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Revelation: The Cure

The Skycity of Revelation

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a part of Revelation: The Cure, by Kurokiku.

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Kurokiku holds sovereignty over The Skycity of Revelation, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
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2,511 readers have visited Revelation: The Cure since Kurokiku created it.

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Setting

Default Location for Revelation: The Cure
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The Skycity of Revelation is a part of Revelation: The Cure.

4 Places in The Skycity of Revelation:

8 Characters Here

Eos of Tartarus [0] A one-time vagabond given new life as a slayer of men who works to keep Revelation in one piece from the shadows.
Caelin Taylor [0] "Everyone has a soul. Everyone is a human. Nobody shall be left behind."
Danterus il Forgefire [0] Adopted Heir of Garbiel Forgefire
Etzel Vasili [0] Even the strongest city rat fears him. (Deceased)
Scheherazade [0] Once a street performer, now Princess Loki's bodyguard and messenger.
Princess Loki Blackwood [0] Heir to Revelation's throne.
Pandora Elling [0] Mage-healer, hopeless optimist.
Revelation NPCs [0] They keep the plot a-movin' and a-shakin', so to speak.

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The Assassin's Guild

The smell of waxed robes permeated the immediate close vicinity as the doctor moved through the building of the Assassin's Guild. Behind him, a short and rather bouncy girl followed after him, eyes wild and taking in every scrap of her backround. This was only the second time she had been in the Assassin's Guild. She still had to undergo formal training, but after some arm-twisting, her master had allowed her to access the building while on his supervision. Her eyes were still blindfolded as she was lead across the streets with a cane to the building, taking many false turns and going in many circles before reaching the place itself.

Victoria Steins stood at the entrance to the large book room, taking in the sights until Etzel turned around and gave her a pointed look through his mask. She snapped back to reality and followed Etzel to the sciences section.

"Victoria, you will be becoming an Assassin soon..."

She shook her head. "No way. I told you this before." She quipped.

"You know too much, you chose to come with me."

"How else am I supposed to get my inductment into the physicians guild?"

"You HAVE been saving up, right?"

"...Yes?" In reality, she had spent much of her given money in maintaining a small home owned by a elderly lady. She didn't really have much to live on when her parents died.

"No you haven't. Now, if you want to pass the exam..."

"Damn it, I don't want to become an Assassin!" She said, rather calmly.

It had been a huge argument between the two nowadays. However, due to the frequency of this argument, it's become rather half-hearted and it's mostly just a monotone back-and-forth between the master and apprentice. Etzel shook his head, and pulled a book from the shelf. "The guild offers you a measure of protection. You know how to fight, but once I'm gone you won't have somebody to watch your back." He said, making himself sound a lot older and decrepit than he really was.

"You wrestle rats the length of my arm, master. I think you're good." She retorted, puffing out her cheeks.

"You'll come to it eventually. Here, the book. 'One-hundred Common Maladies of the Body' by Glashkov". Etzel sighed. "Good reference for the most common sicknesses and how to treat them. Another," Etzel handed her another volume. " 'Flesh Workings'. A good collection. Study this. Sadly, some of the wounds depicted on the book we won't be able to practice- not in your life-time, hopefully."

Victoria sighed. More books. What her parents didn't tell her was just how much she had to memorize. "Right, right."

"Now, I shall be looking up somethings myself. Take the usual spot, and remember, if I don't see you when I return-"

"..I'm literally dead." Victoria finished, nodding. She moved over to a table, plopping down and staring at the volumes. She dejectedly looked to the side and saw a girl that looked about the same age as her. "Hmm. Didn't know they made 'em this young." She muttered to herself. "Means kids might be running after us with blades. Better not.... Would that seem suspicious, would they catch on? I don't know. At least I have this thing by my side. I can take 'em."

She tipped her hat down and began reading.




District Alpha

"Loki!" The child gasped, bouncing up from his running position. He ran over, about to give her a hug before he paused. He bowed once, and then latched himself to the princess briefly. "I'm fine! This place is so awesome- you need to visit more often!" He cried excitedly, hopping up and down. "Dad gave me this!" He held up a bulky toy cargo plane with a openable hatch. He remembered the Princess had another question and paused. "Uh, speaking of dad, he's been better. He can eat almost the entire bowl of food the maids give him now!" He beamed.

"Siri, what is all the noise about? Is a friend over?" Came a voice. Siri jumped, and turned around. He drew himself up to his full height almost comically and hid his plane behind his back. Taylor walked down the steps, looking a lot healthier than he had been in the past. His pale-gray skin tone was fuller in color, and he wasn't wearing layer upon layer of fur coats anymore. "Siri, I thought you were studying." He said lightly.

"But dad, Loki is here!" He said, running over and pointing out the black-garbed princess- it if weren't obvious enough. Taylor smiled at her, stopping at the foot of the steps before bowing respectfully. She was royalty, after all. "Princess." He greeted warmly, showing her to the parlor. A maid had already prepared some modest polished copperware filled with an eastern herbal tea. To be honest, Taylor liked the copper color. It was cheap, it was nice-looking, and it held.

"Siri, when you are finished with your work you can go and play with Loki if you want." He said. Siri jumped, saluted once again in an exaggerated fashion and dashed out the room. He had left the cargo plane on the table. Taylor drew out a seat for the Princess, waiting for her to take a seat before he did. "He's a good boy." He said rather fondly. He was nearly on his deathbed when Siri had arrived on his doorstep, and in his decrepit state the boy was rather frightened of him. He was glad he more-or-less accepted him now as his guardian. It was only for him that Taylor decided to take the cure. Why else would he end his suffering when people in Delta and Gamma were still afflicted with this disease? He'd rather have died- and that was saying something.

"You must visit more often. How are you? What brings you here today?" He asked, taking his own seat and holding the teapot gingerly in his hands. He filled the cups with tea- as customary from where he got the leaves from.

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Taylor Estate

Taylor gratefully accepted her concerns. "Well, Loki. I know how temperamental you can be." He replied. He left the cup of tea to stew, as he had imbibed copious amounts upstairs along with the meal his maids insisted on forcing down his throat. That was the thing if you ruled the household with a velvet hand- servants tend to be more vocal, but he knew the maids were only looking out for his health. He gave her a pointed look. The Princess, even now, never really did make house calls unless she had more than one reason to do so- and at least one of those reasons had to be of somewhat importance. His suspicions were answered when she asked about the implications of taking the cure Vanderbilt had created.

He chuckled. "What other choice did I have, now? I'm sure, that someday the Gray man on his horse will come back for me because I defied him. At the very least, I will then be strong enough to resist him instead of being on all fours and retching my innards out." His voice grew slightly bitter, but Taylor wasn't a man that could maintain that voice. It sounded more like self depreciation rather than cynicism. He hardly used such crude language, but it was a casual talk amongst friends- and he considered that the only time when he could drop this facade. Taylor wasn't the smartest man, and he certainly wasn't the strongest- so he studied hard and worked more than most nobles to retain his guise of intelligence.

Seeing Loki so angry that day had definitely spooked him. Though he didn't realize it at the time, it spoke of just how concerned she was for his health- and how she respected it even though she thought he was "killing himself". It was also why Taylor trusted her completely. It was an old man thing- despite the noble's relative youth. Like his own open honesty, he could decipher others. A trick often used by members of Parliament, "misused" if it was in his opinion.

"I am mending. I hope to be able to perform more activities by the end of the week. Sadly, the physician told me I had let myself rot for a little longer than he would have liked. Of course, I have to be here. For him, for you, for everyone else. You may be smarter and more powerful than I can hope to be, but you still lack experience." Even the dullest person would have caught on that he wouldn't live as long as most people, even with the disease banished from his body. "I feel like an old fogey saying that." He added, smiling. He picked the cup up delicately, and downed the entire cup so the maids wouldn't berate him again.




Assassin's Guild

The common treatment for infected wounds can be carried out in various ways, but can be very difficult without the proper antibiotic trea- Suddenly, the girl's sixth sense picked up, her hair standing on end. It never usually meant anything- the young lady had become so paranoid even Etzel has to ask her to calm down. The masked doctor's most recent attempt in pressing away the paranoia was working- as she wasn't flipping out on every man that happened to be holding something sharp, blunt, long, or short. She looked up from the shadow of her hat to see the young lady she was observing early to be right over her.

"Glashkov?" She asked, piquing Victoria's interest. Didn't assassins read these books? Or rather, were they not as multifunctional as she had thought? Well, her master seemed more focused on medicine than actual fighting. That would explain.

Maybe it was a ploy? A plan to draw her in before she planted a knife in her neck? No, no way- not here? She had her master's permission. Before she could go further and start talking to herself again, she quashed the anxious feeling and looked up with a wistful grin. "Glashkov indeed." She replied. "Yeah, I don't live here- Otherwise I'd have one of those snazzy suits you're wearing." She marked her place in the book, and closed it.

"I don't see many people like you around here, though." She commented. "Nothing like a fellow girl here to calm the nerves- everyone here makes me feel so stupid!" She extended a hand to the girl.

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Arriving at the train station, Felix attracted, as usual, a variety of looks. His shabby suit and untamed hair gave him away as a Delta man and the main reason people ever crossed in from over there was as an instructor at the Institute. They may as well have given him a carriage of his own for all the people looking down at him. It was the same every day but it was still something he would never get used to. The way he could feel eyes burning into the back of his head, the contempt with which he was regarded, the cold hate in many cases was bad enough but he thought he'd be able to handle it if they just looked him in the eye when he turned to face them. But no, they turned their heads, like he wasn't good enough to meet their gaze. If he had things his way he'd blow them all to hell right there and then and be damned with the consequences.

Unfortunately things just didn't work out that way. And even if he felt strongly enough to commit murder, something he didn't know if he was capable of or not, he had the Institute to think about. The kids that would have to grow up with even more prejudice in the world just because he couldn't control himself. Indeed, the fate of every mage rested on the shoulders of each and every one of his kind. Which is why he bit his lip and climbed on to the train when it pulled in, taking his notepad from his pocket and jotting down some ideas he'd had on the way. There would be no one to read over his shoulder, there was not another passenger for half a dozen rows in either direction.


The journey to District Beta, aside from the usual distance he managed to keep from any other passengers, was uneventful. He hopped off here and waited for his connecting service, which today would take him all the way to Delta, rather than him changing again in Gamma. People here were less bothered by him, he didn't stand out quite so much and his purpose in the area was not quite so obvious, which was always a relief. So his wait passed quickly, he did not have to concentrate on keeping his mouth shut and his hands by his side.

Eventually, just over an hour after his first train, he arrived back in District Delta, back home at last. With no more to do with his time he considered just going home and getting his work finished, as well as some of those all important weekly chores that did no more than bore the arse off him. Unfortunately his Father was ill again. Nothing particularly bad but a man of his age could go from fine to Death's door in a matter of hours, no matter how much of a fighter he was.

Felix's Father had been retired for a number of years and now lived with him at home. He'd managed to hold on to his house even after the change in jobs that left him with a lower income and it was big enough for the two of them. But in recent times the old man had been getting ill more and more often, although he always made a full recovery, usually through the aid of an ex-student who had become a damn fine healer around the area, someone he'd need to stop by and ask for help from yet again.

Her Grandparent's house was on the way back to Felix's own home, barely out of the way really, and he knew that was where she was staying at the moment. Not many knew and he was careful to keep it quiet, Pandora had told him she needed to lay low for a while and he made sure to respect her wishes of being a little harder to track down than your average mage. His own suggestion of cancelling house calls landed on deaf ears. Whatever she was running from, it wasn't going to be enough to stop her doing her job and he doubted that anything would be enough for that.

At a leisurely pace he walked the half mile there and knocked the door briskly, stepping back and waiting for an answer.

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The Assassins' Guild

After leaving Scheherazade in the care of the Archivist, Amon made his way back to his private office space, which was inconspicuously located amongst a row of similarly-furnished spaces on what was assuredly not the top floor of the building. It would be rather contrary for a master assassin to make his personal quarters ostentatious enough to be noticed apart from the rest, after all.

On his way in, he passed the apprentice doing duty as a receptionist of sorts and stopped. The poor lad was still new enough to look absolutely petrified of him, something that had Amon chuckling inwardly. “Should a man by the name of Garbiel Forgefire come by, do direct him to me.” The lad gulped and nodded quickly, a gesture which Amon himself returned with a good deal more poise before continuing on his way.

He had noted that Etzel and his apprentice seemed to be present also, though he had no idea if the physician-assassin needed to see him specifically or not. For the most part, he let Etzel go about his business as he would. Though he had tried to convince him that staying permanently at the Guild for a while would be just as safe as moving about and being in hiding generally, he could understand if that was not the way he wished to conduct his business. He was, after all, just as much a doctor as he was a professional murderer.



Marchfield Laboratories

"You found me out, now my only choice is to send assassins after you." Joshua shook his head. “And here I thought I’d escaped such dangers. Ah well, I suppose things must always be sacrificed for science.” A congenial smile crossed his face before he remembered their destination and it dropped into a frown. Oh, this was going to go marvelously. Good day, Minerva, I know it’s been almost a year since
I last bothered to come by for a chat, but I need you to run over Parliament for the sake of the poorest citizens in the city, none of whom will be a lick of defense for you when the repercussions come down on your head.
this was going to be rather unpleasant indeed.

He considered trying his niece instead. She was a member of Parliament, after all; it was possible that she might be able to mobilize enough other members to take care of this without his sister’s interference, was it not? Well, there was little point in hypothesizing now, not when they’d have their answer soon enough.

Joshua ushered the other two in the direction of his personal smallcraft and climbed into the driver’s place himself. The trip through the rather scantly-populated streets of Alpha was quick, and it was not long before they were able to unload in front of the palace gates. It was only the most dreaded kind of nostalgia that he ever felt when looking at the place, but at the very least there was a chance that something could be done here. It wasn’t the Parliament building, after all.

He passed his name to a few of the guards and eventually managed to get the three of them to Alia, the Queen’s personal bodyguard, who took one look at the group of them and ushered the lot into Minerva’s receiving room. The monarch herself was radiant for a woman of her age, having received her own dose of the Cure quite recently. Seated at a writing desk, she looked up as the three entered, gentle eyes lighting up upon recognizing her only sibling.

“Joshua! It has been too long.” The man addressed bowed somewhat swiftly, but she brushed all that nonsense aside and embraced him, stepping back to regard her other guests with warmth. “Ah, you must be the esteemed Mr. Vernazza,” she said of Giacomo, offering a smile. “I’m afraid I do not know your name, Miss, but you are all quite welcome. Please, do sit. My brother scarcely has occasion to make social calls, so I assume you must need something. I assure you, if it is so important as to lure this particular mouse out of his lab, it must be important, and you have my full attention.”

Joshua looked to the others; he was not a man of many words, and for him to ask this of his sister, he knew, would be to taint any future action on her part with the blood between them. He did not need her to be so unfairly regarded. “Well, I think Atalanza here could pose the problem as well as I could, and Mr. Vernazza has a few possible solutions, but we could truly use your help…”



The Gilgamesh Estate

Seth had just laid his hand on the doorknob when he felt someone behind him and swung around, instinctively reaching for a blade that was, he realized with a healthy amount of trepidation, not presently there. His father had never been the sort of figure who needed to worry about protection in his own home, and Seth himself was not in the habit of carrying a weapon unless he ventured elsewhere. He kept a concealed one on his person when entertaining guests, but this was not something he’d thought he’d be doing today either.

Despite the man’s excessively chirpy tone, Seth was not so stupid as to believe that this was a simple friendly visit. Gray eyes flicked to the man’s hand, and he immediately recalled something he was not supposed to have read in his father’s private documents. This man was an assassin, and not only that, but the personal lapdog of the princess. And, below the woman herself, Amon Gregory, and Caelin Taylor, number four on Duke Gilgamesh’s hitlist.

It occurred to Seth that this man might very well be here to kill them, in which case it would probably be best to yell through the door at Imogene to escape and try to hold him off for as long as possible (he did not entertain fancies of winning unarmed), but he swiftly dismissed both notions. If Eos of Tartarus had come to kill him, Seth knew he’d be dead already.

Instead, he simply inclined his head, but spoke before opening the door. “My father’s wife is not in the best state right now, and she knows much less of him than I do. If assassins are taught mercy, I ask that you exercise it upon her if not myself.” With that, he opened the door and admitted them both.

“Lady Imogene, I apologize for the intrusion, but it appears that we have a guest. He wishes to… discuss my father, I think.” He shot something between a glare and an inquiry at Eos before seating himself across from his sire’s wife. He would allow her the discretion of choosing the pacing of the interrogation (for he was sure that was what this would be).



District Delta

A pair of plainly-dressed individuals were presently making a beeline for the residence of one Pandora Elling. Frankly, both believed the slaying of a simple healer a bit below the threshold of their skill, but as their employer had reminded them, nobody had yet succeeded in what should have been a simple task.

They were stymied by the arrival of a person not in their dossier of Elling’s known acquaintances, though, and they decided to wait until he was admitted. Hopefully, the man would leave soon and they could slip in after him and slay the healer. Otherwise, they would simply have to kill both.

Elsewhere in the city, some of their colleagues were poised to do much the same to a number of other priority targets.



The Taylor Estate

Loki could not say she was pleased to discuss Caelin’s death, but she appreciated the frankness with which he was able to do so. Perhaps her company was not as awful as some had accused it of being. Or maybe it was and that didn’t really matter to him. Either would do.

She shook her head at his joke. “Well, you might feel like an old man, but I assure you that your experience dealing with Parliament is most valuable. As is your conscience.” The last was more true than she cared to admit- Loki was well-aware that she had a less-than-perfect method of trying to figure out when she was taking things too far. She liked to think that she had the best interests of the city in mind, but she did not believe that all means to an end were equally valid. Unfortunately, this knowledge alone was not always enough to differentiate the acceptable means from the too-ruthless ones, ones that would have made her scarcely better than Gilgamesh himself.

It scared her, the possibility that she might end up like the Prime Minister. It was assuredly one of the reasons she kept Caelin’s counsel- unlike her, he was actually a compassionate individual with a discernible moral compass along some axis other than efficient/inefficient.

She was stopped from saying anything further by a noise from outside the door. “Did you hear that?” she asked quietly, calmly setting her teacup down on the table in front of her. It sounded quite a bit like someone was out there, but trying not to make any noise. Silently, the princess rose to her feet, stooping for a second to withdraw a knife from the side of her boot. She’d dealt with too many attempts on her life in the past year to take any possible threat less than perfectly seriously. Nobody was supposed to know she was here; she’d been so paranoid that she hadn’t even told Carlisle where they were headed until they were in the smallcraft.

A second later, the answer to her question was irrelevant, because the door burst open to admit a pair of assassins (though obviously Guild renegades). Carlisle followed, but she shook her head. “Find Siri and as many of the staff as you can; look out for others. Keep them safe.” Just two? Gilgamesh underestimates us… again. Frowning, she drew the one on the left to the far side of the room. They’d probably snuck past Caelin’s security… certainly more comforting than the possibility that they’d killed them.

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Taylor Estate

"I hardly think you will need it for much longer. You've changed, though you may not be aware of all of them." He replied as the Princess interjected. Indeed, something was outside their room. He didn't remember any maid cleaners up here at this time- usually they tried to remain invisible. However, such footing- even the newest servant was quieter than that. His face darkened slightly, his amicable face torn away as if it were a mask. Such persistent attacks had lead to changes in the young noble as well. He unclipped the Epieu from his belt, holding it by his side as two men entered. His thoughts immediately darted to Siri, who was undoubtedly in his room completing his studies. However, the Princess put his mind at ease as her bodyguard went to take care of him. He trusted the old man, though sometime he worried about his age. He dared not mention it, as some assassins had that damned pride like he had.

It had been a while since the last time they had been able to corner him like this. Most of the times, his guards caught them breaking an entry and quickly subdued them. They could hardly catch any prisoners. Those who did get caught committed suicide, the rest were killed or escaped. His guards, over the course of a year had been very vigilante, as their lives depended on their lord's health- and assassins would compromise that tenuous balance. Loki had drew one of the renegades over to the far side of the room. It was very lucky the room itself was fairly simple with very little fragile aesthetics, otherwise there might be glass danger.

The second assassin focused his attention on the young noble, who readied his short spear. It wasn't like he hadn't been practicing as much as he could as he started to mend, but his body still protests against extended periods of hard combat. Even now, the adrenaline rush is kicking in and causing him to break into a slight sweat. The Assassin drew a short sword, single edged hard-corner blade similar to a wakizashi. Very fitting for the stereotypical assassin- easy to draw, wield, and very quick. This was going to be difficult- but just a two-man squad? They had to be tougher than they looked if their assailant was that confident. Or stupid.

He did share Loki's suspicions that Gilgamesh was behind this, but as a devout upholder of justice, Caelin had always believed one was innocent until proven guilty. With no proof, he still nursed a weak doubt that the man may not want their heads. Suddenly, the Assassin darted for an opening in Taylor's guard, strafing left and jabbing toward his right side. Taylor dipped his spear, catching the sword and parrying it away, moving free from the chair. He sidestepped another jab and raised his spear to block the following slash from that position. He suddenly ducked, slamming the man's foot with his spear before attempting to gut him- however the assassin had hopped away, shaking his foot out. With a sudden flash, Caelin charged in, slashing and stabbing in a methodical yet rapid fashion at any open spots. This sent the Assassin on the defensive. This normally would have defeated any other fighter, as Caelin had the advantage of being able to use the entire length of the shaft to outdistance the wakizashi. His eyes continually tracked the Assassin's movements, attempting to diverge some pattern that he could exploit.




