Warning!

This story was marked as COMPLETED, but still has characters pending approval! You might be missing some of the story.

Revelation: The Cure

The Nexus

0 INK

a part of Revelation: The Cure, by Kurokiku.

The central hub of the city.

RolePlayGateway holds sovereignty over The Nexus, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
70 readers have been here.
1,980 readers have visited Revelation: The Cure since Kurokiku created it.

Heads Up: Completed Storyline!

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

Setting

Contains the Royal Palace, Marchfield Laboratories, and Parliament.

The Nexus

The central hub of the city.

Minimap

The Nexus is a part of District Alpha.

2 Places in The Nexus:


Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

It was with a mounting sense of dread that the princess listened to Gilgamesh. Honestly, she scarcely heard the words- they’d danced across this floor before, she knew the steps- but the horror spawned instead from the looks on the faces of the other members of Parliament. Was it really that much easier to believe the honeyed lie than the bitter truth? Were they truly that weak?

She knew it had little to do with weakness, or at least only of a kind. No, it was more because of their strength that it was so easy to herd them into his mindset. The magi and everything they represented threatened to overturn the settled power structure. A full-scale rebellion would disenfranchise most of these people, and they likely knew it. The ironic thing was, she alone probably stood to benefit from it; if she so wished, Loki could allow events to march along as they would and emerge the reasonable authority figure at the end of all this chaos. If played right, she might even be able to do away with this sham of an institution altogether and restore complete monarchy to the city.

If it hadn’t meant so much loss in the meantime, she might have been tempted. But that was something that she presently could not bring herself to even consider seriously, let alone resolve to do. She could not claim to be goodhearted in the manner of Pandora or Caelin; she looked always for the implications, the impacts that actions would have on the threads linking people to power structures, and like it or not, they influenced her decisions. She forced herself to look at the big picture, always, and in doing so individuals became by necessity faceless. It was why she was ill-equipped to fight Gilgamesh’s line of reasoning. In order for Parliament as an institution to retain its structural integrity, it would have to give up what little moral integrity it had left. Truthfully, she doubted her ability to act otherwise in their position, and it was the ugliest of thoughts.

But she was not in their position, she was in hers, and pragmatically, she would just have to be glad of that, as it placed her in a position as to be able to take a stance that was both to the benefit of the Crown and also to the people she had come to see as more than faceless numbers. Few as they might be, they would stand in well enough for the rest, and this, she knew, was what she had been missing scarcely more than a year ago. She had been blind to the trees for the sake of the forest, and though her vision was still shrouded in this respect, at least she remembered that there were individuals, and that they had importance. Something that it would seem her fellows forgot.

Well, most of them. She watched a few of those countenances so sure after Gilgamesh spoke waver when Caelin took his stand, and though the fact that he was clearly upset caused his words about anger to ring a tad ironic, he was doing something that she was not capable of- changing minds. Loki could manipulate, coerce, and force with the best of them, but she rarely won allies. Even their faction in this house of governance was almost entirely the result of the efforts of Lord Taylor and but a few others. The tragedy of being raised to rule alone was that you never learned how to cooperate in a lasting fashion.

She would give no speech; she was ill-suited to such things. This did not mean that she had no plan. Of course, the plan was rather risky, and full of holes that were obvious enough that both Amon and her mother had tried to actively discourage her from going through with it. She’d kept it from those few other people she could trust (Caelin included) because it was simply far too risky to involve them. Even the girl standing behind her, so honest in her bitterness, did not know what was to come.

At the conclusion of Caelin’s speech, the rest of Parliament went into something of an uproar as various members of it began shouting at each other and aides ran to and fro attempting to collect for the record everything that was said. In was in this chaos that Loki stood, but before she could ask the room for silence, someone else demanded it.

“Silence!” The Queen, most often nothing but a mere spectator in these events, was nevertheless immediately obeyed. Loki took her seat with wide eyes out of respect for her mother’s position, but she had no idea what she was doing. They had discussed nothing, and it was only when Minerva continued that her daughter grasped the intent of her demand.

“Clearly, this is a contentious issue for all of us, and I think the two sides most dominant here have stated their positions clearly enough. Because I have no desire to see my city fall into ruin, I feel it necessary to bring up the point that nobody else will.” Loki swore quietly under her breath, a rather colorful expression she’d taken directly from Eos. “Duke David Gilgamesh, Prime Minister of Parliament, at this time the Crown brings formal suit against you for corruption. There has been some evidence come to my attention that your dealings with other members of Parliament and the citizenry as a whole have violated the bylaws of this city and the constitution besides. I’m afraid I cannot allow you your vote in this legislature until the matter has been officially investigated and set to rights, one way or another.”

Damn. She’d taken the words right out of Loki’s mouth, only it was so much worse for the Queen to do it, because in the (likely) event that the evidence could not be mustered in enough time, Gilgamesh would have that much more on his side. There was a difference between the Crown refusing to try and prosecute him and the Crown failing to do so even with their best efforts. Failure would mean the death of the Queen’s political effectiveness for an ineffectual stall. It seemed that Loki had miscalculated in the spot closest to home, and unless the right evidence could be unearthed, and quickly, everything would be lost.




Gilgamesh sneered up at his old adversary. She had no right to look so… righteous up there on that dias. His disdain for the Queen was an old hate, and it ran deep. The woman was too sentimental, too afraid to take the drastic measures that in his mind were both necessary and justified, simply because she did not wish to dirty her hands. Her, her damnable daughter, and that whelp Taylor were all the same.

Outwardly, he looked properly mortified, but gave the dias a lavish bow all the same. “I am saddened that someone thinks such a thing of me, Your Majesty, but I will endeavor to demonstrate my innocence, that this urgent matter may more swiftly be brought to its close. As I am no longer in a position for the moment to call the Constitution into question, I still recommend a temporary measure, instigating a curfew for the outer districts, and increased guard presence there, and the outfitting of the guard with doses of the Cure, that they might have adequate defense against future actions of this… rebellion. Surely even my opponents can see the need for this much?” Having been formally accused of corruption, his special capacities as Prime Minister were for the moment frozen, which would buy his opposition some much needed time.

