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Revelation: The Cure

District Delta

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a part of Revelation: The Cure, by Kurokiku.

Poorest district in the city, home mostly to magi, criminals, industrial workers, and the homeless, as well as most of the city's factories.

RolePlayGateway holds sovereignty over District Delta, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Setting

Poorest district in the city, home mostly to magi, criminals, industrial workers, and the homeless, as well as most of the city's factories.
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District Delta

Poorest district in the city, home mostly to magi, criminals, industrial workers, and the homeless, as well as most of the city's factories.

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District Delta is a part of The Skycity of Revelation.


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Pandora smiled and straightened, wiping a thin arm across her brow as she brought herself to her full (rather unimpressive, all things considered) height. Just an ordinary flu; nothing to worry about. Part of her rejoiced that she probably wouldn't be seeing many more cases of Wasting Lung cropping up; Mr. Vernazza's air filter was making the skies look so much prettier already. "He'll be fine with a few hours' sleep, Mrs. Worthing," she informed the hovering mother pleasantly.

She was visiting this particular patient in his home, as she had taken to doing lately. It wasn't so bad, all things considered, but she missed not having to carry all her supplied around with her wherever she went. Granted, she didn't have that many things, since she really wouldn't know what to do with alf the medical equipment that proper guild physicians used, but she did have bandages and painkillers, plus a low-strength disinfectant for scrapes. It was amazing how much more she was able to do when she didn't have to heal every simple thing with her magic. She wasn't exactly sure why the princess continued to fund her efforts, but she was grateful in the extreme for it.

Of course, the number of chronic Wasting cases she was dealing with wasn't improving that much, and she was worried. About a week ago, a rumor had reached Delta of a potential cure for the disease, but no serum had yet made itself visible in the district that would need it the most. Unlike most of the folk down here, Pandora wasn't able to wave away the rumor as nothing real, because she had been there for its creation. Dr. Vanderbilt was a bit strange, but she had thought him the kind of person who really wanted to see his invention distributed, and she wondered what the holdup could possibly be.

Declining Mrs. Worthing's offer of tea, Pan waved at the widow and her young son and saw herself out, padding along the street with her supplies across her back. She was presently staying with her grandmother and grandfather (not blood relatives, but they'd raised her, so that's what she called them), and the matron of the house was in serious need of a dose of The Cure. She hoped it would be made available soon.

Of course, it could not be so simple as to make that the only pressing matter on Pan's mind at the moment. Unfortunately, the reason she was not currently living at her clinic was because someone also wanted her dead for some reason. Not the cheeriest of thoughts to be having, but not really something she could avoid considering every time she made a house call. She couldn't not be available to the people here- they needed her, and she wasn't about to hide from them. Still, any stranger asking after the whereabouts of Pandora Elling was never given the truth of it, so she was probably pretty safe for the moment. At least her friends knew where to find her.



The Assassins' Guild

Zade arched into a back handspring, only narrowly avoiding the blow from the wooden shortsword. The bruises on her arms, legs, and torso would attest to the fact that she would be several times dead of this were a real battle, and even then she knew the Guildmaster was checking his blows. As humiliating as that had been at first, she had come to understand the necessity of it, and she'd be a fool if she denied that she was receiving what amounted to the single most effective combat crash-course ever devised.

This was what she did on her 'days off.' Sought out as much punishment as she could take in the hopes that she'd finally be able to land a hit on the old man who moved like water- always just out of reach and slippery as all get-out. It was a personal favor to Loki that he was doing this, she had gathered, but sometimes she was almost certain that he enjoyed teaching generally. She did not dare to hope that she was in any way an apt pupil, but she was learning fast enough, she supposed, for he never gave her any reason to think otherwise.

Unlike his weapon, her own was the real thing, made of metal and not wood, though not sharpened quite so much as to be fatal without deliberate intent. The steel bladed ring was about three and a half feet in internal diameter, and an odd weapon choice to say the least. Perhaps it made it less surprising that she had spent most of her life as part of a street act and not a fighting force. Not that the skills were too far removed when it came down to it; it was mostly a matter of being less showy and more efficient.

"All right, that should be enough for today, my dear," Amon announced, replacing his practice armament in a pile of the same. Zade didn't have the energy to do much more than nod. Generally speaking, she'd spend the next few hours in the archives below the Guild, learning battle strategy and history, the things that an essentially self-raised Gamma trouper tended to miss out on. It was almost like they cared... well, perhaps that was a bit too bitter. The both of them had done her much good, and she could appreciate an opportunity when she saw it, especially when it came with the understanding that certain past crimes would remain... overlooked.