Assassin's Guild

Now it was the young apprentice's turn to laugh. "You seem to be doing all right so far." She commented. Her countenance went slightly stone-like when she introduced herself as innate thoughts of paranoia ran though her head. Is it sudden for names? Does she want to win my confidence? Is she really going to slip a blade in my ribs? Should I give a fake name? I don't have living relatives- would she be able to link me to Master? Fake name? Traitors? It took her nearly ten seconds of internal struggle before she decided to be honest with her. She was rather tired of coming up with false identities, it didn't pay to lie to nice Assassins, and she couldn't think of a convincing name.

"Victoria. Victoria Steins." She said, shaking. "Scheherazade, was it? I hope I didn't butcher the name." She did not like getting names wrong, as it shows poor friendship. However, it was nicknames she was terrible with. She shifted slightly as a very burly man sat down near her. Her head was instantly wired, and more thoughts ran through her head. She had consulted her Master about this, as she normally did not suffer extreme bouts of paranoia before. He had written it off as close contact with himself for too long, and suggested that she leave.

"Aghh, how am i going to get that physician's inductment without going mad?" She muttered in a soft voice before she realized she had been talking to herself. She flushed red instantly, embarrassed to be caught doing that in public. She looked at the man and gave a sheepish grin. "Sir, can I help you? I, uh, don't work in this place so you shouldn't be asking me." Maybe he mistook her for an employee due to her different uniform.

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"Professor Windor"

It was almost a question, such was the apparent surprise at his visit (And the white patches of flour she had missed only gave evidence that he had called at a bad time). True, he didn't frequent the doorsteps of previous students as a habit and it had been a number of months since he had seen her, and even then it was only a brief encounter... Ok, so perhaps she had every right to be surprised. And he had every right to feel just a little bit guilty about arriving out of the blue like this. So he did, though he hid it well.

"Hello Pandora!" he replied with a smile, somewhere between exhuberant and reserved. He enjoyed her company as much as anybody elses, perhaps more through nostalgia than common ground. She had been a joy to teach, always willing to learn and not in the slightest bit angry about having to be there at the Institute. His thoughts had been that if she was given the choice she would have been one of the very few to attend of her own whim. This lack of resentment towards the staff had led to easy raport and Felix had watched the girl grow into the good natured healer she now was.

She invited him in, apparently shook back to reality by him speaking, and closed the door behind him. Instantly the smell of fresh bread drifted into his nostrils and his mouth started watering, suddenly telling him just how hungry he was. Unfortunately for him, he had a strict exercise schedule to stick to and running on a full stomach was never pleasant. Not that it all seemed to be helping, each year seemed to add another few pounds to his increasingly ample frame and no amount of jogging could really shift it. At best he was slowing the inevitable process of age.

"Uhm... I can't really offer you much, but I did just finish making some bread. Oh, and I have tea!"

Cheery as ever, she set about preparing.

"A tea would be lovely, but I couldn-"

"Help yourself, if you'd like,"

"Well, if you insist." He shrugged his shoulders and found a breadknife on the kitchen counter to set about cutting himself a slice, realising that he was never going to shed weight at this rate. But nothing beat fresh bread. He was just about to ask how she was doing and get some small-talk out of the way before he cut to the chase but she beat him to the bat.

"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 excused herself from her ramblings and left Felix to speak, also leaving him feeling just a little awkward, something he attempted to cover by taking a bite of his bread and pulling the cup towards him.

"Well," he started, finishing with a gulp. "Wonderful bread by the way - there was something I was meaning to ask you, yes." Here it came, the same as ever, dropping in unexpectedly to ask a favour. "You see, it's my Father again, he's a little under the weather and this time it looks a bit more serious. There's no rush, of course, I know how busy you are these days. But if you'd be able to give him a once over I'd be very grateful."

He took a sip of his tea and pulled an approving face. He could see why she'd got so excited about it.

"There was something else too." Something he wasn't quite so hesitant to bring up. "You're a healer so I thought you must know something about this cure for the wasting lung that people have been talking about? Apparently it was supposed to arrive sometime soon, if it hasn't already, but the details are a little sketchy. Professor Leyton, you remember him? Well he got struck with a pretty bad case of it a while back and he could really do with a dose of the cure."

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Pandora pinked slightly at the compliment- baking and such was all still new to her, and she was glad it seemed to be going well- and smiled, though her mouth took a decidedly downward turn when Professor Windsor explained his reason for being here in the first place. It seemed his father was ill. She'd seen to the older Mr. Windsor more than once in the past, and there was little mistake that the man was slowly ailing with age. Try as she might, there was nothing she could do about that. High doses of magic could imbue someone with energy and strength, but she could not reverse the process of time, and such aid would always wear off eventually. Still, sickness she could cure, though with no promises that it would not return eventually.

"Of course I'll come and see him," she replied without hesitation. "I didn't really have many other things to do today anyway." She had been planning on making a trip up to Gamma to visit the Guild, hence the bread loaves. Though she was the furthest thing from an assassin, she knew quite a few, and the Guildmaster was kind enough to tolerate her presence, especially because her skills meant that for a few hours at least, practice could be a lot more... intense. She didn't really see what good it did to slice each other open instead of leaving bruises, but she considered repairing such damage a form of repayment for the safety and chance to stop glancing over her shoulder that the Guild offered. She wasn't really savvy to the irony of feeling most secure in a building full of impeccably-trained killers.

Professor Windsor's next question caught her off-guard for a moment. People down here were not usually aware that The Cure even existed at all, but then he worked at the Facility, and that was all the way up on the outskirts of Alpha. It made sense that he would have heard some form of whispering about it somewhere closer to Marchfield. Pandora debated how much she should say one the matter, chewing her bottom lip in an unconscious nervous gesture. In the end, though, she knew she was a horrible liar, and she didn't like it besides. With a small sigh under her breath, she lifted her eyes from her hands to the Professor's face.

Somehow, that made it easier. It was almost like she was back in class, explaining an answer she'd come up with. "There is a cure," she said with certainty. "I consulted on some of the research, actually. Dr. Vanderbilt wanted someone who knew something about magic, so... well, anyway, they invented a cure. It was Mana-based, though, so they wanted to test it on a mage to see what would happen." Here Pan paused, trying with little success to mask her discomfort. Though for anyone else it would have been nothing more than a simple injection, something about the formulation had made the minutes after its administration to her extremely painful, and she shuddered involuntarily at the memory.

"It... burns, for a while, and then everything is just... numb. They only gave me a bit, but I couldn't do magic for an hour afterwards. Dr. Vanderbilt hypothesizes that larger doses could make me- us, I suppose- unable to work magic for a day or more at a time. I don't exactly know what the delay is on getting it to people with Wasting Lung, I can only guess that maybe something is holding up production." The healer didn't really understand the nuances of how the government ran things, having never been taught of politics and Parliament, so any supposition on her part was entirely speculative.

"But anyway, I do have time to see your father now, as soon as you're-" she stopped abruptly again, but not because she was rambling this time. Rather, she had heard something outside, and listened intently to try and figure out what it was. She didn't need to wait long; one of her wards triggered, alerting her to the presence of someone she did not know. She was torn between actions; it could very well simply be someone looking for assistance, but she did not deal much with strangers these days.

She was also aware that someone, somewhere, wished her dead. By what she assumed was sheer luck, the last time they'd found her, Eos had been visiting, and naturally those out for her life hadn't stood that much of a chance. The time before that, she'd held them off with a shield over her doorway and snuck out the back. That had been the day it became necessary to close her clinic for good. The small blond woman swallowed audibly, deciding that she should probably go see who it was when the choice was removed from her discretion. She hadn't locked the door behind her guest, and the handle turned.

Assuming the worst now, she readied a shield and turned to her once teacher. "I'm very sorry professor, but I think it might be best if you- get down!" she very rarely shouted, and even this hardly qualified, but it was probably justified given the projectile aimed for his head. Apparently, these people didn't really care who they killed, as long as they got to her, and this upset the diminutive healer in a way few things could. With a terse word and a sharp flick of her wrist, she manifested the shield right in the path of the thrown dagger and it bounced off harmlessly. "Rogue assassins," she explained quickly. "You can try for the back door; my wards only picked up the two."

And indeed, the two inconspicuously-dressed individuals, a man and a woman, were both in her doorway now. The man drew a longsword, the woman a morning star, and Pan gritted her teeth. A heavy enough blow from either of those might have a shot at shattering a shield, though she had been practicing with them whenever she wasn't completely exhausted from healing all day.

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Thankfully Pandora was willing, as ever, to come and help him out. She was too nice for her own good, he'd always thought it, and he couldn't help but wonder why she'd thrown herself into some kind of exile as he chewed thoughtfully on the bread.

"There is a cure"

This did not surprise Felix at all, he had heard from a reliable source about the cure but he knew very little about the details. All he knew was the name and the function: It cured the wasting lung that plagued the city. What came next however drained the colour out of his cheeks. It seemed the cure was not all it was supposed to be and could be used to rid a mage of their ability for a seemingly indeterminable amount of time. This could hold outrageous repercussions for the entire magical community. Felix frowned, not hearing the wonderful news he had quite hoped. To throw more confusion into the mix he also found out that Pandora had had some part in testing this cure, something he would never have been able to guess. It had turned out to be a very strange visit indeed

"But anyway, I do have time to see your father now, as soon as you're-"

Good, he thought, we can talk more on the... He never got a chance to finish the thought.The student-that-had-been stopped mid sentence again, but this time it was not to avoid a habit of talking too much, she looked concerned. He opened his mouth to speak but the seriousness of the situation seemed to have dawned on Pan's face as she gulped and he closed it just as quickly, eyes flicking towards the front door, following her own gaze just in time to see the handle turn. In his mind the worst thing that could have happened at that moment, should he have considered it, would be for Pan's grandparents to walk in. As it was, he had not been considering anything of particular note to happen and so what occured caught him completely off guard.

A second later there was a shield up, not his own of course, he was not quite so good at that sort of thing, and he wheeled around to ask what was going on, only to be greeted by hurried words that were strangely apologetic in the circumstances. And then she shouted. That was a rare enough thing to hear, though even whoever was just outside may not have heard it such was the volume, and the suddenness of it yielded the result of his immediate submission to the order.

He dropped to the ground, falling like a bag of rocks, and landed hard on the kitchen floor, bringing his cup of tea with him. It smashed on the floor and sent shards of china scattering all around him. He heard the distinctive sound of metal landing no more than a second after the smash and he looked behind him to see a dagger on the floor. Before he could even ask his question about who these people were, for now he could see two forms making their swift way towards them, he was answered, only to be met with another question as he hauled himself to his feet.

"Pan, what the hell have you gotten yourself into?!"

He had no intention of running off and leaving the girl here. He may not have had much combat experience but he had a clear view of the pair and a body full of destructive magic. So he ducked out from behind the shield while raising his arm and muttering a few harsh words, sending a small ball of fire swirling through the air towards the oncoming assassins. He had no intention of killing either, nor even causing any serious harm to person or property, but he planned on slowing them down a little at the very least. He clasped his hand around the back door handle and pulled it open, aiming another fiery blast towards the open front door.

"Run, Pan, get the hell out!" He stood holding the door open with one hand, the other raised to send another attack should the moment call for it.

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Taylor Estate

Caelin traded blows once more, trying to get a good hit off on the enemy. However, he jumped back, starting to play a little more defensively. Through the robes, he could see his eye blazing in concentration. He pondered briefly whether he saw the same. Suddenly, a wave of heat stroked the room, as he looked back to see a fire ball dissipate against the stone walls. Mages? Unexpected. He turned, just as the second assassin charged him, nearly cutting him up with two deft slashes. Taylor jumped back, watching as energy gathered in the man's hand. Suddenly, the assassin turned, raising his palm toward his fellow assassin- but before the pulsating flow of power released, the man was tackled by Loki and killed. The assassin swore, the energy disappearing from his hand.

So, he was the medic of the two. No wonder he was stronger in fighting- he had to learn how to defend himself since metaphysical-passive magic did not do direct damage. He took advantage of this, pressing in on the individual. Taylor whipped out a wand from his belt, one of many he had been carrying since they discovered magic's powerful effects on himself. If it had been him who was hit by the fireball, he would have burnt to a crisp. Flicking the wand in a pattern similar to a six-edged star, the man who had begun approaching was suddenly engulfed in a plume of hissing smoke. A personal invention of his, with the help of Mr. Vernazza. It had only six uses, the most the scientist could squeeze out of this want that used the surroundings to blind the enemy with dust. The assassin started coughing and rubbing his eyes, flailing his sword out. Taylor rushed in, sliding under the swinging blade and stabbed the epieu straight up the man's torso- punching through the diaphragm, lungs, and heart. The man jerked twice, then went still. Throwing the limp corpse off his body, Taylor got up and looked for the Princess.

His eyes widened in shock as she just finished putting out the fire on her arm. Rushing over, he plucked another wand from his side. An injured guest was a massive blow to his pride- especially with a friend like Loki. He noted that she had used the tea to put out the flame- but that just worsened the burn as the water was nearly boiling. He could almost feel the angry flesh as he refused to step back and pointed the wand at her arm, flicking it in a simple cross-pattern. The flesh immediately began to rejuvenate, luckily the burns being fresh there was no dead meat yet- just the dying kind being revived. He patiently healed the wound on her arm. Usually, this wand was only meant for him- as they were rather expensive to be healing mid-degree burns that quickly. They only had about three uses, though this was the first time he used it.

But that wasn't on his mind. Taylor called for a maid, one arriving within five minutes. She had been hiding earlier, but after she had listened to the sounds of fighting fade she answered her employer's call. She was no fighter- though now she was seriously considering it. "Esmera, please check our guest over, she might have burned herself." He said.

Assassin's Guild

Victoria was rather taken back by the old man's politeness. Usually ones like him were grumpy and impatient. He also seemed genuinely old- rather than the geezers that would chase after you, slapping your thighs with their walking sticks and beating you if they caught you.... nevermind. She quickly quashed her surprise and returned a smile. She quickly looked over a Scheherazade, who seemed to be rather hostile to him. Adopting a hesitant tone, she answered the man.

"Well, this book by Glashkov is about medicine... One-Hundred Common Mala... wait." She cut off, wondering if she had heard the blacksmith earlier. "Forgefire!? THE Gabriel Forgefire!?" She exclaimed. She admired all of the Forgefire products- her Master's twin fighting daggers were of Forgefire make. "What're you.." She stopped again, flushing again. "Er... sorry. 'One-Hundred Common Maladies of the Body' by Glashkov. Is this, uh, the book you were looking for, Mr. Forgefire?" She secretly enjoyed saying his name, as she never really met one of such high repute often- even more so now that they were on the run from renegade assassins. Maybe she could convince her Master to get her a Forgefire sword one day.

Drat. That would involve joining the Assassin's Guild. Her countenance visibly depressed as she took the book and showed it to him.

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Arm raised and ready to hurl another blast of power back at the advancing assassins (Something that hadn't quite settled in on him yet), Felix was close to being tackled out of the back door by Pandora. By close, his bulky frame was attempted to be shoved out the doorway by the slight form of Pandora. It wasn't successful in the way it was supposed to be but he got the message and turned tail to sprint out first, soon followed by his ex-student who conjured up a protective ward, ironically trapping the assailants inside the house. He did not doubt the charm's efficacy, Pandora had always been on the opposite end of both scales to him in terms of magic and even from a young age had been more adept than most at casting shields. But the time did not call for reminiscing, it called for running.

And as they started off she explained briefly that those people had come to kill her, without delving into any more detail, before suggesting they go to the guild for safety. His first thoughts was that she couldn't possibly mean 'The Guild' and must be referring to a lesser guild than that of the assassins that she had contacts with, but instantly he knew it not to be true. People just didn't make that mistake. And of course her reference to Sir Amon confirmed that she had in fact either gone insane or got wrapped up in something far over her head. Such was the shock that hit the man, he almost fell to the floor, stumbling on her words.

"The guild? Are you insane?! They're assassins! There's assassins trying... To kill you!"

Already he was running out of breath, Felix was not built for running. But he heard her well enough over his own heavy breathing, her guarantee that the guild would be safe. Considering he had just witnessed an attempt on her life and her quick thinking had likely saved his own, coupled with years of knowing each other, trust came only too easily to the large man and he nodded as he ran, silently agreeing to follow her, although cursing his own mind as he did. He could not see this ending well.

Soon enough they stopped outside a large building with no distinguishing marks. It was more well kept than most in Delta and clearly held some significance but he'd never really paid it much mind before. It was off his route most days and he had no reason to investigate why the guards stood sentinel outside. And they cast upon him disapproving glances as he followed Pandora inside, where she was met by perhaps one of the most well known men in the city. And he spoke to her as though this were a common occurance. From what he could tell by her reaction to it, it was. And her reaction affirmed this, she only told him where the attackers were and how they were held.

The circumstances now were far stranger than Felix had ever known and it was all he could really do to stand there in the entrance hall and look around as he tried to catch his breath while the gravity of it all settled in on him. He was inside the assassins guild, after just having run from ... Assassins. While escorted, and saved, by a former pupil who he had thought was nothing other than a healer who could not possibly harbour a grudge, let alone a nemesis who would send trained killers after her.

"Hmm hmm." Clearing his throat to be noticed.

"I don't suppose anyone could tell me now why I had a knife thrown at my head, could they?" His shock was subsiding, slowly being replaced by anger, yet he kept his voice calm and steady. Someone had tried to kill his friend, and he had very nearly got in the way. And he had no idea why. He wanted answers.

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#, as written by Arke
Taylor Estate

"N-n-no, not at all milady!" The maid fumbled, staring at the floor once, then at the princess before dashing out of the room to fetch cleaning supplies. She had left the medical supplies on the coffee table. As she did so, Taylor looked at the bodies somewhere around the time Loki began examining them. Mage-assassins? Very unheard of. He couldn't say it himself, but assassins never really were the ones to kill others magically. In history, there were no recorded killings he had heard of that had gone unresolved due to magic. Even assassins can turn fire-bombings into clueless murder scenes. They had most of the strings.

These renegades must have been something special. He knew that if he had been alone when they struck, he would have been forced to engage one in combat while the other could shoot fireballs at him at leisure. They would have found a corpse so burnt not even the carrion birds would eat them. He turned his gaze on Loki and sighed. One more favor he owed the Princess, whether or not she knew it or if she would call him on it. Thinking about it, healing the burn was only a small repayment to what she saved him from. Taylor wasn't took keen on being burned alive.

The nobleman quickly went out into the lobby, gave Siri a quick hug, and told him to go back to his studies. It was just another fire drill. He smiled when the child started complaining- they had acted like a real fire had started. By they he meant the staff. The maids and servants looked around sheepishly. By now, they felt they should be used to this. However, Caelin didn't blame them. He told everyone not to enter the parlor for the time being, as he and Loki needed to discuss important matters. Only Esmera was to come in for cleaning.

Going back inside, he saw the Princess still examining the bodies. She kept going on about how things just didn't add up. Caelin agreed. Strange they would attack today, when the princess decided to make a spontaneous visit to his estate. However, with only two assailants, the nobleman considered the most likely conclusion and voiced it.

"The way I see this, they weren't expecting you to make a visit. I do remember that surprised look- which means you probably haven't told anybody you were visiting, am I correct? If so, then these assailants were here specifically for me. With the realization of the Cure's side effects, our enemy might have hired some mages to finish me off rather than defeat me with blade. Two would have been enough. As strange as this meeting is, I think we might just have to admit that this fiasco was a coincidence, and that you saved my life once more." He sighed, rubbing his head. "For that, I thank you."

Esmera had returned, throwing down two black bags- bodybags. "Er, if you're done milady, I shall begin disposing of the bodies." She stammered.




Assassin's Guild

Victoria smiled as she looked at Gabriel. "I-it's Victoria! Victoria Steins, sir!" She said, forgetting to consider making a name for once. Not that she would have- as Hera had already heard her name and would question her if she had brought a new name up. Was her nickname Hera? She couldn't remember. Either way, she had already excused herself, and Victoria gave her a wave goodbye. Suddenly, the old man asked her another question.

"W-well yes sir, but I am only an apprentice and-" She began

"She's my apprentice." Cut in a recognizable smooth voice. Etzel seemed to have appeared out of nowhere, and Victoria had jumped nearly twelve feet into the air at his sudden arrival. "Strange you should be here, out of all placed Mr. Forgefire. I was just going to see you about some new orders." He said. He paused. "My apologies, Grand Smith. I do believe I was interrupting a conversation."

Victoria gulped several times. "W-well, yes." She said. "My master is teaching me the art of medicine. I want to... uh, be a physicist." She finished lamely. Of course most of her studies were concentrated on fast thinking, developing salves and medicine, the analyzation of poisons, and the development of anti-poisons. Not so much on the physical injuries such as internal bleeding, broken bones, or whatnot.

"I can confirm this." Etzel interjected. What he really wanted was for Victoria to become an assassin. She already knew how to fight under his tutelage, and create deadly toxins. It was a lot of wasted effort if she didn't, really and just became a doctor. However, he couldn't contain such a wild spirit. At some point, she'll take the Physician's guild test and become a doctor. And that would be that.

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#, as written by Arke
Taylor Estate

The nobleman hadn't considered that. True, if they were professional killers, they would have had the mage engage himself first- while the combat-oriented man kept the princess occupied. However, they weren't expecting the princess. Perhaps they lost their nerve- after all the Princess had a very frightening death stare. He did not voice this, and did not notice the piece of paper being slipped into her pocket as she examined the body. He was busy examining the other. He took a cloth from the table, and wiped down the blade of his Epieu. The short spear was quickly examined, and he sheathed it back into his belt. He stood up just as Eos entered the room, dressed in gray as always.

Eos had been introduced to him soon after the mass assassination attempt back then. At first, Taylor in his decrepit state had thought the man would consider him a liability. However, appearances was not as they seemed. Eventually, he began to trust him, as he seemed to have the lingering scent of street and alcohol about him. That in itself, isn't bad, but paired with the fact that he was an assassin, worried him. That is, until he got to know him.