There were general murmurs of agreement, and though a decent number of people voted nay for the measure, it passed. Loki’s knuckles were bone-white where they gripped the arms of her chair. Gilgamesh swept out, escorted by a few members of the Queen’s personal guardsmen, and the rest of the Lords followed, their business concluded abruptly for the moment. Loki attempted to make eye contact with her mother, and received a small nod in return. Shaking her head, the Princess moved a few seats down and tapped Caelin on the shoulder. “Would you mind coming with me?” she asked. “I believe my mother has some explaining to do… as do I, and I think you should hear it.”

Turning to the girl behind her, she gave no chance for Zade to say anything. “Go, now. You know what to do.”



The Assassins' Guild/District Beta

When Eos arrived back at the Guild, Amon took one look at him and immediately had both the man and the healer he carried sent to the infirmary for emergency treatment. With Pandora out of commission, the in-house physicians were about to have more work than they knew what to do with. Unfortunately, Etzel did not appear to be there either, and that did not bode well. He probably wouldn’t have gone directly back to his safehouse, not without checking in.

Grim-faced, Amon left directions with the apprentice at the desk and headed out himself to observe the aftermath. What he saw upon his arrival was not pretty, and it seemed that the damage had extended past the barracks and to the Smith’s Guild complex and the inn on the other side. The area was almost completely empty now, and Amon recognized two of the few people still remaining. “Mr. Vernazza,” he greeted, cordial as always despite the obvious carnage around him. The other man’s name did not immediately come to mind, but he did know where he’d seen the youth before. “You’re Garbiel’s boy, yes? Did he make it out all right? What of the rest?” He gestured towards the still-burning building, the response teams (such as they were) now working to combat the unnatural mage-fire that still licked at the structures.

He needed to find Etzel and hopefully also his apprentice, since the volume of injured, while not great in terms of his own personnel, did seem to be rather more than his physicians would be able to handle, and now was not the time to be making distinctions between “his” people and people in general. Even so, Garbiel was as close to a friend as Amon kept, and he would not deny that he did wish to know of the smith’s condition.

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

To say that Zade had a full grasp of the peculiarities of the situation at hand would be to make quite the mistake. It was the difference between art and science, the distortion between what she perceived and the underlying mechanisms of politics. She would remember the day’s events in the hasty splotches of impressionist color, not the finely-tuned machine with cogs and gears that perhaps the others saw.

Her world turned red when she tried listening to Gilgamesh. To her, it didn’t sound like deft manipulation or playing on the fears of the nobility, it simply sounded like hate-filled spume without a purpose or a lick of truth to it. She could not claim that she saw the magi’s situation as any more unfair than the lives of anyone who lived in the mass of ratholes and warrens that was Delta. She certainly didn’t think that their campaign was going to be successful, not in a world where people less hated than they were allowed to live amidst the filth of industry.

Still, she couldn’t help but be a bit pleased that they’d actually done something. They’d been given an inch, but they were taking the mile that they had a right to, or at least should. Even if such an effort were doomed to fail, she couldn’t help but enjoy it for the fear it was putting into these aristocrats’ hearts, even if only for a moment. Damn right they’d destroyed the Facility; now they’d never have to go back.

Yet she lost much of her anger even as Lord Taylor gained his. It was not so grand and sweeping as the oppressed against the oppressor, was it? She’d had a year’s worth of experience to show her that in a way that she would not have thought to believe if told. It was peculiar, that. But for the kindness of a single individual, she might have been so poor and desperate as to join these marchers in their battle. But for a fire-slinging street performer, she might have wound up one of the many without franchise, doomed to work a factory or the same stretch of Delta alleyway as her mother had. But for her friendship with a certain knife-slinging Princess who refused to stay put, she may have never come to make the distinction she could now.

But for an accident of birth, any one of these idiots might have been a mage themselves. Didn’t they see that? The irritation gave way to the grays of confusion when Loki stood. The princess was never one to give speeches in Zade’s experience. Maybe she’d used one when announcing her intention to join Parliament? Her bodyguard couldn’t remember for certain if that was the occasion. It had been… impactful, in the way Loki had of exuding superiority. It was an annoying tendency, if she were being truthful, but she wasn’t sure it was even intentional. It was also highly satisfying when used on other people, but it didn’t make for a very convincing demeanor.

What was even more confusing was what the Queen said next. So they were actually going to accuse Gilgamesh of being a heartless bastard now? Last time she’d checked, they still didn’t have any solid evidence for that… it looked like they’d have to find some, and quickly. Any questions on her part were stopped thoroughly by Loki’s instructions, and though she bristled a bit at the curt tone in which they were issued, she nodded shortly and took off. She knew what was meant, she just didn’t have the faintest idea what it implied.


The Assassins' Guild

Pandora drifted in and out of consciousness for an indeterminate amount of time. For the most part, she would wake just enough to be overwhelmed with the stabbing pains that breathing caused, before her addled and severely concussed mind would shut itself down again in response. Regaining any level of mental function was a struggle against the ripping agonies of broken of shattered ribs, making breaths a labor to say the least.

Her pain tolerance was not particularly impressive. It had never needed to be. Pan had never been a rambunctious child, and after a certain point, she was able to deal with any small injuries almost without thinking about it. Almost. As it turned out, dealing with her pain this time was going to take a lot more focus than she was currently capable of mustering.

Slowly, though, awareness returned. She felt not-ground underneath her, and surmised that she must have been moved. From what little sound she could pick out, people were moving around fairly urgently. Her guess was that she was in an infirmary, possibly in the Guild, which meant that at some point, an assassin had likely moved her. Probably one of those she knew. Okay, logic was working, would magic?

She reached for the wellspring of her magic, easing the concussion first, then the ribs. As much as she wanted to eliminate the pain entirely, she was going to need it to determine what was actually broken. The diagnostics would take up too much effort at this stage. Slowly, awkwardly, the snapped ribs knit back together, the surrounding flesh following. A few had been more shattered than broken, though, and those would still be tender for quite some time. Properly, she should probably fall back asleep, but the urgency of the situation demanded otherwise.