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It was a day similar to any other in District Delta. The air was thick with smog and the sun shone through a mild haze, the sky becoming cast in a fuzzy texture that was nothing short of normal. And on this day, as was the case most days, Felix Windsor wasn't around to see it, he was in Alpha, teaching at the institute. It was a job that never ceased to surprise him. He'd seen powerful mages come and go, from incredible healers to destructive war machines. He himself was born to lean towards the latter. And as genes could not be changed his ability remained the same as always. He was further along the combat magic scale than most mages and, though he rarely demonstrated it, was capable of dealing out quite obscene amounts of damage to anything around him. Coupled with his tendency for physical over metaphysical magic, he was a force to be reckoned with when he reached his limits.

In the classroom at the Facility, the door swung open in front of Felix without him touching it. A simple enough trick but also a key part of the learning process. For the kids here to learn how to control themselves they needed to witness control on a basic level every day. Which meant doing a lot of magic, turning teaching into an even more exhausting job than usual.

"Good morning class, are we well?"

He greeted them the same as always and they responded in the same ill-timed way as usual. There was actually nothing happening around him that so much as hinted at anything being different that day. But there was a lot going on, big news had reached the District about a cure for the lung disease that was running rampant and Felix knew several people who would directly benefit from such a thing. There were magi healers but their reign could only go so far, a breakthrough like this would save a lot of people.

"Today's focus will probably come as no real shock to you all." He looked around at the faces of the younger class and saw most of them knew well what he was speaking about. "After an incident involving a pair of our older students that has lef our usual room somwhat charred, we'll be moving on to control of combat magic."

The Facility was a prime source of teenage angst, high-running emotions and frayed tempers. As such the ocassional venting of steam or displays of bravado took the form of fights, something that must be witnessed to be believed considering the nature of the students involved. A particularly bad one the day before had ended with students near the scene getting a display of powerful healing magic.

"Everybody reacts differently to the same stimulus. Where one person might laugh, another might get mad. And anger is the most dangerous emotion for a mage, it makes us unpredictable. It makes us volatile. It makes us lose control. And we need control, that's why you're all here after all, but before we can control our magic we need to be able to control ourselves."

It was here, in this same complex, that Felix had learned the same lesson so many years before. He attributed his endless patience to his intructors back then, as well as his considerable power. But that was the past, what he needed to concentrate on most at the moment was the kids. They were the future and he was the one to shape them. But that wasn't to say he couldn't have a little fun while he did it.

"Now, I seem to recall everyone agreeing that they learned better with visual aids. So let's do a little roleplay." He pointed out a small kid from the middle row. "Jonathon, come down here, you're going to be an angry boy." The poor kid didn't have an angry bone in his body, he was shy and reserved, but a large part of effective use of magic was confidence as far as he was concerned. Jonathon obeyed, albeit grudgingly, and another lad was brought down to simulate his opponent. It was a technique he'd used many times. He gave them each lines and choices and explained each bit, making sure to really hammer home the point, which was that you had to do everything in your power to stay in control at all times.

It went well, as it usually did, and the class got a few laughs out of it before the lesson ended. They all made a run for the door and left Felix alone in the classroom, where he stayed for no longer than five minutes. His teaching for the day was done, it was a short shift today, so he decided to take a slow walk back to the station, in no real rush to get home. There would be no rush anyway, despite the commute being so bad there had yet to be a direct line between Alpha and Delta Districts which meant he had to change at least once each journey. Still, he thought it was worth it.

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Pan hummed to herself as she wandered about her grandparents' kitchen. Up until about six months ago, she'd been absolutely hopeless with anything involving food, but now that she was practically in hiding, she was slowly starting to learn those skills that she'd really had no time for previously. It was just as well; without as much to fill her days, she would probably have otherwise driven herself crazy with nothing to do.

She leaned against some free counterspace and considered what, exactly, she should do with the rest of her day. She had no more appointments to keep today, nor was it her day to visit Loki at the palace. Those were always something of a double-edged sword. The princess herself was hospitable, albeit in sort of a strange way, but it was obvious she didn't really belong there. Still, who did they have but each other these days? It wasn't safe for any of them to keep that many associates outside of the others, after all, and she didn't, aside from her family and her patients.

The smell of baking bread filled the small kitchen, and Pandora grinned to herself. Maybe one day, when all of this is over, she'd be able to make bread and pastries for a living. It sounded like a nice, peaceful sort of occupation. She didn't think too hard about when one day would be, or if it would ever come at all, because really, practicality was never the point of dreaming. She left the practicality to other people. They liked it better than she did, anyway.



