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Thread: The Reborn - Finishing What Was Started IC [M]

  1. #131
    Minkasha's Avatar
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    Calamity Isis Mae Sensibility, Gina Wright & Panos Lambros

    “You could be an actor Panos, you know that?” Gina commented, once they had left the guards some distance behind. She had hoped that a little praise and the chance to take back some control of his situation would have raised the young man’s mood, but she was disappointed. Together the teenagers had managed to leave the room but Panos would not keep any eye on Gina. Calamity sighed in the hammock.

    The rest of their journey was coldly silent, and the castle around them seemed to match the heavy atmosphere. The frosted windows were half covered by snow, and the bare stone corridors were chilly enough to raise goosebumps on Gina’s arms even through her heavy gown. The flour trail eventually led them to a tower with a winding set of mason steps.

    “Careful.” Gina said as Panos began to shuffle backwards up the steps, tilting the stretcher, but again frosty silence and averted eyes were her only answers. By the time they had navigated their way to the top, Gina’s arms were burning from taking the brunt of the stretcher’s weight. Panos kicked the heavy wooden door open with his heel, and Gina saw a room hung with blue Sauver tapestries, embroidered with swirling red blood-trails. The marchioness’ pierced claw sigil was painted across the window’s closed shutters, dripping red. It was not a room Gina would have chosen to sleep in, but a bed dominated the floor. A large wardrobe against one wall was the only concession to furniture.

    “Let’s put her on the bed.” Gina suggested. Once Cal and the halberd stretcher were resting safely on the pelts, Gina ran back to the door and heaved it shut, slamming the bolt into place. She sighed and started to flex the pain out of her aching fingers.

    “Okay Cal.” she said quietly, returning to the bed. “We’re here.”

    While Panos stuck close to Cal’s bedside, Gina teased Melvin’s tarot card out of her sleeve. One tap to alert, two taps to relay communication, three taps to close channel. Remembering what the robot boy had shown her, she gave the image of the High Priestess an experimental prod.

    Calamity, now with open eyes, let her body sink on the bed. Curiously she looked over to Gina, while holding Panos' hand. The royal male, not used to physical work, collapsed on the bed as well, waning his hastened breath.

    "We have to fix my mistake." the marchioness told Gina, giving some direction to new conversation.

    “We will.” Gina affirmed. She was less confident than she made herself sound, but she could feel the beginnings of optimism stirring inside her as she worked through the events. “You sent the foreign advisor off to make peace. We made the king see sense. We’ll find the Drac. Once you can walk again, we can start waking people up, and they’ll see. We’ll get the unexpected change that the Note Writer wanted...I mean, what else is there to do?”

    She looked down as the picture on the card in her hand dissolved and reformed.
    Gina saw the rather disarming appearance of the young boy who accompanied the actor impersonator - yet still with the same detached stoicism he walked around with. Gina took it to mean that Melvin was listening, and able to talk. As her card reverted back to the High Priestess, she tapped it twice more and held it up to her mouth, balancing it on her palm.

    She wondered what it said about things, that talking to a mute robot on a magical iPhone was still only the third or fourth craziest thing that had happened to her today.

    “Melvin.” she whispered into the disguised Tarot card. “We made it back to Cal’s room. So far there’s no sign of the Drac anywhere.”

    The image shifted again, this time to a green check mark as if to acknowledge her statement. Gina moved to the bed and sat down next to Cal and Panos, holding the card so that it could pick up their quiet conversation.

    “For now...I guess we have to wait a bit.”

    Though taken along for the interdimensional journey, Panos was behind on fundamental understandings of how the symbols on his arms functioned in their quest. That irritation, among the other negative feelings festering inside, turned to a stare set on Gina and Calamity, back and forth.

    "What are we doing with Uranus' symbol? If it has anything to do with the king's death it should be done." the teenager insisted again against King Kinglos.

    "The symbols give us clues on what we should do." Calamity replied with some tiredness within her voice, but she took a moment longer to think about Gina's hint, unexpected change. "If we don't want the council, and the king cannot do what I've made him…"

    Gina rested her lips on her clasped hands for a moment, thoughtful. “You don’t think he can?”

    "I...could take more leadership."

    Gina looked at her friend and realised that it was true. Quite apart from her magic, Cal was born for this kind of thing. She had been showing it more and more over the recent days. She had a different kind of strength from the brutal Sauver marchioness she was impersonating, but as far as Gina was concerned that was a good thing. And now she had the marchioness’ army and the marchioness’ street cred to work with.

    “You could.” she agreed. “The king seems willing to listen to us now, and he’d do better with you advising him than Hedspeth and Avery.” She smiled slightly. “Like the old joke, do you want to speak to the man in charge or the woman who knows what’s going on.”

    She glanced at Panos, and sensed the unspoken question hanging in the air. And if the king still needs to go?

    Gina pursed her lips. There were still doubts about the king’s strength, to be sure; even if she had no doubts about Cal’s. But then she thought of Editha’s half-baked plan for a coup, and of vengeful armies screaming down into Greywall as everything spiralled out of control.

    “We’d have to be careful, though.” she reasoned aloud. “Hedspeth and Avery might be out the way, and I don’t think that Charlie bloke means any harm, but there’s still the military advisor...Theodore Dutt. The council were trying to get him and his army onside too. I spoke to his daughter though, and he doesn’t sound much like the plotting type.”

    She looked down at the card.

    “Melvin, you and Jeon saw the council. If the king gets better and the people go back and spread the word, would they let Hedspeth call off the plan? Do they want what’s best for the kingdom or do they just want to rule?”

    The Probe sighed someplace in N-Space, then sent the image back of several crowns sitting in a crimson pool. After a few seconds of that, it then sent a picture of Jeon lying on the ground, stabbed with a dozen blades in his back while a healthy king stepped over him.

    Gina bit her tongue, hoping that she understood. More than one leader would be chaos...but if the king didn’t die, the councilmen might hold Jeon responsible.

    Calamity nor Panos saw the foreboding card, thus Panos shifted on the bed to Calamity's direction.

    "This is a debacle, it would be stupid to try taking more power. It'd be social suicide." Panos was scolding her, but still he kept close. Calamity's stomach twisted inside; was this what her mother felt? It was disgusting that, for a brief moment, her own mind humanized her mother's tactics. I left him alive, and now it turned into something out of my control. Was my mother bloodthirsty or just doing what she must to remove complications?

    But her mother was outright cruel, that wasn't effective leadership. "It's not over yet, and now we know the intentions the king has because I made them." For a moment the teenager paused, unnerved by such power, "When he's sober he will do the best he can." she reassured them all, including herself. Closing her eyes, a sigh filled the room.

    Panos conceded, "Better him than you..."

    The image on Gina’s card shifted to a question-mark.

    “Cal used her power on the king.” Gina explained to the robot on the other end of the line, and laid the card in her lap so that Cal and Panos could see it. “So he’s gonna be sober from now on and do what’s best for his people.”

    It was still an uncomfortable thing to say out loud.

    “Course, if he’s gonna have a chance he needs to stay alive, which is why we need to keep Hedspeth and O’doln the hell away from him. And why we need to find the Drac.”

    She bit the inside of her cheek again, thinking.

    “What if…?” She looked up at Cal and Panos. “The people came here ’cause O’doln promised them they’d see the king taking action. Once Cal’s up and about again, we can start waking them up - what if we let them go back and start spreading the news that the king did something right for once. Let the council hear that, then convince advisor Dutt that it’s no longer the time for a coup. They went to him and Cal because they didn’t dare move until they got both of them onside - they wouldn’t dare if you went back to supporting the king, right? Not if the folk in the street were starting to shift opinion too. They couldn’t blame Jeon for that.”

    "The king solving Calamity's mistake isn't going to be enough." Panos said with clear cut cynicism. "They want power and the people are selfish. He should do more than capture the prisoner." Laying down, the Grecian royalty locked focus onto the ceiling, "If he executes him and declares war, history shows it the stupid will rally and cheer his name."

    "Panos." Calamity held his hand supportively, even when she felt she wanted to cry and be held in her crippled state, "He won't do that. He will do what is best, and that kind of politics isn't for the people: it would be for self interest."

    But it wasn't like the person whose role she jumped into wouldn't have supported further open war with the Draconains. The hated sentiment among the masses, at least here, was present. She glanced to Gina, wanting to hesitate about executing someone - their hands already bloody.

    “I can see him wanting the Drac dead.” Gina admitted, unhappily. She couldn’t bring herself to knowingly cause another death either. If Cal’s men even manage to take him alive in the first place, that is.

    Cal hesitated. “There were other Draconian...bodies, in the torture chamber. We could use a decoy…”

    Gina shivered. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

    She rested her lips against her fist, turning her thoughts to the less grisly half of the problem.

    “The witnesses too. We can wake them up one by one, so it’ll be easy enough to gauge their reactions. Play it by ear, y’know? If we have to talk tough about Avery’s mission being to put the elves in their place and that Cal’s going to crush any Dracs that come near Whitebar then fair enough. It’ll satisfy the folk who are angry without actually having to do something suicidal.”

    Cal clearly wanted to believe her.
    "If he listens to the people and helps them, it will sway them." But what if the people wanted war? Then what?

    Gina could see the doubt in her friend’s face. Even though she did not want to believe Panos’ more misanthropic take on the situation, she couldn’t help thinking of the bloody frescoes plastered all over the Dutt mansion, proclaiming the human kingdom’s victories over all the bestial other races. Hello, ‘War on Terror’...

    “I mean…” she began, almost trying to convince herself now. “How would we even go to war with the Dracs anyway? I don’t know anything about them apart from Avery saying that it’d be a really bad idea, and she can’t be the only one. Where even are the Dracs? Do they have a kingdom too or what?”

    "Kashar, is the name." Panos remembered from the mocking, annoying Commander of the Guard.

    Calamity closed her eyes, wanting to sleep. The two royals now laid side by side on the bed, the prince looking more peaceful than Gina had seen as he was attempting to gain some rest. Gina could feel herself with some systemic exhaustion after all the shock she has endured, along with the fall, and the magical manipulation of her mind through unpracticed magic.

    "My...her duty," Cal gestured to herself to indicate the young girl she had taken place of, "Was to hold Kashar back from raiding the empire."

    "The Draconian's actions are an act of war." Panos told the girls, "If you do not claim to your people you support some sort of counter attack, you'll be seen as weak." His father was always the bombastic and powerful politician - now he got to act out his influence. It was a highly disliked revelation.

    Gina shook her head, ginger hair bouncing around her shoulders. “Avery said attacking the Dracs would bring their whole race down on us, and that we wouldn’t be able to win. I don’t think she was lying either, ‘cause she was worried her home would cop it first.”

    The tarot card in Gina's hand beeped. The picture on it changed to tiny figures of the king (with tiny crown) and the councillors who wanted the king dead facing a smaller army of the Drac.

    The figures of the councillors clustered behind the king, producing their own swords to face off the Dracs.

    The Probe hoped its message was clear. Present a threat that threatened all and put the king and the councilors in front of it. Either they united and stand as one - or they perish, ending the problem.

    “All well and good.” Gina said, slumping her chin onto her hands. “Except we don’t have a Drac raiding party on hand.”

    Among them a soft breathing began to cycle and the ladies realized Panos had worn himself and fallen asleep. Gina had never seen the pale prince look as peaceful and easy to lay eyes on as this moment. But alas he was a sleeping tiger, sleeping through the girls' conversation, but verbal claws glistened with each subtle shift of his lips during slumber.

    Calamity, glanced to her now presumed husband but kept conversation with Gina - trying her best to keep up and be of use as she had been. The most mundane mortal among the three could witness the heavy-eyelid princess clenching her teeth intermittently to think with depth.

    "I could make an army. When...I am well enough to have my legs again I could make everyone believe an army had come. They would believe King Kinglos and the Council worked together!" Her burst of voice excited her, then rapidly startled her when she stared at Panos. Luckily the prince didn't move. "If they think about it the memory would be real to them." She said it confidently, but she was still guessing the full extent of her power. Her wayward or disconnected parents never helped anyone.

    Gina twisted her hands in her lap. “Maybe,” she allowed, “But that would be a big bit of magic...I don’t want you getting hurt again...”

    Gina glanced down at the sleeping Panos, and then back at her equally weary companion.

    “Listen, why don’t you sleep for a bit? I’ll keep an eye out. If they don’t find the Drac in the next hour or so they’re probably not gonna, and we can see about a decoy. If that’s not enough to satisfy everyone when we wake them up, then you and the king can talk tough about killing Dracs - and once they’re back in the city who are they to say you didn’t whack a whole load of them somewhere out in the mountains?”

    She leaned over to squeeze Cal’s hands between her own.

    “When you’re up and about again we can see what we need to do. Can you feel anything yet?”

    She looked down worriedly at Cal’s feet.

    The Probe also known as Melvin felt itself relax a fraction of a percent point. The Humans could do it, masquerade a Drac army. Still, it wouldn't hurt to prep something, just in case.

    Calamity leaned her head back, almost falling asleep if she had not jerked her heavy head side to side. Biting her lip, Calamity nodded to Gina's question. "Something, yes..." the teenage girl clearly didn't want to elaborate on her crippled condition. Maybe if she rested long enough, she would wake up well.

    However, glancing at Panos who was in no threat of waking up, this was her only time to tell Gina. The most mundane of the three teens could see Calamity's face grimace, her fingers curl tighter around Panos'. "I'm sorry he's he is...I have to tell you...something happened to him while he was with..." The other dead traveler, "Vahsi."

    “Oh…” Gina’s thumbnail went between her teeth at the unexpected revelation. “I knew there was something up with him, he okay?”

    The question was automatic, but a glance down at the sleeping prince all but answered it for her. She thought back to Vahsi, so abruptly taken from them after storming away from the group on Valkure. She had never truly gotten the chance to know him, because he had never let any of them see beneath his prickly exterior. He was a killer though - she knew that much.

    Me killing apparently shocked the hell out of him.

    Panos seemed to attract killers, Gina thought somberly. His first husband...emperor Lycas...Vahsi…

    You’re a killer too, Gina. Hiss. Shriek. Bang. Gina realised she had crushed a handful of the bed pelts in her fist, and uncurled her fingers with an effort.

    Vahsi was gone. The protection he had offered Panos was gone. But other things could linger.

    “What happened?” she asked Cal, barely above a murmur for fear of waking the prince.

    Melvin frowned ever so slightly. Who was this Vashi? The two girls talked over the sleeping prince. Calamity's voice hitched under breath, she even stammered, but she managed her wits and explained, "He was brutally attacked by a man...he was..." She couldn't continue, using her eyes as the cryptic, yet tragic messenger as they moved down to Panos' hips to deliver the impression on what sort of attack it had been.

    “Oh…” Gina said again, more faintly. Her hands went to her mouth, while the anxiety in her chest drained away, dragged down by the sinking feeling in her stomach. Helpless empathy for both Panos and Cal flooded in to replace it.

    “I can’t even imagine.” she whispered through her fingers. She couldn’t, and it wasn’t a good feeling for someone who usually fancied herself good at intuiting other people. The worst she and her friends had ever had to deal with were overly-handsy schoolboys running up and slapping their arses. Not the same at all.

    “I…” she hesitated. “I promise I won’t say anything. I know he doesn’t trust me the same way he trusts you...but is there anything I can do? Anything at all?”

    Melvin's lower lip became firmer. What were they taking about? Calamity brought Panos' held hand near her chest, seeing their imposed wedding rings shining side-by-side. Looking at him a last time she closed her eyes.

    "Forgive him for his behaviour." What else was there to do? "If you make the same promise I did, things might change. Promise..." Calamity yawned, "To not leave him."

    It was the best advice she had to offer. Panos was intelligent, and Cal knew if they could recruit it and not have it turned against Gina all the time, more could be done.

    Gina nodded quietly. “Alright.” She looked down at Panos, then squeezed Cal’s hand. “Get some sleep. I’ll keep an eye out.”

    Gina was left alone as Calamity fell into exhausted sleep. She now could see the two remaining companions about her age, both beaten in their own ways by the perilous multiversal journey finally resting. Gina pulled the fur blankets up round both of them and pushed herself off the bed, the Tarot card hanging absently from her hand.

    Beyond the locked door, everything seemed silent. Gina padded quietly to the window, rubbing away the ache around her eye sockets with the heel of her hand, and unlatched the shutters. Behind the painted wood, snow lay like fat white caterpillars across the bottom of the glass, and the castle and its surroundings stretched away below under a cloak of white. Gina folded her arms over the sill, rested her chin on them, and let her thoughts drift along with the snowflakes.
    Thank you MayhemsCurse <3

    Spoiler: Memorable Quotes 

  2. #132
    Minkasha's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
    In a world I struggle to understand.
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    Jeon Smythe

    Jeon shut the door firmly after them. "Well, won't this be fun?" he asked. "How are you feeling now, my lord?"

    Glancing down at the Probe, he nodded towards the people on the ground. "Best to check them all out, I don't want any avoidable accidents."

    The Probe was scanning the next group when it felt the tap on Gina's card. The human probably expected some sort of response, so Melvin changed the picture on the card from the High Priestess to its current shell for five seconds, then reset the eCard back to the High Priestess as it listened from the card to what was going on in the other room.

    "We'll have to come up with some sort of sling to make you comfortable," Jeon was saying to Kevin. "At least a little more dignified."

    The councilman huffed and buried his hands in his face.

    "I'm going to be joke of the others. We can't tell the others this happened, promise me!" Based on the defeated and humiliated expression of Jeon's sudden new lover, he must have been referring to the rest of the council.

    "Now now, don't be like that," Jeon said, trying to comfort Kevin. He glanced at the king, then had an idea.

    "Admittedly, it's not a place anyone would wish to be wounded, but there's something you've not realized. Out of everyone in this room, aside from some bumps and bruises, you are the only one who has any injury at all! Clearly, you managed to get in someone's way!"

    Kevin frowned.

    "Those quills went in deep, which means considerable force was used. Some sort of assassin's device, no doubt," Jeon conjectured. "Had it struck you in the chest or head, there would be little I could do. You may have even saved the king's life!"

    Kevin looked very annoyed by Jeon's attempted uplifting narrative. It was clear, after all, that the councilman had wanted to murder the king - not spare his life.

    "All the more reason why people such as me should..." he glanced at the cognitively diluted king and back to the doctor "Manage things." he said with a thin veil to keep Kinglos out of the conversation.

    "Merely the blind leading the blind," Jeon whispered back, shaking his head. "You need him, and he needs you and the council. Combined, you have power. As it is now, you are both seeing it slip from your fingers.”

    The Zayan's words were clearly meant to impress the king, but they made the probe roll its eyes.

    It paused over the body of the wizard, still barely alive, flesh turning gray and slack, heartbeat sluggish, almost non-existent, breathing almost imperceptible. Easy to mistake for dead or near death's door, to use the human expression - and still the most dangerous human in the room.

    From the card, 'Melvin' heard the teenage girl whom he had helped from her nervous system damage, speaking out loud.

    Pressing its right finger and thumb together, the Probe gave a loud whistle, four notes to signify distress, and waved at Jeon as it listened in on the card network. Others lay in the room waiting for treatment, the stone not a welcoming landing for any who had fallen, small trickles of blood could be seen in the hair of some, or on their faces, but nothing of any fatal concern.

    Jeon sighed after checking the court wizard's vitals, glancing at the Probe to see the slightest of nods. He then went to work, checking on the status of the other people in the room, accepting dressings and gauze from the Probe's incredible pocket.

    "How are we feeling?" he called out to the King and Kevin as he worked.
    King Kinglos' speech was drawn out, tired "Getting better..." it was not convincing and he sounded as if in the grip of a stupor, but he had responded to Jeon aptly.

    Meanwhile Kevin replied with a huff, then a pause and he smirked, adding flirtatious groove in his voice "Better knowing I'm under your care" his eyes threw daggers at the royal across the table from him.

    Jeon was amazed that any of the Council had survived this long.

    Gradually the doctor was tending to the men, women, and one teenager among the gathering of dozens. 'Melvin's' endless doling of supplies made Jeon's work continue without trouble.

    "Should have gotten you a very large carpet bag," Jeon muttered as they worked. "Eventually someone's going to notice you're producing all of this out of thin air."

    The Probe paused, then reached into its pocket to produce an origami rabbit.

    Jeon stared at it, then at the Probe. "It's a magic world, I get it. But a rabbit out of your pocket? Is that some kind of pun?"
    The doctor, acting apothecary was able to suppress the harm of the wounds, leaving him in a room filled with his accomplishment and only the company of a robot boy, a sobering up mind-numbed king, and his short sighted, backside-prickedlove he had been stuck with since waking up.

    The Probe stared at Jeon for a long moment, then pulled out one of the "tarot" cards it was using for communication. The image of the Tower was replaced by a pile of heads, with Kevin's on top, and a separate one of the king's head, still wearing its crown, on a pillow.

    "No," Jeon growled, eyes flashing. "I can't allow either of those to happen. They're both important, I don't know how or why, but they are. We need to somehow bring them all together."

    The probe's human shell frowned. There might be a way, and it wasn't going to like it.

    Jeon rose, then turned to face the king.

    "How about yourself, your Majesty?" Jeon inquired, spreading his hands as he approached to a respectful distance. "You took a bump when we all collapsed, I'm sure. Are you in need of assistance from me or my companion?"

    The black haired man gradually turned his eyes onto Jeon and 'Melvin'. He didn't return a word, looking back down to his hands. He seemed to be trying to search within himself something Jeon wouldn't know. The man was more intensely focused on his own thoughts than seen before. "I need my wizard." the regal man finally said. Though Jeon could still hear his slight slur, and see a bruise near a temple, the man looked at him rather seriously. "Can you bring me him?"