Cracking an eyelid, Pan groaned and squeezed it shut again. The light was painful. A few more attempts, and her dilated pupils had shrunk to a manageable size, and she was able to determine that her initial guess as to her location had been correct. It was almost surreal, being both doctor and patient, though she suspected that without some form of immediate assistance, she might have died. Against her own better judgment, Pandora used her arms for leverage and managed to sit herself up. Apparently, she was still mostly clothed, which was an infinitesimal positive. It meant she hadn’t been bleeding too much. She always had been rather good at finding the upsides, pathetic as they might be.

“Ugh… what happened?” the question was muttered to nobody in particular, and Pan scanned the room with bleary eyes. Catching sight of Eos next to a pile of stained bandages in a wastebin, she flashed a wan smile. “I feel like we’ve done this before,” she commented, unknowingly echoing his earlier musings. “Are you all right?”

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

The cost of any great change is never low. If the innovators are lucky, it is paid in time and money alone. But for those who have no such patience nor an excess of resources, it seems most often to be paid in blood, and not always that of the guilty. Sometimes, the innocent among us are the casualties. Perhaps there was no such thing as innocence in the world that Revelation was on that day. I disagree. There was much, and much was lost.




The morning of David Gilgamesh’s Parliamentary hearing signaled the beginning of a cold snap; most of those with windows awoke to find them somewhat frosted over, the glass covered in a textured coat of white crystals. The Prime Minister himself, his son at his side, approached the government building in silence equally chilly, breath misting out into the air in steady streams, indicative of, if anything, the fact that he was entirely nonplussed with the state of affairs.

Was he guilty of that which he was being accused? The simplest answer was yes, though there was more intricacy to it than that damned Minerva and her pet nobles would ever understand. Truly, the only reason he was enduring this spectacle at all was because, once it was over, he would have publicly discredited the crown, and would in all likelihood force his bitter enemy’s abdication, leaving the girl Loki to scramble after threads and try to avoid having her own strings tugged at his will.

Seth, for his part, seemed a fair bit less certain, if the way his eyes were rapidly moving about said anything on the matter. “Patience, boy,” Gilgamesh intoned, not entirely without kindness. “It will be over with in due time.” What he diligently avoided saying was that this, all of it, was in truth little more than a primer for the day’s true events. Everything that was said in this hall would be said with deliberate care, while the rest of the city was being prepared for his eventual dominion over it, and in turn, his heir’s.

The duke himself was not well-known for his own ability to wait, and perhaps due to this, his words startled the younger man into sedateness, even as they crossed the threshold of the hall. The great room that served as the meeting place for Revelation’s legislature was today rearranged for the proceedings: the Parliament-elected Magister would sit at an elevated bench, on the dais usually reserved for the three thrones occupied or left vacant by members of the royal family. Today, though, justice was to be the supreme arbiter, and all other considerations of blood and birth must kneel before it.

Well, that was the intended symbolism anyway. Whether anyone still believed such things or not was beyond his ability to know; he supposed that upstart Taylor might think it. He certainly didn’t. Two smaller tables were placed in front of the bench, facing it, and at one, the Princess sat. The other was as yet empty, and it was into the chairs here, high-backed and wooden, that Duke Gilgamesh and Seth seated themselves. The rest of Parliament, the Queen, and a few guild representatives (including, he noted with distaste, that simian soft-heart Forgefire) were off to one side.

Seems Minerva needs her whelp to fight her battles now, he thought to himself, but then perhaps this would play to his advantage. Instead of some nameless Crown attorney losing the case, it would be the very person who’d need what shreds of credibility she could salvage most, and to have failed here would certainly go far towards ensuring that those shreds were insubstantial.

The Magister entered, and everyone stood as he proceeded to the bench and took his chair, gesturing for the others to do the same. “I understand that we are here in the matter of the Crown versus Duke David Gilgamesh; I will hear opening statements from both parties.”

With that, the Princess stood, and their little game was on.




District Delta

This is it. What had begun fifty years ago was ending today. Gilgamesh’s people were going to be underground, planting bombs under strategic locations and government buildings. Just as the Facility has disappeared as ash on the wind, so would all the other fixtures of the oppression of his people. The palace where the Queen sat on high and refused to help them, the Parliament building where laws were continually made to oppress them, the Guild that posed the largest threat to their continued equality, and the several Guard barracks that would provide them with opposition as they marched to take Alpha.

A glance to his side informed Azazel that his wife looked troubled. It was an expression she had been wearing too often lately, and he wondered sometimes if his methods did not sit ill with her. He knew that on some level they probably did, but she was not in truth one of those who could understand so keenly how it was to be looked upon as nothing but freakish vermin, in the way rats are gazed upon in a laboratory. For so long, they had been pushed down, forced to subsist on the dirt underneath the feet of everyone else, but no longer.

“Be at ease, my love; no great change comes easily, and it will all be for the better. You’ll see.” Idealist though Aram was, he could be perfectly pragmatic when he needed to be, and this was one such moment. She simply stared at him sadly and shook her head.

“I do not think it wise to trust the Duke,” she said simply, but before he could respond, he caught the voice of his lieutenant and looked away. Ishtar sighed softly and disappeared back into their home. She doubted she’d ever see him again, but he would not be pleased to hear she was entertaining such thoughts, and so she clasped Sigrun’s little hand and turned from him, whispering her sad-eyed farewells to the wind.



Underneath District Gamma

As it turned out, there were no bombs being planted underneath the palace or the Parliament building or even the barracks. David Gilgamesh and those associated with him wanted as much of the city’s best infrastructure preserved as possible. What they really wished to destroy was everything outside of District Beta, and to this end, a ring of explosives was being set in Revelation’s sewer system. The Domes were being preserved, but the rest of it, as far as those affiliated with the Duke and his friends were concerned, could burn and only make the city stronger for it.