The Assassins' Guild

Zade was taking notes on a rather large (but not dusty- nothing in the Archive was ever dusty) leather-bound book when she heard someone take a seat not far from her. Normally, this was something she would simply ignore, but as it was, she heard muttering, and had the voice not been feminine, she would have sworn that the voice belonged to a doctor she'd met a few times in the past. He certainly had the habit of talking to himself, and the subject matter was somewhat similar also.

As it was, she glanced up and saw a blond woman pull her had down over her head and apparently bury her nose in a book. She'd never seen this woman before, which while not necessarily a reason for suspicion (she certainly did not know all the assassins around here, after all) was certainly of at least mild interest. As Loki was constantly reminding her, even those things which did not seem to have immediate significance could be important later.

It was perhaps along this line of thinking that Zade decided to inquire. "Glashkov?" she had to admit, that was an odd choice for an assassin's light reading. "You... don't live here, do you?" As if the clothes hadn't made that obvious enough; even she wore the standard uniform around the Guild itself, and she certainly wasn't an actual assassin. Close enough, she supposed, but not really.

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Pandora had just removed her bread loaves from the oven when there was a tapping at her front door. Knowing that both of her grandparents were out today, that left her the only one to answer it. Wiping her hands absently on the hand towel on the counter, she tried to make herself look slightly presentable (being a rather untidy cook, she was presently covered in quite a few white swaths of flour), but eventually gave up the effort as mostly useless. It wasn't like the people who came to see her generally cared much what she looked like anyway. The self-consciousness was hers alone, but it was a futile effort next to the compulsion to be polite and do things in a timely manner.

Pan pulled open the door, but it was not any of the people she might have been thinking it would be. "Professor Windsor," she greeted with obvious puzzlement. It was not as though she never saw him, of course, but she was pretty sure the last time had been about three months prior. Blinking overlarge blue eyes slowly for a second, she remembered her manners and shoved the rusty-hinged door open wide enough to admit him. "Oh, I'm sorry, please come in!" She smiled brightly and moved out of the way so he could enter, and then forced the door shut again behind him. Something of a feat for the slightly-built mage, but one she was well-used to. To say that everything in Delta was broken or malfunctioning would be a bit dramatic, but certainly her house wasn't in the best of shape. She had been considering asking Eos to take a look at it, before deciding that no, she was not going to do such a thing. He was an assassin, not a manual laborer.

"Uhm... I can't really offer you much, but I did just finish making some bread. Oh, and I have tea!" The thought was cheering to her; it was the same kind that Lord Taylor had, procured perhaps because of the sheer amount of delight she'd professed upon tasting some of his once. Moving a standing pot of water onto the stove, she lit it with a spell. Physical magic, and not her area of expertise, but something so simple that she was capable of it all the same. "Help yourself, if you'd like," she offered, indicating the hot loaves.

"Oh, right... you're probably here for a reason, huh? Is someone sick? You don't need me immediately, do you? Because I can go right now if-" Pandora cut herself off and cleared her throat awkwardly, shaking her head. "Sorry. Rambling." She took the pot off the flame and ladled it into two cups, both old and hers chipped, but useable. The tea leaves were added, and she handed one across to Felix.



The Assassins' Guild

Zade snorted, rolling her eyes, though not at the woman specifically, more at the mention of her rather obvious uniform. "Oh yes, nothing quite so tasteful as an apprentice's uniform. No better way to say, 'I'm new here, please throw sharp things at me to test my reflexes.'" All the same, she smiled, for it was indeed a joke- well, mostly. Only one person had thrown something sharp at her without warning thus far, and she had a feeling that was more to do with his personality than any actual training procedure here.

"Scheherazade," she said, taking the proffered hand and shaking it. "Well... Zade if you'd rather avoid the mouthful. Don't let any of them make you feel stupid; I'm pretty sure part of being an assassin is coming off like you know more than you actually do." She shrugged; at least that was how she chose to think of it. Well, except Amon. Zade was fairly certain he did know more than any man should. Occasionally, she thought she could see glimpses of it in his expression. Bah, and now I think I'm reading too much into things. Next thing I know, I'll be seeing sadness in someone's eyes or something. She wasn't much of an empathetic soul, and thought that most things of that nature were rather unreliable and frivolous.

At about this point, a rather large man with a shaven head, obviously not an assassin judging by his attempt to be subtle, passed behind Zade and sat not too far from the two of them. What he wanted, she had no idea, and it certainly wasn’t any of her business, but all the same she could not resist the ascension of her eyebrow, as if to ask the girl across from her if the man was serious. Being schooled relentlessly in looking out for people who might be after your employer’s life had the fringe benefit of attuning her to things like this, and it was actually because he was so clearly no trained the same way that she did not either move away or attack immediately (well, that and the fact that her charge was not actually present). Chances were, he wanted something relatively innocuous. Perhaps he knew the blonde across from her or something? Hell, he could be her father for all Zade knew.