He didn't doubt that he came with all due haste, but Taylor wished that he would have arrived sooner. He quickly placed his right hand over his heart and bowed to the senior assassin respectfully before waving his hand at Loki- allowing her to explain the situation. She seemed to come across some sort of conclusion, though Taylor was not too sure what.

He thought about it. She had claimed that this was the work of an amateur- one that had no idea what they were dealing with. It made sense, when he thought about it from her perspective. But if it was the work of an amateur, it could not possibly have been from their main enemy- one who had been coordinating assassination attempts during the past year. The use of mages reinforced that. So far, he had only dealt with assassins trained only with the sword or bow- nothing even remotely similar to the fire-slinging mage and healer partner. Does this mean there is some sort of third-party against him?

He didn't know. He had little information on the Magic Academy, and he was more preoccupied with ensuring the safety of his own estate, staff, and more importantly- Siri. "Care to elaborate, Loki?" He asked tentatively. If she had information on the third-party that was after his life, he had to prepare appropriate counter-measures for that as well.




Assassin's Guild

Etzel gave the smith a slight grin under the mask as he gave a booming laugh. The Master Smith gave his own greetings, and asked what Etzel had wanted. Etzel merely raised his hands. "Nothing much, I was wondering if you still have the iron syringe casts- I need two more produced, as well as two fighting daggers to be produced. This is low-priority, of course. I will pay your full price- no need to lose sales because you want to maintain good relations with me, Grand Smith." He said.

He slowly cocked his head at Forgefire's offer. Victoria looked like she was about to jump from chair, looking up at her master's mask with wide eyes. She definitely wanted to do so. Etzel cupped his chin in one hand, and thought about the offer silently. It certainly was an intriguing offer- an transfer of his student to become a impromptu doctor of the forge.

She would certainly gain experience from that transfer- dealing with real-life situations such as burns, cuts, and broken bones. Smithies were never short on injuries, despite all the care they take into forging and keeping the area safe. Just as well, working as a medic in Forgefire Smiths would most-definitely give her some good weight when the physician guild considers her resume. Not that being his apprentice was leverage enough. This would probably make Forgefire happier, and Victoria was more than willing. If she had not been willing, he would have refused. After all, what use is there for a unmotivated physician that did not like his/her surroundings?

However, this would expose the smithy to danger. Though Gabriel surrounded and associated himself with the Assassins, Victoria was still a target on the Assassin's hitlist. Unless they took great care to try and confront her in the dead of night, the blacksmiths and apprentices and servants were in grave danger. He debated hotly within him, the exchange of thoughts taking around three seconds before he answered.

"Interesting proposition. My apprentice will join you for as long as you need." He said softly. He certainly would miss having an extra set of eyes, but he managed well enough on his own. After all, there were periods where he scared off his apprentices and had to run the shop on his own- sometimes for months on end. Victoria silently cheered, trying desperately to maintain her slightly impassive face. Etzel wasn't quite sure he had made the best choice, but it would divert the assailant's resources to split up and spread out his targets. And most likely, Victoria wasn't too high on their hitlist (in his opinion) so she would have the least amount of priority taken to her.

"A-all right, master." She said, containing her joy. She was extremely excited to be working with the great master smith, but leaving behind her Master, even for a minute left a certain emptiness in her heart. With her parents dead, Etzel had become her psuedo-guardian. While he may not see or treat her as family, she saw inadvertently saw him as a father figure. Probably why she began picking up his habits and mentality. "When do I go?"

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As Felix stood and watched the exchange between the two people he felt an increasing sense of alienation. Not just from them but from everything. The suddenness of it all, the events that had just transpired, was overwhelming. He had never once before considered Pandora to be the kind of person to get mixed up in anything like this and to watch her talking with one of the most feared men in the city scared him. How little he knew about someone he ahd known for so long. He could not help but think how much else went on around him that he may never know, what mysteries remained unravelled, what events went unnoticed. Who knew what secrets lay behind the slightest movement in the corner of one's eye on a dark night. Even the most innocent of people could find themselves dragged into a world in which they never knew existed. Of course he was not referring to himself in these thoughts. He was hardly the most pure-minded of people; sinful thoughts, imagination fuelled by bitterness that threatened to cross into the realms of hate at any given moment, threatened to topple him towards violence every day. It was only by not knowing that he managed to hold back.

And now he was being given the news that he was inches from death at the hands of another, a non-magic assassin (There was no beating around the bush in his mind, the distinction was far from clear even in the words given to him). And then news was passed back from Pandora to Amon and that seemed o be it. What came next was no business of his, he only wanted to be gone far away from that place, back home where he could fool himself into believing he was safe.

He stood awkwardly in the corner of the room, a casual observer with a worried expression, and said very little, only nodding when his question was answered in the bleakest and most clinical terms he could fathom for the situation.

"So what happens next?" he interjected, trying to keep his voice level as he chewed on his fingernails. "Those... mercenaries, back at Pan's house, what happens to them?" He looked over at his former pupil. "And what happens to you? You can't go back there." He had not even thought it until he said it. The realisation that her whole world was on the brink of collapsing, if indeed it already hadn't, was only now hitting him. He felt certain she had already given much thought to this by now. If they, whoever they were knew where she lived then she couldn't possibly return home. He felt a twinge of guilt at having worriedso much for himself when she was clearly the target who had now been forced elsewhere on two ocassions... That he knew of.

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The Royal Palace
With a: We'll be off then." Giacomo walked out of the room and swiftly left the palace. His hastily steps confirmed his own suspicion. He wanted to settle this as quickly and as smoothly as possible. Though he had no other projects currently on his hands it was true that if the plan would be executed he would have a lot of work to do before the lab could be build up. The underground facilities were littered with machinations that he would rather keep a secret, not to mention that almost every resource he needed was stored there in bulk, and the last thing he wanted is for someone to accidentally step into the aggressive compounds that he used to clean the glasswork. In other words he had plenty to do when he was back in his trusty air purifier.

The Taylor Estate
After a quick pased walk Giacomo finally reached Lord Taylors Home, and not a moment too soon it seemed. From within the house Giacomo faintly could hear the voice of Princess Loki. A very fortunate situation he it thought to be, it at least meant he wouldn't have to go back to the palace for another meeting. Giacomo quickly made his way into the building. Inside the situation looked far difrent from the outside, clearly something had happened here. As he set a step forward his foot kicked against a swords grip and was swung over the floor, making quite a loud scraping noise as the tip slid over the floor. Not knowing that the attackers have already left Giacomo thought: "This could be dangerous, there could be some hostiles left in the building. Even though I'd rather hide this for my fellow scientists and the public, I now have no choice. I must use my weapons."

He looked at joshua and wispered: "Step back a bit, this could be dangerous." And not a moment later a strange machine with five trident claws fell out of Giacomo's left sleeve and covered his hand in metal. He looked around to see if there was nobody there exept them and then loudly said: "Lord Taylor, are you there?" Slowly Giacomo Pulled the Monocular from his head as he waited for a response of any kind, though he knew that no response would also be a response, although a quite more grim one.

(OOC: Sorry for the sort of small post, I have a bit of a writers block at the moment)

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#, as written by Arke
Taylor Estate

Taylor bobbed his head several times. There was no mistaking both had a better grasp of this situation than he did. He inwardly debated beginning to look into this matter, but tossed it aside. He had more pressing issues to worry about. How would he handle something like this in court? He could bring it up, humiliate the client the assassins worked for, or he could stay silent, continuing with his work as usual. As of now, the shadowy client probably wasn't even part of parliament. It was well know that mages even remotely linked to the nobility would be exiled completely from Alpha. His thoughts were interrupted as he took notice of Eos' rather pungent odor that clouded him.

Taylor considered himself a man that took things in stride- choosing to note Pandora's attack for last. "It is a dangerous time for us." He muttered redundantly. Everyone was well aware of that. "I am glad she is fine." He slowly shook himself from his state of thought, ushering both of them out. "I shall handle things here and in Parliament." He said quickly to the Princess. "For now, the most important thing is that you deliver the information to Sir Gregory as soon as possible."

When he made sure that they were out, along with several armed guard that would escort them to at least the edge of Alpha, he relaxed slightly. This was still a dangerous area- Assassins, even the greenhorns, had backups. Nobody wanted a target that was alive, after all. He had moved them through a back exit, which would tunnel down and lead out through a nondescript house within Alpha. All nobles had one of these- known as escape routes. Several would be hidden in each mansion- from convoluted flying machines to sloping minecarts tracks to simple passageways. Not a moment later, he could hear the movement of something. Metal dragging against something. Was it the Assassin's backup? How did they get past his guards- which were now on full alert? He took a deep breath, preparing himself to be roasted until he stepped into the room and saw a familiar scientist.

"Giacomo. A pleasure to see you. You... did come at a poor time however." He greeted warmly. "Sir Blackwater." He turned, regarding Vernazza's companion. Esmera, his maid had returned to the room, preparing the bodies to be disposed of. She quickly greeted the two men, silently working on the bodybags. They would be shipped back to Delta, and dropped off in an alleyway. Taylor felt this would send a stronger message, should they be found- and besides, burning the bodies or leaving them here was distasteful. As usual, the maid dropped a single gold coin in each bag. Barely enough to pay for expenses regarding a funeral. He was well aware that this might be going to this unknown faction's bank, but Taylor was not one to stoop down to their level. A dead man was a dead man, and they deserved respect. If they were decent human beings, they wouldn't dare use the money for anything else.

"Begging your pardon, sir scientists, what brings you here to my estate?" He asked, as if the bodies weren't even there. If they could take a cue, they would understand that Taylor would explain the situation a little more later.




Assassin's Guild

Victoria grinned eagerly. "O-of course sir! I'll be right on my way!" She jumped up from her seat and bolted out before the masked doctor could stop her. Etzel shrugged once. In her haste, she'll forget about remembering where the Guild was located- which was much better than leading her out by blindfold. Less effort. And of course, he was right- as the girl stopped at one of the safe homes, she stomped once in exasperation before disarming the traps at the door and entering.

Etzel looked at Forgefire, noting his slight observing look. Cold Reading was an essential skill for Assassins, to read the faces of others like a book- no matter how discreet they were. It was how the masked doctor could get a slight hunch of what the Princess was thinking, despite her brilliant poker face. He knew the Smith was old and wise- he would come up with his conclusion, and the physician wouldn't be surprised if his assumption was right on the dot.

At this moment, the familiar face of Miss Elling rounded the corner. Happy as ever- compared to Etzel's more recent string of cynical mutterings. His mask betrayed nothing as he greeted the medic back. "Miss Elling." He said smoothly. He fell silent as the quick exchange commenced between Scheherazade and Pandora. He took in the information. Taylor and Loki as well? This was getting very interesting. He had no input, however. He didn't know who else might have been targeted, and how narrowly he himself might have avoided death. A pang of what might have been worry for his apprentice struck Etzel, but he remained quiet otherwise.

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#, as written by Ezarael
"O-of course sir! I'll be right on my way!" She jumped up from her seat and bolted out before the masked doctor could stop her. Etzel shrugged once.

That girl is going to forget how to get back the way she’s scurrying around. Garbiel calmly calculated while watching his new resident physician rush to wherever she needed to gather her possessions, anxious about her new position, while The Physician watched the both of them patiently, appearing very knowing and confident, but a slight sense of dis-ease or uncertainty permeated through his composed façade. He remembered one conversation long ago that the two of them had pertaining to their innate abilities of observation that Etzel had referred to as “Cold Reading” in the Assassin’s circle, a very crucial aspect that was ingrained upon their psyche regardless of their own capabilities, but this term changes in the world of a Blacksmith. It is simply known as “Divination”, where the blacksmith in question is supposed to “feel” the entire process of forging; trying to discover strength and weakness in any piece of steel. Oddly enough the two men sometimes did this for such long periods of time people thought them dead, crazy, or senile in the Smith’s case, and on one occasion a soon-to-be VERY unlucky apprentice Assassin asked if he could join their staring contest.

"Dammit. None of this makes sense."There called out an all-too-familiar voice approaching the two men from the other side of the Archives, apprehension lurking in the dark recesses of her eyes. By the look in her eyes Garbiel knew this was not the first time something had happened, but to show even minutely on an Apprentice of The Guild it had to have been dangerous. A dark sense of foreboding crept upon the aging man, and some voice in the back of his mind kept tugging him to the death of the Marquis Adam Goldwater a year prior."Doctor. Loki, Lord Taylor and Pandora were just targeted again. You should be careful."

The Smith sat impassively as the rather blunt, and foolish, statement was made; even here in the Assassin’s Guild under the protection of Amon they were not necessarily safe. The events after the death of the distinguished Member of Parliament were unbeknownst to the man, but he was aware of the rather tenuous situation within the Parliament and just how far that was disseminating within the Guild. The semblance of a labyrinthine puzzle formed within his mind before a rather petite girl approached the trio, one he had noticed several times around the Guild for her blue eyes.

“Hello, everyone. I hadn’t expected to see most of you here.”

"Miss Elling."

A short dyad soon followed between the youth, detailing multiple assassination attempts on this Pandora Elling, it must be her name because there was only one Lord Taylor, an old acquaintance of his none the less, the Princess Loki, which was a matter of conjecture but probably true since it was mention in conjunction with Lord Taylor. What in the pits of hell has that man gotten himself into? The two children soon grew more apprehensive nearing the end of the short exchange, and the previous hint of dis-ease on Etzel’s countenance showed as fear in the briefest of moments through his body language, but otherwise words did not pass lips, nor mask reveal truth beneath.

“Excuse me miladies, but may I ask for a momentary pause here? Physician, do not assume I doubt security, but is there somewhere else things of this nature may be discussed? I know that I have heard more than is healthy thanks to these children so I might as well understand what is happening.”

Long, thin fingers probed into an inside coat pocket, extracting a rather elaborate silver pocket-watch from the aperture, the emblem of the House Forgefire inscribed upon both sides. His right hand rose upwards to flick the latch with the thumb, while calm eyes gave a rather cursory glance at the time, and quickly snapping it shut to refill its place in his pocket.

Whatever he was getting himself into it was not going to be good, and he was definitely not getting any younger. He had always tried to avoid these dangerous predicaments, but when you make weapons for a living it seemed to come as a side-effect every now and again. This would probably take more time than he thought, so it would be best to send word out beforehand so that the house will be prepared should he arrive after Miss Steins.

“I believe I have some time left before Miss Steins is prepared with her things, I will send a raven with the necessary instructions to my steward. Now is there somewhere else a little more secluded?”

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The Assassins' Guild

Loki could only barely give Eos credit for trying, though she had to admit his talent for understatement rivaled anything she’d ever heard. One of her sable-colored sleeves was charred beyond all recognition and the flames had definitely singed off a few hairs on the same side. She still had reddened skin where there had once been a third-degree burn, and she’d managed to get quite a bit of blood on her clothes (which was now beginning to dry), and she looked a bit under the weather. That was a lie, and they both knew it. She smiled wryly and shook her head.

“You don’t have to try making small talk, Eos, I hate it almost as much as you do.” She rolled her eyes pointedly; they both knew that half her life was spent in such meaningless conversations. There were very few people she actually enjoyed talking to for one reason or another, and though the blunt, often vulgar assassin was one of them (for the entertainment value if nothing else), she didn’t expect him to do so all the time.

The carriage ride was mercifully short, and spared her the indignity of being publicly visible, which was an excellent idea as far as she was concerned, and in short order the two were within the Guild. Loki nodded when the former Hand excused himself, and stepped into Amon’s office. Their meeting took close to an hour, after which she retrieved Zade and left in much the same fashion as she’d come, but not before stopping to ask Pandora to stop by Caelin’s at some point in the future and ward his home, for which she would obviously be well-compensated. “If you could… be extra-careful about Siri’s room, would you?” She would not deny a measure of affection for her little cousin, and unlike Caelin, he was not able to defend himself.




The Next Morning, Streets of Revelation

Sometimes, Aram wondered why Ishtar had married him. The two seemed to butt heads on just about every issue, and she was currently not speaking to him over what he was about to do. Make no mistake; his wife was of singular importance to him, but sometimes, one had to take drastic measures that risked what was personally important for the sake of that which was universally so.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make. Part of him had always hoped that eventually, the government would see sense. He was not as misinformed as many of his compatriots; he knew there were those among the upper class who attempted to make reform, but he also knew that they had accomplished next to nothing. He made no attempt to enlighten his fellows. To introduce that knowledge would be to introduce doubt into their minds that what was needed was a complete revolution, and right now, he couldn’t have them entertaining doubts. Not anymore.

Up until this point, the revolution’s actions had been little but small skirmishes with the city guard, incidents of vandalism, and always in small groups. It was so underscaled that very few people were even aware that there was a rebellion, and that had to change. Nobody was going to take them seriously unless they did something significant. He’d received word that, independent of his own direction, two of his people had undertaken an attempt to kill Caelin Taylor yesterday, and he knew exactly why. The man was known to have received a dose of the Cure, but frankly Aram himself thought it a little misdirected. Just because one had taken the stuff did not mean one was hoarding it, but he supposed in the end it made little difference. One member of Parliament less wouldn’t hurt his cause much, not when he was intent on removing all opportunities for compromise. Either the mages would have everything everyone else had, or they would all die and take half the city with them.

It was frustratingly difficult to make some of them see this. But surely, after today, nobody would have any choice but to choose a side. And if not today, then eventually. Soon, even.

It was time. With a gesture to his men, Aram headed for Beta. He and his were making no attempt to hide their presence; stealth would only be detrimental right now. Instead, they marched as a grim promenade, stony-faced sentinels over the slums, a people oppressed for far too long, who had finally realized that their teeth were perfectly suited for ripping into the underbelly of their tormentors. Predators, held captive for so long by mere prey that they had forgotten their own natures. No more.

The eerily-silent, but fully-visible parade marched through the streets of Gamma, and Aram noted with satisfaction the number of grimy windows that opened, occupants peering outside at what had to be the strangest thing many of them had ever seen. These people though were still close enough to the worst to know what was going on, and while several shut tight and locked their homes, others- magical or not, joined the march, trailing along behind the mages or walking beside them, and Aram’s ranks swelled from but fifteen men to a good fifty.

And still, none broke the stern moratorium on noise, the only sounds the thudding of boots or the slapping of bare feet on cobblestone, the clinking of metal here and there from the new additions, inexorable, steady, constant.

Their destination, the barracks of the City Guard, was a building wedged between the Blacksmith’s guild and a small inn on the other side. The guards, apparently alerted to their ghostly coming, were all milling around outside, watching them with wary eyes. The march swiftly became a standoff; such rabble as they were not welcome here, but nor were they prohibited by law. It was the strictest of social convention, but there was no real power in it if one refused, as Aram did, to be cowed by harsh, condescending looks and scornful cold shoulders.

In the end, nobody would have much of a read on how long it took for something in the air to change, but (and this was to Aram of paramount importance) it was a guardsman who lost it first, the tense silence and deliberate invasion of his space becoming too much for that soldier’s discipline he was supposed to have, and first blood was theirs.

After that, pandemonium erupted. Each of the fourteen others Aram had brought with him was a combat specialist, and bitterly resentful of his or her lot in life. Even as reinforcements poured out of the barracks, Aram’s troops fell back, slinging magic from a distance while those who had joined in Delta and Gamma occupied the forefront. It was Aram himself who set fire to the barracks, and it would soon spread to both the guild building next door and the inn. Let it. This whole city deserves to burn.



The Assassins' Guild

When the march had passed an entirely different Guild, Amon Gregory had observed it with a burgeoning sense of dread. No good would come of this, not for anyone. There was no mistaking the looks on those marchers’ faces: they were out for blood, and they would not be satisfied until they had it. It was an expression he worked daily to scrub out of his recruits.

Reacting immediately (for he had suspected something like this would happen eventually, just not so soon), he ascended the stairs to the student’s quarters, where Pandora was presently making use of a spare room. Knocking urgently, he spoke through the door. “Miss Elling, I require your assistance, if you would.” So saying, he waited as long as was needful for her to join him, then set about in pursuit of several of his own people. Not so many as to constitute a major force, but enough to survive if the march reached the end he thought it would.

He was unsure if Etzel remained within his walls, but if this was the case, Amon sought him particularly, offering no more or less explanation than he afforded the mage-woman. His last stop was Eos, and once he had about seven people in total gathered, he finally explained himself. “A group of mages and some disgruntled citizens just marched brazenly past our doors. It is not difficult to tell that they intend to attack something. I need you all to run interference in whatever way you can. Allow me to make something perfectly clear: you are not to choose one side over the other unless the selection is obvious. Rather, stop whatever it is that is about to happen, by any means necessary. Defend bystanders, treat the injured, talk down both sides if you can. But if it looks like someone will not stop until everyone else is dead, end him.” They could not afford for this incident, whatever it was about to be, to engulf the city any more than it already was going to. Containment was key.



The Royal Palace

Loki appended her signature to the end of a document approving extra funding for an independent Cure-production facility. It wasn’t as though she had to think about it too hard. The news yesterday of the gruesome death of Doctor Vanderbilt was only fuel on the fire, so to speak, especially since she had it on good authority that the man had wanted something similar himself. Her personal financing would allow for the construction of such a manufacturing line within either the grounds of the Taylor Chemicals building or alongside Giacomo’s air purifier, whichever the two decided on beside themselves.

Most of the time, she scarcely paid heed to the fact that she was the single most independently-wealthy woman in the city, but other time, she was glad of it. The next document was not nearly as easy to deal with, nor as appealing. Gilgamesh was calling a special meeting of Parliament, which unfortunately he could do as prime minister. It was set for that afternoon, and she wondered exactly what he was planning on doing. Calling the legislature meant that he was going to force a vote on something, and that meant he knew he had enough support to do it. She wasn’t sure why- the moderate faction had been increasing in number ever-so-slightly recently (and that was with no small effort on her part of Caelin’s), so he should actually be fearing that his own base was weakening. Maybe that was the point? He felt he had to act now, while there was still a chance he’d win? He certainly wouldn’t be one to roll over and die.