The magi marching on Alpha would never make it that far, but they would get far enough to be killed, en masse, in the resultant conflagration. The charlatans and the mindless laboring filth would go with them, and something much more precious would be returned in their stead.

To ensure it, half the private armies of Gilgamesh and those with him were currently marching, as surreptitiously as one can march such a large contingent of humanity, to meet them. The resulting melee would be confusing, bloody, and most of all drawn-out, which was exactly what the plan required.




Amon, Victoria, and Scheherazade were in the same group of assassins, each also containing an explosives specialist from either the Guild or elsewhere (Amon hadn’t specified on purpose). The job of the rest was to protect this individual from any encounters with the bomb-setters, who were also bound to be travelling under armed guard.

They encountered the first such contingent not three minutes after first entering the tunnels. Rounding a corner, the group was able to see the retreating backs of five men, as well as the bomb they left in their wake. Amon was the first to move, and closed the distance without noise, springing upon the back of the person who looked to be the technician and driving his shortsword through the man’s neck. The result was utter chaos, something his unit would have known to expect but left the enemy in muddled confusion.

His own technician immediately made for the explosive, trusting the others to keep the opposition well away from him.



District Gamma, aboveground.

The magi and the soldiers met, in fact, on the border between District Delta and District Gamma. When the two fronts were forced to a stop by each other, Azazel was for a moment confused. Some of the men clearly wore the livery of House Gilgamesh, and for this reason, he initially expected them to be allies. All of that changed the instant the first one fired a crossbow bolt straight through the heart of Aram’s oldest friend and trusted second-in-command, sending the man toppling over, clutching ineffectually at his chest.

It was then, he supposed, that the world went straight to hell.



The Nexus, Parliament Building.

“You will hear evidence today that not only has Duke Gilgamesh resorted to kidnapping and extortion to force votes in his favor, but also that he was and still is the driving force behind the current magi rebellion.” Loki watched a few incredulous looks pass over faces; why would someone who clearly despises mages so much aid in their violence towards other citizens? Are you truly all that simple? But no, that wasn’t it. They just hadn’t spent the last year and a half of their lives discovering it, piece by agonizingly-small piece.

She’d never been the sort to deliver good public speeches, and it was showing. Though her arguments had been systematic and sound, she was boring them, and she knew it. Gilgamesh himself had elected to skip any statement in his own favor, and the reason for that was becoming apparent. She was digging her own grave.

Gritting her teeth, Loki discarded the rest of the planned rhetoric and cut to the quick. “You have all seen it. You know what corruption looks like, what face it wears. Perhaps that face is yours as well, but it is certainly his. I have grown up in a city where this man is Prime Minister, and I have known no other. But even I am not so steeped in his influence to believe that there is nothing better for Revelation than a man who so deftly manipulates, so easily resorts to the worst of crimes to achieve his ends. Even I am not so blind as to ignore the evidence laid out before my eyes. And I can only hope fervently that you are not, either.”

She took her seat, leaving a few looking somewhat offended. Good; offended meant they’d actually sit up and pay attention, rather than assume the end before the proceedings had yet begun. The next part was up to Caelin; he was going to call Lord Chandler to the stand and reveal the narrative concerning young Benjamin, as well as in what circumstances the boy had eventually been found, and any other evidence he happened to have in his possession. She hadn’t asked, but simply trusted him to do what was best. Then Garbiel would be allowed to say his piece. Depending on how things looked by then, and how Gilgamesh’s own cross-examinations of these people went, she had one more recourse to make.

All she could do now was sit back and watch the events unfold.

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Smith
Out of the four seasons Eos had read about in his time at the Tower, he always suspected that the period of the year known as 'Winter' would be most to his liking. Crisp, cold air, no stifling moisture saturated with heat and the chance to see snow. Whatever that was. As the assassin stared out at the city however, he felt a sense of betrayal. The world was exactly the same, for the most part. The only thing Eos could identify as distinguishable from the normal flow of Revelation was the pervasive cold that made his joints ache and the white steam that accompanied every breath. With a quiet sigh, Eos drew up his scarf to cover mouth and nose.

"Shame I can't see through fabric," he said quietly to nobody in particular. His eyes teared up every once and a while from the sheer cold. Eos drew his arms closer to his chest and flexed his fingers to get the blood in them moving again. The stained glass window at his back made a noise Eos had earlier mistaken for shattering when he leaned against it. He dismissed the thought almost as quickly as it came; the glass had to be at least an inch thick, some guy leaning against it was not going to break it so easily. Instead, he guessed it was more likely that the ice layered on top of the glass was cracking and refreezing each time he shifted position.

A long silence passed in which Eos silently berated himself. He was getting distracted again. Drawing his cloak tighter around himself, the assassin slowed his breath until he could hear it. At first, it was little more than a muffled sound like trying to determine a message across a vast distance. Slowly but surely, the words took on definite form and Eos could make out sentences. Loki was speaking. By the hissing chorus of what could only have been whispers that followed, the reaction from the crowd was even worse than she had anticipated. They weren't just disregarding Loki, they were scorning the woman. Mocking, disbelieving jeers that are spoken only just loud enough that she would catch but mere fragments of the insults.

Eos scowled and adjusted his hood. He would have patted the briefcase at his side for reassurance, but Eos did not feel like having to rub life back in to his hands again. Instead, Eos calmed himself again and listened to Loki conclude her own semantics. Things were about to get heated in there, a battle of facts and pitfalls, cleverly worded traps that impaled the careless of tongue. Eos took a deep breath and slowly stretched. Carefully, he crab-walked along the stone edge and pushed the loose portion of carved glass inward. It slid forward on the metal setting, coming out with a quiet popping sound. Eos almost sighed in relief at the rush of warmer air but kept himself neutral.

The assassin wriggled through the gap in the window and pulled his case along after. That done, Eos replaced the window-pane and sat on top of the wooden beam high above the dueling politicians and princess. Hm. The Duels of a Politician and a Princess...that could make a good book.