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Stupid, stupid, she was so stupid! She had wards designed and cast for this sort of thing, and if she'd just remembered to reactivate them after she let Professor Windsor through, they'd be holed up safe in a completely impenetrable house with shields over every window, door, and decently-sized rat hole. But no, she had thought that surely nothing would happen in these few minutes on this particular day, and she had not wanted to make her teacher uncomfortable by activating magic of a complexity resolved for fortresses and buildings with more important people in them.

And now she was paying for it, but not just her. That was the worst part, that her foolishness had put someone else in danger too. Pandora concentrated a shield and threw it against one of the assassins, pinning her to the wall. It would not last forever, though, and she carefully stepped over the shattered remains of what had been her only un-mangled teacup. She darted out the door, but not before she attempted to push professor Windsor out first. "Wards- keep them trapped!" As soon as both of them were out, she muttered the words and watched as the doorway sealed over with translucent blue-white light. Unlike the spells that magi slung around in a fight, these were sustained, and would last until she removed them, or the energy sustaining them ran out.

The second wouldn't happen for a few hours, yet, but she didn't want to take any chances. Well, that wasn't exactly true- what she wanted to do right now was to lean against the side of her house and try to steady her racing pulse, but she didn't have the time for that right now. "I'm very sorry, professor, but those two came to kill me, and I think it might be best if you came with me to the Guild. I need to tell Sir Amon what just happened." The strangeness of the fact that she referred openly to the most enigmatic figure in the city, a man who for most people was somewhere between rumor and reality, with casual familiarity, was lost on her, but she did know that the man beside her had little reason to be happy with her right now.

"I would tell you everything, but that would only be more dangerous for you," she continued sincerely. "But I think... they saw you, so you might want to stay somewhere safe until they've been caught. The guild is safe, I can promise you that." Assuming he would see her logic and follow (probably not the safest of assumptions, but then she didn't really know that), Pan led the way through the maze of Delta streets, over the crossing and into Gamma, flitting about at a pace that might have been difficult to match were she not so small.

The building she stopped in front of was large and obviously important, but bore no other distinguishing features. It could have been anything, but it wasn't. The only thing it was was the headquarters of several of her closest friends and the man that she personally thought watched over all of them like some kind of boundlessly patient father-figure. Some might have been disquieted by the notion; Pandora found it nothing short of comforting.

Her passage here had not been unobtrusive, exactly- she had intentionally gone by several checkpoints that would alert the watchmen to her presence, and they all recognized her well enough by now. The strained look she wore was probably enough to suggest that not all was well, and indeed Amon himself was on the ground floor when she entered. "Another attack?" he asked quietly, and she nodded.

"I um... I trapped them in my house. Wards. I'll have to go back and release them so that whoever you send can get in."



The Assassins' Guild

Zade realized that she had unconsciously shifted her body language to something closer to intimidating than neutral, and wondered at that for a moment. She had not meant to do so; perhaps it was an unconscious instinct of some kind. She was a bodyguard now, after all, it only made sense that she should be good at it. Even so, because it had not been her intention, she forced herself to relax, though she could do nothing about the sharpness of her stare. The color of her irises was rather disconcerting at first, something she played to her advantage whenever possible but was just inconvenient otherwise.

Forgefire... she was certain she'd heard that name before, and Victoria's outburst was enough to confirm it. The smith. Zade's own preferred weapons were... unusual, to say the least, and most smiths did not make them. She had no idea if this one did or not; both her rope dart and her bladed ring were inheritance from her days with the troupe. The man who'd taught her to use them to perform had not told her where they were made. She had since discovered that there were a few too many similarities between her act and fighting for it to be pure coincidence, and so she had no doubt that they were the work of a weaponsmith, and a good one, but she didn't know who. One of many things that Amshel had not specified.

When he mentioned looking for a specific Glashkov title, Scheherazade shrugged. "If it's not that one, the others are two rows back, middle of the shelf, I think." She spent quite a bit of time in here, and those texts happened to be alphabetically close to works by Florina Golburn, who had much interesting work with pyrotechnics and combustion mechanics, something Zade had a personal interest in.

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"Ah, yes. It sure is quite the machine." he said reacting to Amons statement as he walked to one of the shelves. "It will certainly find it's use one of these days, but that wasn't what I wanted to speak to you about." He said looking through the weapons. "Hmm, what would do... Ah, maybe this will." He mumbled grabbing a contraption out of the shelves. He holding it carefully as if it was a fragile piece of antique he walked back to Amon.