    "I'm afraid it would be better if he stays where he is, for now," Jeon said with a sigh, spreading his arms and rotating his palms up in a gesture of supplication. "While I have some small skill, I am no mage. Some things are simply beyond my skill to fix."

    He couldn't keep the bitterness in his voice out with that last.

    He did glance up at the king for a moment. Was he, himself, a wizard? Were there any on the counsel who hired him? Just what were their skills? The king's face of disappointment answered none of Jeon's questions.

    Some sense was coming back to the king who looked around to everyone Jeon had bandaged and mended. Wobbly the man got himself to his feet, pushing back his wool cape. "I need to rally the men! It may better their search!" There was passion in his voice, center of purpose. Calamity's newly installed personality was taking action.

    Melvin frowned, turning his full attention to the king, readying the drug darts.

    "Ah, I am please to hear it your Majesty," Jeon nodded. "But you are still recovering from whatever befell all of us and not yet firm on your feet. Until you are clear headed and firm of step, you are better here."

    "Understand, your Majesty, that some might mistake your current bearing to be a sign of intoxication, not of an attack by an unknown hidden adversary. We need to you look regal and in command of yourself, a paragon of the kingdom that all look up to. A few minutes to recover is a small price to pay."

    "Please understand, it is your welfare that concerns me. Rumor and innuendo is as dangerous a weapon in politics as a blade is in the battlefield."

    Jeon sucked the air out of King Kinglos. Shoulders slumped, eyes glared with tension at the door but gradually he returned back to his seat. While the king did not see, the pain he was experiencing proved to be sweet for Kevin who smirked in delight.

    The doctor began rolling up his sleeves, baring his arms.

    "Melvin," Jeon called out to the Probe, "I'd like you to find me a clean basin of water, say 46°C. I need to wash my hands for this next examination."

    The Probe arched one eye at him. It supposed it could drop its pants and reroute the plumbing in its shell to provide fresh hot water, but that would be going too far in front of two witnesses.

    Melvin began checking for any fresh water it could possibly heat in the room.
    In the goblets upon the table which had not been knocked over water could be found. There were two filled brass pitchers. The others spilled their liquids off the table or were strewn off near the chairs.

    Kevin watched with boredom, in need of any attention or entertainment, what Jeon was doing.

    The probe found a brass pitcher filled with water. Checking the room, it found a second and brought them over to Jeon.

    "Soap, if you please Melvin?" Jeon asked, holding out his hand. The Probe reached into its pocket and produced a bar of soap, no packaging.

    "Thank you! If you could heat the water, there's a dear."
    The Probe sniffed, but it placed its hands on either side of the pitcher and used the emitters in its hand to rapidly shift the water inside the container, causing it to heat and froth.

    "Ah, I thought...." Jeon blinked, then shook his head. "I'm not sure what I was thinking. Could you pour a little?"

    Picking up the steaming pitcher, the Probe helped Jeon to wash his hands and forearms.

    "Sorry about the mess!" he called out as the Probe rinsed the soap off. "Important to be clean. Germs, you know. Or do you know?"

    Shaking his hands to get rid of the excess, he turned and walked over to the king, pausing at a respectable distance to bow.

    "Your majesty, I have examined all your subjects in this room and rendered them what aid I could with my apprentice, here. Now I need to check you for injury, with your permission?

    Getting approval, the doctor’s years of expertise were put to work. The king, an objectively overweight man did not show signs of malnourishment, but from his slightly sweaty body, dilated eyes, and weak posture it was clear he wasn’t perfectly sober.

    He complained of aches in his body, in back and head. The bruise on the side of his head was a minimal injury compared to the others Jeon had treated.

    "You're in reasonably good health, your Majesty. Some leafy green vegetables at the start of a meal, a little more fiber in your diet, and spending a good hour working out with a training sword should get you into fighting shape very quickly," Jeon said. "Some water to flush the toxins from your system, two aspirin for the pain and you'll be steady and ready to take on the world, I shouldn't wonder."

    He paused. "Does your normal physician have aspirin?"

    "I would offer," Jeon sighed, spreading out his hands with the palms up, "But a king should be careful about what people give him."
    Kevin busied himself snickering at Jeon's lifestyle suggestions for the king. Though in actuality the good featured councilman wasn't any healthier himself. They both lived comfortable lives.

    King Kinglos leered at the doctor. "What are you talking about apothecary? Will it wake my mage?" they rounded back to the subject more important on the king's mind.

    "Aspirin is just a medicine to relieve pain," Jeon explained sadly, glancing back at the mage. "Whatever struck us down affected him most of all, he's barely clinging to life at the moment. I'm afraid that any form of stimulant or even moving him may be too much. Best he lay there as comfortable as we can make it for him until he regains his strength." The king ran a hand across his face with worry.

    And with any luck, Jeon thought, one of the others would have a plan on how to handle the king and escape this mad house before that happened. What do you know about the Draconians?" he asked. "Tracks were found in the snow, so the prisoner managed to escape it seems, but I don't know how his people will respond? From the carnage below, my concern is that he may return in force." Kevin looked quizzically at Jeon, taking a break from glaring at Melvin with jealousy.

    The finely dressed royal stared at Jeon with gray eyes of agitation, lowering the hand touching his face.

    "The warning Draconians? They will do what they've done always: attack. They won't stop until we are bled out" his stressful groaning gave way to how overwhelming their presence was to his rulership.

    "Of course they are going to attack" Kevin spoke up, shifting on the table he lay upon. "It's unfortunate the Marchioness has let this happen, if anything were to happen to us..." Kevin looked to be trying to find a way around Jeon's warning: rather than arrange something to put the king in jeopardy, he was smearing Calamity's reputation through thinly veiled worry.

    King Kinglos took the words of his councilman with a glance down to his hands with reflection.

    "So why are we fighting with the Draconians," Jeon asked, shrugging. "Since they're such fierce fighters and all? Did we start it, or they?"

    The probe frowned ever so slightly. What was that idiot doing?

    "We do know what required this castle to be built out here, don't we?" Kevin and King Kinglos glared at Jeon. The gentlemen were equally offended as the handsome doctor could see. Yet, the pair were drawn off the scent of Kevin's prior trick.

    "They are marauders, nothing but lizards with swords!" His royal leader spat.

    "Jeon dear, why are you insulting us?" Kevin asked through clenched teeth. Locked in their eyes was a palpable prejudice to the race Jeon had seen mutilated in the basement.

    "Wow," Jeon muttered, shaking his head. "And they claim doctors are arrogant."

    Turning his head away the royal shoulders slouched, "Get the guests accommodations...the floor is...not comfortable for my subjects"

    "No," Jeon said, shaking his head. "They can be revived and sent to quarters here or back to the capital by whatever means I was brought here, but at this time we can't afford to divert men from this castle's defense."

    The probe frowned slightly, turning to stare at Jeon's head. Scans hadn't shown signs of a concussion....

    "Melvin? You've never left this room, right?"

    The Probe scowled, but shook its puppet head.

    "How many guards are there outside that door?"

    It held up seven fingers.

    "My 'apprentice' has very acute senses," Jeon explained. "He remained sensible when everyone else was affected, here in this room. Yet he could not sense this invisible Draconian."

    "You don't get it still, do you?" he asked, throwing his hands up in the air. "Raiders you can buy off, if they're just after stuff they don't have back in their lands. How long have you fought them? Why haven't they given up and passed you by?"

    "It's the blind," he paused, staring at the king for a long moment before turning to stare at Kevin. "Leading the bloody blind. What if the reason the Dracs are invading is because someone else is nipping on their heels?"

    "How long before something the Drac runs from is standing here?"
    Jeon had pressed his luck too far. Both men looked at him with such ire that the doctor may have provoked them to agree on something for once.

    "What are you doing?" Kevin asked with shock and exasperated anger. The widening of his eyes was trying to gesture something to him, perhaps to reinforce Jeon's behavior was grossly out of place.

    King Kinglos, though crippled by internal and external factors stared with the full expectation of his position.

    "Apothecary you have heard my word, do as I said. Now."

    The Probe glared at the doctor, wanting to break his legs. Instead, it loaded tranquilizer darts - although to be honest, it wasn't sure if it should shoot the king and the councilman - or Jeon.

    Jeon sighed, shaking his head, then threw his hand up in disgust.

    "Very well, your Majesty," he said, with a bow, then turned towards the door. "After all, it's never the apothecary's fault when a patient refuses to listen."
    Thank you MayhemsCurse <3

    Spoiler: Memorable Quotes 

  3. #133
    Minkasha's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
    In a world I struggle to understand.
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    Calamity Isis Mae Sensibility, Gina Wright & Panos Lambros

    The fur pelts bunched and discarded littered the bed Panos and Calamity had risen from. The snowy world outside the bedroom windows continued to be isolating in the two hours which had passed, the curt symbols of power engraved on the glass ever an overt sign of Calamity's given dominion. The prince was quiet, watching the two girls with prideful silence. There was something he wanted to say as expressed by his face, yet he held it back.

    The three of them could feel Jeon approaching, drawing closer to the royal bedroom. Panos stared at the door, pushing himself to his feet and adjusting his attire.

    Calamity, able to stand again was fully able, albeit eyes weighed with the distant desire for further sleep.

    Doctor John Smythe

    Sharing the journey through the lengthy, intimidating masonry halls with 'Melvin', the doctor could begin a noticeable shift of status quo with men's voices echoing over one another from the floors below. As his steps brought him before the door the shouting continued, giving hint that whatever the problem was, it wasn't a brief affair.

    "Something's not right here," Jeon scowled as he followed the Probe. "You could cut the tension with a knife."

    As they reached the door, the Probe let go, turning to face Jeon and holding its right hand palm up as it pointed at it.

    "So, this is it?" Jeon asked, some lingering doubts in his voice despite feeling the draw towards three figures that he knew were somehow behind this door, while stretching behind him he could "feel" Kevin and the King. His hand rose to knock on the door, but he paused, glancing down at the younger imitation of himself. "So how does one address a 'marquis', anyway?"

    The Probe rolled its eyes, then knocked for him.

    "Hello? It's the doctor!" Jeon called out. "Mind if I pop in for a few moments?"

    Calamity Isis Mae Sensibility, Gina Wright, Doctor John Smythe, 'Melvin' & Panos Lambros

    There was the sound of a bolt sliding, and then the door creaked open and half of a familiar face peeked out. The door swung back to reveal Gina, with Cal and Panos close behind. Cal was back on her feet, seemingly no worse for wear.

    “Whatever you gave Cal, it worked.” Gina informed Jeon, sounding relieved, and Cal echoed the relieved sentiment with a grateful smile at the doctor; to her, still barely more than a stranger - but a stranger who had saved her from a terrible fate.

    The Probe scowled ever so slightly. It was its nanite cocktail, not anything that Jeon had done.

    Gina’s cautious smile turned to creases on her forehead as she registered the distant shouting.

    “Have they found something?” she asked Jeon hopefully. “What’s going on?”

    Panos, the young man eyeing the single adult in the room grabbed Calamity's hand with the new closeness of friendship. The fair prince's glossy brows raised while he listened to the commotion.

    "That is not the help, those are the guards." the Lambros remarked in response to the overwhelming noises of men's voices and clanking footfalls.

    Gina accepted Panos’ assessment with a nod. “Maybe they caught the Drac?”

    "Are they coming up here?" Jeon scowled. "What's going on?"

    Gina leaned further down the mason stair, trying to make out any voices among the commotion. The disorder of the sound was too difficult for her to hear anything clearly, but the guards were clearly moving urgently.

    “Are you both okay to move?” she asked, glancing back at Panos and Cal. “I think we should see what’s happening.”

    Cal nodded. "I think so. Panos?" she looked to the other royal. Her promise from the carriage ride flickered through her thoughts. It seemed her legs were healed now - but in her still weakened state, would she be able to fulfill it? While he took a moment to hesitate, Panos pulled his eyes to the nearby wall and nodded.

    "Do any of you know why they're fighting the..." Jeon fumbled, then pointed at Gina, "...the Dracs? Who invaded who?"

    "Does it matter right now?" Panos asked, a mild tone of skepticism flavoring his words.

    “It’s not really a war.” Gina offered as they hurried down the stairs, “From what the adviser said, the Dracs just raid. If there was a real war the whole Drac nation would come down on us, which is why we were trying to convince the king to do something else...”

    “From what I've gathered, this conflict has been going on a long time.” Cal continued. “They speak of the Draconians as though they're savage monsters, but if you'd seen what's within the dungeons of this fortress…” She shuddered. “I'm not sure who the monsters are. Maybe their raids began it all. Maybe they're retaliating because of what's been done to them.”

    Cal stopped abruptly, the conversation calling forth a memory until now forgotten amidst the chaos. She grabbed Gina's arm, looking alarmed. “I forgot!” she said, “Rangel - the captain of the guard, he said the Dracs were planning a counter strike! We were going to keep the prisoner as a hostage, use him as leverage, but if he's escaped... If he gets back to his people, there's nothing to stop them attacking!”

    There was a slap as Gina’s palm collided with her forehead. “That would have been good to know!” she blurted, twisting her fingers through her hair. “Oh jeez...we’d better find your captain right now!”

    Some of the metal footfalls took more presence in the conversation as it drew close. Rounding the steps to Calamity's tower came three armored men. Confusedly they saw the gathering of people but brushed it to the side as they nodded to Calamity.

    "Marchioness, the escaped Drac somehow helped an army of his bastard-folk inside our walls!"

    "Maybe a portal, ma'am!" one of the other young men guessed aloud. At hearing this Panos' stomach knotted up. The first guard continued.

    "They are in the first ring, our men are holding them back but innocents are in the crossfire. We've closed the gates to the castle. Sir Rangel is at the gate waiting for you. What are your orders?!"

    Suddenly the fae-blooded teenager was thrust with the responsibility of her previous choices, and now a slew of new ones. On the exposed faces of the guards was sharpened focus and fear, intensifying their urgency for direction from Calamity.

    “I... Uh..” Cal's face was stricken and white, panicked at the pressure thrust upon her. The girl struggled to process the information thrown at her, her heart pounding.

    “The king, is he protected?” she said, sounding surer than she felt. Court matters and barking orders she could accomplish with ease, but of war she had no real experience. “Ensure he has a guard at once! And get as many innocents inside the castle as we can, there must be another way in? I will attend Sir Rangel... you three,” she turned to her companions, “You should get somewhere safe. This is my fault... None of you should die for it.”

    Two of the three men briskly left in two different directions: one down the hallway ahead of them and the other from where the men had come from, going downstairs.

    Gina’s expression wavered as she looked at Cal - wanting to argue, unable to do so in front of the guard. “As you wish, marchioness.” she said at last. “If there’s any way I can help, I will.”

    "Kevin's friend Charlie carried me here through some sort of portal," Jeon said, glancing at the two. "I'm afraid I was unconscious at the time, but assuming the Dracs aren't using it now to get here, we could get the king and the others and take them through that back to the Capital?"

    Gina nodded emphatically. “I’ll help you wake them up.”

    "Melvin, do you remember where the portal that brought us here is?"

    “You were in the kitchen when I found you.” Gina said, remembering Jeon laid out on the floor, and Charlie’s jovial explanation. “Just off the main hall.”

    She looked to Panos, wanting to see if he would rather follow Cal’s suggestion or stick close to her side. She could hardly grudge him the latter. “Sir? What will you do?”

    Panos crossed his arms, suppressing the rapid beating of his heart with a cool mask.

    "Your army will be enough to push them out. It's only a desperate move from animal-men." The young man attempted to use his cutting words in a way to reassure Calamity. As his crystalline eyes turned away, the concern was evident however.

    The Probe shrugged. Holding its hands in front of its face, it rotated both hands as if two doors were opening.

    "Doors?" Jeon asked. "Back at the hall we left?"

    The Probe rolled its eyes, then held up its hands in front of its face, this time palm out. It then lowered the hands until the palms faced the floor.

    "A... drawbridge?" Jeon demanded. He looked up at the others. "Is there someplace where there's a drawbridge?"

    Cal thought quickly, trying to remember if she'd seen a drawbridge anywhere within her... or rather, the real marchioness’ keep. "A drawbridge? I don't..." she stopped herself. She didn't recall a drawbridge anywhere, but in the presence of the guard, she could hardly say she didn't know if one was to be found here.

    "Are you sure that's what he means? Boy?" she turned to Melvin. "Is it a drawbridge you are implying with your gesture, or something else? A trapdoor?"

    The Probe shook its head. At least they didn't ask if it was blowing a kiss.

    "Very well." Cal looked at the remaining guard. "Well?" she demanded, "What are you waiting for? Escort us there, first. I will continue to Sir Rangel when we have ensured my companions get where they need to go."

    The man at her command furrowed his bushy brows as he stared down at her with great confusion.

    Panos looked up to the man, then glared at the mute boy and to Calamity, She's making a fool out of herself!. Intervening, the prince grabbed Calamity's hand, squeezing it and grimacing. The urge to scream in fear and frustration was growing, but instead he urgently looked at his friend.

    "Love, why do you not send them to the task and we meet with the Guard Captain?" He suggested with annoyance shot at Gina and now Jeon for the first time. Standing as he was, the guard shifted hips and cleared his throat.

    "Marchioness, where was it you wished to go?" he asked with nervousness running through his voice.

    "Marchioness," Jeon interrupted, "If I may? That bump you took may have left you a little confused. We do need to rescue the King and as many of his entourage while protecting their escape. Perhaps this man knows how they can get home so we can concentrate on fighting the enemy and calling up additional forces?"

    Cal swallowed, her brow furrowed as the others spoke, each statement asking more from her, making her question herself further. She shook her head, trying to clear it.

    "Guard," she spoke, still unsure of the right thing to do, but knowing she had to make a decision, "Take us all to the king. If you know of any way we can spirit him away, safely; inform my companions of it as we go. When I have seen them safely delivered to the King, we will continue to Sir Rangel. We have already had one invisible assassin amongst us; no-one should be wandering about without a guard at hand."

    Plus, it would be quickly obvious I still hardly know my way around this place, if we go wandering off without a guard! she thought, regretting sending two of the three away so quickly, when they could have made unwitting guides.

    The guard nodded obediently, though the steadfast impressions of his metal armor didn't outweigh the hesitation on his face. Turning quickly he led the party down the hallway straight ahead. Panos never let go of Calamity's hand, the blanched royal looking to his left and right occasionally as Calamity took the lead in their steps. The sounds from the lower floor thinned the further they continued and the steps of the men became fewer and fewer as they exited the castle.

    "This is the safest place to be." the man leading said to Calamity, with a mix of overwhelm and nervous obedience.

    "What stops them from entering?" Panos asked critically, taking the risk for Calamity to ask and thus saving her leadership.

    "The gate, no one's going to get through it."

    The way in which he said this had more confidence and matter-of-fact knowing, and Panos narrowed his eyes in on it. Placing a bet that things were hectic, and that he himself was far smarter than the man in armor, he wove a question to learn more yet not expose his ignorance.

    "Is that what the Guard Captain says?"

    "No marquis, but what I saw wouldn't be enough. They'd need more cold-blooded bodies to be butchered at the gate to get in."

    “If they haven’t figured that out already they will soon.” Gina said as she hurried along with the others. “There isn’t any other way they could get in, is there? No-one’s seen them anywhere except at the gate?”

    "No miss, less they cheat with more magic..."

    "Perhaps they created their own gate," Jeon shrugged, glancing around. "Or they found another way in? An escape tunnel, perhaps?"

    The Probe frowned at the doctor, then began scanning the area. If the attackers were cold-blooded, however, it was questionable what its sensors could pick up.

    "So, how do we convince the king that now's the time he returns to the Capital?" Jeon asked, glancing around. Of course, if the King showed up alive in his palace, who knew what the Council would do to him? After surviving an attack here, he might decide to lay low for a while, again.

    The guard leading the group kept silent moments after Jeon spoke, noticing no-one replied to the brown haired man the Zayan's questions were left behind. Coming into view within the expanse of a new masonry hallway ahead were three doors, tended by standing men with hands on their swords.

    Three other metal-clad men were walking down the hallway of doors and around the corner of another hallway. Moving at a much quicker pace were humble aids carrying cloths, and buckets of water rushing from door to door. The man Calamity had sent off to protect the king came before the protected door on the left before the party.

    "Our commander had already got things set for the king and your guests." he said with relief, the guiding guard looked back to Calamity herself, waiting for command.

    One of the help, a middle-aged brunette, stopped as she noticed the arrival of these key figures. She was being followed by a young man no older than twenty with similar domestic attire and similar features, and together they hurriedly lowered their heads for the marchioness.

    "Marchioness we've been told you wish to house your people being put in harm's way. Without Lady Lyina awake to heal them we will have difficulty..." Her faded-lined face looked hesitantly at Jeon. "Chatter says he's the man who healed the guests...we could use him.”

    Panos turned his head to the side to conceal his irritation. Great, then separate us again. And they would lose the one adult among the collective of dazed teenagers. But, Panos knew if Jeon or Calamity resisted it would make things tense for both. Every one of Cal's decisions was going to create cause and effect with her power. Why is a woman in charge? he asked himself with a fluster of frustration.

    Cal nodded, thinking quickly. She had hoped they would be able to remain together - but they were in the midst of battle now, and if they did nothing to help...

    "Jeon, will you stay, and assist with the injured?" she asked. Their means of escaping this world, already unclear to begin with, were slipping further from reach, but if they just left without trying to help, wasn't that tantamount to causing this misery? At least here, Jeon would have the protection of the guards nearby. And once they had sorted out this mess... if they could, if they made it out of this alive... they would know where to find their new companion.

    "Of course," Jeon replied, assessing the scene. "Of course, I wouldn't say no to...."