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

Though her visage did not change during the course of Caelin’s and Garbiel’s evidence, she had to admit a certain level of satisfaction that she had such reliable allies. Most of her life had been spent learning that to rely on other people was unwise at best but at times a necessary evil. The fact that she was slowly unlearning the same thing (though not without bumps and obstacles here and there) was not only simply odd to her but pleasing as well. She was well-aware of her own weaknesses, or at least most of them, and gratified that there were those with strengths in such places that voluntarily stood with her in this.

Rather than watching the witnesses be deposed, she chose to observe the faces of the members of Parliament as they gave their testimony. This, at least, she could do better than most. She watched even the most resolute faces flicker with touches of doubt here and there, and the uncomfortable feeling in her stomach eased slightly. It was not a victory, not yet, but it was the start she required, that they required.

When Ironarm mentioned Gilgamesh’s illegal purchases, something inscrutable flickered across her face and she wordlessly signaled to Carlisle, who was standing stoically beside the door, serving for the most part as a kind of bailiff, albeit at a considerable distance from the actual proceedings. The hand-sign was prearranged and unobtrusive, and the man exited very discretely, without discernible sound. Resisting the urge to tap her well-manicured fingernails against the wood of her table like some ill-mannered chit, she instead balled her hand into a loose fist in her lap, covering it with the other one and waiting for the clamor to die down in the wake of the smiths’ proclamations. Eventually it did, and she stood to face the Magister, who regarded her with a neutral sort of expression. “Is there any further evidence the Crown wishes to bring before Duke Gilgamesh makes his rebuttal?”

Unconsciously smoothing the fabric of her gown, as close to a nervous gesture as the Princess would ever come, she nodded slowly and took a steadying breath. Please don’t let this be a mistake. Who she was entreating, she wasn’t really sure. “The Crown calls Seth Gilgamesh to testify.” There was a collective stir, of course, but she remained standing rail-straight, staring right ahead at some point just over the Magister’s left ear. Even he hadn’t quite been able to hide his surprise, but he ordered for silence as the redheaded man approached the witness chair and took it.

“You may proceed,” the magister indicated, unable to avoid sounding a trifle skeptical. Loki spared a single glance at Caelin and Garbiel, asking them (mostly the former) to trust her as far as they were able. Things were about to get a bit dicey here, mostly for her.

“Lord Gilgamesh, can you please explain for the benefit of the court why, exactly, you are here?” The man looked at his father, who was visibly seething, though at this point probably unsure of what was actually going on (it was, after all, within her purview to call whomever she desired, whether they liked it or not). That was going to be clarified as quickly as possible.

“I am here because, most simply, there are a certain number of truths that need to come to light, and I can no longer ignore my moral responsibilities to ensure that they do.”

“And what information is it that you wish to present?” Loki’s voice was carefully-kept; there was going to be a point in the very near future where she didn’t like the answer he was going to give, but she’d agreed to his terms because she- they, as she had reminded herself- needed the information only he could give.

“I, as the custodian of my father’s documents and his estate, have come across information which incriminates him in a number of crimes. Only recently did I discover the full extent of them, because only recently did I decide to stop ignoring what was right in front of me. I’ve read his personal ledgers, you understand, and I know the contents of them, which I have also brought.” Reaching into an inside pocket of his jacket, he withdrew a sheaf of parchments and placed them delicately before himself.

There was a pause, but Loki was in the end no coward, even as vital as it was to protect her position. “And how is it, Lord Gilgamesh, that you were first led to believe that you should even be reading these documents?”

“My family’s estate was burgled recently. I had a confrontation with the responsible party, and the answers I received to my questions, as well as the other things I observed and gathered of the encounter, led me to believe that I was missing something too important for me to ignore.”

“Do you, Lord Gilgamesh, know the identity of the perpetrator or perpetrators?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Who was responsible?”

“You were, your highness.”

There was an immediate uproar from the other side of the room, and Gilgamesh rose, clearly feeling victorious. “I knew it! I knew it was you! Magister, I demand that the princess be arrested at once!”

Loki gritted her teeth, listening to the clamor get louder and louder as the Magister tried to call for order. She’d known it would be bad, but she hadn’t quite counted on it being this bad. Still, Seth had asked that he be allowed to tell the truth in its entirety, and with one caveat, she’d agreed.

The Magister’s gavel banged ineffectually on the bench, and she seethed. Parliament seriously needed to rethink its priorities. It was only when someone said that she’d gone wrong as soon as she joined up with Caelin’s campaign for magi rights that she snapped. “Silence, you fools!” she shouted, and for once, they listened. Her fingers flexed, subconsciously desiring the knives strapped to her calves. “Magister, I admit to the crime I am accused of and will gladly sit my own trial for it- after this one has concluded. I think we can all agree that petty theft does not carry the same magnitude as the crimes of which Duke Gilgamesh is accused, and the proceedings of this trial demand that both sides be presented to their fullest degree, something of which only I am capable due to the very circumstances that incriminate me.”

Cold logic may not have been galvanizing, but the Magister at least recognized the truth of what she was saying, and spoke gravely. “While it speaks ill of your character and the Crown that you have done such a thing as you claim, I cannot ignore the necessity of your words. Proceed, with the understanding that your arrest will immediately follow the verdict in this trial.”

With that, attention gradually shifted back to the matters at hand. Seth shifted uncomfortably in his seat, but he was pinned under the gazes of all present, if not entirely skewered by his father’s. Duke Gilgamesh looked more than a little on-edge, a fact that no small number of his colleagues were taking notice of. For someone usually so in control of his circumstances, the fact that this was happening at all was quite the shock, to say nothing of his openly hostile reaction to it.

Seth nodded. “I knew already that my father was purchasing large quantities of slaves, but also that none of these people were ever showing up at the estate. Upon further investigation, I discovered a map that led to holding cells underneath our estate, but all of these were empty. I dare not venture further through the sewers, so instead I consulted my father’s copies of our trade ledgers. Not only did I discover the same thing as the smiths, but something I almost couldn’t believe at first. Next to the numbers of people purchased was a notation for a geographic location, as well as what appeared to be an indication of task. Several of these were marked ‘labor,’ but even more have the words ‘sacrifice’ next to them.” He paused for a moment, visibly shaken and seemingly hesitant to continue, but started up again on his own volition before Loki could prompt him.