Which reminded her: due to a rather fortuitous arrangement of the day before (which she’d insisted upon attending once she learned of it), she was scheduled for tea with the Duchess Gilgamesh in about an hour. Loki smiled to herself: Amon was a sly dog when he wanted to be, and she had little doubt that Eos had relished in arranging this right under the nose of the Duke and his son. She didn’t know much of the younger Lord Gilgamesh; the Prime Minister’s progeny tended to keep out of the obvious realms of politics, which was probably wise.

Turning to Zade, who stood behind her, Loki reminded her of this much, and raised a black eyebrow. “Are you going to be fine with this? I know meeting nobility is not exactly your preference?” There was much more to it than that, of course, but she knew and Zade knew, and neither of them had explicitly ever discussed knowing. It was simply part of the nature of their arrangement- such things could be touched upon, danced around, and silently confirmed in the absence of denial, but they would not be explicitly talked-about. The princess didn’t mind.

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Pandora was nose-deep in her book (military strategy was really interesting if you conveniently forgot the part where it was designed to maximize the number of people you killed in most cases) when Loki and Eos burst through the front doors. Burst really wasn't the word for it, but there were sparse ways to describe the impact with which the princess's presence tended to hit a person. Who knew; maybe it was only her, but Pan was a bit in awe of the woman. She understood intricacies that left the mage baffled and never lost that air of effortless ease. It was intimidating to say the least.

Of course, right now she didn't look so well, as though (and here Pan's brain finally caught up with her eyes) she had just been in a fight. She looked uninjured, though, and was off in the direction of Amon's office, Eos in tow, shortly afterward, leaving the mage with scant opportunity to say anything. This might not have been so bad- she still didn't know how to talk to nobles. Or most people, for that matter. It never stopped her from trying, though perhaps it should. Shaking her head, Pan lowered her eyes back to the page in front of her.

"Good day, lady Elling." Pandora's eyes widened, and she jumped in surprise, a small sound of alarm accompanying the obvious proximity of the voice. When had-? Oh, right. She was in a building full of assassins. Hardly anybody made that much noise when walking. She quickly contained her alarm and glanced up and smiled upon identification of the person who'd nearly given her heart palpitations.

"Eos? You look... different." It was kind of odd, actually. He was dressed almost like a noble himself, but for some reason, she was having trouble reconciling it. Maybe because she'd known him first as a virtually penniless vagabond, which was a much more normal sight for someone in her position. She wouldn't say it, but she was a bit relieved that he didn't look too natural like that- it meant she wasn't the only one. He mentioned that she didn't look all that well, and the grin faded self-consciously. "Oh, yes, well... I'm just a little worried is all. You know me." Either he knew about the attack on her house or he didn't; she wasn't going to draw attention to it.

Loki exited Amon's office some time later, and requested that she pay a visit to the Taylors at some point and ward the Estate. Pandora agreed immediately, a tad surprised by the slightly-halting manner in which the Princess made her request a bit more personal. The bewilderment blended swiftly into a gentle nod, though, and she didn't ask any unnecessary questions about it. She'd see to it tomorrow, circumstances permitting.




Pandora awoke the following morning to a knock on the door of her bedroom. Or wait... this wasn't her bedroom at all. It took her a second to realize where she was, and another to remember how she'd gotten there, but as of last evening, her grandparents had been hidden away in one of the Guild's safehouses and she given a guest room here. She wouldn't lie and say it wasn't a bit strange to be sleeping in the same hallway as naught but assassins or assassins-in-training, but she wasn't going to complain. The Guild (and the people in it) made her feel safe, and there were precious few occasions when she knew that feeling these days.

It was Amon, and Pandora mumbled a hasty affirmation of her consciousness before muttering a quick sanitation spell and throwing on the first clothes that came to hand. She was out the door in less than five minutes, and followed Amon silently as he rounded up more people, some of whom she knew and a few she didn't.

When the Guildmaster explained the situation, her stomach immediately flopped over, and she was glad she'd had nothing to eat this morning. Several times in the past, she'd been approached by members of this disquiet force of people; most if not all mages living in Delta had. She'd turned down their offers of membership every time on sheer principle: she was friends with some of the people they claimed to hate (though she was smart enough not to say as much), and refused to hurt people as a matter of course. Unlike some people, she took the vows magi were made to recite upon leaving the Facility seriously.

Now, it seemed that she would have to try and convince some very angry people that they really shouldn't use their magic for personal gain or to harm another, as those promises specified. She didn't think she'd have much like, and judging from the composition of this group, Amon didn't either. Like as not, she was supposed to patch as many people as possible up afterwards. As the group of them left the Guild, she wrung her hands apprehensively, wondering just what this might mean for the fragile balance the city currently maintained.




Zade took her duties as sentinel very seriously, and even times like now, when she desperately wanted to be sleeping (yesterday had been eventful enough that she had not been able to return to the palace until late in the evening), she did not move except on those rare occasions when Loki did, or when it was time for a brief break.

As it was, she often occupied herself by reading documents over the Princess's shoulder. Loki didn't seem to mind, but she clearly knew, because every once in a while Zade would make a sarcastic comment about something written, which would usually be met with much the same from her employer. This was probably a good deal more liberty than most bodyguards would be allowed, but then Zade wasn't most bodyguards, largely by virtue of the fact that Loki wasn't most people.

She was reminded of this again with the veiled reference to her dislike of nobility in general, and the young woman grimaced emphatically. "If you think she's going to help you get one over on Gilgamesh, then by all means do it. I certainly don't envy the woman- he's a right bastard." She shrugged and willed the matter to drop. The hate was old; she'd only recently come to relax her prejudice enough to accept that Loki, the Queen, and Taylor weren't bad people, and she honestly still didn't like addressing people formally all that much, but would for the sake of her job.

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#, as written by Arke
The Nexus

"Mr. Taylor. You seem livelier than usual." A voice called. A member of Parliament- an agreeable man by the name of Sakai.

Taylor stopped jogging, turning around with his arms occupied with a stack of paperwork. "Yes. though I usually am not aware of these changes." He replied smoothly. "Mr. Sakai, what brings you down to the Nexus?"

"I was doing some work myself. Tell me, what are those papers you hold?" He asked, looking curiously at them.

"It's another legislation." Taylor replied, reddening slightly. He knew what was to come, and pushed down his annoyance. Sakai gave Taylor a mediated stare, before smiling slightly.

"It's not another attempt to push a reform through, is it? Taylor, I know you're smarter than the rest here- I know that you know that there's no way this can go through." He said reasonably. They all said it so damned reasonably. Of course, that wasn't Taylor's true motive.

In the past, Taylor had been pushing for these legislations, new reform calls that would maneuver the trade system so that slaving would play right into the hands of the businesses- and thus slowly do away with the accursed highway. However, it would be voted down immediately and constantly. Sometimes Taylor tried putting just two front pages and then a stack of blank papers, and not a single comment would be made before the documents would be shot down. It was rather amusing. But amusement was not what Taylor was looking for- It was distraction. While he kept most of Parliament busy with documents- as law dictated that proposals must be read through before voting (something that they only half-heartedly do), they had some time before Gilgamesh could move. A small fraction of time, but good time nonetheless.

He also nursed the weak hope that one of these might go through. "Yes. I understand that, but it doesn't hurt to try- these reforms can change Revelation for the better." He replied, and Sakai looked visibly disgruntled. He didn't want to read through a stack of papers either. That was the thing- if change came to slowly, the things needed to change would increase in number to the point where they just abandoned change altogether. It was a cycle of laziness that Taylor abhorred. After Eos' life story told years ago, Taylor decided to look into the matter of slavery. It had very well encroached on all branches of trade, even his chemical factory had bought a few slaves to lift chemicals under his nose. They suffered terrible burns and Taylor felt so guilty he saw to it that the slaves were given optimal medical aid. He could give them their freedom- not yet. No man was willing to take the dangerous jobs of transferring chemicals. In a way, he was just as bad as the slavers.

Caelin and Sakai exchanged a few more words, before both of them bade farewell. The young nobleman submitted the legislation, sealing it in a bag to avoid tampering and grabbing his stamp and marking the envelope with his sign. He had come here without a bodyguard, as the Nexus was a finicky building. It could concoct a reputation and destroy it. If he were seen here with armed guards, the other members that happen to see him would immediately assume something had happened- and rumors would fly. Loki and his own staff probably wouldn't approve of this personally, despite these reasons. That alone forced a tender smile from his facade.




The Assassin's Guild

"It is as they say, Master Gabriel." Etzel confirmed softly. He bowed once. "I'm afraid I'm a little less important when it comes to these matters, and I must see to it that my apprentice reaches you safely. I will see you tomorrow, to pay and receive my equipment. Then we may speak more in depth." The masked doctor bade farewell to the motley group assembled in the archives, and moved to the safehouse. He helped his apprentice pack her things, which wasn't much seeing as Victoria had packed most of it already.

"You know what to do in your free time?" Etzel asked.

"Yes. Studying and practicing." She replied.

"Your suitcase?"

"Set with all necessary chemicals and herbs, Master."

"Very good. Stay safe girl, I cannot have years of work kill you when I'm not looking." Etzel said, something that might have been humor poking about in the second sentence. Victoria rolled her eyes, hefting the suitcase up. Time had flown while they packed and chatted, it was night already and Victoria was already out the door. Etzel looked about the safehouse, completely sure it was clean. He laid a single hair near the door, as a measure against intruders. If he came back and the hair was missing, somebody had broken in and he was to abandon the safehouse immediately.

He went back to the Guild, where he found a spare room to sleep in. One would ask where all the mad Doctor's chemicals and equipment was stored, and how he accessed them so quickly, but that was a secret Etzel himself would take to the grave.

So, as the next morning came he was awakened by a Assassin apprentice, noting that Amon had a note for him. Beta was in an uproar- Mages from Delta had stormed over and began attacking the military barracks. Amon had ordered him to come and dispel the riot by stopping the fighting. If mages had the guts to come and assault Beta, Etzel highly doubted there would be some sort of cease-fire. Nevertheless, he obeyed orders and set out for Beta.

He reached a battlefield, mages slinging fire and soldier shooting or stabbing with their own weapons. Etzel didn't see any other assassins, but he knew assassins would be discreetly disguised- while he in his brown waxed robes certainly made quite an appearance. Few doctors got involved in a streetfight mid-way through, after all. Etzel wasn't one for diplomacy, and most men who have been hit by magefire were already burning all over. He patched a wounded mage up as best he could, noting that after being hurt the fire had died from his eyes somewhat. He was able to convince him that he should back out.

Suddenly, the Barracks exploded into fire, beginning to lick at the Blacksmith guild next to it. The masked doctor's eyes glinted once. "Steins!" He roared, barreling straight into the guild even as the fire began to eat away at the structure.

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The Nexus

Sitting through one of Gilgamesh's very biased speeches was something that was rather painful for the young nobleman to do. This emergency meeting did have some urgency to it- the mages had struck sooner than he had hoped and begun fanning the flames of rebellion. This was bad- as this now gave the man that spoke before him leverage to bring down the city's wrath down on the mages. There was no getting around it now, he had to cope with the situation, as he had done in the past. If worst came to worst, he would be forced to filibuster the vote.

Taylor was through with it. Loki hardly told him anything about her plans when it came to politics, and deep down, Taylor had held a slight bitterness about it. Recent events, combined with that fact had molded together. Was he less important? Did she see him as little more than a tool now that he helped her attained the seat in Parliament?

No. It couldn't be. Taylor forced himself to calm down. He was getting too ahead of himself. How long had it been before he had met the princess? He just wasn't used to trusting other politicians. His early years in holding his father's seat had seen to that. He quickly raised his hand in objection. If Gilgamesh was irked by this motion, none of it showed on his face.

"You propose chaining these people down because they resist oppression, Mr. Gilgamesh?" Caelin asked softly. Caelin knew he was disliked by Parliament. Perhaps he even disliked himself. "You ask of things that would bring the ruin of this city. You ask that to solve a problem, you toss aside and lock it up. You ask, that the actions of few must dictate the will of many. You ask, that the basic human rights that every man, woman, and child is granted be defiled, spat on, and chained." He looked around the room. He was met with careful neutrality. "You regard the mages- simple human beings blessed with a power that could help us, with a total contempt and lack of empathy that astounds me. You completely disregard any attempts of diplomacy, intent on bringing them down. What choice do they have? I see only two- sit down and accept your vile abuse or rebel against your corrupt laws fueled only by classist hatred."

It had been awhile since Caelin had this been angry. He didn't have the strength to while he was sick, but now that he was healthier he felt hot fury flow through his veins. Fury similar to that of when he was just a boy- a boy that would lead his guards around the city beating the homeless and the poor for pleasure.

"I refuse to support this notion. This is not the solution to our problems. This will only add fuel to the fire- give the mages that have not yet made a move a reason to begin a full-scale uprising. It will not be the mages, no. Soon the desperate from Delta, the poor, the hungry will take up arms as well. Can our forces hold up against an entire population? Can we fight a guerilla war? Can we afford to lose our laborers that risk their lives doing the jobs that you would never do?" His eyes flashed defiantly. "This is no time to hold on to prejudice. We must look to the future, not the past. We cannot meet anger with more anger!"

Elisia help me. Caelin thought. He was caught between the hammer and the anvil- if he (or Loki as a bitter afterthought) succeeded, he would be a target- highest in priority for Gilgamesh. He would become a credible threat to his plots, whatever they may be. If he failed- the uprising that would certainly follow would consume him. No noble would be safe. He would be captured or killed by the mages. However, he had no other cards to play. Words... words were his only weapons at this point.




District Beta

Heaving sobs shook the Victoria Steins' small frame as she sat against the doorway for Elisia knows how long. Every single damned memory- even the ones of backbreaking labor. As long as they contained a trace of the masked doctor's presence, her tears flowed anew, as if another dam had crumbled. She sat, knees to her face, staining the new clothes she had worn in preparation for working in the forge.

It was a lull in her tears when she decided that there would be enough grieving. "Ohh pull yourself together Tori." She whimpered, motionless. "What did he always tell you? 'An idle moment is a wasted moment.'" She rubbed her eyes hastily, standing up and nearly stumbling from the sudden motion. The safehouse was nearly cleaned out- her stuff had been moved but the masked doctor's remains still dotted the space. She walked over to the late doctor's desk. It contained several items. A note, which read "abajo de tienda". An old language from before the collapse of humanity that had been turned into a secret language between the master and apprentice. There was a thin belt, stocked with metal canisters of medicines and poisons. She belted that on, amazed at how easily it fitted and how secure it was. The last, was a small wooden box.

Picking it up, she fiddled with it until the latch opened and produced a small golden ring. As her heart swelled to the point where it felt like it would crash through her chest, she noticed a note was attached to it.

Congratulations.

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The Nexus

With his speech, Taylor felt he had least said his mind- and whatever happened next, he would have no control over. After pandemonium struck, he thought his side might have a chance in at least stalling the vote if they couldn't win. However, as he observed calmly, he knew that things were getting close. If they were to put Gilgamesh out of power they would have to do it soon, because events were moving faster than Taylor could manage. With the queen's abrupt silencing of Parliament, even Caelin looked surprised as he turned toward her face with surprise. What she said next staggered Caelin.

How did she manage to get evidence together? Was she in on this the whole time? What's going on? However, despite the news that would certainly leave somebody shocked and gasping at straws, Gilgamesh was collected. Though his face spoke shock, Caelin had been with Parliament long enough to see through false facades. With a smarmy retort, he challenged the queen to gather this evidence. This wasn't good- did he know the Queen was bluffing? Was she bluffing? Taylor had too many questions. Siri would be disappointed if he found out how out-of-tune his "father" was with these circles he claimed to be so familiar with. The boy had been spending more time with another noble's child, something that Taylor had been struggling with. The boy was growing up from his dependency- good. He wondered how his parents felt when he ran off with his first friend.

A voice immediately shook him from his thoughts. Gilgamesh's voice. Though he loathe to admit it, the man's proposition was reasonable. Security must be maintained, at the very least- but he didn't see any reason for it to extend into the lower districts. Before he could voice this, the vote began. The young noble voted nay, but if it had been private he would have voted for that temporary measure. Fighting oppression or not- he needed the mages to be contained for just a while longer while he tried to obtain incriminating evidence on Gilgamesh. Really, he felt like a animal trying to eliminate somebody that didn't rub him the right way. However, Gilgamesh was the only real suspect he knew that would send assassins to end his life. Swallowing once, he turned to the Princess as she motioned to him.

She offered an explanation, both from her mother and herself. Deep down, he quietly thought that it was about damn time. Who knows how many blunders he had made- detrimental to everyone's progress as he was in the dark? No, he had to know what was going on. His face tightened somewhat- an uncharacteristic grimace before answering "I would be happy to know what's going on, your Highness."

District Beta

Her right hand glinted slightly as she began equipping herself once more. The belt of vials was strapped to her waist, and a pair of daggers were strapped to her thighs. She tied the blade that she carried to a gap in the belt of vials, and stuffed a small bag with supplies and money. She would return to the safe house if she needed anything else. She quickly armed the traps on the door, slipping out before dripping some contact poison on the knob. Any bare hand touching the poison would be writhing on the ground in seconds. She threw a large cloak over herself, and hunched over slightly while pulling a shawl over her head under the hat.

She tipped her hat low, and returned to the scene of the fire. As she ducked among the bodies, pretending to examine them as if looking for somebody. However, what immediately caught her eye was a man who seemed to be... glowing blue. She had never seen such a man, but he had walked within the proximity of another man. As her trained eye caught the flash of a blade of some sort, she had a slight inkling of what was going on. She had also slightly recognized the man he was talking to. Amon? The master of the Assasins Guild?

This was getting interesting. As Giacomo began to make his leave, she was already shuffling off- formulating a plan. The scientist, as impressive in combat and innovation as he was probably wasn't expecting a late-teenage girl in disguise trailing him across the city. Trained too, as she shadowed the man all the way back to District Delta- occasionally changing disguises mid-way by discarding some clothing or attaching some accessories. She watched him approach the Air Purifiers from a good distance. No wonder she thought she recognized him. The papers- Giacomo, the miracle scientists that cleans the air of the outer District. And he had relationships with Amon. Since her master hadn't given her directions to the guild, and Amon probably wouldn't be sending assassins looking for her, Giacomo was her best bet. She couldn't possibly face the Forgefires after what happened.

She followed him like a cat, calling upon all her training to trail him and not cause a scene. Her master had always told her that a man of high stature appeared calm because he had security- visible or not. She had to disarm one trap as she slinked behind him, taking cover as he paused at the huge door. He opened it, and her eyes widened.

Weapons?

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The view from the window of The Forge proved quite useful for the injured Garbiel, allowing him a decent vantage point with which to view any persons walking down the street, and several familiar faces had passed by while he watched his son walking towards a client of theirs, Signore Vernazza if he was not mistaken; even if his face was turned slightly away from the smith the tools resting in his hands were unmistakable to their components’ crafter. What on earth he had to do with this catastrophe was not exactly obvious, but he remembered his name being mentioned amongst the others involved with the recent strife in the past year, and another one of those individuals just happened to be there, and assassin he had met on random occasions. Just trying to hear any conversations from this distance was laughable, but by their body language the two knew each other, or neither seemed bothered due to battle-shock, yet that seemed rather implausible when the assassin hefted up a limp body that belonged to the one mage girl he had met the day prior, her name was Pandora if he remembered right, and he usually did.

Well these people are organized well enough to help stem the tide, but what happens when the floods come…

Not much else could be said about the trio of comrades, who even now began marching off to different locales within the tumultuous city, Eos taking Pandora to receive medical care, while Signore Vernazza seemed content enough to sleep. His son was kneeling in the dirt, seeming aware but unconcerned with the unexpected personnel, but he looked up when the vision of Amon Gregory strode towards him.

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“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.

Danterus looked up at the sound of the familiar voice of Sir Amon, a term not many were comfortable using if he might add, but his relationship is not altogether as close to him as his father’s, yet they were still on decent terms when encounters do occur. He looked down and finally began to feel the sharp pain in his side, the blood coagulating with all the dirt from the collapse, and in definite need of cleaning lest it become infected. Standing up slowly, the loss of blood had left him somewhat lightheaded; however the previous concussion from the earlier building collapse was also effecting him at the time.

“My father? Oh yes he is in The Forge right now, but as of the others I’m not so sure, you’d have to ask Nethanial Ironarm about what he saw; I think he saw everything that happened. Come, follow me.”

Garbiel had been speaking to a physician when Amon and Danterus had first started walking towards the building he was currently occupying, the elderly man had been cleaning his cuts and wounds while using a rather higher grade wand to concentrate on healing the wound in his leg, this one needed much less preparation and must have cost a decent sum of gold. The man had departed quietly as the sight of Danterus’ shadow loomed through the doorway, currently unaccompanied by Sir Amon, but still rather anxious from earlier, nearly stuttering when he asked the physician to wait for a second to speak to his father.

“Amon is here to speak with you Father, he’s talking with Nethanial currently, the man had a much better view of what happened than us, but it shouldn’t be long before he finds his way up here. I need to have this attended to as well, but afterwards I will be leaving for a short while… I have some business to discuss with a potential client.”

Without hesitating for even a hair’s-breadth of a moment Danterus rushed from the doorway, not even daring to listen to any inquiries the worried Garbiel would have, and left to machinations only the gods could comprehend right now.

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The Gods be damned if I let those scum ruin my city, I have to speak with Gilgamesh…he’ll know what should be done at a time like this…

Danterus had relocated to a room down the hall, passing an upcoming Sir Amon as he traversed the doorway along with the elderly physician; and seated himself on a stool with his right arm extended upwards, allowing the man easier access to the wound in his right side. He winced as the small man scrubbed the particularly delicate area with a rough cloth soaked in some kind of stinging liquid that was supposed to cleanse a wound, but why the man did not use the one of the wands at his side he was not sure, and he was equally as unafraid to speak said inquiry.