"This is what I wanted to propose, we both know there are agents working for Gilgamesh seeded in the guild. I want to lure them out in the open. I'll send a weapons crate from this adress to the guild, adressed to you, with an unmarked cargo. Which would raise the suspicion of Gilgamesh agents, because they know I am conspiring against their boss and unmarked weapon crates usualy mean that nobody may know about the content. Of course the content of this crate will be nothing, but worthless scrap metal a safety in case they get their hands on it... And a silent bomb that will spray an invisable fluorecant dye on whoever opens the crate. The real weapon is right here in my hands, readied for use and for you to take." He said handing over the contraption. "The system is made to be concealed within the sleeves and to shoot out when taken into use. The left piece is a steampowered ram, the right one a thermic lance, basically a blowtorch, but with a flame the lenght of a sword. These pieces are made to fit on both arms, so switch them every so often to surpirse your opponents." He explaned calmly.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The facility

As the group neared the facility Giacomo saw the rubble. It was totally destroyed, the once mighty building had been downed by the one thing it was meant to keep inside mages. But why did they destroy it, it was no longer a prison, it was a school. Was it a show of their power, or a statement paved in destruction? Then Amon asked where the closest sewer entrance was. "Well, there are a few stormdrains here, their lids actualy aren't fixed to the sewer and could be lifted off, but it would take more than just elbow grease to do that. If you take those lids off, there would be a narrow gap theoretically large enough for a human to fit through. Theoretically that is, I've seen more than a few getting stuck in those gaps. In any case that could be the entrance you seek." he said pointing towards a stormdrain.

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“I’d thought not.” Pan’s simple statement was punctuated by the opening of the door in question, and she stepped back slightly on a reflex. It’s wasn’t one she’d always had, but… when every person you met might have it out for you and you couldn’t tell them from the others, you learned to appreciate space, and those who you didn’t need to keep such distance from.

The person who answered the door was not exactly who Pan had been expecting. It was hard to miss a guess as to the woman’s identity: Ishtar was rather famous (or was it infamous? The mage was not sure) in this district, and the cursory descriptions hardly did her credit. She was no longer young, perhaps, but few people could hope to age this elegantly, especially in this part of the city. What surprised Pandora more than her refined face (for she foolishly presumed that people in Ishtar’s profession had to be attractive) though, was the warmth in her eyes.

Perhaps it was her giving form to her hopes that this would not go disastrously wrong, but she could not help but think that this was a good sign all the same. The woman stared right at her and recognized her immediately, and for a moment Pan’s heart leapt to her throat and she forgot that she was supposed to be acting confident and righteously assured that this change of heart, false though it may be, was the correct thing. Instead she just felt rather hopelessly tiny. The moment passed, though, and Ishtar invited them inside.

Resisting the urge to look back at Victoria- for any assurance that the young physician could give would surely not be worth the suspicion such an act would produce, would it?- Pan stepped over the threshold into a home that, while cozy by most standards, was absolutely palatial as far as she was concerned. Well… it would have been were she not one of perhaps three native Delta-dwellers who’d actually seen the palace, much less stepped inside it.

The two of them were shooed into a living room, and Pan took a seat on the edge of an overstuffed chair, fidgeting slightly in her anxiety. Surely it wasn’t such a bad thing to seem nervous? Turncoat or no, she had good reason to be.

Pan was broken from her thoughts by the entrance of a child, redheaded in a way that reminded her a bit of Scheherazade. Well, maybe that was just because it was a rather uncommon hue. The little girl’s complexion was much lighter, anyway. The healer managed a wan smile when the girl squeezed in next to Victoria. She wasn’t exactly sure how the doctor would handle that, but surely learning to deal with children was part of medical practice? It had certainly been of great importance to her, easier because she actually liked them.

Ishtar returned shortly thereafter, and her comment had Pan shaking her head emphatically. “Oh, no, I don’t think you’d do that. Forgive me for saying so, but if you really wished me dead, you could have done it by now, right?” Pandora mimed raising a knife in her off-hand, smiling to show she wasn’t offended. Once upon a time, she wouldn’t have noticed the weapon, but she did spend quite a bit of time in the company of assassins these days. Good as her word, she took a cup of tea and balanced the saucer on her knees, mindful of her calf-length dress, a bit raggedy now but not so bad.