“On the back of the pages, the words lux adventum are written. Having something of an interest in pre-Elisian languages, I was able to roughly translate this as ‘the light comes’ though the grammar isn’t quite correct. Further research linked this phrase with the words ‘sacrifice’ and ‘mage’ as well as an odd symbol- an ellipsis and several triangles in a circle.”

And now for the big question, the one even Loki did not know the answer to, as his research had been incomplete when they’d brokered this little deal of theirs. “What, if anything, does all of that actually mean?”

Seth stared down at his hands for a long moment. “Lux adventum is an old Elisian cult, your highness. It was founded almost immediately after the death of the prophetess Elisia, based on the premise that she is in fact not deceased, merely waiting to be reborn. The cult held that the presence of magi in the city is somehow blocking this and that a mass sacrifice of mages over a period of time, complete with one final bloodbath, would successfully resurrect her. It’s… it was just a fundamentalist group from a few hundred years ago. There was no evidence to support any of their conclusions, but…” He didn’t seem to know how to finish the sentence, and frankly, she couldn’t blame him.

“And so it is your hypothesis that your father, moved by cult leanings and a hatred of magi, intends to attempt to use their deaths as catalyst for the resurrection of Elisia?” She was quite certain she’d never heard anything so ridiculous and sickening in her lifetime, and frankly, she’d be surprised if she were alone in this. She did not notice the elder Gilgamesh stirring behind her, and as the audience was by and large riveted on Seth, neither did they.

“In a word, y- look out!” On instinct, Loki ducked, in just enough time to avoid the whistle of the blade once concealed in the Duke’s cane.

Apparently, this was a signal for something, because doors on both ends of the room opened then, admitting a contingent of soldiers dressed in the livery of the Prime Minister’s house. Gilgamesh, half-mad and seemingly intent on nothing less than ending her life, swung again, but she was ready this time and blocked with one of her own twin weapons. “Kill them all!” he shouted at the incoming soldiers.

Apparently, he was hiding more madness than I thought.



The Nexus, Rooftop

At Loki’s earlier signal, Carlisle had departed the hall and ducked outside, scaling the walls of the building with a practiced sort of efficiency. It wasn’t exactly graceful anymore, as he had not endured age with the same ease as Amon had, but he was far from an old man yet, and protecting the lass trying to help save the world in there (with help from some very adroit companions, he might add) was a full-time job for more than one person.

His well-made gloves kept his hands from freezing, but h was still relieved when he reached the precipice he was looking for. A look of mild surprise crossed his face when he noted that he was not alone, but he recognized the other man immediately, scarf or no. “She’s none too pleased with you,” he commented idly, regaining his breath with just a few seconds’ idling. “Me though… I know that guard-dogging never leaves the system as easy as we’d like.” With a shrug that informed the younger assassin that he didn’t have to comment if he didn’t want to, Carlisle began circling the ledge, placing his feet carefully, peering out at the horizon.

“Ah, yes, that’s them, I suspect.” He frowned slightly. “More than we thought.” From this elevation and the angle he was standing at, he could just make out a regiment of men in red and gold, and shook his head. “Damn; we didn’t keep quite enough back to deal with that…” A good portion of the Palace Guard were still there, with strict instructions to look after Minerva, and most of the rest had been sent to try and assist the assassins in breaking up the fight that was probably going to ensue with the magi. They were only backup, of course, but all the same he didn’t much fancy making the call to divert them back here. It would take too long anyway.

Drawing the black cloak from about his shoulders, Carlisle knelt at one side of the building and draped it there, a signal for the reserve troops that they were, in fact, going to be dealing with an attack. Hopefully they’d arrive in time- an audible clamor erupted below them, and the old assassin grimaced. “Told her to save that bit for the end,” he murmured, more to himself than anyone else.

“Right, well, don’t mind me saying so, but if you’re here, I’m guessing you’re here to help. If that’s the case, you may as well help me get the drop on these ones. Realistically, they’re going to break into the building before ours get here, so we might as well use the chaos to do what we do best, hm? Unless you had something else in mind?” Carlisle eyed the briefcase speculatively.



District Gamma-Sewers

The strike Zade aimed for the man’s side connected painfully, leaving him collapsed on the floor with a deep cut in his lower abdomen. Only when he connected with the ground did he engage his last-ditch effort to do his job- pulling a dart-blower from his belt, he exhaled forcefully, propelling the poisoned dart right for the bomb specialist.

Amon, having finished with the last of the others, was distracted by an influx of yet more reinforcements, this time numbering at least ten, and did not see the dart, though in truth he would have been too far away to do anything about it anyway. Instead, he and the other remaining assassin, a man named Durwald, closed in back-to-back and tried to stave off as many of the newcomers as possible. There was no way it would work completely, but hopefully it would keep things at a manageable level for Victoria and Scheherazade to protect the engineer.



Some distance away, another group of assassins dropped the fourth bomber group, and the explosive was successfully disarmed. Elsewhere, the bombs the second and third groups had left behind were also defused.

The fifth set of saboteurs was down to two people, but they left both a fully-fused timer bomb and a dead squad of assassins in their wake. Groups six and seven had yet to move into position, though neither had yet encountered opposition either.




District Gamma, Aboveground

Several crossbow bolts bounced ineffectually off Pandora’s erected shield, drawing Azazel’s attention. His eyes snapped to the little mage-woman, and though his lips drew back in a sneer, he did not make to attack. If she was going to help him, then so be it- he had bigger things to worry about right now, such as the speed at which his men were falling under the onslaught. Though they were powerful magicians, they were not trained soldiers, by and large, which meant that they were neither armed nor taught to deal with people who were. For every soldier who fell to pure arcane might, another mage died by the work of years at blade-practice and drill.