“Excuse me sir, but may I ask as to why you do not use one of those wands to help speed the process up a bit?”

“Why you ask? Because these wands will only mend to flesh young man, and if you were to mend the flesh with all of this bacteria and filth inside then you would only WISH it was a simple infection. Something like this would easily damage you lungs very quickly, and without a doubt your heart would go very soon after that… SO if you don’t mind I need to cut just a little off.”

Without realizing it a numbing sensation had washed over his right side, making the vision of bad flesh being cut away from his body so alien that it seemed unbelievable, and after the man brandished one of his said wands the whole experience was washed away with the flick of a wrist. A sense of exhaustion had flooded over the young man, hearing the soothing voice of the physician that had just effected his immediate unconscious state with a special herb-infused concoction.

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The Royal Palace

The fine cloth was many times more luxurious than the clothes Taylor wore on his body- even though they were used as carpet. He was slightly jealous at the hard work that was standard in the Royal Palace. If one looked at the palace as a comparison to Loki's life, one would find it hard to believe that she didn't simply just lock herself away in luxury and ignore everything. Taylor had always devoutly managed his chemical business, getting involved directly in ensuring employee safety and whatnot. He had to, else he probably would have just locked himself away in his mansion after hiring a competent executive officer to run the company itself.

Turning his attention to the queen as he entered the room, he decided to just shut up and listen. The exchange was fairly heated, and he personally didn't like the implications with Gilgamesh's empty prime minister seat. He had planned to retire from politics after this business was over- and simply focus on Siri and his chemical company. However- there was one appealing point. With the powers the position of prime minister would give him if things went well, he could change the living conditions for Delta and Gamma with much less effort than if he were a simple member of parliament. He was beginning to become uncomfortable due to the fact that he was the object of an argument between family members, so when it ended he was happy enough to bow respectfully, repeat the formal address, and excuse himself after Loki.

"Why would you apologize?" He asked after Loki offered them. "I'm quite flattered actually. I didn't think you'd be so upstanding for what I want." Walking with her silently until he reached a fork in the path, he took the one that lead to the exit. "I'll be in touch." He said, moving from the room.




District Delta

So Amon had some sort of weapon under the wings? Build by the Miracle-Scientist Giacomo, of all people? This was getting stranger and stranger- and even as she silently slipped out of the building as carefully as she could, she knew that Amon was aware of her. It would be foolish for her to think not to- as he was the Assassins Guildmaster, the official best in the city. You don't become number one if a apprentice that's trained in stealth for only a year can spy on you. Did he want her to see this?

When she went back to Beta, she moved over to Etzel's old shop. Boarded up, she was here to check on Etzel's supply of herbs and drugs and whatever else the mad doctor hid beneath the store. However, there were two people sitting outside. Inconspicuous in every way, except she recognized one of them. An assassin from the Guild. Were they waiting for her master's return? They would be sorely disappointed. Just as well, they probably were not aware that Etzel had created over thirty escape routes in the store while he occupied it, so looking at the entrance wouldn't suffice as a lookout.

She decided to walk up to the store, and almost as if on cue the Assassin's stood up. "Victoria." They greeted. "Where is your master?"

"He's dead." She said flatly. It was funny how final that seemed. The Assassins didn't physically react, but their eyes showed some disappointment.

"Amon won't be pleased, but you'll have to do." one said. "Would you come with us, please?"

"Sure." She replied. Drat. Those herbs would have to wait until some other time.




Three Days Later

The Royal Palace

Taylor wasn't too keen on letting a girl- even though though she may be Etzel's trained apprentice, assume risk for her master's sake. However, without understanding her circumstances butting it would probably anger her, and make him seem like a overbearing crone. If he didn't act like one already, because he was already rather surprised when Loki offered to break into Gilgamesh's estate with Eos.

Today was just a day for surprises- she was simply standing silently, but she was armed to the teeth and even Taylor saw it. Was it because she wanted to show she could fight as well? He stayed silent, even as Loki announced the pairings. Forgefire would definitely be of assistance- his age had an edge over Taylor- and his neutral stance in the world of trade would allow him to have more friendly contacts. Scheherazade would be useful for infiltrating lower ranking occupations for information without attracting attention- since Taylor was an infamous member of Parliament and Forgefire was a well known master smith.

Even as he thought on this, he realized that Forgefire's beta residence would make it difficult for him to slip into noble estates without proper invitations. "Scheherazade, I recommend that you pair up with Master Forgefire." He said. "I'll have no trouble gaining access to the noble estates, but Beta is a sprawling city that will react accordingly to my presence. I think, that with Master Forgefire's knowledge, wisdom and contacts you should be able to cover the district for any evidence with your skill. Alpha is small in comparison, and I have relations with almost all the nobles- as unfriendly as they may be underneath the fake masks we wear." Of course, if Scheherazade had any opposition to his idea, she or Forgefire could always assume the guise of one of his servants or other member of his staff. It was a flexible plan, and personally, he was hoping that he had an assistant assuming the guise of a member of his staff- for as he would distract the nobles, he would have another set of eyes searching for evidence linking to Gilgamesh. He didn't voice this, however- it was their choice.

Victoria didn't say a word, just as the masked doctor would have done. Listening and looking before she spoke would allow her to gather as much information as she could before asking for specifics. She had been planning on raiding the nobles for evidence, but realized she had no experience in the matter- and getting caught would be a death sentence. Etzel had never really needed to do such a thing, and it was laughable that he should expect Victoria to be able to. So, she followed Loki's pairing and turned to Pandora to nod once.

"I'll do it." She said tiredly. All she wanted to do was become a damned physician and live in peace! Now she was wrapped up in the webs of politics and internal struggle. However, seeing the Forgefire smithy burn down made he realize that with the mage rebellion even if she did settle down there wouldn't have been much time before her life would be thrown into chaos.




The Next Morning

District Delta


Gods, District Gamma wasn't as bad as this, and she lived there before the air purifier was invented. She didn't even want to think about what life was like while the thick smog hung like death over the entire area. Was this the reason why her Master wore his mask at all times? Pandora was a nice woman, though somehow slightly shorter than Victora even though she was older. It made her appear huggable, especially with her optimistic personality.

She was dressed more appropriately, changed into rags and thin clothes that were rather grimy and smelled of smoke. Her hat was gone, and all she wore in place was a thin hooded cloak that concealed her belt of vials under her long shirt. Her hair was even messier, blonde streaks giving her a haunted appearance that was so befitting of the district itself. She had no time to dye her hair.

"There isn't." She replied, and under her disguise, she shifted her body ever-so-slightly to react quickly if Pandora were to be attacked.

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The Facility

Danterus looked around tentatively at the scene displayed before him, the Facility had been ransacked thoroughly, the rebels left very little standing in the escapade that had ensued during the diversionary attack on the City Garrison next to The Compound, and every second he stood there the fire in his heart began to burn even fiercer. He may have been forced into an alliance with several mages and mage-sympathizers by his father and Sir Amon, but if it meant getting one step closer to annihilating the vermin then he would wait patiently until the time to strike was right.

He hadn’t even waken up from the slight coma that pesky healer had put him in until his father and Sir Amon had doused him with a bucket of water outside one of the side-gates of the Royal Palace used by servants. How the two men had gotten him that far was a question that had been left unasked, and no answer was offered by the older men, but as soon as they started talking he knew they wanted something. Sir Amon had been too straightforward with his intentions, saying something about wanting to quell the immediate threat to the security of Revelation and what-not, but after seeing the Politician Taylor he knew better, the man was a sniveling sympathizer always pushing for reform and equality for the mages, a laughable thought for anyone who knew what they were talking about.

However that was then, and this is now, and right now they needed some way to get into the sewer system, the pesky scientist Giacomo had been more than expedient at showing Sir Amon and Danterus one of the nearest entrances, not too far from where the west wall of The Facility had stood. The young smith took one look at the massive grate that covered the opening and saw the scientist spoke true, it would definitely need more than elbow grease, but elbow grease and ingenuity were not in short supply for the cunning man. After inspecting the grating for a few minutes, looking at the thickness of the iron used along with the rest of its proportions , a few concept began to flutter through his head, some hard and some not so hard, but they would all definitely work.

Looking from the grate to Sir Amon Danterus spoke slowly yet clearly, making sure each concept was understood by his fellow team members. “Sir Amon we have several options with what to do here, but we will need the right equipment regardless of the circumstances. Our first, and quickest, option would be to break the drain cover, this is iron, not steel, and as such it is very brittle and would break easily if we took a hammer to it. The next idea would be to find a hydraulic winch, or manufacture a make-shift pulley with some rope or chain that might be lying around, the only problem is finding something sturdy enough to support the weight. As for the hole problem? Well we could always carve out some of the stone so we could fit, or send someone about as skinny as Taylor in there.”
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District Beta

Garbiel glanced over the ruins of his Manor only momentarily as he turned towards the window that faced the entrance, the third story of The Forge was a meeting room that was reserved for Guild Meetings, or other special occasions that were Blacksmith-oriented. He had arranged a general meeting within the Blacksmith’s Guild after coming back from the Royal Palace after meeting with Princess Loki, Caelin Taylor, and several other members of this “crisis-prevention” crew of theirs, every one of whom he either knew or recognized from previous engagements, a good thing since there did not seem to be too many people to trust at this time. He did hate having to use his son like he was, but times were hard and men needed to be harder than the circumstances.

Scheherazade was seated quietly in the corner, no doubt wondering why they were suffering through this farce of a meeting, several other Guild Members were known to be less sympathetic towards mages, but the results would still be the same, Guild policy would require them to concede to the majority’s wishes, and all Guild business was sworn to secrecy, a statute that no one dared challenge, not even the Guild master Nethanial. The night prior she had been lodged in one of the guest quarters on the second floor of The Forge, located next to the same room that Garbiel had been healed in and was currently occupying until his Manor could be rebuilt.

The aging man stroked his bear slowly, a sure sign of his pondering, and turned towards the young woman, making the journey over to where she was seated with a few quick strides, and bending over he whispered quietly in her ear. “I have a favor to ask of you Scheherazade, I have a letter here addressed to the Guild master of the Carpenter’s Guild, now you don’t need to deliver it personally an errand boy will do. After you get done with that head back to your room for the nonce, I’m not trying to lock you up but considering our predicament caution is best utilized here; do not worry I will be there shortly to accompany you for lunch…. There is still much that we need to discuss if we will be working together.” Without waiting for a response from the young woman he withdrew the aforementioned letter and placed it in her small hands, turning back towards the rest of the Guild Members with a pained look in his eyes.

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District Alpha

Caelin pulled up to the manse in a craft driven by an assistant. Her name was Safrina- a maid in his own estate. The reason he had chosen her was because he had picked her up from one of his old forays into Gamma- and in her sector she was reknowned as an excellent thief that could break into heavily guarded warehouses. She never stole much, which showed how smart she was. Any noticeable missing supplies would cause a sector-wide man-hunt, and the thief would be put to death very slowly to demonstrate how theft is looked down upon.

People that he had rescued from a life of poverty were the hardest to teach, but often were the most loyal. She opened the door, bowing slightly as she got up. He normally wouldn't arrive like this, as the distance between any house in District Alpha was walkable to an extent. However, he was here on a formal visit and there was some unspoken protocol involved. The gates opened, and he and Safrina walked inside. Chandler's own taste was rather moderate, and as they were guided to the sitting area, he realized how quiet the entire place was. Unlike his own home, where Siri and sometimes his friends ran around and played in this manse was eerily cold. Taylor wondered briefly if his was the same kind of place before he adopted the boy.

As the maid came in with the tea, Taylor broke from his reverie and looked around. He needed hints. Something to get an answer out of Chandler. The room was sparse, little to show of Chandler's family. Understandable, as his wife was dead and his kid was rumored to be missing. He did spy a picture over the fireplace, a man holding a kid lovingly in his arms. It looked like it was hand-painted by a master.

"It's a Ferlinghetti." Safrina murmured, her eyes trained on Taylor. Taylor nodded in thanks- luckily, a maid had to be well educated which helped very much in this situation. Ferlinghetti was a famous artist that was famed for his paintings so delicate the pictures seemed life-like. Ferlinghetti paintings were very expensive.

On the table in the corner, he saw something odd. A small, curved box with a note on it. The note was layered in a fine dust, as if the maids deliberately ignored it. Safrina scooted over cautiously, and read it. "Happy Birthday." She murmured. "This box is a ring box." She reported. It was branded with the signature of a goldsmith. She moved back over, when Chandler entered the room. He was old, and the lines on his face were those of laugh lines mixed in with age. He moved slowly, as if there was all the time in the world. For him, yes. For Taylor, no. He would have to be a little aggressive if his passive pace was at this rate.

"Lord Taylor, it's truly a surprise to see you visiting me." He greeted, the warmth dissipating at his eyes.

"Lord Chandler, it's been too long since I've had a chat with you." Taylor replied in kind. "Tell me, how has it been?"

"How has it been? It's been quite mellow, Lord Taylor. Sometimes I think that if I stay in place for too long, time will just shoot right on without me."

Taylor chuckled. "Time certainly does enjoy toying with us. When we're busy, there's never enough time. When we're not mindful, it flies."

Chandler offered a smile, and began delving into some quiet small-talk. Safrina said and offered nothing, as customary for a maid. Soon, the pleasantries and catching up were done with and Chandler was softened up enough. He only had three things to go on here- the rumors, the picture, and the box. The box was a pretty weak clue, but the painting was going to be extremely useful.

"Lord Chandler, I've been hearing some disturbing rumors around Parliament for awhile now." Taylor said, his voice heavy with concern. He was, as he would for anybody with a missing child. Chandler's face seemed to depress slightly. "I've been meaning to ask you about them, as they've been getting a little wild and I want to separate fact from fiction."

"I see, what is it?"

"Word has been going around that your son has been kidnapped by one of us for leverage- instead of missing as you first claimed. I wonder, how in the world could such a conclusion be drawn?"

"I've heard no such thing." Chandler said heavily.

"Impossible, Lord Chandler. Word always gets out. Surely, you would have heard something like this. We live in an environment where words dictate the lives of citizens." Taylor retorted back.

Chandler paused. "...Yes, I've heard of such things. I've released an official "Missing Persons" report, though. I have no idea how this could have turned into a blackmail case."

Taylor nodded. There was nothing he wanted to elaborate on, apparently. It would require some pushing. "Why would somebody create rumors about something like that?" He asked pointedly. Chandler looked up.

"I don't know."

"Don't lie to me, Lord Chandler. What would somebody have to gain from spreading a rumor about your child? I don't think anybody would have much to gain, as it would bring bad attention to the matter." He said. The old noble seemed to be struck. "You've been very supportive of Lord Gilgamesh recently, despite your moderate status. Don't tell me this might be truth?"

The old man sighed. "Alright. Alright. I spread the rumors. My kid's been kidnapped and somebody left me a letter. I thought that if I spread some rumors around a curious noble would offer his assistance. It's worked, but none of them turned up evidence." He said bitterly. Another clue. Maybe, if Taylor got his hands on the letter...

"You loved your kid, didn't you?" Taylor said quietly.

"I am a parent, Lord Taylor."

"Would a parent go to the extent of having Ferlinghetti paint a picture of their kid?" He asked. Chandler's eyes immediately shot to the painting.

"No, but he's the only thing I have left since my wife passed away." He said, his voice surprisingly level. Taylor was impressed. "I wanted to keep his memory, even now when he's not here."

"May I see the letter?" Taylor asked cautiously.

"Of course. You seem to be looking into the matter too." Chandler said bluntly. Well, it was to be expected.

"You can be assured that none of this will leave the manse." Taylor offered. Chandler smiled softly.

"I trust you. You're the only honest politician in this damned city. It takes real character to be transparent in politics, and you've somehow managed to do it." He said, snorting at the oxymoronic phrase. He left the room, and returned minutes later with a letter. Giving it to Taylor, he sat down. "I don't say this to guests, but if it helps you can take a look around the manse for any help." He offered.

Taylor took the letter. Sniffing it slightly, the hint of a strong scent reached his nose. "Doused in gasoline." Taylor muttered. "There won't be any fingerprints or bodily evidence." Opening it up, the writing was written in a blocky hard-to-trace lettering. "Support Gilgamesh in all his political endeavors." It read. Ambiguous enough so Gilgamesh isn't the only suspect, but everybody within his circles. Smart. The ink had been set for quite a while before it had been doused with gasoline, as Taylor scratched at it and there wasn't a single mark or chip or mar. "Premeditated kidnapping." Taylor continued, thinking to himself. Looking up, he quickly asked the Lord Chandler where he found the letter.

"My kid's room." He said, sighing.

Taylor nodded. "May I keep this?" He asked. The old nobleman nodded. Taylor stuck it in his shirt, making sure ti hand this to Loki. As weak as it was, it was still evidence. He still had to know the exact details. He didn't expect to get Chandler to oppose Gilgamesh unless his son was safely returned. He was openly loathed by Gilgamesh's side, so it wasn't surprising that he let spill everything to Caelin after some prodding.

"Let's discuss specifics, Lord Chandler." Taylor said. "How much information do you know regarding your son's disappearance?"

District Delta

Victoria did not relax an inch, even when she peeked inside discreetly and saw a child. Children saboteurs could very well be a possibility when it comes to a guerilla army. Reading texts that had been salvaged from the earth below them, there had been instances of kids giving soldiers teddy bears with bombs stuffed inside them. Frankly, it was horrifying, and it was the kind of things one had to be prepared for when on the run. A woman had answered the door, and giving her a quick scan, Victoria was immediately jealous of the way time had treated her body. She caught an irregular bump in the gown she wore, and decided not to call her out on it. Everybody had a right to defend themselves.

Victoria didn't know who the woman was, but Pandora seemed to know. She let her take the lead, walking into the living room and giving the seat a quick examination. She pressed on the cushion twice discreetly as she bent over to sit down. Many assassinations by her master had come from sticking poisoned needles inside the cushion to gently puncture a victim as he/she sat down. Since no needle or otherwise shot up at the motion, she sat down. She spent her time quickly mapping out possible locations for cover, escape, and ambush.

She almost flinched violently when Sigrun sat next to her and began talking happily to her. Instead, she took the movement half as well, turning suddenly. "Uh, no. I wish I could be, though." She replied, shrugging. Ishtar took that moment to return with cups of tea. She sniffed at it. No bitter or sharp smells- devoid of obvious poisons. The tea scent itself wasn't overpowering, which meant it wasn't trying to disguise poisons. The coloring was normal, and the leaves didn't have unknown particles among them at the bottom.

Never take somebody's word for it. He had told her.

However, Pandora had already sipped from her cup. No immediate reactions, which narrowed the poisons down to heavy drugs. Weren't lethal unless you downed the cup in a single gulp. She took a small sip herself. Tasted normal. While she had been staring intently at the tea, Pandora had been retelling her lie. One thing she had learned before the mission was that Pandora was a terrible, terrible liar. Speaking for her would arouse suspicion, and going by a script was risky. She let her do the talking, as she knew her tongue best. Pandora then directed the woman's question to Victoria, who lowered the cup she held in her hands.

"Yes, I've been living in Beta for most of my life, but I had relatives down in Delta I visited frequently. They're dead now, but it wasn't before I saw how bad the conditions were here. It was worse when I saw how roughly the guards treated you all and how little was being done up in Alpha." She paused. "I might have sounded a little presumptuous, but, what really drove me over was the death of my master during the fires." She stopped. Every time she mentioned him, tears seem to come unbidden. Swallowing, she added one more sentence. "The guards thought he was a mage and beat him... it was a crushed skull..."

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#, as written by Ezarael
It had been many years since Garbiel had taken an active role in the political aspects of the Blacksmith’s Guild, and the weight of his decisions began to bear down upon his shoulders as if the world were coming down on him. He had sent Scheherazade off with the letter for the Guild Master of the Carpenter’s Guild that included a small set of blueprints that he had drafted and a brief message detailing the usual ins and outs of business, but on the very bottom it had the phrase Hammer and Anvil written in a dark-blue ink. He had not sent a message with that term for many years, but it denoted a Guild Pact that had been signed between them years previously, and he knew the Guild Master Ben Woodsworth would find a time and place that they could meet.

Unfortunately their meeting had been taking longer than expected. Most of the other blacksmiths acquiesced to the Guild’s decision, but their youngest Smith named Erryk Fireeyes had stormed out a half-hour previously and threatening exposure of their plans. As the others began to file out the aging Smith sighed noticeably at what must be done, and he was glad to have the Sir Amon in his good favor at this time. Across the city bells began tolling the hour with their sound denoting more than just lunch for Forgefire, and as the last bell sounded he began heading towards the room he had reserved for the young apprentice that had been assigned with him.

Each step down the hallway seemed like a mile as his feet became heavy as lead weights, and it felt like an hour before he reached her apartment. The servants had already come and gone with the two trays of food he had asked to be sent their this morning, the young woman might be eating or waiting for him for all he knew, but he still stopped to knock at the door and await her answer for him to enter. Only after her voice called out did he open the door to her room and approach one of the less elaborate chairs placed to eastern wall by a desk with two trays sitting peacefully.

“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.”

As they sat eating from the trays, the cooks had brought a healthy serving of mutton roasted with carrots and onions along with two rolls for each of them, Garbiel could only pick at a small amount of the food on his plate, leaving a large portion of the mutton and one roll left on his plate. At times like these food was always hard to consume for him. His right hand strayed to the simple dagger at his side, the dagger that had been his brothers so many years ago, and his thumb flicked the hilt upwards to break the sheath’s hold of the steel. He grasped the young woman’s left hand gently and placed the hilt in her palm, closing her delicate fingers around the weapon. So young, but she is a member of the Guild.