    "We will attend the King, before I meet the Captain."

    "...some assistance." Jeon sighed. "This is a long way from the shuttle." This remark earned Jeon a confused look as the domestic help stared at him with urgency.

    Gina clicked her fingers, suddenly remembering. She fished around under her cuff and brought out the corked vial of smelling salts that Melvin had given her to use on the king.

    “Maybe wake adviser Charlie up first.” she suggested to Jeon. “He’s got rank, he can help you get the others moving.” And unlike the others he’s not trying to kill the king. Probably.

    "Excellent suggestion!" Jeon smiled wanly, surveying the crowd. "I'm sure he's around here somewhere...?"

    Gina glanced down at Melvin, and hoped that the silent robot had more tricks up its sleeve than the walkie-talkie card that was currently up hers.

    “I don’t suppose you can help us kill a bunch of Dracs...?” she murmured to the robot out the side of her mouth.

    The Probe let its right eyebrow arch, then took a step back to stand closer to Jeon. What the doctor's connection was with these children it didn't understand, but absent orders from its masters, its duty was to protect Jeon and not let the Zayan out of its reach. If something happened to him, it would surely be stranded here. Besides, where was Jeon going to get all those ammonia inhalants?

    These people are idiots. Panos' brows furrowed and he studied the guard and servants exchange of eye contact: Jeon and Gina seemed entirely oblivious.

    "I am sorry marchioness." the homely brunette servant lowered herself with her opening words, "If it were possible, if the apothecary were able...awaking Lady Lyina would be absolutely helpful."

    Though this name was brought up a second time in this conversation, the multiverse travelers had thus far not been introduced to a woman of that name. Panos thought about it carefully, but many details were jumbled by the trauma of one catastrophe following the next.

    Using his lowered status once again, he helped the group, "And why is that? How will she help any more than an Adviser now if she's to be just awakened?" It was specific enough, yet vague enough to imply and search for what they would need, hopefully.

    "Well, marquis," the woman hesitated, keeping her eyes down, "Mayhaps her healing magic would tend to her and others."

    A flick of Panos’ blanched hair revealed his intense gaze upon Calamity while more decision making was set on her.

    "Another healer, very good," Jeon said enthusiastically, nodding his head. It would be interesting to watch a healer at work, especially if they used magic. Maybe he could pick up a few pointers...? Of course, would any magic here work back home? "Good woman, could you point her out, I'm only recently recovered myself and I'm not very good with names....?"

    One of the guarded doors opened and another servant came out. As he saw Calamity and the others he approached with a desperate smile, a cloth and a wooden water bucket at his side.

    "King Kinglos' magician is beginning to stir." he said promisingly. He looked at Jeon, meeting eyes with the woman and young man briefly who nodded. "You must be the apothecary, it would be a great help if you gave him your care, sir." He bowed at the hip in submission of Jeon's class superiority.

    "Maybe he could blow the fork-tongues to pieces." the group's escorting guard gritted his teeth, exhaling air to punctuate his statement.

    "He needs rest," Jeon scowled, ignoring the guard. "Whatever knocked us out, he seems to have taken the brunt of it. With attackers in the keep, it's more important that we first revive this healer, Ms. Lyina? Yes. I could do with another set of hands, certainly. And tea, hot, with honey. She'll likely need it."

    The young man who had come with the older relative hurried away at Jeon's word.

    Gina squeezed her hands together. The castle was under attack and Jeon was talking about tea. Even she wasn’t that British.

    This is an urgent emergency!

    She gasped as the memory clicked. A woman with healing magic...she was suddenly sure she knew who lady Lyina was.

    “The lady at the dining hall door.” she blurted at Jeon. “The blonde one, the one who said she’d healed the prisoner before we all got knocked out!”

    She knew what she was looking for now - adviser Charlie in his silver and brown waistcoat, and lady Lyina with her blonde hair and pretty but tired face. She bolted from one archway to the next with the flask of smelling salts in her hand, shoving the heavy doors open and peering through just long enough to see if they were inside.
    Her path was initially blocked by the guardsmen who did not look down at her with trust. However as Calamity with Panos at her side approached the man opened it. Inside were the bare furnishings that the cold and dreary castle hosted for all its rooms. Lady Lyina lay on the bed with a woman sitting next to her.

    "She is healing her." Calamity explained to the woman while Gina came up to the healer.

    When presenting the smelling salts, the change in the blonde woman’s breathing told Gina it worked. Weakly pushing off some of the furs laying on top of her, the robed woman looked up at Gina with no recognition.

    For a moment Calamity, behind her false stoic face, thought about this situation and decided to approach closer beside Gina. Panos, whose dislike of Gina was so potent, kept a few feet back with his arms crossed to keep away from the other teenager. Lyina's expression relaxed some at Calamity's sight, indicating familiarity.

    "Lady marchioness. What happened?" the magic woman asked through a tired whisper, blue eyes searching the teenager through the candlelight.

    Calamity hesitated, glancing at Gina to buy time. She decided that avoiding the question outright would be the best thing to do. "We are being invaded by Draconians. I need your healing now." She pressed a touch of leadership in her words, and the blonde woman was distracted enough to forgo her own question and begin to sit up.

    Though Calamity still didn't know the layout of the castle and didn't know if the healer would heal the soldiers out in the field or the innocents caught in the middle of all of this. Either were just as 'innocent' in this case. Defaulting to buy more time, Calamity looked at Gina again.

    "Would you bring her to the apothecary? I need to speak with the king." In this way she hoped Jeon would better direct the woman than she could.

    "Everyone who was affected experienced a profound shock to their systems, myself included." Jeon said. "I've had a chance to recover, somewhat, but it'll help if when they're revived they can get some tea with honey in them, or failing that, a slug of brandy."

    He paused to glance at the nearest guard. "You do have brandy or some sort of strong alcoholic spirits?"

    The young woman with tan skin who had once been tending to the unconscious Lyina looked to Jeon, who could only find the guard outside the door, and he was unresponsive.

    "O’doln had fallen..." The blonde woman gradually got to her feet, Calamity using a natural instinct to help the woman. She looked rather surprised but said nothing of it while she went on. There was a noticeable shift of tone in her voice as she spoke his name, one of deep concern and personal care.

    "If I may, marchioness." She looked to Calamity. "See his condition and tend it?"

    Panos wondered why everyone was obsessed with the wizard. It was best he kept down...

    The black haired, fey-blooded Calamity shifted in her dress and recalled Jeon's words. His reasoning wouldn't work on a woman who could heal people with magic. She hadn't thought the woman would be focused on the red-haired man too.

    "The king told us to keep his people safe." Gina broke in, taking an opportunity to divert the conversation. "The adviser, the cheerful one, Jeon says he used a portal to get here - could he use it again to get everyone back to the city?"

    "The portal is one way." Lynia explained quickly, looking down and onto Gina while awaiting her answer from Calamity. "He would be able to return them."

    'And expose us meanwhile' The pale prince bitterly thought.

    Gina nodded firmly. “Then I’ll go wake him up.” Spying the guards at the doors, she looked at Cal and added for their benefit, “With your permission, marchioness.”

    Calamity waved a hand tersely, turning on her heel to set her amethyst eyes on Gina. "Yes, go ahead."

    Gina broke away from the group to resume searching the other rooms.

    “Which room did you put adviser Charlie in?” she called speculatively to Cal’s servants, in the hope of speeding up her search.
    Taking her out to the hallway, the man pointed two doors down to the left.

    As Gina disappeared, the young brunette man entered with a small bowl of honey accessorized with a wooden spoon. Hearing everyone speaking, he kept silent but raised the bowl for the doctor to take.

    "Ah, excellent!" Jeon said, taking the pot of honey from the young man. "Lady Lyina will need this to keep her strength up, as will all the ones affected. Thank you!"

    "Sorry sir, we will get the tea as soon as we can." the man promised the pleased doctor. Lyina, hearing her name, returned to focus and gradually stood up.

    "Take the apothecary's help." Calamity instructed the blonde woman, using him as the distraction she intended. Walking away from the two of them, Calamity returned to Panos.

    The blonde healer furrowed her brows, but nodded and set her blue eyes on Jeon, waiting for his assessment.

    The Probe watched the newcomer impassively while secretly scanning him and the honey. There were assassins around, after all. There was nothing foul about the man or the honey, luckily.

    "So, second order of business is to get someone to rig up a portal to return the King and his guests back to the capital while we do our best to help the defenders. Tell me, do you know what Lord Charles looks like? I could use a hand in finding him."

    Lynia crossed her arms, worry growing on her face.

    "Gina is already fetching him." Panos replied to Jeon, with a clenching of his bright teeth.

    The healing magician nervously eyed Cal once, but it didn't stop her from heading to the door and thus away from Jeon.

    "If I do not mend O’doln the guests cannot be saved." the woman said; her voice was filled with regret was going Cal's direct command.

    Cal's teeth found the soft skin on the inside of her lip. Waking O'doln was a risk, but if they could not save the innocents here without him... with a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, that they may live to regret what she was about to do; if they lived through this at all; she called after the woman.

    "Very well, Lyina. Wake O'doln, inform him of my instructions. As many as can be saved, through the portal to safety. He should go make the preparations as soon as he as able. And you should return, to tend the wounded here, as soon as you have ensured he is well."

    Now the princess turned to Panos, still ever aware of the responsibility she had to keep him by her side, and safe. "Now, we need to find the King, and tell him of our plan; get him out of here, too." It would not do for the King to fall, just when they had broken him of his drunken ways; not when she had damn near killed herself to do it. She nodded to the guardsman at the door.

    "Lead the way. We will attend the King now."
    Lyina was very pleased, a quick apologetic glance at Jeon and the healer was quickly out the door. Having the doctor and the two royal teenagers follow the guard, Lyina quickly converged with them as their destination was shared: the guarded door next to them.

    In this room the king was sitting bedside over O'doln. The man's pointed yet softly rounded ear was seen through his straight red hair as the magician twitched and shook in small movements.

    King Kinglos and his security saw the important gathering of people and frowned at Calamity.

    "All I have to offer him are my prayers." the man's regretful face held onto hers, his convictions beyond his bottle. Lynia ran over to O'doln's side, a hand to rest at the side of his face while she lowered herself next to him.

    Panos observed the passionate look on her face. But his crystalline eyes returned to where they were glued - on O'doln. The long red hair pulled back to a memory all to fresh for Panos and his healed body. Against Calamity his hand held tighter.

    "She is a lover of his, use her to keep him distracted" Panos nervously whispered into Calamity's ear. It would be in their best interest to keep him away from them - afraid of what the magical figure could do. His mind worked both in self preservation and crippling fear while he stared on. Cal squeezed his fingers in return, letting him know she heard his council.

    "My Lord," she addressed the King aloud, "do not fear. Lyina is very capable - if there is a way to help him, she will find it. In the meantime, I have people organising an evacuation route from the castle. You should take it, My Lord. We will repel the Drac here, so have no doubt, but you should not be placed at risk, in the meantime."

    The probe scanned O'Doln, noting his vitals. It was clear the drug was wearing off, as expected. How quickly he recovered from his treatment, however, it couldn't tell.

    Glancing sideways up at Jeon, it wondered how the council would react. Would they accept that the situation had changed, or would they blame him for this 'failure'?

    And how would it protect Jeon if they decided to go after him? It was only a probe assigned to watch over the Zayan castaway, it wasn't provided with the sort of weapons and defenses a combat unit would have.

    Of course, a combat unit would never had to face something that could work magic.

    "So how's the patient?" Jeon asked, his hands itching to see an eChart. "Been keeping him warm and comfortable, I trust?"
    Lyina had shut her eyes, beckoning into her palms a soothing white light bright enough to sharply pull attention which despite its brightness was tender to look upon rather than agitating. Her palms turned to O'Doln's chest and she leaned over, keeping her eyes on his face.

    "It's startling, these monster men have never used a poison such as this. It is not was their mistake" Panos' throat tightened. The entire situation was a staggering maze of suspense. Between the death by a thousand cuts that was their building suspicions in the castle and the encroaching warfare outside which was the easier one to deal with?

    The king's eyes shifted over to Jeon a few times but looked firmly away. It was evident the man was displeased with the Zyan doctor. "No, this is the time to be here. Finally, with my people instead of always hiding" The black hair man nodded carefully to his rallying words. "I will be beside you young marchioness. Your leadership has always been the sharpest for this generation. I will rally your soldiers and you will defeat them and let those bastards know they will never come into Whitebar again"

    'Was he an alcoholic or a martyring stupid idiot?' Panos had to speculate which was worse to deal with. Eyeing the magician nervously the young Lambros prince his jittery mind created many guesses as to what magic could do.

    "A portal is open," Panos began with teeth clenched, "it wouldn't be difficult to think seeing our king would prompt them to bring something or someone from it to size the opportunity" he cast into King Kinglos' valor a possible and very painful pitfall.

    "Mouthy," the king also found Panos to be an irritant, "O'Doln will know, I am lucky I keep him near me always" set in his newly adjusted ways, the royal man turned his head and attention onto the recovering magical man.

    "You could stand to have a few more good people around you," Jeon observed, walking and kneeling at O'Doln's side, opposite of Lyina. The drone, with a faint scowl on its lips, followed him.

    "Will it affect yer gift if I take hold of his wrist to check his pulse?" he asked the healer. "It lets me know how he's doing."

    "Come to think of it," the doctor added, glancing at the Probe, "Melvin, have you a stethoscope in that pocket of yours?"

    Cal was shredding the inside of her lip again, almost ready to simply fling her hands in the air and tell them all to do as they wished, and be damned for it! It seemed they were destined to be one step forward, two steps back on this journey... saving the king from assassination only to find he was killing himself slowly with his alcoholism, turning him to a better life only to see him determined to place himself on the front line of battle.

    "I feel certain O'doln would agree with me, Lord," she said, her voice polite, just a hint of her frustration creeping from it. "No-one could doubt your bravery, or your commitment to your realm, but your people will be frightened, disoriented, when they flee here. They need you there to guide them, to let them know all will be well."

    Gina Wright

    She saw the Advisers in bed together. A guard inside the room was watching them, for both were in a sad state. Kevin whose arse had been the subject of Melvin's quills lay face down with his head resting on his arms. Above the layers of blankets and furs he looked very uncomfortable and was keeping his face away from Charlie.

    The finely dressed man was unconscious, breathing rhythmically, his black hair tossed in several directions in contrast to his dapper clothing. Kevin looked up to see who had entered.

    "Tell him I won't forgive him." the cleanshaven late 40-something said with a huff, as if expecting Gina to be his messenger. "He shouldn't even have sent you, little girl." he said with hurt and offense caught in his voice.

    I’m eighteen. Gina thought irritably, wondering what the king or Jeon had done that was so unforgivable. But she didn’t have time to waste.

    “Sorry sir.” she said, forcing herself to keep her voice civil. “I was sent to fetch your colleague.”

    She popped the cork on the flask again, and slipped a hand under adviser Charlie’s head to gently lift him towards the smelling salts.
    Kevin slapped at her wrist, knocking free the vial she held. Gina yelped in surprise as the vial went tumbling onto the ground. Cracking, its grainy contents spilled at her feet.

    "And what is he needed for?" Kevin demanded an answer. As lame as he now was from his wounded backside, he still gave Gina a fight. The guard at the door watched the exchange with much more focus, and Gina could feel his eyes on her.

    She bit back the urge to swear as the acrid smell of spilt ammonia tingled her nose and made her eyes water.

    “The castle’s under attack, sir!” she snapped at Hedspeth. “They’re holding the Draconians in the first ring but we need a portal back to the city, and someone to see the guests safely through!”

    Rebuked, Kevin looked down at Charlie.

    "Getting him involved, is this a part of Jeon's foolishness? My dear apothecary could have used what you let slip onto the floor because he needs to wake up!" The councilman grunted in frustration. "Before you listen to anything he says maybe someone ought to check his health, his mind is out of it!"

    Aware though she was of Hedspeth’s hatred for Charlie, something about his words began to nag at Gina. She began to worry that she had made a mistake.

    “You should stay here sir.” she told Hedspeth, hurriedly. “It’s probably best that people don’t see you like this...”

    Hoping that that would be enough to keep the injured, angry councilman out of the way, she rushed back out to rejoin the others.
    Thank you MayhemsCurse <3

    Spoiler: Memorable Quotes 

  4. #134
    Minkasha's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
    In a world I struggle to understand.
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    Calamity Isis Mae Sensibility, Gina Wright, Jeon Smythe, 'Melvin', & Panos Lambros

    Gina could only catch the last moments of Calamity speaking when the teenager entered the crowded guest room. What was said specifically was missed but she did witness Panos toss his head back, swinging his hair dramatically away from his face and shielding it with a hand to the forehead briefly. Gina opened her mouth to tell Jeon that Hedspeth had smashed her flask of smelling salts, but hesitated when she saw how stressed everyone was. She hovered at the door, trying to work out what was going on.

    "I will not have you touch him at this time apothecary." the king growled once hearing the strange mention of a 'stethoscope'.

    "As you command," Jeon sighed, lifting his hands palm up to show they were empty as he stood up.

    The probe glanced at the king warily. It still had its darts loaded.

    Lynia's hands dimmed and she pulled them away, the healer only glancing at her firmly spoken king. Opening his eyes, the red-haired magician set his eerily calming maroon eyes on the Zyan doctor and blonde.

    The man reached up to grab one of Lynia's hands and she squeezed his in return. "There for me once more." the man said with a tired smile. Standing and helping himself to be closer, the royal man of power patted the man's chest, and for a moment O'Doln looked to him perplexed.

    "You are awake! My friend I am in need of you to save our people." O'Doln pulled himself up, Lynia helping. However the long haired man, moving aside wool lined sheets kept a fixed stare on the king quietly. "O'Doln I need your focus now. Are your thoughts clear?"

    "I think...they are..." With a focused stare he studied his ruler.

    Gina’s heart leapt into her mouth. Was it just the king’s shifted attitude that had him perplexed...or could he somehow sense the magic that Cal had worked on him?

    Lynia stepped back, appearing as if she was holding back frustration. Perhaps because the king stepped in between her and O'Doln. Panos squeezed Calamity's hand intently.

    "What are we going to do?!" Panos shrieked, dramatically staring at his 'wife'. "They are going to kill us!" This over the top shouting broke the magician’s focus and he turned his unusual eyes over to Calamity. Melodramatic or not, Gina could have kissed Panos for the quick-thinking distraction.

    "What has happened?" O’doln asked.

    Cal was chewing her lip again, looking close to her wits’ end, so Gina piped up for her.

    “There’s Draconians in the castle, sir.” she said. “A prisoner had arcanium on him and he used it to knock out half the castle and escape. Now he’s using a portal to bring his army inside the walls! We were hoping you could help fight them, or maybe magic the guests to safety and come back with more soldiers…”

    In the chaos of the room another servant came in past Gina, then Calamity and Panos. He had a handled tea pot and several metal cups pinned to his torso by his arm. Rushing to Jeon the man presented them.

    "Apothecary you wanted tea?"

    "Ah, excellent! That's for the patients who are awakening, with a good dollop of honey mixed in, they need the sugars and the caffeine, best thing for clearing the cobwebs," Jeon explained, then pointed to O'Doln. "Him first, he's got a lot of heavy work to do, and then the Lady Lynia, who's done a lot already."

    With Jeon's help the young man lobbed some honey into a tea cup, poured it and handed it to the man with light, red, facial hair.

    "I'd warn you to take it easy," Jeon said, rounding on the mage, "But that would just fall on deaf ears. So drink up, you'll need it."

    The Probe scanned the immediate area, looking for heat signatures, hoping to spot the invaders. Within its range, its senses picked up the hundreds of persons moving about the castle, presumably the staff and some guards. Further out it detected hundreds more moving quickly away from the castle, and some other figures running chaotically. Part of the military, as Melvin could deduce from the formations, and panicking civilians made up those running about frantically.

    The Probe frowned, trying to determine where, if anywhere, fighting was taking place. Within its range there were no signs which could be detected.

    Meanwhile, O’doln gradually consumed the empowering drink. Lynia watched him intently as he was doing so. Calamity took the moment of silence to breathe and speak up.

    "Lord, we need your help to rally your people." Now her tone was polite but rather than angry, a touch desperate. She looked at Panos, sharing eye contact with him, but remained silent.

    Lynia took the cup from O'doln, had it refilled, and drank herself. The pointed eared man stood up. At this, king Kinglos' eyes followed the man, denoting a lot of awe and trust towards the spell caster.

    "What can we do?" the king asked O'doln.

    "The Draconians will have more magic after the use of the portal. I will have to fight the threat." The mage seemed to smile at Lynia with closed lips, an intimate but careful look in his eyes while he took the cup back from her once emptied. "Another please." he asked the servant. Panos meanwhile kept his eyes down to avoid seeing the man.

    Jeon glanced between the mage and the healer, then sighed. No wonder she insisted on going to him when she recovered. No doubt she was carefully watching him, lest there was a repeat. For Cal's sake, he hoped not. While she was functional, she still needed rest; time to properly mend, no matter what the MedBot had injected her with.

    He could still feel the pull from the king and from Kevin, and this lot of young people, but from O'doln and Lynia...?

    Cal straightened her back - so there was no escape, at least not yet. It couldn't be the first option. "We have to attack now to spare my people's lives." Though as her vision kept on O'doln, what she meant was he needed to take action. Yet she did not want to speak too directly to the man who might spot her for who she really was if he looked too closely.

    Turning her eyes to Gina, the girl gestured silently with confusion and a hand motion to the door, asking where Charlie was. Gina spread her hands in hesitant apology.

    "Hedspeth smashed my vial..."