She was a bit surprised to hear that Aram wasn’t around, but in retrospect it probably made sense. Hadn’t she been hiding in much the same manner for a year now? “Well, actually, I… when I came upon that scene in Beta…” And here came the hard part: lying. She’d always been hopeless at it, and frankly she didn’t really wish to be skilled, but for now she had to try. Maybe mixing in a bit of the truth would help. “I didn’t honestly know what was going on, and my first instinct was just to, well, heal people I suppose. I’ve had a bit of time to consider things, though, and I’ve thought about what the others have said to me,” by others she meant other members of Aram’s rebel army (such as they were), “and I’ve decided that I just can’t ignore how we’re being treated anymore.”

Glancing to her side, Pan nodded to Victoria. “My friend here is no mage, but she understands that what benefits us benefits Delta as well.” That was vague enough, right? Victoria could say whatever she wanted.



District Beta

Scheherazade had honestly thought she’d be doing something a trifle more interesting than sitting in on a meeting that really didn’t involve her. Granted, over the past year, she’d become very good at doing just that, but when she considered the fact that Loki and Eos would be raiding a manse in a few hours, she kind of wished she were not.

She’d been of a mind to volunteer herself as Taylor’s bodyguard, for she was good at this, too, but in the end the combined reasoning of the lord and the smith had convinced her to do things their way. She was barely an adult anyway, what the hell did she know about politics? Loki’d probably sent Carlisle along with Taylor anyway- it wasn’t like she was going to need him today.

The friendship between the two members of Parliament was probably one of the oddest Zade had ever seen- their demeanors were just that different. She and the Princess were more similar, and maybe, possibly, something close to friends, but she didn’t really see Loki giving her a cousin anytime soon, to put it one way. The former fire-thrower’s thoughts meandered in this and similarly-useless directions, and she tried not to look too bored.

Apparently, she was failing, because Garbiel decided to show her mercy and give her something to do. A message to deliver and a request to go back to her quarters? Well, that hardly qualified, but she could tell it was important, and wondered what the old man was thinking. He looked so… something. Melancholy wasn’t quite the right word, but it was close. Whatever it was, it hastened her acquiescence, and she did not pester him with questions.

The letter went to the first courier she came across, with strict instructions as to its care, spoken in that sort of clipped phrasing that messengers knew well and used with one another but not their employers- it would get there post-haste.

Not twenty minutes later, she was back in her appointed quarters, reading a book to pass the time. Lunch would apparently be up in a few minutes, and hopefully Garbiel with it. Just what did he want to discuss, anyway?

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Pandora was having a bit of difficulty deciding what to do. Then again, she tended to dither about what to eat for dinner (assuming she had a choice) so this probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise. She was fairly certain that Ishtar was not bluffing, and did in fact know that the both of them were lying. This was honestly impressive, because even though she had known that Victoria wasn’t telling the truth, she’d almost believed her anyway. Maybe she was just gullible or something.

Setting her teacup down, the mage fiddled with her hands, trying to decide exactly how to handle it. Really, she wanted nothing more than to run for the door and never come back. Since that was definitely not a possibility if she cared about the city even a little bit, she was left with two choices: try (and probably fail) to lie again, and fess up. Her natural predisposition to honesty pretty much decided for her, but she shot Victoria an apologetic “sorry-I’m-messing-this-up-so-badly” glance before turning back to Ishtar.

The words of a conversation from the day before came back to her. Just before she’d left, Loki had pulled her aside. After waving off all Pan’s meager attempts at formality, the princess had left her with a real thinker: “if it all goes to hell, just blame me. This is all my fault, and mine alone.” The sentiment was one that Pandora understood to be rather selfless, though she doubted Loki would ever admit to that much. She wasn’t sure she personally could do it though.

“We were sent here… to gather information on the rebellion. The princess wants to stop it before too much blood is shed,” she offered almost guiltily. This whole business felt horrible, really, but at least she believed what she was saying this time. “I’m the only mage she knows who would do it, so it had to be me. Victoria is just here to make sure I don’t get myself into any trouble I can’t handle, really.” She paused, waiting for some kind of reaction, maybe an attack, she wasn’t sure.

When none was immediate in coming, Pan at last had some odd inclination of an idea. “But… if you wanted to trade information on Gilgamesh, does that mean you knew already?” Gilgamesh didn’t outwardly have anything to do with magi; he was a man who hated them with great fervor, actually. So why would Ishtar know so much of him? It was suspected that he was pulling strings, of course, even she knew that, but how closely was he watching over the result?

“I did not know, but I suspected,” was Ishtar’s reply. “There are precious few people who would risk what it takes to stand against that man; you and your allies among them. As for myself, well… I like to think that I might as well.” There was a contemplative look on her face as she said this, but it soon smoothed out. Standing, the woman went to a corner of the room and tapped the wall a few times until she got a hollow sound, then moved aside the wood paneling and withdrew something from within.