“You will need that for later Scheherazade. I know the trivial matters bore you, but sometimes we must need have patience for the hard times ahead. Tonight you must go to the Manor adjacent mine and plant this in the heart of a man. His room is the one directly above its entrance with the only set of double-doors there. No questions.”

After waiting for her to reply to his request the Smith sat quietly for a moment to gather his thought for what must be said next. These decisions were always the hardest, but sometimes the good of many overlooked the good of a few. His gaze was distant, but hard as his eyes focused upon her own, if there was any emotion laying behind them it would not be evident to her. That gaze had come from many years of pain and living in Revelation.

“You know of my son Danterus? He was the dark-haired lad seated with us at the meeting.” Garbiel waited for her reply to the near inconsequential answer. He knew that she knew, but it had become a necessity of his to study another’s expressions and habits of speech.

“He may become a problem later on for us. Although he is a good man there is hatred in his heart and it years for the death of mages. You need not concern yourself with any…task right now, but we must be cautious with him. Can I trust you with this?” Once again the elderly Blacksmith paused for Scheherazade to respond, however that may be, before he continued.

“It is not that I want him dead. I love him as mine own….but if a time comes then…” He found himself unable to vocalize the last part of that sentence. Not wanting to waste more time than was necessary he quickly began with the rest. “We need to keep a mindful eye on him for the moment; just watch, listen, and if needs be… persuade him from doing anything foolish. However that may be is irrelevant, but unless absolutely necessary there must be no violence as of yet…”

His left hand stretched out to grab a glass of wine that sat next to his less than half-eaten tray. He had never been particularly fond of matters like these, but without Amon to discuss these things with her must take matters into his own hands for the moment. The Assassin Guild’s Master would naturally question his reasoning, but that was more a formality between them than an actual necessity, but it had been many years since he had come to the Guild for such services.

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#, as written by Ezarael
Danterus watched quietly while Amon began using the scientist’s portable blow-torch like mechanism to weaken the drain, but his nose wrinkled in disgust at the sight of the blasting wand provided by the pesky little man. To him magic was a vile abomination of life no matter how it was used, and it had always been a force of habit to find some way around using the treacherous stuff. Although scientists had been making vast improvements in wand-technology there were still a few kinks that needed to be worked out every so often, as with any man-made item, and every now and again they more destructive wands were known to back-fire, albeit at about a one-in-one-thousand chance. The wands did make clearing the way that much easier for the trio he had to admit.

The young Smith waited patiently for both Amon and Giacomo to enter the sewer before clambering down himself, they both had more suitable forms of illumination than he could provide so who better to light the way for them. Not much could be said of the sewer at first, or at least Danterus mused, and it epitomized pretty much everything that he could have imagined in a sewer: filthy, odorous, wet, and pitch-black except for the scant light provided by his companions. It seemed like an eternity had passed before the assassin stopped to trace a seam in the wall with his hand, and when he extracted the blasting wand again while motioning both himself and Giacomo back Danterus did not hesitate to move away.

The wave of air that blasted forth from the newly opened catacomb was tepid and stale as if it had been sealed for some time, but it was also tinged with the smell of blood. Upon entering the room the blood-streaks splattered on the walls seemed to writhe and twist with the wands movements making the blood look as if it was still flowing. “Whoever they kept in here seemed to die a horrible death. Only animals would do something like this.” His words dripped with venom while his eyes moved heatedly over the streaks from where they were higher up the wall, like the person had been trying to claw their way out of the room, and finally down to where they were dragging on the ground in the last few moments of life.

Amon’s attention had been diverted away from the gruesome scene towards a small table in one corner, and Danterus was quick to follow him towards the table and parchment on top. It was dark in the room, and he did not like the idea of straying from the light at all. There was a bad mood about the dark, dank room. He studied the parchment along with Amon, but he could not decide between two ideas, and at best they seemed flawed.

“Gentlemen… take a look at this and tell me what you see.”

After waiting for a moment longer Danterus sighed heavily. “I cannot say for sure, but it looks as if a possible plan of attack to overwhelm first the Assassin’s Guild and other City Guard stations… That or it they have marked spots to sets powder and charges to burn the city to the ground…”

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#, as written by Arke
District Delta


Victoria cursed in her head. Being Etzel's apprentice, she was resisting the urge to flinch when Pandora began making up her excuse. Then again, she was never as subtle as her master- despite the fact when things got too stressful her master tended to end things violently. She tried taking it all in stride, but her lip twitched in annoyance when Ishtar began rubbing it in.

There was no choice at this point. Victoria could probably kill Ishtar. She had no knowledge of her self defense skills, but Victoria was fairly certain she could at least prick her with one of the many dangerous poison-coated needles. She was about to palm a blade before Ishtar began talking of things that might actually be of use. Victoria relaxed slightly. Let the songbird sing before I euthanize her. She thought remorselessly. She was in enemy territory. Once they blow your cover, you weren't safe until that knowledge was destroyed and you were back in safe grounds.

Her demands were laughable, but she probably wouldn't have said anything otherwise and before she could think about it Pandora was already spilling the truth. The poor girl was never meant for espionage. Victoria managed what she hoped was a warm wave to the little girl, saddened slightly at the prospect of having to kill her.

Kill them, what was she thinking? A year ago she would have spat at the idea. Survival was her main instinct nowadays, and to ensure survival, she had to get rid of them if necessary. She decided to save the decision until after this was all over. She listened to Ishtar and Pandora, watching the fingers trace the map while her mind raced at a thousand miles per hour. She quickly took the initiative, memorizing the map. Luckily, memorizing lists and lists of herbs, potions, and poultices did not go to waste, as her memory has become an impeccable computer. Or a camera.

"Sewers. The perfect place for a smuggling operation, as cliche as it is." She muttered under her breath. "Maybe, there are holding cells along the way in case...? Yes, yes. That is a distinct possibility- but there are branches- how does he or she... Guards? Perhaps but it might not stop all of them. The map... the beginning leads to a large manse..."

She paused, trying to recall a map of Revelation Etzel had forced her to remember. Deliveries had to be made, and house calls had to be kept.

"That is the manse of the current Prime Minister...." She said to herself. "The basement? How crude... there must be a hidden passage. How are these operations performed. When? Haphazardly? Guard changes?"

She began chattering incoherently at this point, a reincarnate of the masked doctor.




District Alpha

Taylor bowed his head. "My sympathies to you, Lord Chandler." He said. The old man's words shook him. It furthered his resolve, to find out what was going on and hopefully return the boy to this husk of a man. However, with the clues Chandler had given him, there was little to go on. What was clear though to Taylor was that; the man loved his kid, the kidnapping wasn't a false rumor, and the kidnapper is an advocate of Gilgamesh or Gilgamesh himself. This lead was scoured of all evidence. He didn't bother try looking in the boy's room, as it would be old and any lingering evidence would have been completely obliterated by now.

"I thank you, Lord Chandler. I know it doesn't mean much, but I'll see what I can do." He said, gesturing to Safrina. The maid bowed once, exiting the room.

In the vehicle, Taylor looked up at the mirror that reflected Safrina's composed face. "What do you think?" He asked.

"I think the man is telling the truth, but we have little information to go on." She replied.

"I think the same thing. Quite the insight, Safrina. I may not have gotten him to speak otherwise."

"Think nothing of it, milord." She replied.

"Safrina, I would like you to look after Siri when we get back. Out of all the maids, you are the most combat orientated." Taylor said wearily. It would be nice of Siri was still there when he got back- Chandler's words hit Taylor where it hurt the most.

"Of course, milord."

Since the trail had gone cold there, Taylor knew that he needed another man to interrogate- or he had to wait for the others to bring back pieces of the puzzle. He already had one- the letter given to Lord Chandler and a confession from the man himself. It was up to the others to find the rest. He hoped to the Goddess that Siri was still there when he got back. The worry nagged at his conscious. Maybe he didn't place enough guards. Maybe Siri went to play with his friends.

It nearly killed him, because though Taylor had only wanted a heir because he had been dying a year back he had grown to truly love the child. His past and demeanor was much more pure than Taylor's. He didn't want to see it corrupted by Gilgamesh if he got his hands on him.

"If possible, Safrina, could you drive a little faster?"

"Yes, milord."

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#, as written by Smith
District Alpha

This was not nearly as fun as he remembered, which was odd considering that Eos had found himself in similar situations since aligning himself with Loki. Fighting against near-insurmountable odds with absolutely no hope of outside intervention felt much more desperate than it did a few months ago. It was probably the feeling that they were entering the endgame that made each move have such a heavy air of finality, Eos thought as he opened up the interior forearm of one of his attackers. Hissing a curse about useless vambraces, the guardsman retreated to inspect a gash that opened from wrist to elbow and allowed the next combatant to step into place.

Emboldened by their steady acquisition of ground on the single opponent, the intensity with which the guards attacked redoubled. Never one to be outdone, Eos bared his teeth, parried a heavy slash and lunged for the female fighter's chest with the serrated claws of his gauntlet. Although the attack fell short of it's target, the sudden ferocity with which their cornered adversary responded was enough to balk the guards enough for Eos to gain some breathing room.

Despite this temporary reprieve, Eos still felt a twinge of elation when Loki called out for him. It had only been a minute or so of actual combat but Eos was still breathing hard when the door slammed shut behind him. A rivulet of blood ran around his left eye from a superficial cut, but Eos did not seem to notice as he nodded to Loki's acidic words. With a smile, only one phrase came to mind: "The best laid plans of mice and men, Loki. I suppose that counts for lovely young women now, too."

Eos took the liberty of unhooking his battle gloves and replacing them against the small of his back. Damn, those things are heavier than I thought they'd be. In the training rooms, Eos usually practiced his forms and technique with little more than breeches and his choice of armament. The weight of his leather armor, thief's tools and hidden weapons had not been accounted for. He doubted that they would need to engage in a larger-scale battle again and resolved to use a more stealthy approach no matter what else the night may bring. His eyes now fully adjusted to the change in lighting, Eos leaned against a crate and waited for Loki to finish her inspection.

It was over faster than Eos expected, and he was colored impressed when the princess managed to not only locate but open up a hidden portal. Ever the dutiful hound, Eos padded silently after Loki down the stairs. When the stink of fecal matter and other unpleasantness met his nostrils the assassin wrinkled his nose in disgust. "That's just wrong. How is somebody supposed to snoop around properly if the place reeks of shit and despair?" with a shrug, Eos began walking alongside Loki. He almost snickered at each of the woman's carefully placed footfalls.

After a few minutes of travel Eos began to get antsy. He had been keeping track of time with his heartbeat. Every seventy-four ticks was roughly a minute, and they had not spent as much time down here as it felt. That was the problem with subterranean areas...you lose track of time, and it begins to slip through your fingers as your perception is altered by the lack of light-change. When the area leveled out into a uniform style, Eos began his controlled breathing and cracked his knuckles. He was not hoping for a fight, but he would rather be ready for one than not.

It came as something of a shock when Loki spotted a child in one of the cells. With a face set in stern resolve, Eos took to one knee and withdrew several picks for the second time that night. He was put off by the complexity of the lock on the cell compared to that of Gilgamesh's windows. Wouldn't it be better to keep people out in the first place than to- "Loki, it's done."

Pulling the door open, the assassin waved Loki in. He was not exactly a people person and figured that damaged people responded better to a feminine charm.

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#, as written by Ezarael
After their brief discussion concerning the purpose of the demarcations on the map the trio proceeded slowly and quietly to the entrance from whence they had come. After finally exiting the stinking tunnels darkness was quickly descending upon the still unsuspecting city, a rather ominous omen if the young smith had anything to say about it, and Sir Amon was just as quick to dismantle that party so that they could all return to their respective residencies and prepare for the upcoming plight. How long they would have to prepare still eluded Danterus’ thoughts, but he was planning on making every second of it count.

After bowing respectively to each man for a farewell the smith wasted no time in turning for the Blacksmith’s Guild that was not altogether very far from the location of the sewer entrance they had just exited. On second thought it was rather bold of them to stage such an attack whilst their comrades were ravaging the school, but it did make complete strategic sense to lure the City Guards away from this area to the Garrison where fighting seemed to be the heaviest. Whoever devised such a plan might be well-educated or at least suffered through several dusty volumes of war-time stratagems in one of the local libraries. This certainly began narrowing down the list of whoever the masterminds were behind this scandal.

As he continued pondering on this labyrinthine subject the cobblestoned roads of Beta district flew by with alarming speed. Lines blurred as the young man delved even deeper into the depths of his mind, trying to find some connection with the methods being used and some particular tome with which he could study and see if there was as strict pattern to their strategy. Unfortunately he had never studied strategic warfare very in-depth, but he knew enough of the big names and their volumes to find a point of reference and work out from there. If the person was fool enough to idealize one single tactician and emulate their strategy they would have made a fell move, and hopefully that was the case with such a time as this.

By the time young Danterus had finally finished the compilation of titles and basic ideas the gates to the Compound loomed up before him. An image of the winding streets of Beta District was clearly implanted into the young man’s subconscious, and no matter what he was thinking at the time there was no losing his way through the familiar streets. With a heavy sigh he began proceeding towards The Forge where the Forgefires were making a temporary residence until their Manor could be rebuilt, and unfortunately he knew the first thing he would need to do was report to his father Garbiel and begin discussing the events that just passed.

Well like as not he had to face the music, which was rather unfortunate for the nonce since he knew his father was keeping a wary on him. Garbiel knew of his seething hatred for mages as clearly as he knew the truth of Garbiel’s seemingly indifferent and compassionate nature. Judging by the time of day his father had more than likely eaten, but there would probably be a portion of food that could be warmed up rather quickly. His father did always take notice of the details rather compulsively and was not a man to lose track of trivial matters.
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Garbiel had not expected to have his request denied by the young Scheherazade, but he had been accustomed to such situations so much so that he was able to mask the disappointment that lie underneath his calm exterior. She was not a slave, and he did not have the power of contract, so she was free to make her own decisions. The elderly man thought it might have been for the best though, he did hate using people like pawns at like this, and unless necessity forced him he was not going to compromise another’s choices.

“Leave the blade. It will come back to me. I will take your words to caution, but for right now I must leave for my apartment. There is much to be done and little time to prepare.”

Bowing his head slightly the large man lumbered off with heavy steps towards the hallway and to his temporary abode. After looking at a clock hanging on the wall adjacent his room he noted an hour had passed since he first entered Scheherazade’s apartment and dined. How that much time passed with so little done or said he was not sure, but time was always a fickle friend who liked to deceive you every chance it could get. His right hand reached out and grasped the door-knob lightly with just the index finger and thumb before opening the door while letting his cumbersome feet carry him to the desk placed on the right-hand wall as you enter.

Sitting on the desk was an assortment of papers which had been sent for by Garbiel concerning various matters, and most of which were copies of business papers that his clients had sent to sort out various odds and ends. Obviously there were a few people trying to whittle whatever they could from him, but such trivialities did not concern him, and in fact he noticed letting a few of these cases slip by occasionally did wonders for business relations. To think of all the people who would spend more money when they thought they were saving a fraction of the price. However located on the other side of the desk from the mountainous stack of documents was a new bottle of wine with a crystal glass seated next to it. From the looks Ironarm had it sent while he was dining with the assassin, and it was a very good vintage to boot.

Grasping the neck of the bottle with his left hand the aging man produced a corkscrew from one of the desk drawers and used the device to open the container. While letting the bottle breath for a second he removed the cork, placing it upside down on the bottom left-hand corner of the desk, and replaced the corkscrew to its intended place. Not wanting to muddle his thoughts more than necessary Garbiel decided to merely pour a half-glass of wine for the moment, there was still much left to be done even if it was not necessarily intended to be prepared tonight.

By the time he had finished delicately sipping the contents of the glass down to nothing a knock sounded at the door. Without caring who was awaiting outside Garbiel merely called out, “It is open,” so that whoever it was could enter without an undue wait. Surprisingly it was his son Danterus, and by the smell of it the small party he had joined had successfully ventured into the sewers, but whether they had any luck Garbiel was sure he was soon to find out. After pouring himself a full glass this time the Smith produced yet another glass from the same drawer as the corkscrew who had stocked these drawers he was unsure, but he did liked their style.

“It looks like you need this a bit more than I Danterus. Please sit there is much we need to discuss.”

Plopping down into the chair in front of the desk the young Danterus quickly grabbed the glass presented to him and tested the vintage carefully. The young man had learned quite a lot of gentility during the short time he had to observe the nobility and upper-echelons of the merchant class, and wine-tasting was a favorite next to fencing.

“This is a good year. Ironarm sent this, yes?”

“He did indeed. How fared you in the sewers?”

“For a matter of fact we did remarkably well. There are a few things not worth mentioning, but we found a kind of vault with blood streaking the walls and looked as if they had caged someone in the room. There was a symbol chiseled into the floor. Do you have pen and parchment?”

Garbiel listened attentively while Danterus spoke, and when asked for the paper Garbiel opened another drawer that contained paper, a quill pen, and an ink bottle. Slightly older fashioned and harder to come by in this day and age, but Garbiel believed it gave the writing more body and substance than other writing instruments. Danterus scowled slightly at this cumbersome tool, but knew better than to question his father on such a subject. He might lecture him about style and substance again for all he knew. The young man slowly worked out the symbol as he continued with his narrative.

“In the corner of this chamber we also found a table in one corner with a map drawn on it. It was a sketch of the city with places marked distinctively and the same symbol as on the ground inscribed into the corner of the parchment. Our assumption is that the marks denote a cache of explosives or incendiaries meant to burn from Gamma inwards.”

Garbiel watched his son patiently until he finished with the symbol about the same time his narrative was concluded. When Danterus turned the drawing to face his father a quizzical brow raised itself from Garbiel’s usually complacent demeanor.

“Any idea as to what this is supposed to mean?”

“Not yet, but we are hoping to find out more soon.”

The older man looked into the bottom of his wine glass as he contemplated pouring another round. It would be along discussion tonight, but neither needed to lose their edge for the time being, yet he still could not resist pouring another glass for the both of them. This was a night to relax themselves so that they could wake up fresh in the morning.
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Assassin’s Guild: The Next Day

Danterus and Garbiel had arrived slightly before the other members of their faction to attend to business with the Guild itself. Garbiel had spent the most part of the preceding hours going through paperwork with Sir Amon while Danterus scoured the library for all books concerning explosives and even chancing his life by flirting with several of the apprentices and assassins roaming the halls. He may have been a somewhat familiar face amongst this particular guild, but they were still hired killers, and it seemed easier for the women than the men despite the general stereotypes.

By the time everyone had been received and the meeting commenced both Garbiel’s older eyes and Danterus’ younger one were swimming with letters from the hours of reading they had done. The mind-shock had been slightly easier for Garbiel though, at least he could put the business out of his mind while Danterus had to try and keep what little knowledge he had about explosives. He had never needed an extensive knowledge of that particular thing, but he knew a little from his experience with the forge and several other weapons manufacturers.

When the Princess Loki finished her piece and questioned the group as to their role the father and son did not need to stop and hesitate to ponder their answer. Their apparent strengths and weaknesses soon highlighted themselves in the tasks with Garbiel attending to Parliament while Danterus scurried about in the sewers yet again.

“I think it best to for myself to help with Parliament. If Nethanial Ironarm and I are invited as well as the two heads of the Carpenter’s Guild our positions will be known to the rest of the nobles. We have a considerable number of friends within that sphere if I may be so bold as to say.”

“Well I don’t know about the rest of us, but I’m going into the sewers to defuse bombs. Lord Taylor may have men more experience with explosives, yet I doubt they will be unguarded and if that’s the case I may be of some help."

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#, as written by Smith
Three days before the attack, the Royal Palace

"Ooh, funny." Eos replied with a similarly disinterested drawl. He stared at the half-melted ice-cream on the table for a heartbeat or two before realizing that he should say something funny. "If I was going to bribe you, I wouldn't use money. My body... Blast, how did the rest of that go?" Eos waved a hand impatiently and frowned before offering Loki a half-hearted grin. "The joke would have just ended with something along the lines of 'Negotiating in the sheets'. Not my best, I know, but I'm not here to poke fun at you. For once."

There was a long silence after that in which Eos stared at Loki from across the table, his eyes shifting from her to somewhere outside of the window. The assassin rested his chin in his hand and tapped the table in a repetitive motion with the other. It was obvious that he was contemplating how best to say what he had to say, choosing his words carefully as though they weighed on his mind much more heavily than he let on. Returning his gaze to Loki, Eos finally found the right words. Only two. "I'm out."

Serious as a heart attack, Eos looked the princess directly in the eye as he spoke. It was a matter he had been mulling over for a long while now, and he still was not one-hundred percent sure that this was what he wanted. Eos sighed and returned to staring out of the window. "I don't feel like wasting your time with a bunch of whiny bullshit, so I'll skip the sentimental parts and get right to it. This is the first time in years--my whole life, actually, that I have felt normal. As in, friends, a bit of peace and relative safety since most people go around me to get to you." Eos raised his head, looked back to Loki and shrugged.

"If I stay in..." he waved his hand in a circle in an attempt to find the right word, "This, there's a real chance that I'll die. To be honest, I don't believe you're going to win this. You're going up against the world with little more than an old killer, a depleted guild, a circus freak, a healer that has no place in a battlefield and a gaggle of blacksmiths." Eos seemed to sit straighter and his eyes darkened slightly, "One of the first things I was taught was that heroes do exist, but they don't live happily ever after. Tell me this: If you do succeed in your plan, who's to say that this will stop? If the villain of this story has such a powerful grip on Gilgamesh, his followers and nearly every mage in the city, what makes you think that this will end? I'm sure you've seen fanaticism before...