    She took a breath, coming to the same conclusion as Cal. It looked like they were stuck here for now. They would have to fight.
    Calamity looked back ahead to the men she was doing her best to navigate. Though the body language was subtle, the way in which her brow twitched flagged her heightened stress.

    Kinglos wasn’t in a much better state. Bouncing a leg up and down, the anxious decision making process he was going through in his mind was showing in his body language. Calamity worried that the man was on the edge of following O'doln.

    "They said the Draconians are in the first circle." Gina relayed, hoping to speed and clarify the king's decision. "If we can't get our people out of harm's way then we can still make sure the Draconians don't get in." She looked from Cal to Kinglos. "The captain's holding them at the gate for now. Perhaps we should join him, m'lord?"

    With leather platforms to take him to full height, the King reacted agreeably to Gina's words.

    "All our abilities will go in that direction." King Kinglos decided for everyone involved.

    Lynia grimly agreed with a nod. Calamity squeezed her hand tighter, accidentally hurting Panos, who flinched. She looked at him apologetically while O'doln returned the thrice emptied cup to the servant.

    "I will see your famed strategic reputation take center stage." the pointed-eared man said directly to Calamity, who nodded to roll with the unexpected punch.

    Fighting. Jeon sorely wished whatever forces had brought him and Melvin to this place had thought to bring his spacesuit as well - his handgun and an extra magazine were in the outer pocket of his spacesuit. Alas, the spacesuit was probably still lying on the airlock floor.

    It didn't look like these people knew much about gunpowder - who develops explosives when they've got magic? Nor did they have the time to make some. What could they used to perhaps turn the tide here?

    "My good man," he purred, turning on the servant playing 'mother' with the tea pot, "Do you know where we could get our hands on some strong spirits of alcohol, some bottles and some rags?"

    Melvin could probably pee grain alcohol, but that would raise too many questions. But with the king, there had to be a supply of empty bottles, surely?

    He wondered if this world had ever seen the Molotov cocktail?

    Gina grasped his intention quickly enough. “You mean, to make fire bombs?” she asked for the benefit of their renaissance-world hosts.

    The two servants looked to Calamity, who briskly nodded. "Give the apothecary anything he requests."

    At this the servants set the honey and tea on the end table and took off to fetch the next thing. Before the winds of conflict entirely usurped her ability to garner attention, Cal’s amethyst eyes laid on Jeon, but with the colder gaze of the character she had to portray in front of the others.

    "She could use another vial if you have one." Calamity said to Jeon, indicating Gina. They ought to try waking Councilman Charlie to see if he could de-escalate the king from risking himself. The only thing it seemed king Kinglos was going to listen to for now was anything lining him up to get killed, and that she could not risk happening.

    "Yes, my lady," Jeon said, then turned to the Probe. "I don't suppose you have any more on you?"

    The Probe frowned ever so slightly. What it had was packaged for the 23rd century, not this magical Renaissance era. If it handed over plastic and foil packaging, it would be noticed.

    They did have glass, to be sure. It had some glass vials for collecting blood samples, part of the disguise for the old medbot unit it played around Jeon. It could pop some of the capsules into that and hand it over.

    With a curt nod, it pulled out a vial with five ammonia inhalants inside, carefully cupping its hand to hide the plastic-mesh the smelling salts were contained in from the rest of the room as it handed it to Gina. The orange-red of the synthetic rubber stopper would hopefully go unnoticed, as the room had other concerns.

    "This will teach me to go out without my medical bag," Jeon signed softly. The other Jeon surely had something at their workshop, suitable for this period.

    “I’ll be two seconds.” Gina promised, taking the vial. As she hurried to the door, her eye fell upon the tea and honey that the servants had abandoned. Fuck it. she thought, and quickly made up another cupfull for adviser Charlie. It couldn’t hurt at least.

    Calamity watched Gina leave and then stepped forward, her arm holding behind her as Panos didn't wish to go ahead. Trying to save face, she retreated back to where she stood with a stoic face.

    "He is the most quiet boy I've ever seen." Lynia said passingly about 'Melvin' as she looked down to him for a moment.

    The Probe looked up, frowning slightly.

    "He's never said a word to me," Jeon admitted truthfully, giving the Probe a look of his own.

    Lifting its right hand, fingers closed and thumb outstretched, the Probe folded its fingers on top of the thumb while twisting the hand to point at its mouth, as if a mouth was closing.

    "However, he's very expressive with his hands," Jeon smirked with a slight shrug. Well, MedBot had helped him learn a bit of sign language. "So, what's next?

    Kinglos began to make his way to the door, Odoln coming to his side and the healer following. Now Calamity couldn't think of any way to stop the momentum. Taking Panos to the side, out of the trio's way she looked at the boy she was bound to keep close.

    She had made a promise, but Panos actively had a fear of the red headed magician that, while warranted, was far more stiffing than her own. Still, when she tugged on her hand firmly yet gently he came along quietly.

    Gina Wright

    “Hello again.” Gina greeted Hedspeth grimly as she entered the neighbouring room for the second time. Her anticipated mood was well deserved, for her reply was a pouting glare.

    She set the metal teacup down on a rickety table near the door, and this time cracked the salt capsule before carrying it over to the two advisers. The smell of ammonia followed her as she crossed the room to the opposite side of the bed and waved the acrid mixture under Charlie’s nose. As soon as the man began to cough, she ran back for the tea.

    “Wake up sir.” she urged Charlie as she returned. “The king and the marchioness need your help!”

    Charlie's heterochromatic eyes looked around groggily, their hazel and teal colors searching until he saw Gina.

    "Oh? How?" the man asked with returning urgency, struggling to push himself off the bed.

    "I'm crippled, not retarded. The king ought to have my advice." Hedspeth bitched as Gina hurried back with the cup.

    Yeah right. Gina thought, The king’s already likely enough to die without you steering him into it as well.

    She gave the cup to Charlie,
    and the late twenty something man began to drink it.

    "What happened?" he asked.

    "The Marchioness made a grave error..." Kevin said with a trailing sigh, getting Charlie’s worried attention away from Gina to listen further to him.

    “It’s easy to make errors when the other side’s got arcanium and treachery.” Gina headed him off. She took adviser Charlie’s arm and began to help him towards the door with cup still in hand. “A Draconian prisoner escaped and stunned all the guests with some kind of spell. He’s opened a portal in the outer ring and now the whole Draconian army is trying to come through.”

    Ending Kevin's spell over Charlie earned the teenager a glare before she could make her way out. Paying it no mind, she shoved the door open and looked around for the others.

    Calamity Isis Mae Sensibility, Gina Wright, Jeon Smythe, 'Melvin', & Panos Lambros

    “I’ve got him, marchioness!”

    Calamity and the others turned to look, the eager voice catching them off guard. King Kinglos smiled at adviser Charlie.

    "Is what this young woman said true? We are under attack?" Charlie looked to the firm-faced guards by the doors, and the expressions of the others. Kinglos stepped towards the well dressed man, back straight and posture self assured.

    "Yes, and we will go rally the men to fight the scaly horde." Waving a hand the king invited Charlie to join the battle. Looking eye to eye, Charlie created a pause.

    "My lord, the men are more familiar with the marchioness, it might be her place to rally them." The Adviser sighed. "Sir, please reconsider, you would be a target for the Draconians."

    Calamity felt a great relief hearing the man echo her thoughts without risking her social position she struggled to maintain. "That is a thought to consider." the young leader pressed into the conversation. King Kinglos swayed in his platforms.

    "What do you say we do then?" The king crossed his arms.

    “Everyone will know you were here, m’lord.” Gina put in, trying to encourage Kinglos. “If we win, it’ll be your victory too. But if you die, then what? The kingdom needs its king. Lead from the back while the marchioness leads from the front.”

    "Sir, we may be running out of time." O'doln added with a calm tone of voice. The king tossed a hand his way, sending the pointed-eared man off.

    "Go to the battle." the king commanded, and the redhead rushed down the hall. Calamity watched him go hesitantly, then, she decided to walk quickly after him, which provoked Lynia to join her.

    "Have we found who supplied the arcanium?" Charlie asked, "If we do not find the source, we could be in more danger."

    Gina tugged at her hair as they all set off towards the gate, where hopefully Cal’s captain would have more news for them. “Lynia thought he’d hidden it under his nails.” she said to Charlie, remembering the healer’s last words before Cal’s voice had knocked them all out. “Do the Draconians have any arcanium of their own?”

    Charlie's forehead wrinkled as he raised his brows at great height.

    "No!" the man answered, while his king scowled wordlessly and looked between Charlie and Gina. The distance between Gina and the rest of the group grew as King Kinglos kept her anchored in the hallway.

    "You have been a helpful young lady. I will have your help again finding the man who has supplied the Drake." he said with a stern, but, certain tone to his voice. Charlie turned his unusual eyes on Gina to study her reaction, smiling closed lips.

    Gina felt a shiver run down her spine. She didn't want to leave Cal and Panos, but the king was giving her little choice.

    "Of course sir." she said, and nodded emphatically while her mind continued to race, trying to deal with this latest curveball. Lynia said there was a torture master who the Drac attacked...what was his name? Did she tell us...?

    Jeon's smile became fixed. What was this "arcanium"? Arcana meant "secrets", and cards in a Tarot deck were split into two groups - the major and minor arcana. Amy liked to play with a tarot deck, he remembered.

    Somehow, he didn't think it was likely they were grinding up tarot decks for it.

    He frowned, leaning over to The Probe, which glanced up at him.

    "You'd tell me if this was a sim, yes?" he whispered. "Or some sort of weird dream?"

    The Probe stopped, turning abruptly to face Jeon, and with great precision, kicked him painfully in the shin.

    "Ow! Alright!" Jeon scowled, "You've made yer point!"

    The two turned, following after the rest of the party, with Jeon limping slightly.

    "You didn't have to kick me that hard," he groused.

    He was interrupted by Gina appearing beside him and squeezing his hand. She looked up at the taller man with an earnest expression. "Tell them where I've gone." she asked him, "And please take care of them."

    The younger girl turned away from him towards the knot of guards and servants who still stood nearby, awaiting the king's command.

    "I need someone to take me to the torture master. He's the last one who saw the Drake before he escaped."

    "So, is someone bringing me what I need to make firebombs?" Jeon asked the departing backs, pausing on the door threshold. Where were those servants? If he left, they'd probably never find him.

    He glanced behind him, taking in the rest of the room, looking for anything liquid that might burn, or could hold something flammable and break on contact. He also tried to figure out how many were here to help him make his improvised weapons?

    "I don't suppose you've found where they keep the supplies?" Jeon asked the Probe. "Do they use lamp oil? I do hope it's kerosene and not whale oil. For all I know, they might use some sort of 'dragon oil'."

    Hopefully, the oil wasn't extracted from the dead creatures in the dungeon....

    Charlie seemed to look on to Gina's interaction with Jeon curiously, but any attempt to read into it was gone with his focus set back on their ruler. Curiously the king looked gloomier upon hearing Gina's request.

    For Gina, another guard was responsive. "Yes, I can do that" The man's curt speech showing the urgency of the moment. King Kinglos nodded with agreement to Gina's request.

    For Jeon, one of the help attending and waiting for the highness listened in on the doctor speaking with his mute youth. Walking over the man spoke up. "What is it you're looking for?"

    By now though, Jeon and 'Melvin' we being left behind in both directions: Calamity heading off to the fight, Gina leaving with the King to begin the quest for the Arcanium trail.
    Thank you MayhemsCurse <3

    Spoiler: Memorable Quotes 

  5. #135
    Minkasha's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
    In a world I struggle to understand.
    45 Post(s)
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    Calamity Isis Mae Sensibility, Jeon Smythe, 'Melvin', & Panos Lambros

    There was a rush of footsteps, hard and some metallic. Gina and Panos had taken the lead, following was O'doln, and Lyina. Then Jeon and Melvin with a handful of servants at his heels with a bag each, one filled glass bottled alcoholic beverages, the other cotton woven cloths. The confusion and urgency on their faces denoted uncertain devotion to the doctor's request.

    The metal drumming behind all of them in the waves of footsteps were the batch of another thirty men emptying themselves out of Calamity's war-ready fortress home. When the tall, thick, wood doors opened with the sturdy heaving of Calamity's soldiers O'doln flicked his hand in the air and muttered a breath of words.

    The entire group suddenly lost the sensation of cold's encroachment. Calamity looked at Panos and then moved a glance to Jeon while the magic casually enveloped them. Jeon could see his two teenage companions were surprised, but buried their real reaction under stone masks quickly.

    In the full open winter air they went ahead, two blue metal cast sleigh drawn by two horses was primed ahead of time by Calamity's word. Calamity, Panos, O'doln, and Lyina fit within the first two rowed sleigh, the second with Leon, 'Melvin' and the help carrying his requested supplies.

    By the hand of horsemen they left through the ring of protection which surrounded the fortress castle. When the gate was pulled open for the first time all of them saw greater Whitebar.

    The expansive city of yurts and longhouses formed neat, lined up rows circling the castle. The rather clear and central design of Whitebar was intimating and well suited for quick movement.

    There was an ordered chaos as an older man surrounded by an entourage of soldiers was shouting commands, standing in the widest and center row of Whitebar. From the snowy winds yelling, screaming, and the clash of metal was picked up. The smokes of fire swept into the air.

    A gathering of two to three hundred civilians the curving road outside the gates. When the sleighs continued on Calamity glanced over to them, getting an instant slam of the responsibility on her shoulders.

    Being drawn up to Commander Rangle, Lyina looked to O'doln.

    "I going to have to check on those people" the healer said, remarking about the many innocents waiting near the fortress' gates.

    "Do not expend all your magic" the pointed eared man warned her with a sigh. The blonde woman bowed to Calamity and stepped out of the craft first, being escorted by a soldier to the awaiting people.

    Panos swallowed down his stress, "Don't show any mercy" Panos whispered into Calamity's ear, "Or it'll draw suspicion" Cal inherently disliked it but what choice did she have now? She hesitantly nodded and got out of the sleigh with O'doln and Panos.

    Turning their eyes onto Jeon, Calamity forced the duo to wait for him to come along.

    "Well," Jeon said as Panos exited the other sled and came toward them, "I wonder if he knows what's going on?"

    The Probe barely raised an eyebrow, wondering as to Panos' last instruction to Calamity. The girl had felled an entire room with one command, a feat not even it could have done so quickly. Still, she seemed to be on the same "side" as Jeon, which meant she was another who was important to Zayan's continued survival. While it's tractor beams would not have any affect on magic, it could alter the path of normal projectiles - assuming it was in a position to detect them.

    It pulled a red bottle out of a bag and gave it a scan. 5.5% alcoholic content. Producing a scowl, it tossed the bottle and rooted for another one.

    "Hey! We need that....!" Jeon protested as a dark bottle was handed to him. "What? This one?" he demanded. The Probe nodded gravely. Navy-strength rum, 55.6% alcohol.

    "Right, find some more, but just put the bad bottles in back, okay?" Jeon grumbled - then frowned as he looked up at Calamity still standing there by the other carriage.

    "I think something's up," he frowned, climbing out. "We better go over and find out what it is." In the distance bolt fire, yelling and the clashing of metal was picked up with the winter wind blowing in their direction. The two teenagers looked to one another as the audible warring gust made apparent the distant conflict.

    With a few exchange of words the doctor didn’t catch O'doln left from Calamity’s side and to the commander. Luckily the pointed eared man’s strange abilities continued to shield them from the cold, the breeze barely perceptible in the comforting warmth across their skin.

    “What are you going to be able to do?” Panos asked rather directly, yet nervously to Doctor Jeon. Calamity, holding her back straight and her face firmer did keep a focused eye on Jeon.

    “I’ve never waged war before” She admitted as quietly as the wind would allow her before stealing her voice, “they are going to expect me to lead them”

    "Everyone out there with two brain cells to rub together is scared," Jeon sighed, glancing around. "I'm scared, your soldiers are scared, the wizard is scared, even the enemy is scared. But you have an advantage - your men are confident about the you that you replaced. And as long as you appear confident, they'll remain confident."

    "So, the earlier you had to have advisers, people she trusted. People who could lead their men, while you led them. Call them to you, those who can get away. They know your tactics, so treat this as if it was a deadly serious training exercise. Ask them what they think they should be doing to fight the enemy, then as long as it sound reasonable to you and the rest of your leaders, do it."

    Jeon paused, scratching his jaw. "Just remember not to rush into any traps and to protect your line of retreat. People are going to die today regardless of your actions. Try to make it as few as possible, but don't be shy throwing bodies into the fights that need fighting."

    Glancing at Panos, he turned and pointed at Melvin. "We're making Molotov cocktails. We're going to fill them, we're going to light them, and then Melvin will throw them at our enemies. You'll probably lose a few of the buildings out here, but it might break the enemy's will to fight."

    At first the prepossessing black haired leader eased her shoulders while Jeon had given his succor of advice. Even Panos lessened the tension of his jaw but once the man unveiled his plan to partially destroy Whitebar jumped their caution.

    “You’re going to trust that…” Panos studied the eerily silent boy, “Thing to do it right?”

    “Panos…” Cal delicately attempted to reel her friend in. “What is this you are saying? A cocktail?” The girl from Serroc not aware of the revolutionary weapon.

    “Alcohol set aflame and thrown.” Panos informed her swiftly. Amethyst and azure eyes looked up to Jeon, the young lady nodding. The snow began to rest on their hair, difficult to spot in Panos' locks or starkly obvious in Calamitiy's. Jeon could feel the snow melt to water at the roots of his scalp, yet the magic prevent the water from feeling freezing.

    “If it will work, then do it.” Calamity turned and began moving to the gathering of men and to her Commander of the Guard, Panos being led by the hand. For a girl in simple garb and out of her league, she walked with her confidence unshaken.

    "Well, always nice when we're given permission," Jeon drawled, slipping his hands into his pockets as he watched the pair walk away. He turned to glance down at The Probe, which looked up back at him.

    "We better get to work then preparing these bottles, shouldn't we?" he said. "We don't want to be jumped. Are going to be jumped?"

    The probe rolled its eyes, then did another scan of the area.
    Within the probe's range the heat signatures were those it could visually confirm: the gathered command and the victims caught in the crossfire now being escorted into the castle.

    "Yeah," Jeon decided, looking around, then striding back to the carriage. "Let's make more ammo." The Zyan doctor wasn't interrupted, priming the bottled alcohol to become weapons of war. Ever lingering was the hair raising drafts of audible conflict coming with the rebuffed winter chill.

    With torn cloth dangling from the glass rims, the middle aged doctor was prepared with deadly fire. The sleds remained as they were, drivers waiting if he wished to get closer to the battle.

    "I think we're ready," Jeon sighed, looking at the pile of primed bottles at his feet. "Can you chuck them from here or do we need to get closer?"

    The Probe signed, a human expression it had picked up, then gave Jeon its version of the hairy eyeball. It nodded towards the driver.

    "Ah, right," the doctor signed, reaching out to tug on the driver's sleeve.

    "Excuse me, we're new here," he said. Aren't we just? "Is there someplace tall near the action? My 'young companion' here has a very good arm, but we rather aim these at the invaders."

    The man in winter leathers stared rather complex between the doctor and ‘Melvin’.

    “The gate…I shouldn’t bring a child any closer to the conflict” the man scoffed, the breath of his voice released a cloud of air. “How aren’t the two of you freezing?” the man went on to add with disbelief as both Jeon and ‘Melvin’ walked around in their robes.

    "Magic," Jeon replied. "Look, if we don't get to the gate, then there will be no safe place for anyone. You saw us talking to the Marchioness, yes? We're under her instructions. Although if you can find us a route where's there's not much fighting so we can sneak in with all this, that would be best."

    As the two men talk, the Probe grabs one of the prepared bottles and slides it into his pocket, into the dialed open N-dimensional gate, where waiting machinery examines it for duplication, then stores it away, along with the next bottle the Probe slips in. And the next.

    It would be strange if they've never developed any storage magic in this kingdom, so hopefully what it was doing would be accepted. Besides, they had to transport it somehow, it wasn't like they were going to get all those bottles on top of some tall structure without considerable help.
    Though Jeon was speaking to the driver the attention was lost the moment 'Melvin' began his feat. Something akin to fear widened his eyes and without another word of debate he nodded to their request.

    "Hmm?" the Zayan frowned, following the driver's gaze to see another bottle impossibly sliding into the Probe's pocket. "Ah."

    "Get on then" He encouraged with respectful eagerness. Being lightly layered by the snow, the sleighs horses bent their legs and moved their heads about with muted unease. Their ears twitched and it might have hinted to them hearing the distant warfare.

    Jeon helped the Probe load the rest of the bottles into its seemingly bottomless pocket.
    "I know this is impressive, but I can't help thinking about all those luggage allowances I had to pay out for," he grumbled.

    Their driver took them through the rows of longhouses and yurts, avoiding the main veins of Whitebar. As the pair drew nearer the yelling, and meeting metal dialed exponentially louder. Then finally through the peaks between homes Jeon deep brown eyes saw the men of various metals and leathers combating the tall scaled men.

    He could tell it was a conflict of a thousand for each side, but with such tight close quarters there was debate to his use of thrown fire even viable without great friendly fire. It wasn't a hopeless situation as the doctor's intelligence could detect a viable alternative.

    The Zyan was taken to a set of mason stairs attached to the gate which would give him great height over the combat. Behind where the Draconians in their black metal armor were clustered there was a swirling dark purple hole, a standing, vibrant vortex which was somehow releasing more and more of the Draconian army out into the winter battlefront.

    "Up here then, Melvin!" Jeon scowled, climbing the snowy stairs. The Probe stopped to give the driver a slight grimace before following after the doctor.