Returning to her seat, she spread the rolled parchment for the two others to see. A strange symbol was etched into one corner of it, but the rest was taken up by a roughly circular map that seemed to map an underground network of passages beneath the city. “Sewers?” Pan asked, furrowing her eyebrows.

“Sewers, yes, but not all of these passages carry waste. Gilgamesh holds his prisoners here-” she pointed out a place beneath Alpha, and though Pandora would not recognize it as such, it was almost directly below his mansion- “And when he’s ready, they are taken here.” Her index finger traced a pattern down to Beta, indicating what appeared to be a dead-end passage.

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Ishtar's Residence

Pandora couldn’t make too much sense of what Victoria was saying, but she judged it was something logistical about guarding the sewer passages, or maybe that section of Alpha? She did not recognize the specific place; it was not the Facility or the palace, and thus she’d never had cause to visit it. Still… right there? Someone was keeping prisoners. No, not someone, Gilgamesh.

That man scared her on a level she would not care to think about if she could avoid it. The funny thing was, she had never even seen his face. Maybe that was part of the reason- he scarcely even seemed human to her, just some kind of looming shadow with arms long enough to reach her wherever she hid. Everyone was sticking their necks out so far just to stop him, and on top of that, the rebellion was gathering momentum. She’d almost thought it couldn’t get much worse, only… living in Delta was a lifelong lesson in the nonexistence of a rock bottom. It was always possible to fall further.

Ishtar was talking again, though, and what she said was surprising to say the least. “Um…” the mage wasn’t really sure how to respond to that. She’d never really thought anyone was pushing her around particularly. Mostly, they just knew more than she did, and really there wasn’t much she could do about that. At least they tended to tell her what was going on instead of leaving her in the dark, right? That had to count for something. “I’ll do my best,” she promised, because really that was all she could say. Either way, it seemed to satisfy the madam, and she accepted the rolled-up map with an uncertain sort of gravitas.

She had made it to the door before she looked back, and noted that there seemed to be some kind of exchange happening between Ishtar and Victoria. She might be hopeless at lying, but Pan wasn’t totally incompetent, and she knew tension when she saw it. This kind was actually pretty thick, and she bit her lip. “Victoria? Shouldn’t we probably be going?” The small woman hovered there with her hand on the brass doorknob, and glanced back and forth between the other two. True to form, the thought that killing Ishtar might make them safer had never crossed her mind. The woman had provided information that Pan thought was important, and that had moved her summarily from the “unknown” designation to the “ally” one in her (overly simplistic, she would admit) understanding of the world.



District Beta, Blacksmith's Guild Apartments

The food was delivered, but Scheherazade chose to wait before eating it. She had that much in the way of manners, at least. It didn’t take too much longer for Garbiel to show up, anyway, and privately she wondered if the meeting had gotten worse after she left it. It must have; the man looked positively haggard, shoulders slumped as though bearing a tangible weight. What on earth had occurred in her absence? She’d let him in without bothering too much about it, but his next words demanded a bit more attention.

“I hope the food is to your liking Scheherazade, but please I believe it best for us to dine first before we discuss our next order of business.” Lovely; nobody talked like that unless they had something awful to say afterwards. She spared her meal a glance and inclined her head. Where she was not a fan of small talk, it seemed to be something he was inclined towards. A change for her, dealing with someone who was, for lack of a better word, pleasant. Not that the others she dealt with were unpleasant, exactly, just… Loki was almost all business, with a side of attitude she kept well-concealed in public. Not cordial by any stretch of the imagination. Many of her fellow assassins were similar in some ways.

Realizing the silence had stretched a bit longer than was probably polite, she shrugged minutely. “It’s fine, and if that’s what you want…” she trailed off mid-sentence, not really needing to finish. She was what she was, and frankly if she even tried to match his demeanor she’d fail horribly. This was as courteous as she got.

As soon as the meal was concluded, she found herself with a sturdy knife in one hand and perhaps the last instruction she’d been expecting. “You want me to kill this man? Well… all right, but there are less obvious ways to do it than this,” she indicated the blade. Still, if he wanted it to be public knowledge that he was willing to hire assassins, she wasn’t going to counteract him. “If anyone would recognize this as yours, I can leave it in the body if you want.” She wouldn’t unless specifically directed though. It was a good knife. Frankly, she wasn’t even sure she was going to use it at all.