"Charisma's a powerful thing. Faith is too. On the off chance that you do win, this isn't going to stop. Mages will riot. The remnants of your enemy will still accost you in the dead of night." Eos scowled, "Amon isn't a spring chicken, and he won't be around to watch you as you sleep much longer," he neglected to state that particular duty was his on many nights, "You cannot protect Pandora forever. You can't just hole yourself up somewhere as the world burns, but you cannot make sweeping changes. I've read a lot of books since rejoining the Guild... Civilizations fall because of situations like this. If I take your side, I'm going to die. Plain and simple.

"Don't get me wrong, I have no intention of aiding the enemy, but... I do want to come out of this in one piece. Come out on neutral terms with the winning side and enjoy the rest of my life." Eos grew quiet, rubbing the smooth wood of the table with his forefinger. As if just remembering it was there, the assassin opened his hand and stared at the obsidian disk inked onto his palm. Only just barely audible, he continued. "Do you ever think of having kids? A future...? I want that. I really do."

Without so much as another glance, Eos picked up his case and made his way towards the exit. On the table was the cheap, shoddily made bronze sunburst pendant.

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*Assassin's Guild*
Danterus was attentively listening to Pandora in a congenial manner until the word “magic” smashed into him like a blast from the furnace. She was a mage, and he had no inkling of this fact until just now… This sudden realization shook him down to his very core by challenging both his intellect and perception. How could he have been so ignorant, so one-track minded as to not even read the information lain out before him? She had mentioned being a healer several times since they had met, and he just assumed she meant something like a physician.

The piece of bread he had clasped within his hands was only halfway torn now thanks to the sledgehammer of a phrase she had thrown out between the two, and was soon crushed between his powerful hands as she ran off at someone’s request. A strange look entered into his eyes, something of a lost bewilderment that seemed to focus on nothing and see through everything. What could this mean? He knew that all mages were no better than filthy animals…at least that’s what he did know until just now… Yet this Pandora was a pleasant person to be around…

The young smith lost himself in the wall he was facing for a long time after this incident. Finally, unable to bear the weight of his thoughts like this he just pushed his food to the side and lay his head down over crossed arms. He had some thinking to do before their struggle began.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
*Court*

Garbiel was seated patiently waiting for his turn at the dais. Loki’s speech had done more harm than good, but in respects to her age it seemed only plausible that she would not have as much experience with speech-making then Lord Taylor or himself for that matter. Lord Taylor’s did wonders to shake Lord Gilgamesh’s foundation with both his influential witness and incriminating letter, but it was still not enough. Like the other older aristocracy in the room who were familiar with more antiqued political techniques Garbiel knew that truth was not its quintessence, but it was what a person’s perception was, and in this case he had some bending to do.

The foundation had been laid for this plan some time ago when he had Scheherazade assassinate the one mutinous guild-member for wanting to reveal their allegiances to Gilgamesh in hopes to counter any efforts the blacksmiths could make. As far as the public knew the man’s death had been mysterious at best, and with the Guild’s policy of hiring servants to keep their allegiance he knew they would never turn their cheek on their respective clients. Luckily the four servants were also divided up amongst the rest of the remaining Manors until a new master could inhabit the empty building.

This was definitely a gambit he was planning to unleash on Gilgamesh, but they needed something like this to sway the minds of their peers in order to put the convicted down. Finally Lord Taylor had finished with his segment of the prosecution, and it was Garbiel’s turn to lay out the metaphorical chopping block. The aging smith stood up, his joints only cracking and popping one or two times as he did so, and took a deep bow as he turned to face the audience.

“Dearest noblemen I hope that a meager smith such as myself has had the pleasure of your acquaintance, but for our purposes I am Garbiel Forgefire, master of the Forgefire Manor and second smith of the Blacksmith’s Guild. For my witness I would like to call Nethanial Ironarm, the Head of the Blacksmith’s Guild, to the stand, and as supporting evidence the sizable stack of documents on the prosecution’s table will be called into question.”

After being called Nethanial quietly proceeded to the stand as a guard placed the documents before him. He was familiar with these papers already since it was both him and Garbiel who had discovered them in Izekiel Hammertongue’s office. The man should have known better than to leave such things lying about where anyone could find them, but in the first place he should not have been dealing with Gilgamesh.

“Master Nethanial, what are these documents placed before you?”

“They are documents retrieved from the late Izekiel Hammertongue’s office sir.”

“What do these documents concern?”

“They are a multitude of bills of sale between the late Master Izekiel and Lord Gilgamesh himself, signed in ink by the both and sealed with their crest. They are for the illegal acquisition of weapons without the Guild’s knowledge or approval, and upon further notice of the sums and totals you may see that the prices and volume of sale are exorbitant. Indeed the Crown requisitions less armament in the course of several years.”

A silence pervaded through the crowd at the accusation just placed before them, as indeed it should for it indicated the accrual of weapons enough to smother the Crown’s armory. Some naysayers called out forcibly for the proof until the Magister was able to gather some semblance of calm from the chaos.

“Please members of Parliament, calm yourselves. The evidence shall be available for inspection once the Magister has reviewed them himself.” After the guardsman carried to the Magister Garbiel then proceeded to question Nethanial once more. “If I may be so bold Master Ironarm what happened to our fellow smith?”

“He was assassinated in the dead of night after revealing his business with Lord Gilgamesh to our Guild during an important meeting earlier that day.”

“What was the import of that meeting and when did it occur?”

“This meeting was called after Lord Gilgamesh was arrested and charged by the Crown. It is standard protocol for all trade Guilds to hold a meeting whenever a member of the aristocracy or Parliament has been charged with a crime in case that any members have had business dealings with the accused. If they have this evidence must be submitted to the Crown for review and quite possibly charges might be lain if there is call for it.”

“Now Master Ironarm what did Master Hammertongue disclose at this time?”

“He came to us sick with worry and fright. Since he had not had much business for quite some time, despite our Guild’s best efforts, he had decided to make a business arrangement with Gilgamesh where he would charge a higher price for goods, against all Guild policy, in exchange for his silence and expediency. He said that he was worried what would happen should anyone discover their dealings in light of the current situation.”

“And it was later on that night he was murdered in cold blood?”

“Yes it was.”

“Is there any evidence that could possibly point us in the direction of his murderer?”

“No sir there has been not been any conclusive evidence discovered.”

That last statement was only half a lie since the dagger thrust in Izekiel’s heart had been retrieved by one of the servants soon after its discovery. They knew better than to leave anything of the like laying around in pressing times.

“Thank you very much Master Ironarm. That will be all for the moment. Magister I rest my case.”

After such a deluge of information Garbiel thought it best just to leave the end concise. He then proceeded to return to his seat next to Lord Taylor and Princess Loki. Praying to the Gods above that they had done enough to damage the Prime Minister’s reputation and have him convicted of his crimes. Without looking to his right where Taylor was seated Garbiel whispered to the nobleman quietly.

“Now the circus really begins.”

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District Gamma - The Sewers

Victoria's eyes eyed the close-range fighting, trying to steady her breathing and trying to recall her training sessions. Peripheral, peripheral. He always told her to remember that. Looking back at the Guildmaster do what he did best, she noticed the struggle near Hera's area disconnect slightly. Victoria's eyes widened as she saw something her master often used when eliminating trackers at a distance. Her body was moving before she knew it.

A quiet thump could be heard, as Victoria fell back into the thick waters of the sewer. Pulling out the dart quickly, she looked at the at the case desperately and sniffed at it. She recognized it instantly, and scrabbled at her belt. She pulled out a small needle, and thrusted it into her arm, wincing slightly as the poison began acting. Convulsing violently, Victoria pitched backward and nearly disappeared into the dark waters before she suddenly regained motor control and yanked the needle out, discarding it into the water. For every poison, there was an antidote- thank the heavens she stocked up on the most commonly used kinds. Her limbs felt like they were on fire, but she was alive- and that's what counted. She swore quietly as she struggled to her feet- the smell was never going to leave these clothes. She felt around the putrid ground for her weapon, and grabbed it as the flow of reinforcements reached her and Scheherazade. "Hera!" she called out, unsure to why she did so. Perhaps it was camaraderie. Two men came in at once, and with her back to the bomb specialist, Victoria willed her deadened limbs to fight back.

Blocking a swing, she twisted her wrist in a practiced motion, curling her blade around the man's, and tore it from his hand with her waist movement. The sword flung across, disrupting the second man's movement for a split-second, enough for Victoria to find a weak point. She quickly jabbed, stabbing the man in the thigh. The saboteur fell backward, clutching at his leg as the blonde apprentice dispatched the disarmed first man. She then raised her blade, cold desperation in her eyes as the drove the iron through his left eye. She patted around, finding a vial on her waist and threw it- causing it to break against another man's head and spilling highly corrosive acid over his face. The bomber clutched at his head, screaming as toxic fumes raped his nose and eyes, and his skin began to erode under his very fingers. Even as the man was finished by a quick stab of Victoria's sword, there were still men hunting to kill the bomb specialist on the Assassin's side. Moving to cover him with her body, she raised her sword as two more men ran in to engage her.

District Alpha - The Nexus

Master Forgefire's documents and witness did excellent in bringing the case down on Gilgamesh. He was silently thankful for having such an old, respected master come up and provide such irrefutable evidence. Even as he listened to Forgefire, he was silently smiling as each metaphorical nail was hammered into the Prime Minister's coffin, he felt that things seemed to be going far too smoothly. As the old smith sat down, Taylor suppressed a slight smile at Forgefire's words. He wanted to say something, but Loki was already back up and ready to present the next part of the case. Taylor tried to take a quick look at Gilgamesh, but the man seemed impassive- as any good politician would be.

He nearly recoiled in surprise as Loki called on Seth Gilgamesh. Even as the Princess's own side of the investigation unfolded, the shocks did not end there. Burglary was something he didn't expect the Princess to partake in herself, no matter how liberal his views were about things in life. Though he wanted to laugh, he kept those emotions sealed tight under a blank facade. However, things did get much more grim as the true nature of Gilgamesh was brought out through his assumed plot. This was why Taylor firmly believed in the separation of church and state- this was insane. Taylor would have never predicted this would happen, much less that Gilgamesh's plot was to utilize the Mage rebellion as some sort of religious ritual sacrifice. Taylor wondered how Gilgamesh was going to take this- there was so much evidence piled against him, even his son testified against his actions.

His questions were answered as Loki was nearly killed by Gilgamesh's cane blade, causing Taylor to jump up. Soldiers filed into the room, and even as Gilgamesh ordered the soldiers to massacre everyone, Taylor reached for his Epieu. Except he didn't bring it. He quietly cursed his naivety- He thought that this was a trial that would go smoothly. There was no reason for Gilgamesh to bring so many soldiers- wasn't he confident he was going to win this case beforehand? Just as well, Taylor respected the ideas of justice, which included keeping weaponry outside of the halls. He had forgotten just exactly what kind of man he was dealing with. Even as the first soldier charged at him, Taylor quickly grabbed his sword arm, punching him in the stomach. The man's grip on his sword loosened, as Taylor kicked him and threw him against another incoming soldier- ripping the blade from his hands in the process.

Taylor instantly knew that he was ill-equipped with this sword- it was heavier than the lighter short spear, and the sword had much less leverage. He had no time to worry for himself, or Master Forgefire, or Loki, however. Even as he looked around, he was surrounded. He traded several blows with them, managing to gut one but losing the blade in the process as the man fell backward. Taylor wasn't extremely well versed in fighting- he couldn't dodge and slash like the assassins. Even as he ducked a decapitation swipe and tried to disarm the man, another blade flashed and cut his upper back. Flinching, the young nobleman managed to free the blade from his opponents arms, forcing him back and barely managing to block another thrust clumsily. Turning back around, he quickly stabbed the soldier he stole his weapon from, twisting then to try and aggressively force the second soldier back away to give him swinging room.

Taylor blocked another cut, but a second soldier joined the fray, swinging in a overhand cut that Taylor managed to parry. Suddenly, a hot flash appeared before his eyes as the first soldier too the opportunity and sliced Taylor in the side. Taylor twisted, bringing the blade back around desperately but the first soldier brought his blade down, cutting through Taylor's left collarbone. The second soldier followed up with a flat bladed swing to the noble's head that caused him to fall to the floor, coughing. His left side was in blinding pain, and even as Taylor looked up, a boot met his side and sent him rolling across the floor. Blinking the stars out of his eyes, the nobleman saw a downward pointed sword as the soldier raised it for the last blow.

Siri

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*District Gamma*
The group of assassin’s to which Danterus had been assigned used the back alleys to traverse the labyrinthine District Gamma, which allowed them to head up the mage procession before any fighting had commenced. The leader of their group, a mid-aged man thin as a razor but looking just as deadly, had decided it best to wait until the other assassin’s had come within the general vicinity, yet when the small army bearing the arms of House Gilgamesh appeared to head them off and begin a massive confrontation between the two forces the man was at a lost. He looked carefully to each member of their group, hoping to gauge their reactions to this odd turn of events.
“What do all of you think we should do?”
Several of their crew began urging their intervention on Gilgamesh’s side, whilst another couple said fight them both. Danterus saw this situation in a different light than the rest, but probably more in tune with their commander than the rest. “We should wait. If they waste their energy on each other that will expedite our annihilation on whichever group prevails.”
The leader’s eyes squinted slightly at the proposal to denote his consideration, and with a silent nod of the head and a slight motion of his hand they proceeded to slip just a little further into the shadows of the alleyway. The plan seemed to be going smoothly, on the surface at least, or at least until they spotted one of the other groups of assassin’s they were working in conjuncture with rush into the middle of the fray. Soon several other crews, except for the one other that had stumbled upon their hiding place, rushed forward to engage carious enemies, but it seemed they were mainly focusing on Gilgamesh’s troops when some mage was not flinging magic at them as well.
“Gods be damned it’s Pandora.” Hissed Danterus in a half whisper half sigh.
“I guess we have no choice to intervene… Any ideas what we should do for a plan?” The leader seemed rather agitated at this point in time, and several of the others assassins became rather flustered at the sight of several of their comrades dying before their very eyes.
“Try to survive? Kill whoever tries to kill us?”
A frown crossed the leader’s visage at the half-suggestion, but nodded in approval as he signaled the two groups to move forward. As they collided with the main body of the conflict their momentum carried them closer to two of the original groups to begin fighting with the opposing factions. This proved to stun both parties momentarily, but just so that several individuals could be taken down unawares, but it did not take long for both factions to begin aiming at the newer threat, and this was a threat that had the potential to end both of their plans should they lost the upper hand.
Several quick kills had bolstered the young smith’s resolve in the conflict, but soon his lack of expertise began to show whilst fighting professionals. It did not take much time at all before his arms and legs became covered in blood seeping from several fresh wounds, and his guard lowered slightly at the decrease in strength from the blood loss. Looking over to the side he saw Pandora nearby, rushing about healing injured assassins whenever she could and dodging incoming blows from both parties.
A soldier in Gilgamesh’s faction took note of her tendency to retrieve the wounded and heal them. Deeming her to be a considerable threat the man began trudging towards her in hopes of trying to cripple the assassin’s medical capabilities. Danterus rushed over as quickly as possible, dodging whatever he could and pushing through the assassin’s front ranks to confront the individual. This man must have been an expert swordsman, and possibly a sword master as he easily deflected Danterus’ wild flurry of blows, eventually planting the point of his sword in the smith’s right side.
Luckily it had barely missed his vital organs, he hoped at least because he could still stand, and he used to chance to grasp the sword in an iron grip, almost effectively disarming his opponent, and swinging his rapier in a wide arc he brought the razor-sharp point across the man’s neck. A spurt of blood greeted both individuals as the one’s life bled out through the new opening in his neck while Danterus yanked the sword bodily out of his midsection. To keep the blood from slowing so freely he clasped his right hand over the wound, forcing him to switch the rapier to his left, and weaker, hand. Looking over at the young sorrowfully the young man shook his head slightly with a strange look in his eyes.
“Ms. Pandora you might just get somebody ki-….”
The sight of yet another sword slashing at him from his left forced Danterus to shift his focus and throw up his rapier to deflect the blow weakly. The most he could do now was step back and parry the incoming blows that seemed to drain a little bit more life from him. Calling back to Pandora without looking the smith called out, “I really think you should get back from here!”
Yelling loudly he planted his stance firmly and gripped his weapon with both hands, allowing the fresh wound to bleed freely. The young smith rushed forward to confront the enemy before him.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
*District Alpha*

The Princess’ decision to call Seth Gilgamesh to the stand at this point in time worried Garbiel more than he allowed to be read by his visible expressions. It seemed rather hasty to bring such a controversial witness to the stand right now, and Gilgamesh never did anything with having some form of backup plan in place. If anything this would goad him into some action that could not be retracted.
Indeed the horrifying evidence laid at his feet by his own son seemed to transmogrify Lord Gilgamesh with each word that was uttered, but what was worse was that it was not a look of someone aghast at the charges they were accused of, yet it was the look of something snapping. He did snap all too soon as a blade whistled out of his cane to lash out at the Princess. Soon it was all chaos as soldiers rushed forward to slaughter the Parliament.
Garbiel lost sight of Lord Taylor as he quickly grabbed the elaborate wrought-iron chair he was previously seated on and used it to pummel an unsuspecting soldier that rushed forward. Luckily he was the closer of anyone to Princess Loki and Lord Gilgamesh, and the other soldiers were preoccupied with the other noblemen, for the moment at least. The elderly smith took the opportunity to hurl himself at Gilgamesh’s unprotected backside in hopes to bring the man down and strangle him with his iron-like grip.
If I can’t do anything else I must try and stop this madman. Contemplated Master Forgefire as he proceeded with his attempt.

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*District Gamma*

The group of assassin’s to which Danterus had been assigned used the back alleys to traverse the labyrinthine District Gamma, which allowed them to head up the mage procession before any fighting had commenced. The leader of their group, a mid-aged man thin as a razor but looking just as deadly, had decided it best to wait until the other assassin’s had come within the general vicinity, yet when the small army bearing the arms of House Gilgamesh appeared to head them off and begin a massive confrontation between the two forces the man was at a lost. He looked carefully to each member of their group, hoping to gauge their reactions to this odd turn of events.

“What do all of you think we should do?”

Several of their crew began urging their intervention on Gilgamesh’s side, whilst another couple said fight them both. Danterus saw this situation in a different light than the rest, but probably more in tune with their commander than the rest. “We should wait. If they waste their energy on each other that will expedite our annihilation on whichever group prevails.”

The leader’s eyes squinted slightly at the proposal to denote his consideration, and with a silent nod of the head and a slight motion of his hand they proceeded to slip just a little further into the shadows of the alleyway. The plan seemed to be going smoothly, on the surface at least, or at least until they spotted one of the other groups of assassin’s they were working in conjuncture with rush into the middle of the fray. Soon several other crews, except for the one other that had stumbled upon their hiding place, rushed forward to engage carious enemies, but it seemed they were mainly focusing on Gilgamesh’s troops when some mage was not flinging magic at them as well.

“Gods be damned it’s Pandora.” Hissed Danterus in a half whisper half sigh.

“I guess we have no choice to intervene… Any ideas what we should do for a plan?” The leader seemed rather agitated at this point in time, and several of the others assassins became rather flustered at the sight of several of their comrades dying before their very eyes.

“Try to survive? Kill whoever tries to kill us?”

A frown crossed the leader’s visage at the half-suggestion, but nodded in approval as he signaled the two groups to move forward. As they collided with the main body of the conflict their momentum carried them closer to two of the original groups to begin fighting with the opposing factions. This proved to stun both parties momentarily, but just so that several individuals could be taken down unawares, but it did not take long for both factions to begin aiming at the newer threat, and this was a threat that had the potential to end both of their plans should they lost the upper hand.

Several quick kills had bolstered the young smith’s resolve in the conflict, but soon his lack of expertise began to show whilst fighting professionals. It did not take much time at all before his arms and legs became covered in blood seeping from several fresh wounds, and his guard lowered slightly at the decrease in strength from the blood loss. Looking over to the side he saw Pandora nearby, rushing about healing injured assassins whenever she could and dodging incoming blows from both parties.

A soldier in Gilgamesh’s faction took note of her tendency to retrieve the wounded and heal them. Deeming her to be a considerable threat the man began trudging towards her in hopes of trying to cripple the assassin’s medical capabilities. Danterus rushed over as quickly as possible, dodging whatever he could and pushing through the assassin’s front ranks to confront the individual. This man must have been an expert swordsman, and possibly a sword master as he easily deflected Danterus’ wild flurry of blows, eventually planting the point of his sword in the smith’s right side.

Luckily it had barely missed his vital organs, he hoped at least because he could still stand, and he used to chance to grasp the sword in an iron grip, almost effectively disarming his opponent, and swinging his rapier in a wide arc he brought the razor-sharp point across the man’s neck. A spurt of blood greeted both individuals as the one’s life bled out through the new opening in his neck while Danterus yanked the sword bodily out of his midsection. To keep the blood from slowing so freely he clasped his right hand over the wound, forcing him to switch the rapier to his left, and weaker, hand. Looking over at the young sorrowfully the young man shook his head slightly with a strange look in his eyes.

“Ms. Pandora you might just get somebody ki-….”

The sight of yet another sword slashing at him from his left forced Danterus to shift his focus and throw up his rapier to deflect the blow weakly. The most he could do now was step back and parry the incoming blows that seemed to drain a little bit more life from him. Calling back to Pandora without looking the smith called out, “I really think you should get back from here!”
Yelling loudly he planted his stance firmly and gripped his weapon with both hands, allowing the fresh wound to bleed freely. The young smith rushed forward to confront the enemy before him.

*District Alpha*

The Princess’ decision to call Seth Gilgamesh to the stand at this point in time worried Garbiel more than he allowed to be read by his visible expressions. It seemed rather hasty to bring such a controversial witness to the stand right now, and Gilgamesh never did anything with having some form of backup plan in place. If anything this would goad him into some action that could not be retracted.