    "I know when we do this, we'll become a massive target for them out there, but I'm wondering, can you strike that..." he paused, stumped as more Draconians marched out, "whatever that is with one of those bottles?"

    The Probe smiled, holding up a bottle with a glistening rag and the doctor's brass lighter.

    "Hey! I thought I lost that!" Jeon frowned, then signed and turned towards the battle. "Let's do this."

    A moment later, a bottle flew past him, the rag burning despite the speed.

    "What did you put on that? Napalm?" the doctor demanded, watching it sail towards the vortex. A second bottle followed close behind, and then a third.

    The Probe then shifted, preparing the souped-up surgical tractors in its palms. It was about to make magic of its own.
    The booms of metal clashing and men's war-stricken varieties of cries drowned the ears of most sensation. And though Jeon couldn't hear what became of the tossed bottles it was keenly caught by the eyes.

    As the dozens of Draconians released from the vortex in single line they were assaulted by the forces of fire which wouldn't retire in the snowy battlefield. The cosmic black metal didn't shield them from the power of science, their painful screams only to be assume while they flailed their arms, broke formation and struggled to pull off their fastened armor.

    It was disgusting watching their scales melt to the armor, those able to take off the pieces did so by ripping off scales from the flesh which fused with their protective equipment.

    The retaliation was swift. Breaking from the main fight Draconian men were heading for the stairs past the blade-locked mass straight to Jeon and 'Melvin'.

    "Looks like their friends aren't too happy with us," Jeon warned the Probe.

    At least these could be seen, the Probe told itself.

    It flung a flaming bottle, aiming at the chest of the leader, then scanned for others who might be closing in.

    "Probably time to move, Jeon said,glancing around. "Got any preference?"

    Jeon’s options were, seemingly, either left or right. Each direction past more fortifications on the fortress’ outer walls, unmanned, sheet covered, ballista wheeled back from the edge. The only distinction Jeon and ‘Melvin’ could see superficially was that going right had them run past wall which brought them closer to the combat, left would lead them away.

    Death by fire continued to spread, Draconians new to the fray and seeing their melted comrades assaulting the flames with their feet and tossed snow. But it was still claiming the lives of a few unsuspecting emerging from the portal not agile enough to avoid it upon arrival. And as the newest bottle crashed against the scaly man charging for the stairs he too began to scream, rolling across the snowy battlefield.

    Revenge was quick, where prior the line of black-armored men were rushing the steps a few detoured nearby to the sleigh driver. The man attempted to provoke his horses on but the startled beast was too shaken, perhaps by the magic or near by flames, and Jeon was privy to a bloody butcher of the discarded noncombatant.

    More, ever escalating violence joined the conflict. Finally did O’doln enter, phasing through ribbons of bright teal circles. Floating in the air he was accompanied by a Draconian donned in red robes, his tricks vibrating blood red and magenta hues. The energy emanating from them was immense. While Jeon was to make a rather important life and death decision the two magicians navigated the sky, their respective neon colors shining off all surfaces below while projecting strange bolts of what Jeon could only describe as ‘plasma’.

    "Give me a flaming bottle to throw on the stairs so they're blocked," Jeon ordered.

    The Probe pulled another from its pocket and lit the rag, which burned merrily as Jeon tossed it.

    "Let's get over to one of those giant crossbow things," Jeon ordered, pointing to the right. "We need to pitch a couple bottles through that vortex."

    Fire held under the will of science served Jeon well, keeping him protected from the initial retaliation of the Draconian. The doctor and the disguised robot began to dash to the first ballista but the Draconians were more persistent, athletic and blood hungry.

    The doctor managed to get to a siege weapon, the conflict an ever going eruption of tension and violent stimuli. As he did the two of them could see the Draconians were using each other to step up and reach the wall which the fire had blocked. The first reptile men were using their robust arms to pull themselves up and roll onto the floor.

    The soldiers were a mere 15 feet away. For now it was only two, but more were coming. It was apparent the Draconians, the trickle which could get by Calamity's army to the gate, knew Jeon's tricks were a threat.

    The Draconians' attention was on the Zayan, not the Probe. Raising its outstretched hands, the tiny drug ports fired tranquilizer darts at them while the amped surgical tractors in its palms tried to trip the soldiers.

    "Damn, should have asked for protection," Jeon muttered, grabbing one of the ballista bolts and swinging it around
    Among the few black metal bolts piled together beside the siege weapon the doctor picked one up to discover how heavy it was. He could deduce he'd be able to swing it, but it would highly inefficient and leave him vulnerable it took for him to recover his posture.

    "No wonder these things can do so much damage," the doctor grumbled, casting his eye around for something else he could use.

    Meanwhile 'Melvin' began an onslaught against the Draconians. The flying projectiles the child shaped combatant spewed caught the lizard men off guard. The one leading the charge continued rushing ahead, yet the one behind him had stopped only for a dart to plunge into his eye. Screaming and stumbling the man fell off the side of the ledge back down onto the stairs and out of their line of sight.

    'Melvin''s open palms set forth a force which slammed the leading Draconian on his face and pushed him several feet back. Just as he was rolling by a third was managing to climb onto the ledge and get to his feet.

    A rag and the neck of a bottle slid up out of the Probe's pocket. Lighting it, the Probe lobbed it at the chest of the latest climber, hoping to knock the attacker back and over the edge. It also scanned the immediate area, trying to see if the Draconians had figured out some way of flanking them on the wall.

    It might be time to roll Jeon up...
    Shattered glass and burning alcohol put brown scaled lizard man into a panic. Running in circles, trying to claw at his armor fastenings his screams were a whisper compared to the wartime violence close by. The man which had been pushed down was gradually getting to his feet. And ‘Melvin’ was fortunate to discover the trickle of enemy combatants was still the only one it was engaged with now.

    Meeting the Draconian covered in growing flame the returning Draconian glared at ‘Melvin’. With swift skill the warrior spun the blade in his palm and raised it back. With a body swinging toss the sword was diving through the air like a javelin straight at the boy impersonating robot.

    Another Draconian lay on the ground, this one dead and impaled by his own weapon. Another came to the platform, it seemed like the trickle of soldiers wasn’t going to let up. The flames blocking the steps were beginning to fade and soldiers were braving testing the shrinking licks of orange heat.

    All the while as things begin to turn against Jeon also see a new wave of Calamity’s men coming from the central walkway of Whitebar. To his surprise a slew of hasty men were heading in his direction, coming to the stairs of the gate and beginning conflict against the Draconians attempting to cut Jeon down.

    However Jeon and ‘Melvin’ were not entirely spared. While one Draconian created an expanding pool of blood, another had crawled onto the platform and two passed the fires on the stairs to also join. Now three scaly, glaring monstrous humanoids were attempting to narrow the distance. The black armor matched their darkly crafted shields and blades, the drawn weapons gleaming with opportunity.

    Inside the inner workings of the probe, one of the food stores items was routed to the probe's N-Gate, the pocket warping to allow it to pass out and into the shell's waiting hand.

    "Is that flour?!?" the Zayan demanded incredulously. "What are you going to...?"

    It threw the five pound bag at the three Draconian soldiers as the top of another Molotov cocktail slid into its pocket. The bag should burst on impact, creating a cloud of aersolized flour - with a pulse from its tractor beam to further disburse the fine powder. When the lit Molotov cocktail flame hit the dust, it should explode into a nice fireball, with the three flour-dusted Draconians in the middle.

    The evanescent flour burned away, getting from the Draconians a muted series of hisses as small scorches freckled their scales. The splattering alcohol could only reach across the broad body of one Draconian, leaving the other two in pursuit.

    And if this didn't work, it was going to have to dilate the N-Gate and swallow the Zayan doctor whole, slipping him into the emergency surgical suite inside its bubble universe.

    Nothing could hurt him there, but it wouldn't be able to restrain him from wandering around. The last thing it wanted was him to track his dirty boots inside as he poked around in its interior.
    What the Draconians watched was horrific, a series of rapid, ungodly mutations of ‘Melvin’s’ form undulated to seemingly consume the grown man next to him. The sudden feat caught in the reflection of the hardened warrior men.

    The Secondary N-Gate located in the Probe shell's mouth dilated as the shell's head expanded almost comically like a balloon as he leapt on top of Jeon.

    "Melvin! What are you....ahhhh!" he screamed as he was swallowed whole.

    The probe's head returned to normal. It turned to smile at the two survivors as it wiped its mouth with its hand. And then it took a step forward, and its hands elongated into blades.

    Jeon screamed as robotic arms held him down while other strapped him in place on the examination table. The room looked... impossible, like an inside out version of the Medbot's head while robotic arms sprouted all manner of devices, blades and drills.

    "Please relax," a speaker said from the giant black faceplate in front of him, in a warm, matronly sort of voice, but it wasn't English. "You may experience some... discomfort. It is necessary during the present situation."
    "Where am I?" he demanded, in English. "What is this place?"
    "Please relax. You may experience some... discomfort. It is necessary during the present situation."
    "He swallowed me! What is going on?"
    "Please relax. You may experience some... discomfort. It is necessary during the present situation."

    Admittedly, it wasn't much of a torture, but the Probe could keep this up for hours.

    Hissing, black metal weapons were aimed surly at ‘Melvin’, neither Draconian hesitating due to the probe’s child shape. The final two in pursuit of the doctor were now face to face with the Zyan’s protector. With their swords the left moved to swing from the side, the Draconian on the right to swing down from above!

    They might as well have been moving in slow motion. The Probe sidestepped in a split second, avoiding the Draconian on the left as it came along side the one that moments before had been on the right - and gave him a momentary shove with its tractor set to repel to drive him towards the other.

    Spells could explain its speed and quick responses. Blades shattering on striking his seemingly frail form would not. Nor could it allow the Draconians to 'kill' the shell. While it would allow them to vent their vengeance and move on, it would make it difficult for it to later reappear unharmed.

    Besides, it never did like bullies picking on children.

    A blood pack was moved from storage to the shell, where it was slipped to under its forehead, where the synthetic skin was weakened. It might be necessary to fake an injury so that it could receive "treatment" for its "injuries" - far from openly prying eyes. Collapsed into a heap the two warriors lay on the ground and struggling to gather themselves.

    Despite all of ‘Melvin’s’ efforts to protect Jeon and repulse dangers the truth was the environment was growing increasingly dangerous. More Draconian men were spilling from the vortex, ever escalating the numbers of both sides – and eventually it was going to lead to a tipping point which could easily be not in Jeon nor his companions’ favor.

    Self-defense was only going to reward ‘Melvin’ for so long, its calculations quite capable of putting the odds together and seeing the increasing danger of the overall situation.

    Gina Wright

    Gina was wracking her brain as they walked, trying to recall anything about the torture master except what Lynia had shouted as she burst into the hall. All that Cal had said was that her doppelgänger - and presumably the torture master - had done horrible things to the Drac prisoner. Injured or not, Gina didn't think that she'd want to be around the torturer for long.

    Charlie's right though. If Draconians really can't do magic by themselves, then what if the person who helped them opens another portal inside the castle?

    "If we can find out how the Drake was captured and who had access to him while he was here, we can narrow down the suspects." she suggested to the king.

    While travelling through the halls, Charlie smiled at the regal. In the moment his eyes turned onto the king and the other two men kept their gazes ahead, Gina spotted a woman no older than twenty four watching from down the hall. Dressed in a simple green linen dress, with its humble style the cut gave away she was an attendant as the many others Gina had seen, yet the colour scheme did not align with anyone else Gina had seen thus far. However as Gina saw the brunette she reflexively stepped around a corner, attempting to look as if she hadn't been watching. But Gina's shocking life experience was versed enough to see through it.

    Gina, adviser Charlie Allan and king Kinglos were taken to a medical room where an older, thinly built gentleman with several age spots was looking across his shelves of medical plants, and jars with various coloured watery fluids. He set his focused eyes on the three as they entered, immediately kneeling when he saw King Kinglos.

    "Your Majesty." King Kinglos walked in the room and headed to the wooden table with a man on it. Among the thirty in total, only his one was occupied.

    "Why were these not used?" Charlie asked the standing doctor.

    "We suspected the tables would be needed for the oncoming conflict, Adviser." The lower tone of his voice and his downcast head give the doctor a respectful submission.

    "Right." Charlie agreed with an exhale, moving through the dark grey room to the resting man. Gina saw a well built man in his forties. He looked to be bandaged and his skin had color to it.

    "You need to wake up now." King Kinglos instructed the torture master, his voice startling the patient awake. Although he did groan, many bandages wrapped around his torso.

    "My...king, how may I help?"

    Gina stood back, sensing that it would be good protocol to let the king speak first unless she was called upon - for the moment at least.

    Again the young woman emerged into Gina's vision, but this time she came into the room - keenly watching the communication between the three men begin. The men themselves were focused and didn't respond to the young woman's entrance. No-one notices the staff, after all. Gina frowned slightly - it was the second time that the misfit woman had seemed interested in the king's business.

    Or maybe she's just starstruck to see the guy here...

    The doctor was the only other one in the room to take note of the servant girl's presence.

    "Miss?" he asked.

    "Lady Leean is in need of some relaxing plant medicine, these troubles are worrying her."

    The man scanned over his collection, easily enough reaching for a jar of plants within seconds.

    "Sir." the woman interrupted, "She has specific reactions to some herbs, I'll need to see what you have."

    "It will take a moment." the doctor hesitantly replied, grabbing the jar but narrowing his eyes while he scanned more. The young woman in green dropped her shoulders, contentiously glancing to the conversation taking place. She seemed certain to ignore Gina's presence.

    Gina sidled over to the young woman in order to correct that fact.

    "You shouldn't be here." she whispered to her. "The king's doing something important."

    Lingering wordlessly the young woman’s brown eyes lowered with insecurity in a brief expression of doubt.

    “Welcome back to the living.” Charlie said sombrely to the torture master, “You should tell us what happened.” His spoken concern and direction of conversation pulled the women’s eyes to observe.

    "Miss Remoni that is cold of you to say.” the woman whispered back.

    Gina was surprised to find someone in the castle who already knew her name. Maybe she's one of the guests, from the town? It hadn't occurred to her that it might have been her the young woman was watching.

    "I'm sorry." she whispered, backtracking. She lowered her voice even further. "It's just...he's here about the Drakes."

    She glanced towards the physician, but
    the clatter of the older man searching for his potions and herbs made him oblivious to the women’s interaction.

    “How unlikely to see you here.” the woman whispered.

    "I came along with O'doln to see the king meet the marchioness." Gina replied quietly. "Were you the same?"

    She glanced towards the bed where Kinglos and Charlie were standing.

    “When the prisoner was healed the spike bastard cut me open.” the torture master was saying in response to adviser Charlie. The two women's conversation was quiet under the conversation held by the men – releasing more details by the second for everyone to hear.

    “The arcanium. Where was it on the beast man?” The king asked with a rather honed voice.

    “His nails, I remember seeing his fingertips glow before he attacked.”

    The councilman put a hand below his lips with a gesture of surprise. The green dressed young woman pulled her brown eyes off the adviser and back to Gina. Rather perplexed, the sharp cast of the eye told Gina the young woman was insulted.

    “Please do not play around, this isn’t the time.” she quietly scolded.

    Okay. Gina thought, keeping her face neutral. So perhaps she lives here, then. How might her doppelgänger know someone from the marchioness’ household?

    A collection of jars brought together by the physician’s adept hand now rested on his wooden counter before the shelves.

    “Here is what would serve for Lady Leean.” the elderly man’s informed confidence and stoicism delivered a cool answer. Hesitantly the stranger who seemed to know Gina pulled away to begin assessing the medical samples.

    “We must know who has been at the prisoner’s side.” the king said assuredly down to the wounded torture master, gaining the interest of the woman who looked over her shoulder to study the scene more.

    “Myself…my apprentice Bonroe.”

    Bonroe. Gina made a mental note of the name.

    “This, please.” the servant woman was saying. “The nettle will be soothing for her.”

    The contrast of conversations was apparent to Gina, yet the men were keen on only the man laying before them. The older gentleman collected some of the greenery and handed it to the woman.

    Smiling and bowing her head, the humbly adorned young woman was making for the doorway to leave.

    “Where can I find you later?” Gina whispered to her as she passed. Just in case. The question provoked the young woman to freeze for a sliver of a second until she turned back to Gina.

    "In the guest quarters on the east side of the castle. Excuse me." and hastily, she left. Curiously, Gina approached the watchful older man, inquiring about the woman in green who had departed speedily.

    "Ah," The physician began to sit down on his sturdy wooden chair. "That is Lady Leean's servant...Troa." Leaning back to straighten his back, his gaunt face turned up to Gina. "Lady Leean has become acquainted with me recently." Though the atmosphere was grim, the exchange was lighter than the one nearby. Perhaps, reasonably so, the older man was searching for a distraction. "Complained of dry skin three days ago, wanted me to put together a salve. Yet her constitution is always picky."

    “Who is lady Leean?” Gina asked quietly. “Does she live here?”

    “A frequent guest of our young Marchioness and the Marquis…” The physician looked over to his ruler and the tensions there for a moment, analyzing them and squinting. “Merchant daughter from Qwen.” the man of medicine said after taking his time to finish his reply.

    The place name meant nothing to Gina. A merchant though...perhaps she knows Mr Remoni?

    Charlie sighed as the king's interview lapsed into silence, glancing between the two men. "We must speak with your apprentice but I do not understand how the arcanium could have kept under nail? It is a loose powder. How would it have been planted?"

    The king made a thoughtful sound, but didn't produce an answer.

    Gina sensed that the interview might be nearing its end, and her time along with it. She leaned close to the physician to thank him, then leaving his side returned to the King and his adviser. Of herself and the two men she was to follow, it was Gina who had the most investigative mind. The leaders within the room were stumped, searching each other wordlessly for direction, ego or social niceties unable to lay it out bare.

    “We have someone to speak to next.” Charlie diplomatically broke the silence between him and his lord. “He may know more.”

    Jerome, the cut down torture master, looked up from his wounded position to the two men for more direction, but he too was underfoot of the king’s rulership and wasn’t going to speak out of turn.

    He has more to say. Gina hazarded. She took a step to the side, into Kinglos and Charlie's eyeline. "If I may, m'lords?" she asked the two men.

    The king looked from Gina to Charlie and back again, and nodded guardedly. He seemed grateful of the opportunity to save face.

    Gina swallowed and stepped up to the bed, looking down at the torture master. His tan shirt had been stained with blood even before his injury, but other than that his features were ordinary - good looking even. Though he was sheened with sweat, his face was strong boned, and his curly hair was pulled into a neat knot at the back of his head. There was something unsettling about the fact that he looked no different from any other man.

    "Is there anything else you can think of, sir?" Gina asked the wounded torturer. "About how the Drake was brought in, anyone else who might have had access to him while he was here? Anything that would help us get to the bottom of this before the king and his people are put in more danger?"

    "No...I was careful I...Lyina only saw the thing for a few moments. I was there. No...only Bonroe...yet he'd never have the arcanium under the spike-tongue's nails. I know the inventory of things for his use."

    "And that is a wonder itself he would have been able to acquire the substance all the way out to here." Charlie added in a concerned whisper.

    "Where can we find him?" Gina asked the torture master. "Your apprentice?"

    " the torture chamber. I sent a servant to tell him to take over, while I was indisposed."

    Turning dramatically King Kinglos walked to the door with a fiery stride.

    Nodding curtly to the torture master, Gina turned away. She had to trot to draw alongside Kinglos. "We'll have to see if this Bonroe's story matches his, m'lord." she suggested. "But if he doesn't know anything either...someone must have planted the arcanium before the Drake was brought here."

    Their regal took center, walking ahead powered by a confidence Gina saw falter just moments ago. "It could not be so. For not a man to notice the arcanium on arrival is impossible." His eyes continued ahead while he cut through her guess.

    "Sadly, one of them could be lying." Charlie did add despite Gina's perspective. A second, yet easier guess made managed to pull the king to slow his steps.

    "Councilman, not now, please." he shooed off the new theory in a gesture not like his prior, colder self, but one of hurt. Charlie lowered his eyes to ease tensions and the trio moved through the castle, guard at hand, until they reached one of the turrets.

    Just on the way down the hall, perhaps from the turret or from further down the hallway, Gina yet again saw Troa walking past in quite the hurry. Gina could see her carrying the nettles from the physician. While Charlie glanced her way, both men easily overlooked her to the turret. The cold stairs leading down were within eyesight.

    Gina's nose could already detect a faint scent of blood creeping as they drew nearer. The metallic tang caught in the back of her throat and made her stomach twist uncomfortably. She almost didn't notice Troa for a moment - coming back down after visiting her lady Leean, was Gina's first thought - until she noticed that the serving woman still had the package of nettles in her hands.

    "Hey." she called out, stopping short in confusion. "What were you doing down there?"

    The two men turned on the heels of their feet to meet what had the girl’s interest. When Troa was met with three pair of eyes she looked down, gesturing down the hall.

    "Washroom." she mumbled.

    As awful as the act was, the men instantly shied, physically pulling back before turning away and heading down to the torture chamber. Gina blinked. You're fucking joking. She had already gotten the gist of her current world, but she had to wonder what kind of mad people preferred a torture chamber to the revelation that women sometimes needed to pee. Especially when the woman in question was clearly hiding something.

    Am I going insane? she remembered shrieking at a clearing full of dissolving mirrors that had just consumed two of her fellow students. Am I the only one here without a fucking death wish?

    Had that really only been a few days ago?

    As the men avoided anything to do with the conversation and its subject of a female body’s functions it left Gina and Troa alone in the hallway. The only company Gina could call upon were the echoing steps moving down the steps wordlessly suggesting she follow along. Gina swallowed, took a breath, and guessed that if pulling the feminine card had worked for Alfred and Troa it might as well work again.