To his question regarding Danterus, she simply nodded, her eyes narrowing slightly. Where was he going with this? The two matters seemed completely unrelated until he continued, and Scheherazade frowned. “I won’t tell him you said this, if that’s what you’re asking, but… if he does become a problem, you’ll have to hire someone else. I won’t help a father kill his son,” she said firmly. She had the luxury to choose; she was no formal member Amon’s Guild. Family was a touchy subject for Scheherazade. She held no loyalty for what remained of her blood, and in some senses, she’d never known what it was like to have one. The idea that someone would will such a connection to be torn was repugnant to her in a way that simple contract killing was not.

Was she a hypocrite? Maybe, as she’d sooner see her blood father dead than anywhere near her. But her actual family, that troupe of acrobats and performers in Gamma- she’d sooner slit her own throat than kill one of them. “And you shouldn’t even consider it a possibility. Lock him up until this is all over if you must, make him hate you, but don’t have him killed.” She knew she probably had no right to say these things, but really that had never stopped her from saying something before, and it wasn’t about to now.



Midnight

Zade crouched outside the room of her target, examining his doorknob. Frowning in concentration rather than displeasure, she withdrew a medium-sized lockpick from the pouch at her belt, sliding it into the mechanism and listening for the soft clicks that would signal her success. A number of years breaking into places much better-guarded than this single room made it a rather simple affair, and she was out of the relatively-exposed hallway in seconds. The room itself was as dark as one would expect of a sleeping chamber after the occupant was abed, and she gave her eyes a moment to adjust, pupils dilating to let in as much light as possible.

The soft outline of a sleeping person was just visible on the other side of the room, and Zade tread carefully, placing each of her feet before shifting her weight onto it. The window there was her emergency escape route and also the only reason she could see at all, but if all went according to plan, she’d be able to just walk back out the door. A gloved hand grasped the hilt of the knife Garbiel had given her, and it slid smoothly and noiselessly from its sheath. Holding it in her right hand, she approached the sleeping figure, who was snoring at such volume she wondered if perhaps he hadn’t been drunk before he went to bed.

She used to say she didn’t kill people. Even in that battle a year ago, she’d forgone much of her advantage by refusing to do so, but once the attacks started coming more quickly and viciously, she’d found herself backed into a corner. The only way to shave her own life had been to take that of her assailant, and when it came down to it, she hadn’t hesitated more than a moment. In the time since, she’d eliminated the moment altogether.

Which was why, when she placed her hand over the sleeping man’s mouth, he didn’t even have enough time to fully regain his consciousness before his throat was gruesomely slit, and she held his weakening struggles down for the short time it took him to bleed out of a severed jugular vein. The effort smeared her clothing with blood, and she decided she probably shouldn’t take the hallway, just in case she was seen. Instead, she slid the window open and climbed out after confirming that the man really was dead, and scaled the building, running across the roof and climbing back down to her own window, which she’d left ajar just in case. The bloody garments went straight into the fire, replaced with ordinary sleepwear, and Zade settled into a chair beside the flames, watching them with glassy-eyed constancy.

No matter how many times she killed a person, she still wasn’t able to sleep the night afterwards.

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#, as written by Arke
Victoria's eyebrows raised slightly. Was the rebellion and Gilgamesh unrelated after all? She couldn't imagine a more perfect time for the mages to begin an uprising, but then again, the nobles owe that to themselves for giving them a legitimate reason to. Her fingers twitched slightly as she tried to discern any sort of lie from her. Ishtar seemed serious enough, and the map she offered was more than enough to go on at this point. Since she claimed not to know anything else, there was little Victoria could do to coax anything else out. In her youth, and admitted shortsightedness, she seriously considered killing Ishtar regardless of all the consequences that would ensue. However, with Ishtar's latest words, her resolve was weakened. She knew his master? Who was she?

This caused her to hesitate, the tip of a throwing knife just barely peeking above her wrist as it nearly flashed into her palm. The Goddess didn't give her enough time to process this, as Pandora called from the doorway about leaving. She shook herself, before sliding the blade back up her sleeve in an obvious manner. "I'm sorry, Pandora. I'll be with you." She called, before turning back to Ishtar.

"I'll be back." She said. Probably wasn't the best thing to announce, but then again if she showed up unnanounced Ishtar might be ready to kill her because of this stand-off. Turning, she hurried toward the door. Catching up with Pandora, Victoria quickly touched the map.

"We'll burn it as soon as time allows. I'll make another copy. It's not good to handle things strangers give us." She said. It was too easy to frame somebody by giving them any sort of item. Be it theft, or otherwise, it was best to dispose of it and feign ignorance when push came to shove. Quickly, she opened the door slightly and looked outside, her trained eyes smoothly absorbing the scenery for any sort of suspicious behavior.

Then again, this was Delta. Doing that wouldn't be much help.