Still, they were not outnumbered, and it looked as though they’d win at great cost- until the first spell guttered out mid-cast, the magical fire burning the middle-aged woman who’d conjured it. “Cecily?” Aram called “What the hell is wrong with y-?” his question was killed before completion by the look of sheer terror and loss in her expression. She looked at her burnt hands, strangely silent for the excruciating pain she must be in, and it was then that Aram saw the depressed syringe protruding from her arm.

“They have The Cure! Don’t let them near you with those needles!” Aram shouted, an unmistakable edge of panic and fury to his tone that spurred his followers to hurl their magical missiles all the harder. “You see what they would do to us? Take from us everything we are! Everything that sets us apart, because it frightens them! They fear us! I say enough! It’s time we give them something to fear!” This statement was punctuated with a lightning-constructed javelin, which baked two unfortunate soldiers in their clothes.

I will not give up. I will not surrender. They may take my life, but they will not have my dignity.

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Smith
From 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.

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

Loki bent backwards to a void a swipe of Gilgamesh’s hidden blade, noting the incoming Garbiel but not giving it away to the prime minister, which resulted in very bodily contact between the two a few seconds afterward. Hit by the much larger smith, the politician sprawled to the ground. Loki, who’d seen it coming, did not waste time and brought her left-hand knife down on the man’s neck, expecting some kind of visceral satisfaction in the act but finding nothing of the sort.

The fight was far from over, and she nodded tersely to Forgefire before entering the fray once again, ducking under an incoming axe-blow and flowing up under the woman’s guard, burying her right-hand blade hilt-deep in her neck. Over the dead soldier’s shoulder, she watched Caelin fall to the ground and swore rather nastily. The nobleman’s epieu had landed a few feet away, and she made a break for that direction, intending to deal with the man standing over him first.

Recklessness had never been a friend of the careful princess, and she was reminded why in rather short order: so focused on crossing the room was she that the crossbow bolt headed right in her direction didn’t even register until it was a blooming pain in her upper arm. Gritting her teeth against the scream that threatened, she grasped the bolt in her opposite hand and yanked, hissing a sharp intake of breath, but throwing the bolt off to the side. Yes, it was going to bleed more this way; she knew enough of medicine to say that much, but if she left it in it would be more of a restriction on her mobility and she couldn’t deal with that right now.

Speaking of things she really didn’t want to see… had her delay cost her too much? A glance brought some relief; Eos had appeared and gone to the rescue himself, and her gore-spattered face acquired a most peculiar expression; relief. There was actually a smile involved, too, but she’d swear up and down that no such thing had ever occurred. Scooping the hand-spear up off the ground, she passed Eos on his way elsewhere and sniffed. “You’re late.”

The epieu, she held out to Caelin. “Funny how this sort of thing always happens, isn’t it?” She was trying for a bit of levity, but ended up saying it like there was a bad taste in her mouth instead. Not that this wasn’t true; as much as she should have grown to expect this sort of thing by now, she still did not enjoy dragging her friends into it. Especially those who were more gentle of disposition, as Caelin was.

Turning back to the goings-on, she kept a decent radius between them so as not to get in his way, but all the same, she wasn’t about to risk a situation like the one she’d almost found herself in a few moments ago. Eos knew what he was doing; Forgefire seemed to be a berserker in a rage, if his use of such unconventional weaponry as a chair was anything to go by, but… well, she thought it best to stay here for now.

Resounding cracks and pops from outside, along with the screams of those soldiers who still had not made it indoors, signaled Carlisle’s use of Etzel’s invention, though Loki didn’t know it. It was in the process of disarming and hip-checking a man who had to be at least twice her size that she felt the first tremor in the ground itself, followed by a second, associated, shaking of the building. It was slight, but definitely enough to notice, and the already alabaster-colored princess paled. That had to have been-

Scowling, she was brought back to the present by a wound to her side. Tch. Careless. Wheeling around and backhanding the responsible party, she followed up with a thrust to his ribcage, her knife sliding between two of the bones and puncturing a lung. She was, by this point, panting rather heavily, and beginning to feel dizzy from the blood loss, but there was far too much left to be done to pass out quite yet. Of course, one’s body did not always agree with one’s mind, but she’d just have to deal with that for the moment.



District Gamma, Sewers

Amon and Durwald had downed seven of the remaining twelve between them when Durwald fell, clutching at his stomach but unable to keep his entrails from spilling out. With one half the defensive unit gone, a third man joined the two approaching Victoria, Zade, and the technician. Fortunately in some respect, the man finished diffusing the bomb then, and turned to Zade. “Nothing’s going to explode-” he began, but was cut off by a deafening boom that reverberated through the sewer tunnels. It came from what was effectively ninety degrees from their location on the circle that constituted the Beta-Gamma border, but it was definitely close enough for them to hear and feel in their bones, seeping up from the ground.

He considered rephrasing, but shot a worried glance in the direction of the explosion instead. One of the groups had clearly not been successful. Each of the assassins’ groups had been assigned one target location to deal with, but this raised the possibility of more complications. They had to get moving and see about finding the rest of those bombs, just in case. “Whatever we’re doing, we’d better make it fast,” he mumbled; as calm as he was trained to be in situations like this, he didn’t really want to be within a blast radius.

Amon moved through his remaining opponents like a fish through water, though truly he suspected fish did not bleed quite so much on a daily basis. Yes, he was perhaps the best at his craft, but he was no longer young, and nobody escapes so many consecutive (and when space permitted them, simultaneous) confrontations unscathed, and he was beginning to slow under the onslaught. Still, the speed reduction was his choice, and he saved his precision because of it, never taking more than two hits to end a life. There was only one left now, but he would not be able to provide any assistance to the two young women in dealing with the other three simply due to the timing of it.