    “M...m'lord," she hesitantly called out to Kinglos and Charlie, cupping a hand to her face and doing her best to look queasy. “I'm sorry, the smell of you mind if I wait up here for you?"

    As soon as the two men were gone,
    the young woman’s expression dropped, darkened by anger.

    "Your petty antics always stirred up more trouble." The soft impact of Troa’s leather footwear came and went as she drew closer. "I don’t know how you managed to get in his good graces but quit your games. His attention is a dangerous thing to have."

    The glower of her voice was a threat matched by her small yet noticeable margin of height over Gina. Gina wasn't sure what petty antics her doppelgänger was supposed to have gotten up to, but she was surprised by how unafraid she felt. Perhaps punching a vampire in the face (and everything that had happened since...) took the sting out of facing another regular human girl.

    "He dragged me along to help." she answered quietly, telling half of the truth. "So I'm helping."

    Troa was unconvinced.
    "I would request for you to shut your mouth and do us all a favour by doing so?"

    Gina looked down at the nettles that were still in the other woman's hand, and folded her arms. "Alright. But first why don't you tell me what you were actually doing?"

    Troa huffed. There was a sliver of hesitation, as if the fuss she was making was a delay tactic. Gina's many contrasting experiences with humanoids from across space and time has helped sharpen her skills to read others.

    "I told you and the King. If you want to see Lady Leean you will see why I grabbed these nettles: she needs a relaxing tea. That is what I am doing." To add more weight to her words the woman's fingers pointed sternly to the ground. During this conversation Gina heard the torture chamber's wooden door open and close, the two men entering. They were already being quiet, but Gina supposed there was no harm in ensuring they didn't have another Editha-and-Rangel situation on their hands, so she let the sound of the door closing hang for another few heartbeats, and then raised her eyebrows at Troa to re-emphasise her question. Troa met eyes back in the nonverbal challenge. There was both fire and hesitation, how the young woman swayed her stance from hip to hip.

    Yet Troa took another jab in their duel by turning and leaving the scene, once more trying a rather dramatic move to get the final word. She wasn’t going to be transparent with her words, Gina could see that much.

    Alright then. Gina thought, and determinedly followed after Troa, matching her pace within a few strides. If you're not going to tell me then maybe you can show me. She had at least a few minutes before the king returned, she judged, and if she came back late she could always beg off some kind of excuse.

    "Think for a second." she whispered as they walked, passing from light to shadow between the glimmering torches. "In about five minutes the king is going to get over clutching his pearls and realise that the torture chamber is a really odd place for a bathroom break...and there's not a lot of places to avoid him in this castle, especially with the Drakes running around outside."

    She snatched for the taller woman's wrist, tugging her half round so that they were face to face again.

    "So mind telling me what's going on before you land us both in a whole load of trouble?"

    Troa leered and attempted to take back her wrist. The brunette grunted with irritation, eyes shifting around the empty hallway before relaxing her tug.

    “I visited Bonroe…we share an attraction…” The young woman refused to say more, never granting Gina honest eye contact.

    Gina wasn't buying it. "What are you afraid of?" she challenged the older girl.

    “Let go of me you snooping little harpy!” Troa’s yanking jumped to full force, jumping in volume the exchange between the young women. Gina could hear their scuffle echo off the masonry and in response the startled footsteps of a man in metal.

    And here comes the trouble. Gina thought grimly. Luckily, she had a king's mandate on her side. She shoved Troa back against the wall to stop her breaking out of her grip.

    "Listen." she hissed, sharply. "The Drakes are outside, and if they use more arcanium to get in then everyone in here dies. Unless you've got bigger priorities than that, start telling the truth!"

    Troa scoffed, though the tremble of her body gave away a high degree of surprise.

    “They are not going to have more!” she snapped back furiously, using a hand to slap at Gina’s wrist, reddening the flesh. As it stung a guard finally approached, looking to the scene with frustrated confusion.

    “This is not the time for ladies bickering.”

    “Then tell her to let go of me.” Troa looked at the man, her genuine surprise of Gina’s bold move helping make her more persuasive for the observer. The man gestured with his finger.

    “Let her go young miss.” the man instructed.

    Gina put on her best Mum Voice. “The king asked me to help him find a possible traitor.” she said, keeping hold of Troa’s arm despite the stinging slap. With her free hand, she indicated the stairs leading down to the torture chamber. “If you want to ask him, he’s in there.”

    She rounded on Troa again before the older girl had another chance to rebuke her.

    “You’re right, Drakes shouldn’t have more arcanium - but we’ve just had one use it to vanish and then open a portal outside. You were just sneaking around the last place he was if I go in there and talk to Bonroe he’d better well say you’re his secret girlfriend, because otherwise you’re a suspect.”

    Troa huffed, trapped in her expressions of frustration and combativeness. The attending man dropped his opposing stance, coming closer to the young women. Troa eyed him nervously.

    “Til our Lord can tell me what you say is true, I am to hold you in a room. Come, now.” The guard spoke with a lack of patience for Gina and Troa equally. Troa sighed, dropping her shoulders.

    Nope, Gina thought. Trusting to the guard's presence and Troa's own resigned body language to keep the other woman from slipping away, she dropped her hold and bolted down the short set of stairs to the torture chamber before the guard could get within reach.

    Pushing the door open made her wish that she hadn't - the metallic smell from the corridor became a thick miasma that instantly mugged her senses with the stench of sweat and blood and excrement. She coughed through the olfactory assault and shouted down into the dark chamber beyond.

    "Sorry m'lords, a moment of your time? There's a problem up here!"

    Gina had duped the guard who had been guarding the door, seeing it unattended when she opened it. However, looking in an armored man did look down at her surprised. Taking sight of the torture chambers the enduring teenager wasn’t only privy to the scents of the torture chamber. Its blood seared, corpse chained and strewn walls of Draconians a gory horror Calamity had not properly prepared her for. The blood streaks crawling down masonry of half-remaining bodies and their entrails contrasted the floor which was clean of any foul deeds.

    Oh god. Gina thought as she took it all in. For a moment her throat tightened and she thought she was going to be sick, but it faded a moment later, in tandem with her nose beginning to block out the awful smell. Strangely, that was even worse.

    Why am I not reacting to this? Had she seen so much in the previous weeks and months that it had just made her numb? The thought was frightening, until she looked down at her fingers and saw that they were trembling. Her chest heaved with fast, shallow gasps.

    In the end, it was adviser Charlie who saved her.
    Through the layers of warped death Gina saw King Kinglos and Adviser Charlie speaking to a young man about her age, though she couldn’t make out all the details in the flickering light of the dim flames.

    “What is it?” Charlie asked curiously, rescuing her with the focus of his words.

    The guard, the guard you idiot!

    "The g-" Gina squeaked, and had to clear her throat. "There's a guard who doesn't believe I'm here at your request, sir."

    As Charlie ventured away from the conversation in the middle of the room, Gina forced herself to take a few steps into the chamber to meet him. In contrast to the grimy, blood-stained walls the floor looked freshly washed, bizarrely clean under her shoes. How is it so clean?

    As she and Charlie drew close she touched a hand to the adviser's arm. His expensive velvet jacket was warm and soft, even though her own fingers were pale and freezing.

    "I think the serving girl was in here just now." she whispered. "Don't let her leave - she knows something."
    His heterochromatic eyes settled on her with concern. Drawing her out of the torture chamber he replied with a quiet voice.

    “Then she lied?” He asked, Gina able to tell that the otherwise polite and accommodating man would take Gina’s accusation with potent seriousness.

    (If she says yes in any fashion)

    Adviser Charlie pressed his lips together and raised a hand to the stairs before them.

    “Down here is no place for one of your sex. It is an astounding thing to realize a girl your age is responsible for that debauchery of death sealed away down here, please” He insisted for them to go up the stairs. At the same time Gina saw the guard which had seemed unimpressed by the two ladies now coming back the stairs, without Troa.

    (If nothing is said or done it would be discovered the woman is missing, which will prompt Charlie to look at Gina with a tinge of irritableness and clearly seen curiosity)
    Thank you MayhemsCurse <3

    Spoiler: Memorable Quotes 

  6. #136
    The Replicant
    Azazeal849's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
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    Jeon Smythe & 'Melvin'

    Collapsed into a heap the two warriors lay on the ground and struggling to gather themselves.

    Despite all of ‘Melvin’s’ efforts to protect Jeon and repulse dangers the truth was the environment was growing increasingly dangerous. More Draconian men were spilling from the vortex, ever escalating the numbers of both sides – and eventually it was going to lead to a tipping point which could easily be not in Jeon nor his companions’ favor.

    Self-defense was only going to reward ‘Melvin’ for so long, its calculations quite capable of putting the odds together and seeing the increasing danger of the overall situation.

    Melvin's hands lashed out at the two Draconians, ending their struggle. Turning, it regarded the portal seriously.

    It needed superior weapons to end this threat. Instead, it had a surgical suite, a fully kitted out pharmacy, a smattering of survival gear, some groceries, some homemade Molotov cocktails and a Zayan strapped to an examination table.

    Somehow hurtling the doctor at the portal didn't seem like a good answer.

    Magnesium. Its right hand returned to normal as several magnesium fire starters were deposited in its pocket, followed by a Molotov cocktail. Using its bladed hand, it shaved down the magnesium into shavings, which it then poured into the bottle and resealed.

    It then lit the rag and hurled it through the portal. This was going to cause massive casualties on the other side, and hopefully block any more from entering for now.

    Another Molotov was tossed down the stairs to deter any more Draconian interference. Six more arced overhead, along the Draconian line.

    The Probe sighed as its shell rippled and stretch, turning itself into Jeon. Reaching down, it easily hefted the ballista bolt the doctor had been struggling with earlier, and loaded it in place. Time to bring out the heavy artillery.

    And the doctor was going to be the one who got all the credit for it. Life wasn't fair.

    The chain of chaos was tantamount catastrophe. On the stairs of the great fortress gate men Human and Draconian burned, in the battle the Draconian mass merged with the forces of Mankind shared the taste of the flames as the scaled fighters rolled their burning bodies into them.

    With all the battle distracted by exchanging strikes and flame ‘Melvin’ was able to turn the ballista to face within the city and load it. The black bolt fiercely pointed to the purple vortex. Unleashing the artillery bolt there had been no Draconian to meet it, yet instead the bolt flew through the vortex surely giving those who were burning a crueler fate.

    From above where the clash of bright energies changed hands like leaping stars the Draconian wizard from above looked down to see the mess of things. ‘Melvin’ wasn’t fortunate as the wizard sent out a purple shot of energy straight into the ballista at lightning speed. The black artillery piece shattered thousand-fold becoming shrapnel where it had once been. By the kinetic force of the blast ‘Melvin’ was sent falling off the gates’ bits of metal lodged into its form from thigh to head.

    Impacting on the grass and snow before Whitebar’s gate the Zyan robot was knocked out for the conflict until it could get back in!

    An artificial weak spot ruptured the shell's cranium skin, bleeding copiously and looking very much like a head wound. Which, ironically enough, was what the blood pack was supposed to do.

    Inside the Probe's bubble, the structure rang like a giant cathedral bell. Overhead, the ceiling lights in the surgical suite flickered and went out, to be replaced by emergency lighting in the shade of mauve, although the cluster over the table illuminating the doctor were white.

    "Melvin?" Jeon called out from the examination table, "Medbot? What's going on?"

    The various waldo arms that had threatened him hung limply from the ceiling. Perhaps...?

    He felt for the restraint bands, and found they were loose. Pulling them off, he sat up and grinned. "Alright! Time to explore and maybe find some answers!" Jeon boomed. A frown furrowed his brow. "Hope I don't run out of air!"

    The probe's primary habitation sphere was several miles in diameter, in truth the size of a large metropolitan city but in three viewable dimensions. Air was not going to be an issue for him. Several decks below, in the Command Stalk, the emergency generators kicked in. Boot circuits for the probe's computer and control systems powered up, initiating the start-up routines.

    And while the internal world of 'Melvin' was a vast maze for Jeon it was the probe who still had the responsibility in this world to take action. War was breakout with the gates, its volume pouring over the walls upon him. He needed to find a way back inside or he wasn't going to be able to contribute in the clash.

    The gate was at least thirty feet tall, the dark gray stonework spotted with snow clinging to its surface. What was Melvin going to do?

    Inside, the lights flickered on, making Jeon stop pilfering the drawers and look around warily, but at the moment, the waldo arms were still lying limply, not moving.

    Unit Designation: O-13927-S "Melvin"
    System Integrity: Restored
    Observe subject Jeon
    Race: Zayan
    Occupation: Medical Doctor
    Special Instructions: Render minimum assistance as needed; do not remove subject unless there is an imminent threat of death. Once removed, subject Jeon is to be returned to Zaya
    Subject Location: Internal Examination Room One.
    Extraction to Zaya: Not possible - remedial action required.

    Minor penetration - absorbing foreign matter and restoring shell.
    Palm tractors - damaged on impact, replacing.
    Drug dart launchers - damaged on impact, replacing.

    Shrapnel studding the Probe's shell shifted and was pulled inside as the surface seemed to ripple. It opened its eyes and sat up, taking in the snow-covered gate.

    Kneeling slightly, it jumped, landing on top of the gate it had been blown down from minutes before. It went to the edge to look down at the Draconian portal that it could "see" but not sense - it was a violation of science.

    If runes were being used to construct it, it could see no sign of them from here.

    However, the ones using it had no choice but to obey natural forces.

    "This is going to suck," the Probe spoke, mimicking Jeon's voice with a slight grin. This was also going to get messy. And showy.

    Within the shell, more tractor emitters took position in its hands and feet, while it dilated its N-Gate once more, addressing one of the orbiting storerooms, while fabrication units began to churn out pikes and a couple of swords of shell-material.

    The Probe leapt high into the air, then positioned itself to fall directly in front of the Draconian portal, hand and feet firing repulsion blasts from the tractors at the cobblestones as it fell.

    There were easier ways to dig a trench, but few faster. And hopefully the dirt and rocks being blasted out would help obscure its actions.

    The consequences were numerous. As the mundane, privileged apothecary fell from the sky those nearest the conflict on each side shifted view in horrified awe.

    The conflicting mages, swirling, a blitz of dazzling colors delayed their spellcasting to see Jeon perform feats unseen on their world. A wave of dirt and snow blew through violet vortex, a tidal wave of earthen force. Unceremoniously the magical hole in reality ceased the moment it was disturbed, gone in an instant.

    As the vortex vanished, the Probe paused its efforts. Apparently the trick was not to attack the insubstantial vortex the Draconians were using, but the ground in front of it. Was the ground an important link in this magical circuit?

    Cheers, gasps, hisses and roars exploded through the inner city conflict. Then in a storm of violet hues and thunderous fury the Draconian wizard reacted with arcane rage. O'doln conjured a thin layer of ice blue magical energy but it was quickly shattered and a bolt of violet energy struck in the side. Terribly burned, his side was partially blown open, his blood spraying some of the men below before he began falling. In gritting pain he held his side, swirling his free hand and with a flash of arcane symbols about his person vanished from the battle.

    Now 'Melvin' had a new problem.

    The Draconian magic user suspended in the air was beyond reason, exerting himself with a frenzy that was bound to change the favor of the conflict if not stopped. Violet lightning bolts were striking the ground, favoring the Humans as its prey but occasionally the unfortunate Draconian was rendered to ash as friendly fire. Worse yet as the Draconian mage was emitting these from his body his hands were in a flurry of finger movements, tongue speaking yet too far to hear.

    The Draconian mage was a threat. In his place, it would probably try to reestablish the portal. So it was necessary to interrupt the spell casting. From its pocket, the head of a pike slid out, which the shell gripped and waited for another to appear.

    Its material was unlike anything in this world, would the wizard be able to affect it? There was only one way to find out.

    It threw the first pike at the flying wizard, then snapped out a second shot. The wizard might take out the first one, but maybe they would miss the second?

    With herculean strength in the eyes of everyone else a Jeon cloaked 'Melvin' tossed the two spears to champion a charge against the Draconian magician.

    In an instant the first met with the eldritch clawed hand pushing a purple electrical force. By speed challenging 'Melvin''s feats it was rotated to point back at the robot and vault towards it. Super charged by the electric magic it zoomed beyond reason. To the fighting men spectating the clash of these dangerous arts the fight as a bloody draw: 'Melvin' stabbed wholesale through the torso and sending the man cloaked robot pinned to the ground; and the Draconian coughed blood as a the second pike plunged into his lungs, the dying wizard descending from the sky gracelessly.

    The enchanted pike pinning Melvin to the ground held it not only by the mechanical pressure of having moved through its body but by the purple magical energy shocking the robot. The entrance and exit wounds were melting and fusing with the pike, 'Melvin''s entire calculative system being infected by a sort of electricity which bowed to no mundane limitation of damage. Its energy discharge caused the robot's figure to flail and sizzle, cooking even the extra dimensional recesses within its body in a prolific violation of 'Melvin''s being. Yet it was over in several seconds as the dying Daconian landed dead on the floor below.

    Purple energy surged through the N-Gates - the energy flaring and crackling in the Internal Examination Room One as well around the storeroom the Probe had connected to the other gate to take in the dirt and soil that hadn't been sucked into the Draconian portal.

    "What the hell is going on?!?" Jeon screamed, taking shelter under the table.

    Protective relays kicked in, routing the strange electricity away from the command section. The arcing energy was shifted to an emitter on its primary habitation sphere and shot out towards the storage room, now isolated.

    Could humans do this back on their world, it wondered? Perhaps its masters were right to isolate themselves.

    The spot of impact and exit were removed of their illusion, giving the Jeon form a bulbous robotic section of the torso, melted metal bulbous around the impact sight on both sides, lodged in.

    All the battling men were transfixed on the dead Draconian. 'Melvin' had moments to react without eyes on it.

    There was no choice. The reserve N-Gate dilated, spitting out a pike and swallowing the impaled shell whole, depositing it in Internal Examination Room One.

    Jeon looked around the end of the table and gaped in astonishment at the sight of his body, oddly distorted lying there with a pike run through it. No, fused with it! He clambered to his feet, then took a step towards the body.

    "We have a problem."

    "What?" Jeon demanded, stepping back as he looked wildly around. Large ovals appeared on the giant face plate screen, focusing his attention when they appeared to blink.

    "We have a problem," the screen repeated. "Actually, there are several problems, but the most immediate one is that this shell was struck by a pike and has become damaged. I was forced to retrieve it."

    "Retrieve it?" Jeon asked, glancing down at the shell. "Does this mean we're cut off?"

    "No, I still have a fix on the tarot cards your companions have. I do need to know your relationship with them?"

    "Relationship?" the doctor demanded. "I never saw them before in my life!"

    "And yet you have a connection to them. Do not deny this. Explain."

    "I.... I can't. I can feel them, somehow," Jeon flounded. He spat, "Don't ask me to try and explain it, you daft machine! I just don't know!"

    "Have you felt this attraction before?"


    "When you disappeared for approximately seven seconds at the System Health Organization building. When you had reappeared, you had aged noticeably."

    "No, I don't remember what happened then," Jeon sighed, shaking his head - then glanced down and pulled out the book from his pocket. "I did feel a connection to this book. It was in the room when I woke up."

    "So you felt an attraction to this book and to your companions. No others?"

    "Well, to Kevin. And the Council," he added. "And to the king."

    "The king they asked you to kill."

    "Well, yes."

    The screen fell silent. Jeon glared at it uneasily for a long moment, then barked out, "Well?!?"

    "I hate magic."

    "You can hate, can you?" he chuckled in surprise. He hadn't expected that. "So what do we do?"

    "I cannot obey my primary directive, to return you to Zaya.”

    "Zaya?" he interrupted. "Where the bloody hell is Zaya?"

    "That is classified," the screen said.

    "Okay, why there?"

    "It is your home."

    "Wot?" the doctor demanded, staring up blankly.

    "They sent me to watch over you."

    "Watch over me? And you could have taken me back at any time?!?"

    "The political situation on your planet is complicated," the screen said calmly. "I had my orders to watch over you without interfering unless your life was in serious jeopardy."

    "What kind of crap rescue mission is this?"

    "A painful one."


    The waldo arms came alive and grabbed him, returning him to the examination table where the straps wrapped in around him.

    "Let go of me, ya mechanical menace!"

    "I cannot, I have my orders. A new shell has been crafted, I will return you to your companions."

    "And how are you going to manage that with me all trussed up here?"

    "Please relax," the screen said as a waldo arm injected him with a sedative.

    "What are... you.. going to..." Jeon managed before blacking out.

    "I'm sorry about this," the screen said slowly as another of the pikes was delivered to the examination room. "I wouldn't do this if it wasn't necessary."

    The tarot cards vibrated in the pockets of their holders, bearing a message.

    "Jeon has been injured. Where are the healers at?"

    And for now, as the first minute passed there was radio silence.
    Unit Designation: O-13927-S "Melvin"
    Damage Report: Shell Transfer Node Alpha destroyed.
    Shell Transfer Node Beta destroyed.

    Remedial action:
    Shell Transfer Node Charlie activated.
    Activating Shell Transfer Nodes Delta-Michael.
    Construction of new primary shell, completion 5 minutes
    Construction of secondary scouting units, completion 4 minutes.
    Construction and implementation of additional isolation buffers, completion 2880 minutes.
    Replacing Shell Transfer Nodes Alpha and Bravo, estimated time of repair 5760 minutes.
    Analysis of Shell Transfer Node Alpha estimated time of completion 10080 minutes.
    Analysis of Shell Transfer Node Beta estimated time of completion 10080 minutes.

    Recommendation: Avoid destructive magic.

    It really hated magic. It had suffered enough damage today just from trying to rescue Jeon.