Indeed the horrifying evidence laid at his feet by his own son seemed to transmogrify Lord Gilgamesh with each word that was uttered, but what was worse was that it was not a look of someone aghast at the charges they were accused of, yet it was the look of something snapping. He did snap all too soon as a blade whistled out of his cane to lash out at the Princess. Soon it was all chaos as soldiers rushed forward to slaughter the Parliament.

Garbiel lost sight of Lord Taylor as he quickly grabbed the elaborate wrought-iron chair he was previously seated on and used it to pummel an unsuspecting soldier that rushed forward. Luckily he was the closer of anyone to Princess Loki and Lord Gilgamesh, and the other soldiers were preoccupied with the other noblemen, for the moment at least. The elderly smith took the opportunity to hurl himself at Gilgamesh’s unprotected backside in hopes to bring the man down and strangle him with his iron-like grip.

If I can’t do anything else I must try and stop this madman. Contemplated Master Forgefire as he proceeded with his attempt.

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*The Nexus*
The impossibly insane Gilgamesh had let his guard down for just a moment too long, and Garbiel had taken full advantage of this coincidental slip of the mind. He had dropped his left shoulder so as to bowl into the much smaller statured man, and just as the aristocrat tried to send his blade up towards the smith Garbiel’s strong hands lifted up his head and smashed the back of his skull into the ground, and in the meanwhile his feet and legs began searching for a better position with which to ground himself. Alas vengeance was not for him to reap on this ominous day as the Princess rushed forth to bleed the former Prime Minister of his precious life force. An incredulous look blossomed across his face as the realization of his immediate doom came to him…

Despite the death of their retainer the insurgents who remained refused to give up their cause just yet, and several began fighting that much more fervently at the thought their impending failure. Two of these men in particular seemed rather upset with the Smith and Princess at their part in the death of their lord, and they seemed intent on doing to same unto them. The woman of the pair made an attempt to slice the Princess in two as the latter was rushing towards Lord Taylor on the other side of the room, but the young girl’s quick reflexes prevailed as the assailant lost her ability to parry with the cumbersome weapon.

Unfortunately Garbiel was not so lucky as to have any weapons nearby to come in handy, and it seemed he must resort to using his good friend the chair once again, not the same one mind you since this particular chair seemed to be made of oak, but a chair none the less. The soldier in question made a slash at the Smith’s head, taking off a leg of the chair as Garbiel parried the cut, but his sword was caught in the meat of the chair. Wrenching the weapon out of the man’s hand Garbiel used the momentum, bringing the chair back up and around in a wide arc, to smash down upon his enemy’s skull as a cracking sound signaled the man’s demise as well as his body’s collapse to the floor.

Explosions from outside the court’s walls began resounding throughout the interior of the room, echoing loudly off the enormous structure itself until a virtual cacophony began sounding off. Garbiel had been surrounded by several of the rebels who had been kept at a distance thanks to the furious whirlwind of chair attacks thrown by the aging man, but something happened that was altogether unexpected by the man. A tremor and subsequent shaking of the building had jarred the Smith’s sense, forcing him to pause for just a hair’s-breadth of a second, but that was all that was needed by the experienced fighters.

The first blade to sink into Garbiel’s softer midsection came from behind and slightly to his right side, and before the blade could even be withdrawn two others had made their home into his gut. As they were drawn out his hot blood began spilling out of the fresh wounds as the chair fell from the Smith’s powerful hands. While slowly falling down in a cascade of reddened cloth the blades kept entering and exiting his body, opening up more avenues for which his life force escape.

The sounds of shouting and screaming grew distant as a circle began to form around Garbiel’s vision. This darkness slowly began creeping into his sight, slowly covering the brutal image before his eyes until nothing remained. One final rattle of breath escaped through tense lips, the sound itself gurgling through the blood that had filled the void of his mouth… A man had lived and a man had died, no different from the countless other souls whom he would join on his next journey…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*District Gamma*
When Danterus rushed forward to engage this next opponent a warm, tingling feeling began to creep throughout the gash in his side, or where that wound had once been you could say. In a very short time the gaping wound itself covered itself over, yet the interior was still badly damaged, but the only way he could tell this was by the deep throbbing sensation that still permeated through the good-feeling one.

As the burly young man came within distance of his target he sent the rapier slashing from right to left with all the force he could muster, but the other woman was much too experienced to let this foolish gambit prevail over expertise. She hopped nimbly backwards a step and brought her own broadsword upwards towards Danterus’ exposed side, hoping to catch and kill him easily. The young Smith fumbled over sideways in a desperate attempt to avoid the blade’s razor-sharp and glistening edge which came slashing towards him quickly.

After Danterus hit the ground he kicked his powerful legs at his opponent’s ankles, luckily catching her off-guard with the rather unsuspected motion and sweeping her off her feet and to the ground. Her own head smacked against the ground with a loud crack, but as she did a deafening explosion tore the land around them asunder. Body parts flew across the open sky as the earth beneath the combatant’s feet burst into the air, causing a cascade of concrete, dirt, and bodies to rain upon the survivors.

It had been the mere two feet of distance that had saved Danterus from and immediate end, but it did not shield him from everything else. He had been tossed up into the air like a rag-doll a good ten feet high as the trajectory of his flight sent him spiraling off to land some twenty feet back. As he rolled over thrice, his limbs contorting in very painful and unnatural ways, the only sound he could hear was that of a ringing bell...

He was sure there was much screaming and moaning, but nothing could penetrate this sound. Picking up his heavy head Danterus gazed upon his bloody and broken figure, but despite the obvious wounds he could feel no pain. Maybe this was what the doctor’s referred to as shock? He wouldn’t know because this phenomenon had never occurred to him before.

The visage of Pandora walked across his darkening field of vision, her lips were moving but the words were lost on him. She seemed weakened by the ordeal she had just been put through the poor girl… He could still not figure out why she was here, so out of place, she was a gentle person really… She deserved better than to go through such pain and heartache as this… As the darkness descended upon Danterus he could not help but think how normal mages were as well…they seemed to love and care like the rest of us…were they really any different… maybe they were better than everyone else? These thoughts whirled around through the Smith’s mind as he fainted from the mere effort of thinking.

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#, as written by Arke
District Gamma

Victoria swayed uneasily, watching the group of saboteurs systematically cut down the assassins. Were they really so well trained? Why was she even here? Questions, both inane and serious wracked her brain as the last of the poison was neutralized- leaving nothing but a feeling of nausea. The antidote she injected herself with wasn't necessarily non-toxic, but combined with the poison dart the compound would neutralize by reacting with each other. Even as she staggered backwards and retched into the fetid waters of the sewers, an assaulting saboteur remained aggressive, forcing his way past Scheherazade and quickly engaging Victoria.

His opening slash was quickly deflected, almost clumsily so. The bomberman would have been able to parry and stab Victoria if he wasn't busy trying to stop all his forward momentum during the cut. Following up with two more cuts, Victoria quickly deflected those as well, before shoving the man back and attempting to press her own attack. Her initial stab was blocked, but her viper-like kick quickly broke his guard despite the fact that Victoria couldn't take advantage of it. Her vision went slightly blurred as she stumbled back, resisting the urge to regurgitate what little was left in her stomach. The man quickly recovered, throwing himself at her once more. His overhead slash was dodged, as Victoria side-stepped to the left and quickly bringing the pommel of her sword swinging into his side. The saboteur stumbled sideways, his hand slapping against the wall of the sewers to push off and meet Victoria's sword. However, the crafty apprentice had a trick up her sleeve, as her left hand was holding a small needle that jabbed quickly into the man's stomach. Jumping away, Victoria kept the man at bay as he swung his sword twice, then shuddered and pitched over. Suddenly, a boom rocked the sewers, as Victoria's heart instantly dropped down to her stomach. She stumbled out of balance, falling to her knees and struggling to keep herself from blacking out. She stumbled to her feet as quickly as she could, raising her blade and quickly searching for her next foe. The bombs would need to be defused quickly at this point.

She was met by another man Scheherazade had dealt with, who had got up and attempted to double-team the fire-swinger. Wary of her new weapon which brought the horror of fire down to the sewers, he tried to circle around and attempt to flank her from the back. However, even as Victoria moved to kill him he wasn't so oblivious as to realize her oncoming footsteps- unsteady but sure. With a block, Victoria used the crossguard of her blade to swing the man away from Hera, and to kick him away. She followed the man backward, giving the fire-swinger more room to operate as she viciously swung her sword twice at the man. The man was barely able to block as he tried to regain his footing, but Victoria kept pushing him backward, constantly keeping the man on the defensive. The opportunity finally came as the man tripped over a crack in the walkway, and Victoria quickly ducked down and slashed at his legs. The man fell backwards, bringing his blade up even as Victoria's foot swiped the air and knocked the sword from his grasp. In a single fluid motion, the blade grip became underhanded and the steel ate quickly through the man's upper torso. Withdrawing the blade, the man coughed and clutched at his wound as blood spilled onto his lap and hands. Victoria turned back to the confused melee, which was dying down very quickly as Amon breezed through foes like an angel of death.

The Nexus

Taylor's numbed thoughts could only spell "death" over and over, even as the blade seemed to descend in slow motion. Despite everything, he closed his eyes- afraid of what was to come until a quick blur of motion confused the dazed nobleman. Eos, in his gray mottled cloth had swept in, taking care of the man very quickly. Clawed gauntlets, however, was the only thing on Taylor's mind. What an interesting choice in weaponry. Even as he finished the oblivious thought, the assassin quipped a quick greeting, throwing him a flintlock pistol and a satchel of gunpowder and pellets.

Taylor nodded once, though still blinking away patches in his eyes as he struggled to his feet. Taking the gunpowder, he quickly loaded it and shoved the pellet in. Without proper tools and only the bare essentials, this thing was more likely to explode in his hand than kill an enemy. Nevertheless, his enemies didn't care about his problems and as the first man ran up he quickly froze as a resounding bang registered in his ears and he felt like he had been punched. Collapsing, a red flower bloomed on his gut as his spasms slowed. He lowered the gun to reload it, but Loki was suddenly there, the same damned dry expression on her face as always. He almost laughed as she held out the Epieu that he forgot to bring, almost as if she found his and kept it all this time. Taking it gratefully, Loki once again disappeared in the tangle of limbs and bodies as Taylor felt a familiar weight back on his hand. Though his left arm was rendered completely useless due to the heavy attack he suffered earlier, he could still wield his light spear easily with one hand. Even as he lifted the shaft, two men stormed into his line of sight, blade drawn. Taylor kicked the flintlock, causing one to stumble slightly as he stepped on the weapon, skidding across the polished floor. Taking the opportunity, Taylor jabbed the second man, forcing him to jump back. The two soldiers regrouped, coming at him from both sides. Sidestepping a slash on his left, he whipped the shaft around and bashed the man in the head, his helmet doing very poorly in shielding the physical trauma. Twisting, he speared the second soldier, barely dodging the stab aimed for his exposed back. The soldier coughed, and was thrown away from Taylor as he pivoted and brought down the spear into the first soldier. A third soldier came along, and with that a brief view of the chair wielding blacksmith.

Taylor watched in horror as the old smith was gored from all sides, hardly believing the old man who was full of strength had been so quickly put down. This made Taylor very aware of his own injuries, and how terribly his arms and knees were shaking as blood poured from his open shoulder wound. The third man wasn't complaining- the weaker his opponent, the quicker he could get the job done. Even as they clashed, Taylor proved to be a hefty opponent- resisting death at every turn. The third soldier soon met his end, but the men engaging Forgefire had now converged on him. With one arm useless, his vision tunneled, and only one thought in mind, the young nobleman shrank tighter and tighter as blades formed a tight web of steel around him. Parrying the first attack, he quickly moved in and slammed two fingers into the man's right eye socket. Forcing him across, he gored himself on his comrade's blades. Even as they struggled to get him off, two more engaged Taylor, who dodged two sword stroke but did not get so lucky with the third. Even as he felt a wound open over his right thigh, he knew that he couldn't give up. Loki, Eos, and even Carlisle were still doing their best to avoid the rider on his grey horse. Stumbling, Taylor's spearhead slashed the man's throat, an incredibly precise action for one so drunk from bloodloss with a weapon so inept at slashing.

The men had freed their blades from their comrade, once again tinting Taylor's vision white and red with bloodied steel. Smarter this time, they did not let Taylor get a respite he so desperately needed. Dodging his stabs, pushing away his grabs, the young nobleman felt his strength ebb at a much higher rate now. His breath was labored and his kind green eyes were dulled as the soldiers finally spotted an opening not very long after surrounding Taylor. However, Loki's nearby presence forced a detachment to break off and keep her busy, leaving Taylor with about three-quarters of the remaining men. Some, seeing the young noble's pitiful state moved to engage others, such as Eos and Carlisle (who slaughtered like butchers with fresh pig). Facing four men, Taylor broke into a mad dash, knocking the blade down as it was raised and slashing the man across the chest with his Epieu. He didn't stop himself, tackling the man to the floor. Taylor's vision flashed dangerously as he landed on his broken collarbone, lances of pain spearing all the way up his shoulder. He rolled over, using the adrenaline pulsing through his body to provide the strength to lift the body and absorb the blade that was aimed for him. Rolling to the side, Taylor butted the struggling soldier with his spear pommel, causing the man to hunch over. Using the fist that handled the shaft, he performed a wild haymaker that instantly knocked out the trapped soldier, sending him sprawling. Two soldiers brought their swords overhand, aiming to take advantage of the noble. With a twitch, his near-useless left hand ignored the protests of his body, raising the spear into a block.

Both blades bent the hardened steel core of the shaft, cracking the wood and causing Taylor's right wrist to snap. The soldiers stumbled back, recovering from the block before they realized the noble was spent. The block had sent him crashing to the shining marble floors, eagle-spread over a pool of dark blood.

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#, as written by Arke
District Beta
It was all finally over. Despite the heavy losses, it was all over. Objectively, she felt it was an overall victory. The only person she felt an actual connection toward during this whole crazy war was Hera, but the loss of Forgefire- the old man who acknowledged her skill and knew her master had shaken her to the core. Being a girl on the run, she had few idols. Two of them had passed away, but luckily for her that was the worst that had happened. The chaos down at District Alpha was almost a blur to her- the cordial invitations to lavish funerals that she would never have. Scheherazade had the kid now, the whore had abaonded her too. Was it destined that her master's past be shrouded from her forevermore? Maybe it was better that way. The laid her flowers, said her words, but in the end she had somewhere else to be.

The ruins of the once grand Forgefire Estate was in the process of reconstruction, even in these dark times. Work must go on. Standing in front of the fenced off area, the blonde girl tipped her hat low. Under her breath, she chatted under her breath, recounting what had happened since his death. Smiling slightly, she dropped an empty vial onto the street, and crushed it under her strong shoes into a fine powder. She took off, ready to finally do what she had really wanted to do growing up in this damned city. And maybe then settling down at last.


District Alpha

The young nobleman could remember very little. Even as he crashed to the ground, his life spilling out of his body with each throb of his angry heart he only saw a rush of fabric and a pressure on his leg somewhere before he thought no more. He woke up days later, one of the many noblemen trapped and wrapped in white linen due to Gilgamesh's madness. His own personal physician scolded him, and rightfully so. A fool, he was to think that such a trial would have gone without treachery- to worry his friends due to his carelessness and naivety. Another few years off his lifespan, it seemed. It was a grim prediction by his physician, but Taylor was happy. He had once again turned away the Grey Rider and his scythe.

His stay in the infirmary had kept Taylor thinking. Even as Safrina brought Siri for occasional visits, even as the days leading down to the funerals ticked closer. Eos, the masked doctor, Forgefire, even Loki constantly raided his thoughts. Possibilities played out in his head as the nobleman became more and more restless. Compounded with bad news as well, the death of Queen Blackwood and Pandora only served to depress the young nobleman even further. Though he never got to know the young healer well, she had saved his life last year and he had yet to personally thank her with the busy schedule. Taylor gave his own little monologue over the bright mage's grave, whispers of regret leaving him in the quiet form of a single teardrop.

Queen Minerva's funeral was much more somber. Struggle as the group of misfits did, it was her that kept the order in her reign, a skill and wisdom that few could ever hope to attain. Despite his protests, he could not dress appropriately for fear that his frail frame could not handle such stuffy suit. A fitting funeral was held, fit for a queen one might say. Even as he laid the black chrysanthemum on her elegant casket, despite her dubious past, as implied by Eos, none of it really mattered now.

Struggling from the sea of white when the day came, Taylor dressed simply- clad in a thick white shirt and trousers. With the assistance of a walking stick, he managed to make it to his seat every time. Loki was at each one, almost dutifully so despite the traumatic events she had endured over the past few weeks. It wasn't so secret that she had personally assisted in slowing the blood that left his body during that dark day, and despite his best efforts, he couldn't help but feel he owed something to her, once again. The idea of friendship came easily to Taylor, but here was a young girl of comparable age rescuing him when he needed it most. He couldn't help but feel, especially in his drug-addled state. It tormented him, but with recent events, the young nobleman knew better. The feelings were quashed, even as they rose. It was selfish, to think that he was entitled to somebody like her. It was selfish to even have such thoughts on such somber days. Besides, he had Siri's future to ensure. It would be difficult explaining why Loki had changed the way she did, but in time he would understand, and hopefully never go through the same thing.

It was ultimately futile to think that Taylor could escape the life of politics. The blood of his youth cried for drastic reform, and experience showed that Parliament was not quite competent enough to deal with it themselves. It would only be a day after Parliament reopened it's doors that Taylor attended once more, unable to wrench himself free from the sea of words that he had worked so hard to sail on. Because Loki had to take over for the late Queen Minerva, Taylor knew that he had to have all the power he could get. Claiming Gilgamesh's seat as his own, he vowed that things would change.

Starting now.

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#, as written by Ezarael
It had taken several days before Danterus even awoke from his near-death coma, and when he did he wished that he had not. Despite all the best efforts into healing his broken body the damage had been too extensive to regenerate fully, and even with the aid of magic there were just some things that would not mend. Looking down upon his shattered legs and deformed arms sent a wave of despair through his heart. He could use his hands and arms, albeit not to quite the same extent as before the tragedy, yet they were misshapen with various lumps and welts dotting their length as if he had been assailed by bees or ants.

When he was finally able to get out of bed and travel around with the aid of a wheelchair he knew it was time for the funeral. After the news had arrived that his father was murdered by Gilgamesh’s treacherous ploy at the trial Danterus really had no idea what to do, but luckily Nethanial had made the funeral arrangements whilst he was incapacitated. It had been a rather moderate affair seeing as how the Manor was still in need of repairs, but despite its lack of lavishness many noblemen and prosperous guildsmen had arrived to give their blessings.

Garbiel had been a well-liked man amongst the aristocracy, and everyone seemed to want to tell Danterus just that and how they would support him during his time of need. His father had only been one man though, and he knew many more people had died that day who were better, kinder, and gentler human beings. He doubted they would offer their help to any of the lower-born citizens though, and the very thought made him sick.

Despite his overall malaise the young smith still found the resolve to visit the other funerals, but in truth they all passed by in a blur. He knew there was one for Gilgamesh, and he had rather blatantly spit on the masks casket without a care to what anyone else though, another had been for the Queen Minerva, and the final one he had attended was for Pandora. The sweet, innocent girl that had altered his entire view of mages had passed away saving lives. He felt a wave of disgust that such a good person had died while a foolish, impatient, belligerent child such as himself had. The gods do make a mockery of life with their insane japes.

Later on that evening Danterus sat quietly in his wheelchair in the apartment he was still occupying whilst the Forgefire Manor was under reconstruction, and the moon even hid itself on this somber evening. He was a broken child in body, mind, and soul, and he had no idea what to do with himself. His father was murdered and that left him to continue the Forgefire line. He was not even a blood-line heir though, merely an orphan who had been given a second chance at life, but he had squandered that chance. His hands carefully worked the rope in his hands, tying a most peculiar knot near its free end, and it formed a loop that he tried the strength to by tying it around his wrist and tugging it securely.

The young man stopped for a moment to ponder what he was considering... Had he really gone so far yet to not turn back? What was it that Pandora's epitatph had said? True courage is not the absence of fear, but facing it with all your might. He pondered that line for several minutes before finally undoing the the rope and tossing it to the ground. If mistakes had been made then he would rectify them and seek forgiveness for his sins, and the only way to go from the bottom was up...

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The years that followed were tumultuous, but galvanizing. Under the leadership of Lord Caelin Taylor, Parliament passed sweeping constitutional reform that allowed mages to live as full citizens. It did not solve all their problems, and no piece of legislation can erase generations of hate. Still, that is not to say they didn't try, and though not as full or immediate as Caelin would have wished, perhaps, there were notable changes.

The new system eventually allowed for the establishing of a mages' guild, which built from the start strong relations with several other guilds, the alliance with the smiths in particular being of great import to both parties. An enchanted weapons industry became one of the most lucrative trades in the city, their primary buyers the always well-funded assassins. Little about my own people changed, in the end, but of course time marches on, and in the wake of my retirement I left my Guild to an old apprentice of mine. To my understanding, it runs smoothly even still, though whether he ever accepted the mantle I offered him was something I did not desire to know.

These days, both the apprentice doctor and the former circus performer live quiet, undisturbed lives wherever they might wish, and the latter still raises her younger half-sister. Of all of us, I think in the end it was they who found the most freedom, and perhaps they who deserved it the most.

Of my protegee the Queen, and I think it not too arrogant of me to call her so, there is much that can be said, but very little that needs to be, I think. The deaths of that day would always weigh heavy, as any crown should, but she grew to bear it as well as such things can be borne. The city changed, and I can say with certainty that though the road this far was fraught with difficulty, it has been one worth travelling. And as I take these few and very last steps, I can only be proud of what we have wrought.

-Amon Gregory