District Gamma

The explosion rocked the streets above the sewers where it had detonated, spewing debris, turbid water, and ash into the air and taking out a good half of the combatants on both sides. The observant, unfortunate souls, would be able to notice body parts, chunks of charred human flesh, and a fine mist of blood mingling with the rest of the unholy cocktail as well. Those men and women that Pandora had sent to sleep dies quickly, being almost directly above the bomb. Still others were less fortunate; catching large fragments of jagged shrapnel in their too-soft bodies, or in armor that dented and restricted their breathing to a painful minimum.

For a long moment, there was naught but silence as everyone present digested what had happened. It was clear that the soldiers had not known what was to occur here. It was equally clear that even if the magi had, they had most certainly not thought they would end up caught in it. Many turned pale, limbs taking on tremulous uncertainty when they realized that had they been standing where their now-broken comrades were, then they too would have perished.

In that confusion, there was perhaps a chance for someone to bring some order into the chaos, but Aram Azazel had been caught in the blast himself and exsanguinated from a wound brought about by a flying shard of metal shortly afterwards. The magi were leaderless, the militia betrayed, and none of them were really sure what to do. A few hands tightened around weapons reflexively, ready to embrace what seemed a determined end, but many more still hesitated, and their inability to resolve themselves was for the moment enough to keep the others at bay.

When everything you had expected turns upon its head, what do you do?

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Smith
"Yes, yes, my lady. I do apologize." his reply in their brief exchange was quick, curt and delivered with an unwavering smile. He wanted to say more, but the rapidly escalating melee demanded full attention. Had he taken note of the pistol sliding across the floor, Eos would have vowed to slug that wasteful bastard Taylor in the jaw. Eos was in his own world now. The first unfortunate fellow to draw the attention of the assassin crumpled to the floor in a limp heap as an armored fist connected with the soft spot at the base of his skull. There was no time for the next insurgent to erect a full guard before Eos came on again in a blur of leather and steel.

The insurgent crashed down, slamming in to the ground with just enough force to scramble his thoughts. Eos drew back from his wicked punch to swat away a saber-thrust to the midsection. Another foe came on, forcing Eos to dance back a few steps in order to keep them both in his line of sight. In the background, the stunned insurgent managed to force himself upright. But Eos slipped away from his opponents long enough to swipe across with a backhand the broke the poor fool's jaw. He dropped face down on the porch. The assassin was already on the move. One of his two opponents was on the ground, clutching at a wound on his thigh that pumped blood out with every breath.

Left, right, left, left, right, left, right. The robed man was on the defensive. Once his partner went down, there was nothing to mitigate the damage Eos could cause, and nothing to stop him from concentrating on a head-on assault. At one point the insurgent half-stumbled over a prone form. Before he knew it, Eos was slashing into his defensive forms. All of the training in the world amounted to a sheet of wet paper against such odds. He was being toyed with at this point, the insurgent realized. The steel-clawed man before him was batting aside his sword only to show that he could kill him at any moment, simply to demonstrate how very outclassed he was. And then he saw it: The claws slowed down for the briefest of moments. The man seized the opportunity to finish this troublesome foe once and for all.

Eos suddenly sped up as the man bought into his ruse and smacked away the sword with a loud clang of ringing metal. Both arms quickly swung back around in two quick passes. Eos rushed past his enemy to scan the crowd. That man allowed his sword to drop to the ground, gazing at nothing as he did so. Four red lines wept as he collapsed, dead before hitting the ground.

He was too late to stop a guardsman from receiving a stab to the throat, but just in time to return the favor as the insurgent withdrew her blade. Or so Eos thought. Catching a glimpse of the approaching assassin in the reflection of the dead guard's helmet, the woman whipped around with a previously concealed stiletto in her left hand to lunge at Eos' neck. Eyes widening in surprise, Eos bent at the waist to twist away from the strike. Before he could think about what he was doing, the assassin stabbed two fingers into the spot just below the insurgent's rib cage. The soft flesh gave way under the sharpened steel of the gauntlet-claws and admitted the digits with little resistance. The woman had enough time to gasp before Eos dragged down, opening her from breast to crotch in a cruel disemboweling.

That was that for the moment. Eos glanced across the battle and could not decide where best to apply his skills. The thrill of battle was beginning to wane and weariness clung heavily to the assassin's bones. He bled from two gashes on his ribs as well as a shallow puncture on his right shin. His muscles felt too slack, and breaths came in ragged draws. Barely half a dozen down, and I'm panting like a dog...pathetic. oddly enough, he caught a glimpse of an even sorrier sight. Loki/

In the advent of the shifting earth, Eos vaulted into the air. He cleared a pair of dueling figures and crashed claws-first into the chest of another. Shifting the weight of his legs and waist forward along with the falling man, Eos pirouetted on top of the insurgent's chest in a perfect inversion and rolled off, leaving the man breathless and stunned. He came up in a not-so-graceful stumbled that had him smacking in to Loki's back. His hand accidentally smacked her rear--luckily Eos retained enough presence of mind to splay out his fingers. The assassin quickly disengaged himself for fear of a startled retaliation looked about for any immediate threats. There were none that he could note, but there was blood obscuring his left eye. That woman had gotten closer than he thought.

"Sorry, princess." Eos said in between breaths, "But seeing as how there is a very real chance we are about to die, I have three things to say..." Eos was peering in to the crowd, only staring sidelong at Loki from the side of his unobstructed eye. "First, I sorely regret coming back merely to help save Revelation. Second, something I've been meaning to say for a while: I would hit that so hard, I would be hung for treason. I'm talking about your rump." he grinned wryly and looked at Loki directly, his visage softening somewhat to reveal something deeper, "Last...when we get out of this, would you allow me to take you to dinner? Not ice-cream, or witty banter, or doublespeak...the kind that ends with a kiss at the doorstep--castle gate? Or an awkward hug that says otherwise."

For once, Eos smiled sheepishly. It was a completely inappropriate time to ask, but it was now or never, he supposed. This was somewhat offset by the ruptured orb that used to be his left eye oozing blood down the side of his face. The female attacker had gotten much closer than he had thought.

He turned, suddenly, staring into the melee intensely. One word met escaped his lips at the sight he focused on: "Taylor?"