    The first response came from the Gina channel, she was clearly in conversation with someone, but before she 'closed' the channel, she managed to pass on that the healers were outside, which it already knew. It just didn't know where Lynia and any other healers were working specifically. Clearly not in the castle near her and her companion, or there would be more panic.

    It put a noise damp on Gina's channel, squashing all sound as it shifted the two of them into new channels, hopefully undamaged by the draconian wizard's magic. Now it was completely deaf on Gina's channel until she tapped the card again.

    Although, it reflected, it seems that this world's magic did not seem to extend to the ability to project voice over long distances? A rather curious omission.

    Finally a second response came vocally, the airy young voice of Panos' scathing words came into earshot "How does this thing work? What is your location?! This is idiotic" Panos asked while trying to use a device he was foreign to.

    It was the excitable and rude young man on the second channel.

    Words appeared on the face of the card.

    Panos, we were at the gate. Jeon is injured. Where are the healers?

    Could the human read?

    The words vanished, to be replaced with a picture of Lady Lyina and a question mark.
    Panos scoffed at the card, “Is this the freakish mute boy?” The teenager’s voice snipped with sharp tongued inquiry.
    “By Dionisius,” he sighed with more worry to his voice “Word will be sent for her. I’ve not an idea when she’ll be able to get to you. She’s somewhere back in the castle.” He explained in a hushed tone, as if hiding his conversation with the card.

    Back at the castle, where Gina was? The main hall, perhaps? Or in one of the many rooms to tend the mage privately?

    Thank you, it sent.

    The scans of the castle were incomplete, mostly thermal imaging for people. It could try opening an N-Gate on the roof, then try to slide down a chimney before bringing Jeon out, but who knew where it would come out?

    Meanwhile where Jeon once had been was now teeming with the amazed attention of soldiers who saw vacancy where the body had been. While the battle resumed, the Draconians putting up a bitter fight to the last, it was evident others were fleeing the conflict while shouting about 'the Apothecary is a magician' or other nonsense which may become greatly damaging if allowed to reach others...

    At the top of the gate where Melvin in the guise of Jeon had stood, the air hazed, not unlike hot air over a sun-baked sidewalk. Several small bodies dimpled the shimmering air, bursting out as ravens. Some of them circled above the fighting, watching, listening, while others headed towards the castle.

    Inside them, a tiny N-Gate relayed everything they heard and saw back to the Probe.

    They had been useful when Jeon was a boy, to keep track of him, but they had been inactive for months while he was on board the shuttle heading out to the mining station.

    With the conflict, it was doubtful anyone would notice the birds. Against the possibility of magic, it was keeping their channels isolated from the others, resorting to the most basic of precautions by relaying them from a newly formed module orbiting its command center.

    The irony that it could create the module faster than it could repair its internal damage was not lost on the Probe as the castle-bound ravens began their search for the healer, Lyina, or tents where wounded men were being brought to, as well as one to track Gina.

    The fame this world's Jeon had apparently extended far beyond treating feminine issues, if even the common soldiers had recognized him, to judge by all the yelling. It couldn't help but wonder if his fame as an assassin was well-known, as well? Unfortunately, it couldn't substitute a wounded Jeon for another shell.

    The birds flew on unnoticed by those below. Their view was riddled with blood and falling bodies, those of the Draconian. In greater number they were falling, the battle was over and now it was a matter of laying down the remaining enemy. The ravens to the castle cut through the air, the cold unmoving for the artificial constructs. From what they could observe the camp that was with men had the company of mundane medicine men and women – ointments and bandages being the prime tools of their craft.

    The tricky challenge was how to get into the castle. The secondary gate proved no challenge but the stone fortress had no wall entrances other than the opened front gate and the small courtyard. While both were very public the birds were going to have to pick which way to fly in to begin their search.

    Mundane medical treatment would have to do.

    From of the looks of things, they could do with some more supplies. It's supply system began assembling canvas bags with basic medical supplies, while a leather satchel was outfitted with the sort of medical and survival gear that Jeon would be familiar with. There was no telling how long they'd have to live among these people before whoever or whatever got around to sending them back.

    The ravens outside the castle received new orders - locating transportation, preferably a wheelbarrow or cart, currently unattended and between the gate and the camp where people where being treated.

    For the ravens trying to check out the castle, it sent them looking for windows, concentrating on the area where Gina last transmission came from.

    The ravens keeping above the medical tent were fortunate enough to spot a wheelbarrow with some hay in it abandoned closer to the tent formation yet along the stone walkway, out of any direct interaction of people who were busy elsewhere.

    With the ravens on lookout and providing contact coordinates, within moments the air took on the same heat shimmer on one side of the stone walkway, then Jeon appeared, stripped down and redressed in a gambeson, in the arms of the probe's Young Jeon shell. A spare holographic AnySuit that the Probe burned out and attached some surgical tractors to was then put on top of the gambeson and given a light dusting of burnt dust, then the robes were put back on over that and also dusted with burnt dust. The Probe then impaled the robe about the same area so that it nicked the AnySuit underneath and electrically fused them together. The result was that Jeon appeared with a pike sticking out of his side but without any sign of blood. He would have a mild burn on his side under the gambeson, but aside from the memory wipe, no lasting harm done.

    There were also two bags, one a canvas seabag, the other a leather satchel. Dropping the seabag, it swept the wheelbarrow clear with one hand, then carefully set the Zayan doctor inside. Picking up the seabag, it laid it gently on Jeon's other side, then pulled a cloth from its pocket to wrap around the pike where it stuck out of Jeon's robes.

    It then picked up the handles and began huffing and puffing as it rolled the wheelbarrow towards the medical tent.

    Trying to get a specific pinpoint of Gina's contact was more difficult as it ought to be, some sort of force fuzzing the signal. On the west side of the castle the black birds honed in, but it did not narrow more than somewhere along the third floor. The ravens had to pick between eight closed windows.

    The handful of ravens landed on the roof, except for one, who landed on the first window sill. it stared inside to see who was there. For the raven's eyes lay only a dark, empty guest room. However it does notice a flame coming from the window to the right.

    Pushing over the bumping stone Jeon's ride is horrendously shaky, the pike waving each direction 'Melvin's' little hands found themselves going as the wheelbarrow rolled over rock after rock. The tent had a strange energy, one it knew to be magic as they drew within several feet of it. The air grew comfortably warmer, the space around the tent becoming a bit of a pain for 'Melvin's' senses as it was perceiving bends in universal laws yet again.

    Sensing the interference, the Probe switched the shell's command lines over to the same orbiting module the birds were using, causing the shell to stumble slightly. It couldn't risk more wide scale damage to the command core. While a replacement core could be put in place, it would be down for several hours, perhaps days. It didn't want to consider how many times Jeon could kill himself.

    Switching to a secondary would severely limit its response as well.

    Under the leather stitched, taunt, tent were several rows of men being bandaged by men and women. Luckily 'Melvin' did not see any of the primitive bloodletting practices but their skills were not beyond the mere tools of ointments, bandages, and stitching.

    "Wha... What's going on," Jeon groaned, slurring his words. The Probe scanned him and nodded. "I was in the airlock...? When did we get to the Renaissance Fair?"

    His eyes suddenly focused on the pike waving in the air as the wheelbarrow rolled. "What the hell is this?" he demanded, grabbing hold of the shaft.

    "Stay calm," the Probe replied, sounding like Jeon's youthful self as he gently lowered the wheelbarrow and came around to the side. "You're not bleeding, but you took a nasty jolt. Do you know who I am?"
    "I've got a bloody spear jammed into my side and you want to know if I remember you?"
    "Well, you don't seem like you're hurt. Is there any pain?"

    Frowning, the doctor began checking himself. "A little. It doesn't feel like it's in me. Where am I and how did we get... here?" he asked, waving his hand about.

    "I don't know," the Probe admitted, leaning in close to whisper, "but there are others like us somewhere around someplace, just play this by ear for now."

    "What's your name?" Jeon demanded crossly.
    The shell sighed, then facing the Zayan, admitted, "Melvin."
    "That's a terrible name. Someone should have slapped your parents for giving you that."

    "I'll keep that in mind," the Probe nodded gravely. He looked around at the people working and asked, "Is there someplace I can put him? It's not as serious as it looks."

    Gina Wright

    Charlie's heterochromatic eyes settled on Gina with concern. Drawing her out of the torture chamber he replied with a quiet voice.

    “Then she lied?” he asked, Gina able to tell that the otherwise polite and accommodating man was taking her accusation with potent seriousness.

    “Possibly.” Gina whispered back with a nod, happy to have the adviser onside.

    Adviser Charlie pressed his lips together and raised a hand to the stairs before them.

    “Down here is no place for one of your sex. It is an astounding thing to realize a girl your age is responsible for that debauchery of death sealed away down here, please.”

    He insisted for them to go up the stairs. At the same time Gina saw the guard which had seemed unimpressed by the two ladies now coming back down the stairs, without Troa.

    Gina spread her arms, incredulously. “Don't tell me you just let her walk away?”

    The man seemed readily available to dismiss Gina until he noticed the Adviser next to her. His eyes set on him, studying.

    "Well?" Charlie asked softly, accented by a disappointed sigh.

    "The young woman said she needed to return to her mistress."

    Charlie raised a black brow, searching from the guard an answer. The man paused, rummaging through his memory.

    "Lady Leean Lucilda." There looked to be a concealed discontentment with the woman but the young man was disciplined enough to keep his mouth shut.

    "Great." Gina hissed, biting down hard on the word.

    She wanted to rage, to rail at the guard for being such a fucking idiot. The furious tension gravitated to her right hand, flexing the fingers into a fist and out again. She could feel the zodiac marks burning against her arm.

    With a supreme effort, she kept a lid on her anger. Leean's room, she told herself. Guest quarters, east side of the castle like Troa said. At least she had been right about one thing: there weren't many places in this castle to avoid someone.

    She turned to Charlie and managed a more civil tone. "I'll get the king, sir. He matters more than my delicate senses."

    With her head and heart both pounding, she
    was stopped by the guard grabbing her by the arm. Charlie nodded and rubbed at a temple for a moment while she was restrained. Gina was not going to be allowed freedom of movement no matter how many times she insisted or dove for it, so it seemed. And you thought Alfred was bad, Gina.

    "I will fetch our lord, young lady." Charlie ruled.

    Gina exhaled, slumping her shoulders as her lungs deflated. She offered him the demurest nod that she could muster. "As you wish, sir."

    Charlie once more made eye contact with the guard, and turned to go into the torture dungeon.

    "Sir?" Gina hailed Charlie again before he could disappear back down into the ugly dark of the torture chamber. She lowered her voice. "Maybe you could bring Bonroe up too, I've got an idea."

    She glanced back at the guard who was still holding her wrist.

    "He'll be able to tell us if Troa was lying. If he thinks I'm her friend, maybe he'll say something he wouldn't say in front of the king?"

    Charlie looked down to her thoughtfully, with an attentive ear.

    "Very clever young lady, I will discreetly inform our lord." he reassured her before going into the chambers downstairs.

    After that there was not much to do but wait for Charlie to return, under the stoic eye of the guard.

    "You can let me go now." she prompted him sourly as she eyed him back. "I promise I'm not going to run off anywhere."

    She was tempted to congratulate him on being out of a job as soon as Cal the marchioness got back, but venting that particular comeback might have been more trouble than it was worth.

    Where are they? she wondered, biting her lip as she listened to the muffled yell and crash of battle piercing through the windows.
    The singular fact Gina was able to hold to was her extraordinary sense of her companions, no matter how far away, were still alive. Nothing else in the cold, blood scented space she occupied was warming, the cold man unrelenting his hold on her.

    Minutes passed and soon the scraping thud of the door being opened preceded footsteps, and more than two sets. For the first time she saw Bonroe in detail. A light skinned young man with a strong build under plainly dressed brown cotton clothes, oddly sweet black coils reaching his ears in contrast to his morbid mind they framed. From his expression it was clear to Gina the young man was under a lot of stress, perhaps soon to break.

    Charlie smiled patiently at Gina, then set his eyes to his king. Sharing non-verbal agreement King Kinglos eyed Gina and the guard holding her. The mere power of his stare had the man free Gina's wrist moments before Bonroe saw Gina.

    "Who is she?" he asked, evident he felt lost from how thinly he spoke.

    "Someone who insisted to speak with you, young man." Charlie weighed in with emphasis, conveying a weighed emphasis silencing Bonroe. "Think carefully." he added with a stinging, polite smile. He gestured with his hand and the two teenagers were led to a nearby room, let in and the guard closing it. With a quick tap he let them aware he was keeping station at the door.

    The young man paced once and crossed his sturdy arms, his height of 5'9 utilized as he stared at Gina expectantly. She could see a bead of sweat forming over one of his black brows.

    "Good grief, you look terrible." Gina said with an air of concern, and did her best to guide the apprentice over to a threadbare chair that sat next to a writing table stained by runnels of candle wax. "Why don't you sit down for a minute?"

    Disarmed by uncertainty, Gina found the young malleable and thus cowed into sitting down effortlessly.

    She knelt down beside the chair and cast a glance towards the door.

    "Councillor Hedspeth sent me to help." she whispered, "What's going on?"

    Her admission jolted surprise and confusion as she witness him look her direction.

    "What?" The young man opened, "She is the cause of this! I was lied to!" Like a torrent the confusion transformed into anger, face reddening after Gina had poked the defensive shell of the man's heart.

    “Okay, slow down.” Gina soothed. “Who’s the cause of what, and what did they lie to you about?” A tense silence was made between the two of them. Bonroe was close to telling everything, she could see it in his face but he looked to be readying himself. He seemed still hesitant especially after the blurting out.


    A vibration, one Gina could feel tucked in her feminine layers, entered the conversation, rubbing against her. Bonroe looked around confused.

    "What is that?"

    “I don’t know.” Gina covered, cupping her hands over her belly and looking around. She got up and made a show of checking around the walls.

    Looking up and down the weathered stone, she waited until her back was to Bonroe before sliding the card half out of her sleeve and glancing down. When she saw the text, her heart skipped a beat.

    Oh shit, oh no...

    She bit down hard on her tongue and hid the card once more, tapping it twice through her sleeve as she completed her circuit.

    “Maybe it was a fly...” she suggested, frowning uncertainly as she returned to Bonroe. “Tell you the truth, I’m a bit on edge - even though the Drakes are stuck outside it’s hard to feel safe in here...the marchioness is out there fighting, the healer’s out there somewhere too...”

    She tapped her sleeve three times, as if in thought, then shook her head.

    “Never mind me. What were you saying, who’s responsible?”

    Bonroe settled down, slumping shoulders and staring to his hands. Eyes shifting to the girl and back to his hands, doubt surrounded his person.

    “She didn’t care that he died.” Bonroe explained, foot slowly tapping. “We gave her everything, listened always…” The young man said bitterly before trailing off.

    "Who died?" Gina asked, gently.

    The question touched upon fresh wounds, as with her softly spoken questioning tears rimmed his eyes.

    “My…brother.” One of his thumbs began rubbing his hand in a self-soothing manner.

    Gina let her face crumple. "I'm sorry..." She reached out tentatively to take hold of the boy's scrabbling hands, taking over the soothing brush of thumb against knuckles. "And who didn't care?"

    There was a gritting tension on his face. “Calamity,” came from him, rich in thinly concealed fury and notably without any respectable title, “Sent him to die fighting those forked tongues! She didn’t even have the respect to say a word to me after he was gone…and…”

    He trailed off into silence, leaving Gina perplexed. Much like his master, she would never have guessed that this ordinary, hurting boy plied his trade in thumbscrews. But then all the prisoners down there were Draconian, and he really hates them... The dissonance of the automatic empathy she felt for the boy's tears sent a shiver down her spine.

    "And?" she prompted, squeezing his hands gently.

    “Troa said there was a way to get back at her…”

    And there it is. Gina's heart began to beat faster out of tension. She gave Bonroe a moment, still cradling his hands, before lowering her voice to a whisper.

    "Did...did she say what she was planning to do?"

    His eyes lingered over Gina's touch. His lips were pulled in while rough but young fingers touched hers, rubbing over the middle knuckles.

    "Sorry...don't really know a woman's skin...wanted to feel it before...Calamity would torture me...set my teacher on me. If I say everything I ask you to beg the Council to grant me a swift death..." Eyes raised to chase after her empathetic gaze, "Please?"

    Poor kid. The dissonance was almost too much. Poor kid who’s learning to become a torturer...

    “I promise.” Gina said gently.

    With a bit of luck, she could do better than that. It was to Bonroe’s benefit that the original Calamity was AWOL and had been replaced by Gina’s less psychopathic friend. Maybe if she told him she was sorry for his brother...and if he remained a threat then at worst they could just banish him to Greywall, hopefully to take up a different apprenticeship.

    It was a decision for later, she decided.

    “Troa told me her mistress had Arcanium on her. At the time I didn’t ask why but when the prisoner was captured Leean said to lace the claws. I knew it would be dangerous but she told me the Draconian would be of such a frenzy it would search for Calamity and strike her down. I…never knew the thing would do something as devious as this…” The young man shared with a complete loss of self confidence as it fell away from his face.

    "You're making things right now." Gina reassured quietly. She squeezed his hands again and rose to her feet, letting them go. "I'll do what I can. Stay here until then, and don't talk to anyone else."

    She hovered for a moment, still meeting the young man's eyes and trying to reconcile the soul behind them. Eventually she turned and knocked on the door for the guard to let her out. Kinglos and Charlie stood outside with questioning looks on their faces. Gina beckoned them a few steps along the corridor as the door thudded closed once more.

    "I think we should keep him here under guard until the marchioness can decide what to do with him, my lord." she whispered to Kinglos. "He says it was lady Leean who came up with the plan to plant arcanium on the prisoner and let it escape - her servant told him about it."

    Both men looked at the young woman, astonished. A fiery glint of pride in the king's eye and his small smile rewarded Gina, but that quickly ended while he turned to his adviser.

    "We will have to inform the Emperor." the king confided into his confidant, before Gina. Though the heterochromatic eyes set on the king were supportive at first, the shift in emotion made them show concern.

    Gina stood back for a second, waiting to see which way things would go next. It was the first time she had heard an emperor being mentioned, and it knocked her confidence yet again that she really knew anything about how this world worked. Troa knows who I am, does this lady Leean know me too? A merchant daughter from Qwen...where even is that?

    Since the alarm had been raised of the Draconian attack, events seemed to have taken on their own savage momentum, a headlong forward rush where she had to fight to keep her head above water.

    I need to get home to my friends. To get my new friends home.

    "Lady Leean is staying in one of the guest rooms, m'lord." she said, recalling Troa's words. "On the east side of the castle. What should we do?"

    The Adviser of Culture tugged at a sleeve of his overcoat, taking a moment to gather his thoughts.

    "We ought to put her under guard for this time until the conflict could be settled. But she may prove yet a great danger if she owns more arcanium..."

    King Kinglos places a hand on Gina's shoulder, a touch with squeezing fingers and warm, fleshy palm. From the piercing stare he was giving Gina could tell the king was soon to rope her into more trouble, "Will you meet her in her quarters and see if she possess any of the dangerous reagent?"

    Though he asked, Gina knew it was wise to assume it was a command. She swallowed.

    "I can do that." she said cautiously. "Maybe if the guards are close but out of sight..."

    She paused, and looked to Charlie.

    "Um...what does arcanium look like exactly? A loose powder, you said?"
    Spoiler: My RP links 

    PM me for novelised versions of any of my RPs, or ones that I have participated in. Set by the awesome Karma.

  7. #137
    The Replicant
    Azazeal849's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
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    Jeon Smythe & 'Melvin'

    A man in his thirties left a soldier's side, the man on the table watching the mundane healer hopefully. There were splotches of blood on the man's wrapped leathers. The thickly built figure looked down and at first stared at 'Melvin' with surprise.

    "Why is there a child here? You need to leave and go home." The man did not say with patience, walking over to attempt to take the wheelbarrow for himself.

    "He is my master." the Probe said, refusing to be nudged away.

    "I am your what?!?" Jeon demanded incredulously, turning in the wheelbarrow to stare back at the shell.

    "His armor seems to have stopped the pike." the Probe continued, "There's no bleeding I can see, however he may have struck his head, he's having memory issues."

    "I am not having memory issues!" Jeon contested hotly. "I just don't know where I am or how I got here!"

    The Probe glanced at the man. "As his apprentice, it's helpful if I stay with him. Are you going to examine him?"

    Not appreciating the banter or the means of which 'Melvin' spoke, the sour face on the healer lingered on the two of them while he stroked his short beard.

    "You need to move." the man said, coming to the supposed youth and attempting to brush 'Melvin' aside while also go for the handlebars. For a brief moment the man couldn't move the resisting robot. However, 'Melvin's' senses detected the man's body language: it was promising aid.

    Gaining control, Jeon was led to an empty table where the man at first struggled to find a good hold of the Zayan before moving him over. The sticking, wrapped, weapon seemingly coming out of Jeon's body drew a lot of attention from the least wounded soldiers and in general the medical staff. The eyes were worried and curious.

    However the man with them turned his head to the side and through teeth sighed. "If it he's not bleeding then I see no reason to pull out the weapon for now. Best wait for our Lady of Healing. Lady Lyina." With the matter settled, so the man believed, he turned to walk away to others injured.

    "Who is this Lady Lyina?" Jeon demanded, grabbing hold of the shell's arm.

    "You heard him, she's the local healer."


    "More like the laying on of the hands," the shell shrugged, then grimaced at the doctor's appalled expression. "Except when she does it, it actually works."

    "How.... how is that possible?" Jeon demanded, furrowing his brow.

    "I don't know," the shell admitted. "Here, magic is very real, very powerful, and very dangerous."

