of 'em, at least four, or you'll be wasting it. Pray at the grave of the bird-masked man when this is all over, if you liked what his invention does."

After shoving the bundle into his hands, Eos did not give Carlisle a second glance. He was already setting up the grapple and rope to rappel down into the forming melee. He had only ever used one of the bombs, but the result was devastating. A blast roughly four meters in radius of gunpowder and razor-sharp bits of glass and steel propelled faster than the eye could see all but decimated the practice-dummies in the Guild combat-hall. Eos would have taken pleasure in witnessing his fellow assassin's face when the first granada detonated, but he was already swinging across the room.

Loki had her own situation well at hand, so for once in his life, Eos did not choose to aid the damsel in distress. Instead, the assassin allowed his momentum to carry him forward and slid down on the rope until he was practically gliding through the turbulent throng of bodies. Startled combatants gasped, cried out in alarm and parted before Eos as he hit the floor in a dead run. The first unfortunate foe to grab Eos' attention was summarily tackled with a shoulder to the ribs that ended with a loud crack. Eos arrested his swift advance and glanced at the writhing dissenter before looking at Taylor. Eos turned aside a spear-thrust with the palm of his hand before stepping forward and ramming the man's throat with the heel of his other hand. The soldier dropped his weapon and sunk to the floor, making wet gurgling noises.

"Greetings, lord Taylor." Eos said with a huff of exertion. He slipped his hands through the clawed gauntlets at his belt and flexed the armored digits once. Test complete, the assassin withdrew a small flintlock pistol, a miquelet, and pressed it to Taylor's palm. Eos paid no heed to the man's wounds as he untied the small satchel at his waist and handed it over. "Aim, cock it, and fire. Reload takes a little bit of time, so try not to be too exposed when doing so."

Eos did not expect Taylor to be able to get more than a single round off, but that was no longer his concern. He had aided the man directly, provided further means of defense and was now intent on helping further by downing any and all foes he encountered. Even before Eos could take ten steps away from Taylor, he was engaged by a rapier-wielding member of the organization Carlisle had indicated earlier. Eos swatted away one, two, three strikes and riposted. The resulting wound was a deep hole under the man's armpit that was bleeding profusely. The assassin shook some of the blood off of his gauntlet and ran to assist in another area.

Browse All » 11 Settings to roleplay in

District Alpha

District Alpha by RolePlayGateway

District Alpha

The Nexus

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The Nexus

District Beta

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District Beta

Marchfield Laboratories

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District Gamma

District Gamma by RolePlayGateway

District Gamma

District Delta

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District Delta

Agriculture Domes

Agriculture Domes by RolePlayGateway

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The Royal Palace

The Royal Palace by RolePlayGateway

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The Assassins' Guild

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The Facility

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Reviews

26/30
Characterization: Proficient Plot: Proficient Depth: Advanced Style: Advanced Mechanics: Advanced Overall: Advanced
StandardFiend wrote:What a fascinating tale... I just came off of reading an RP that was all about fast and intense action, and while there's definitely nothing wrong with that I was pleasantly refreshed with the methodical, meandering pace this story had to offer. It was more about political intrigue and the subtler interactions between characters, and I found this to be a haven for meaningful character development. It didn't really keep me on the edge of my seat, but rather I thought to relax in my armchair and sip a cappuccino while discovering the machinations of the various factions of Revelation. The cast is populated by dedicated and talented writers who are perfectly at home in this sort of environment. A steam-punk setting is not all that easy to pull off; a lot goes into making such a world believable and appealing. Revelation achieves this masterfully. I was captivated and enthralled by the environment as it was steadily crafted and molded by the writers--I could see, smell, taste, touch, and hear this world. I seem to have a knack for picking the great role plays, because this one gets the StandardFiend Badge of Excellence.

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