    Jeon stared at the shell blankly, then began to laugh. "Okay, okay, I admit it, you almost got me. Who set this up? Andy? Carl? Don't tell me it was Lorna? I know the girl's got herself a castle, but... oh! They're in it together, right?"

    The shell stared back at him patiently.

    "Not them? Did a bunch of first years slip me another cocktail?"

    "You were not drugged." the shell said. "Look around you. People here are bleeding and dying. Who would go that far to pull a prank like that?"

    The smile faltered off of the doctor's face. "There are actual casualties here? This isn't some sort of sick joke?"

    The shell shook its head. The Probe noted a few lost milliseconds with the relay - imperceptible by human standards, but potentially deadly if it had to protect Jeon. But the next magical attack could damage a lot more than just an expendable shell.

    Jeon struggled to rise, only to meet the shell's implacable hand. "Where do you think you are going?"

    "I'm going to help!"

    "I see," the shell sighed, raising one eyebrow. "With that sticking out of you?"

    "Ah," Jeon drawled. "Well, that does make for some kind of obstacle. But I don't think it's actually in me. It hurts, yes, but what with all the waggling this shaft's done since I woke up in that wheel barrow, I should have bled out by now."

    He looked down with a frown, raising a fist full of his robes. "So, I'm dressed like one of the witches from M... The Scottish play?"

    "You only took one semester of theater," the shell reminded him
    The banter was cut short when Jeon began to feel something moving inside of him. No, it wasn't inside of him but it was a knowing, a palpable hunch which came from no external stimuli. He could feel Panos Lambros and Calamity Isis Mae Sensibility moving straight to him, whoever they were!

    "I.... I feel like someone...?" Jeon frowned, "Two? Two people are coming towards me...?"

    He turned towards the boy, Melvin.

    "Is that the healer...?" he whispered.

    "No, some of the Others, I expect," the Probe's shell said, picking up the card signal.

    Meanwhile a soldier on the table over was newly set down, his armor being removed while he moaned quietly with some pain. When the man's sweaty face turned to Jeon he opened his eyes wide. "The apothecary! You slain the fucking drak wizard! Ha! I saw it! I saw you do it!" The man was ecstatic, several of his caretakers trying to hold him while another was taking off the armor. However there were those not too wounded staring with increasing surprise.

    "Huh?" he demanded, turning to face the injured man. "I think you have me confused for someone else, I'm a doctor, not a pharma... apothecary."

    Others were staring at him, whispering.

    Jeon leaned over to the boy. "Do you have any idea what they're talking about?"

    "Unfortunately, yes," the Probe shell frowned, still very aware of the internal damage it had suffered in that attack. "I wouldn't worry about it too much, people tend to exaggerate a bit at a time like this."

    "So I didn't kill this.. drak whatever?"

    "I don't know, I just dragged you off the battlefield while everyone was cheering."

    Upon sleigh the two person whom Jeon could feel oncoming arrived with no time for him to recoil or react. When they entered the tent it was then the Zayan man realized Panos and Calamity were teenagers. Both fair and beautiful, the one named Calamity was in a floor length blue dress with a simple black bodice strung on. Her lengthy bouncing wave of black hair at chest length, framing stunning purple eyes. With a stern walk she headed to him with lips firmly pressed together, a cool demeanor about her.

    The other next to the girl was a teenager whose gender was much more inferred by his male garb than features. For the doctor's trained eye he could spot the subtle strength of the jaw and aspects of body proportion. The male teenager had equally fair and kindly features with blanched hair hued with a purple tinge in the sunlight, and eyes of a reflective, captivating blue. Between the two of them their eyes were of gripping, vibrant colors and set on him as the pair drew close.

    They're just children...!

    The young man in his brown cap, yellow tunic with brown vest and sleeves, and orange hoes covering his legs glanced at Calamity as the two got near Jeon. The first thing that came from the young male was a frustrated sigh. "What happened? What did you do?" Cal nudged Panos, the aura she had causing those in tents to look in awe, fear, or away.

    "What he wants to say is thank you, though there are complications...I think." the teenage girl whispered, eyes much more emotional with worry now that the three of them were in close proximity. "" Calamity seemed confused as she looked up at the shaft stabbing into Jeon. Panos too looked up at it with a grimace.

    Jeon glanced between the two of them, not sure how to answer them.

    "You don't seem to be in pain, there's no blood" Prince Panos reasoned as he looked away from it, giving a slight glare to 'Melvin'. He quickly walked around Calamity as to have her close to it rather than himself.

    "We followed your advice, what should we do next? Get Gina?" Calamity whispered to Jeon, Panos looking on with some questioning on his fair face as well.

    "My advice?" Jeon blinked, grinning slightly. "Well, that's a bit complicated. Who are you?"

    "I know he's prone to bad jokes," Melvin said softly, glancing at the two teens and ignoring their expressions, "But this doesn't seem to be one of them. After he fell off the top of the gate, I think it triggered the safeties in his AnySuit."

    "What?" Jeon demanded, turning towards Melvin.

    "Don't worry, I think we can trust them," the Probe Shell said smoothly, patting the doctor reassuringly on the shoulder. "Honestly, he barely glanced at the manual once he learned how to program in new clothes. I think the 'Drak' wizard's blade got caught up in the AnySuit and burned it out."

    Melvin leaned in slightly. "Is magical armor a thing, here?"

    "What the Gods?" Panos muttered after hearing the nonsense between Jeon and...the unnerving child that now could suddenly speak. The Lambros prince bounced his eyes between the two and settled them on Jeon, narrowing them. Calamity looked equally at a loss, keeping her body language stiff as the young woman kept the airs the others in the tent expected of her counterpart. In her eyes, hidden from the rest was the pool of bewilderment.

    "I didn't know you could talk." Calamity remarked with a thin calm to her voice at 'Melvin', "I don't know." she answered 'Melvin' with a to the point truth and then looked back to the grown adult of the group. "I was told the Draconian wizard was killed...and you did it?"

    Jeon shrugged, then pointed at the soldier on the next table over. "He says I did, I've no idea how or even how I got here?"

    "I dragged you off the field and got you in a wheelbarrow." the Probe Shell sniffed. "Look, we found ourselves dragged here without warning and he becomes Mr. Radar, tracking unknowns. He figured if I didn't talk, adults would have better reason to ignore me."

    "I... did?" Jeon wondered.

    "There was some sort of light show." 'Melvin' said, ignoring him. "I only saw him lying on the ground, and he can't remember right now. What did the Drak wizard do out there? And what happened to the King's Wizard?"

    The more Jeon spoke, the further the worried expression of the teenagers worsened. For a moment the two of them looked at each other.

    "The wizard was the cause for the portal." Calamity started, selecting her words carefully as she looked down onto Jeon and 'Melvin' with stiff body language. "I'm not sure where that man is...Jeon is it true, you can't remember anything?" She was unable to help herself step closer, leaning in and looked down with hopelessness.

    "I was in the airlock, and now I'm here in a tent with this spear sticking out of me, being told that I killed some wizard." Jeon sighed. "I don't know what happened in between."

    "At this rate, we will never finish the task..." Panos sighed, the air long and weighted.

    "What task?" Jeon and the Probe Shell chorused.

    Jeon glared at 'Melvin', who shook its head and waited. Glancing around, it began

    "I may have lost my memory of everything's that happened since... Since?"

    "This morning."

    "Since this morning." Jeon continued smoothly, "But I can't begin to fix anything until I know what the problem is."

    "This may not be the proper place to discuss it," 'Melvin' warned, leaning in. Calamity leaned upright, biting at her lip only the briefest moment till rigid self restraint culled any of her outward emotions.

    "We need to get everyone back together." she whispered, amethyst eyes slowly drawing back to the pole stuck in the doctor "After that's...mended."

    "When are we going to have time?" Panos countered in equal whispers. "Us running off after the battle will pull ire and unwanted attention. They're going to expect you to be command" Panos stressed. "You're a doctor, can't you fix your memory..." he turned back to the young lady beside him, "Can you force his memory back?" At the question Calamity looked with widening eyes.

    "You can do that?" Jeon asked, leaning forward eagerly.

    "He is not human, although he looks it," 'Melvin' warned. "And you are but recently recovered. We can't be sure how it might affect him, or you. This is not the time or place. Nor does it address our immediate need."

    "I would like this thing sticking out of me taken care of," Jeon reluctantly agreed. "Can we just rip this... robe I'm wearing open a bit so we can examine the damage first? If I bleed to death, knowing what happened this morning won't make a bit of difference."

    Panos looked over at Calamity and she nodded, somehow guessing what he was thinking "We have to get her if we're going to get through this..." Calamity gazed around to those in the medical tent and her eye snatched an attendant who arrived without a word needed, "Take care of his wounds best as possible, keep him well." Her tone returned to a bloody coolness while she set her sight on the underling.

    "Y-yes young marchioness!" the middle-aged man agreed quickly to Calamity's command.

    "I will return." she told Jeon and Melvin, silently giving them eyes and setting off with Panos hand in hand to the sleigh.

    "Very serious, those two," Jeon frowned, watching them leave.

    Winging over from the conspiracy of ravens by the castle, two of the flying drones locked onto Calamity and Panos as they exited the tent. It was going to do a better job of tracking these humans, especially the one with the magic.

    "Yes," 'Melvin' agreed, slipping its fingers into the torn fabric and with a sudden intense tug, ripped his robe to the bottom hem. Any moment that magic healer might show up and try to heal the Zayan.

    "Hey...!" Jeon yelped.

    "We need to inspect the site." 'Melvin' replied, flipping up the ends of the robe to reveal the singed chainmail-like AnySuit, and the head of the pike now welded to its side.

    "Well, no wonder I don't feel much." the doctor sighed. "Ruined my suit."

    Calamity's man looked over the sight of injury.

    "Strange, well, he doesn't need the healer. He needs the smith to cut this chain mail off" Wrinkling his nose he turned to another of the men tending the injured fighters. "Send message to cancel bringing Lady Lyina, his injury is nothing"

    "Yes, all the clasps are fused," Jeon fumed, struggling with one. "Go fetch a smith Melvin so he can cut me out of this and I can start helping in here."

    He paused, turning towards the Probe Shell curiously. "Do we have any supplies?"

    "Yes, I have a kit with me," 'Melvin' told him. "Just don't show off, they might think you're a witch."

    "A witch? They tell me that I've killed this... Drak wizard," he paused grimly, "And they're afraid of a little 'witchcraft'?"

    "Wouldn't you be?"

    While being led further into social troubles, Jeon could feel Panos and Calamity moving away from him. The instinct, like a supernatural tether kept him aware of how far away or how close they were from him.

    Jeon frowned. How was it he could sense these two, or the one somewhere further back? And why could he not feel Melvin's presence?

    "Let's go then," Melvin said.

    "Go? Go where?" Jeon demanded.
    "To find ourselves a smith to cut you out of that."
    "Good idea," the doctor smiled wanly, but sighed as the pike wagged back and forth. "Reminds me of a few jokes back in medical school. I can't travel like this!"
    "I still have the wheelbarrow."

    "You, carry me in a wheelbarrow?"

    "I got you in here with one, remember?"

    "I was unconscious at the time. Oh, alright then," he capitulated as the Probe Shell lead him to the transport."

    Once Jeon was sitting, 'Melvin' turned towards the laconic fellow who'd helped them before. "Excuse me, do you know where I can find a blacksmith? I'd rather not expose him to too many fans, he's heavy enough to push around before his ego gets inflated, so I'd appreciate a way less traveled."

    "Rambunctious lad aren't you?" the man said, already turning his focus to wounded men and glancing occasionally at Jeon. With a grip over freshly retrieved bandages his other light skinned hand pointed to the left, to a far alleyway. "If you go down through that path between those buildings it'll lead you to Brinn's place. Go all the way to the end, to the center of the city"

    "Thank you," 'Melvin' replied, turning back towards Jeon.

    The cloth was slowly applied over a wound, bandaging being changed on a patient "Lots of men are going to be there" the medicine man warned.

    "Maybe they won't recognize me," Jeon shrugged.
    "Not a lot of them wearing robes out there," the Probe Shell replied, picking up the handles. "We'll think of something."

    The ravens waiting outside took flight, scouting the route for the Probe.
    From above the air riding scouts saw the very rowed and pragmatic design of Whitebar. The heaviest foot traffic filled the central thoroughfare in the semi-circle gated town. Men walking their first steps of victory moved in swarm to the set up camps, others were walking the bend to the far left of Whitebar. There at the end of the turn, by the mountainside a gathering of soldiers grew before a stone building equipped with the blacksmith's furnishings. The gathered were in the dozens.

    "Are you sure we should be going this way?" Jeon whispered hoarsely.
    "Relax, you're a hero."

    "I was in an airlock, the next thing I remember is waking up in this bloody wheelbarrow getting told I killed an enemy wizard! I don't even remember doing it!"

    "They'll probably see your denials as humility. You might even get a knighthood out of this."

    "I don't want a knighthood, I want to get back home!"

    "On that we can agree."

    "Why don't I remember you?" Jeon demanded suddenly.

    "You've forgotten me? That hurts! The others brought me in from one of the escape pods, I'd been trapped in there for months. You were examining me when suddenly we wound up in the apothecary shop."

    "Apothecary shop? What apothecary shop?"

    "That's back in the capital, we're on the border."

    "Why are we here at the border fighting wizards?"

    "Things just... sorta happened," 'Melvin' admitted. "Stay quiet, I think we're close.”

    Through the narrow path straight of long houses the other side gave enough shade to remain hidden. 'Melvin' and Jeon saw, heard the loud congregation of dozens of soldiers cheering over their victory.

    The long house with its additional wing and chimney had its doors open with light emitting, a flickering flame. Each direction men chatted in groups of two or more, the door itself empty of men for none were entering or leaving. The mood was high, laughter and distraction aplenty.

    "Keep your head ducked down," The probe shell ordered softly, slipping out of the shadows heading for the open doorway.

    The wheelbarrow rolled on with the disguised robot's direction. With its advanced bodily control it was able to prevent Jeon's transport from being shaken by small holes in the buried dirt or the slick of snow. By 'Melvin's' supple and assured wrists was Jeon's waving pole attatched to his chest kept near still. To Jeon's continued surprise no matter how open in the cold he was, he still felt a comfortable warmth to him - flesh not moved by Whitebar's weather.

    Laughter enveloped them, the faint traces of blood, sweat and rowdy white noise cloaked attention off of them surprisingly. However to enter the blacksmith's home was a grave challenge to subtly. Three steep stone steps led up to the open door. Did 'Melvin' attempt to push the wheelbarrow up or find some other method to get Jeon inside?

    'Melvin' lowered the handles of the wheel barrow until it rested on its feet, then wiped its forehead in case anyone was watching.

    "Stay here," it ordered bruskly. "I'll see if we can get someone to get you out of your suit."
    "What if someone comes over and tries to talk to me?" Jeon demanded softly as he looked around the alley.
    "Don't let your boyfriend know," the Probe Shell retorted as it went up the stairs. "He looks to be the jealous type."
    "Boyfriend...?" the doctor demanded, staring after the boy as he disappeared inside. Was that a joke?

    Inside the house, 'Melvin' looked around for the nearest person wearing a leather apron that looked like a medieval blacksmith.

    Behind the counter a lone man sat in a wood chair. Showcasing on his walls were plates of shaped metal, and weapons. The metals glint of iron all to expected by 'Melvin'. The thickly built, hairy man in the chair was leaned back, sipping on a glass of spirits by himself while the men cheered and laughed outside.

    The overweight figure moved as the youth entered his establishment.

    "No brats in my shop! Get out!" a commanding thud of his boots as he stood told of his seriousness. Despite his midsection being underdeveloped his arms were strong, lean and rugged. They worked together to throw the man's glass at 'Melvin'.

    The human's fury was intense, it had thrown a glass worth at least a day, if not a week's wages at what he perceived to be a human child. It was likely the human was drunk and not completely aware of its actions - or did it not care, possibly because one could be easily healed by magic in this place, thus allowing for such casual cruelty?

    It would be easy for the Probe shell to dodge or catch the glass, but that might draw more attention to its abilities, as would pinning the attacker and the glass to the wall with its enhanced surgical tractors set to repell. However, it would only lead to further complications.

    What would a human child do? It would flinch, put up its hands to guard its face, and try to dodge as it ran out. Easy enough to do, but it needed to shock the human to some semblance of sobriety so he could get Jeon out of the ruined AnySuit.

    At least this wasn't magic.

    Its arms rose to guard its face, while the synthetic flesh soften. The glass shattered as it hit, most of it falling harmlessly to the floor, but some shards had lodged in the Probe shell's arms and face, well away from the eyes. It would mean a few weeks of bandages as it faked its wounds but it would establish the shell as being 'human'.

    "Melvin?!?" Jeon demanded outside, trying to climb out of the wheelbarrow only for it to tip over with a clatter, landing on his back and knocking the wind out of him.

    "That is my master," 'Melvin' answered calmly, as warmed preserved blood began to ooze from the glass wounds. "His armor was damaged in battle and I had to bring him here in a wheelbarrow to see if you could remove it for him. I am sorry to trouble you, we'll go to the castle instead."

    The noise was likely to attract attention - in this case, it didn't mind, it needed witnesses to say the pike hit the armor, not the 'man'. The only real question was if the human was going to stop, or if he was going to strike a pre-teen?

    Gina Wright

    "And blue in color, an illumination bursts the moment of its use..." The king answered her with a cautious draw of his breath, building suspense of the moment. Charlie nodded.

    "We do not need to say more of how dangerous it is." the second man said with a serious tone. "If she knows a means to use it, the young lady must never lay a hand on it. Watch her hands. Do you have any other questions?"

    Loads. Gina thought, But none for right now. She shook her head. The two sets of honed and worried eyes kept on the teenager, setting the stage for her next challenge to be a foreboding one.

    "We should bring a couple more guards." she suggested. "Just in case."

    "Sadly the armor worn is not of any subtlety, if it nears her door or enters her hallway I worry the noise may startle her into retaliation." Charlie frowned as the possibility.

    Gina chewed the inside of her cheek, and shrugged. “Fair enough.”

    "I am in need of your bravest focus." King Kinglos told Gina with bravado, neither man seeming to hesitate sending her to this task. There was a certain amount of black humour in that, she supposed - too delicate to set foot in a dungeon, but fully capable of taking on a potentially magic-wielding lady Leann.

    To be fair, she had faced much worse - not that Kinglos and Charlie knew that.

    “I’ll do my best, m’lord.” she said, taking as much comfort as she could from the fact that the king at least trusted her. “I’ll come back out if I find anything and bang on the door if I need help. Sound like a plan?”

    The men agreed, now creating a pact of sending Gina into the danger.

    While a guard led the way, his guidance ended at the stairs to the second floor. The king and adviser were near and stopped with the guard. Looking down to Gina the man indicated to the left with his hand.

    "Third door." he whispered, the hallway empty and lit only by one torch. The dark cold of the hallway was in and of itself another foreboding message. Gina had to fight down comparisons with an old, abandoned asylum outside Austere.

    The one saving grace of this place. she thought, almost facetiously. No Them.

    She padded softly towards the indicated door and, after glancing back to make sure that the king, the adviser and the guard were out of sight, pulled the High Priestess card out of her sleeve. She thumbed it twice and held it close to her mouth.

    "Don't reply, I need to be quiet." she whispered softly. "I think I've found who let the Drake prisoner escape. I'm at the guest quarters at the east wing. Melvin, is Jeon okay?"

    A picture appeared on the card, showing Jeon with three question marks over his head. Shorn of context, it didn't reassure her. Jeon's confused? Jeon's gone missing? She didn't dare to keep the card out long enough to ask anything further, and deactivated it with a triple-tap.

    Returning the card to her sleeve, she closed the last few paces to lady Leann's door. She took a deep breath, and knocked softly on the cold wood. The door was opened cautiously, by Troa. The servant girl’s face hardened but she said nothing, staring Gina down and waiting to see what would be the first move to their social game.

    Outside, the scouting raven tried to get a lock on Gina’s location. From where the last signal came, the raven would be able to get to Gina if it was willing to break through a window on the floor above. The young woman was directly behind it.

    The raven scout glanced up, then flew off of the ledge for the window below and circled round, landing on the upper ledge. It turned its head to stare at her through the glass.

    Within its N-Space bubble, the Probe stared at her through the raven's eyes. Found you....

    Gina did her best to look nervous, which wasn't particularly difficult.

    "Hey." she said quietly. "Umm...can I...?" She glanced furtively up both sides of the corridor, and bit her lip. "Can I come in, please?"

    "What are you afraid of?" Troa quoted Gina, slapping her earlier words across her face. The young woman opened the door a sliver more, crossing her arms. Though Gina couldn't see the details, she could see the movement of another person in the room. That’d be Leann. She didn’t crane to look, not yet. Instead, she looked at the floor, playing the humble card.

    “I’m sorry…” she rambled, clutching her hands to her chest. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry...what was I supposed to do? That horrible drunkard picks me out of the crowd and says ‘You! I want you to help me find this Drake’...if the adviser wasn’t there I swear he’d be trying to grope up under my skirt…”

    She hugged her arms and shivered, looking up plaintively at Troa.

    “I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you plainer in front of everyone in the doctor’s room...I tried to warn you out of his way...then when I saw you coming out of the torture chamber, I...if he got suspicious he’d kill you, he’d kill me for knowing you, he’d probably kill Bonroe and your lady Leann just to be sure…”

    She sniffled, and cuffed at her nose as she glanced once again back down the corridor.

    “I’m sorry...I still don’t know how I convinced him that Bonroe was just being shy about liking you...I hate him. I hate him so fucking much.”

    "You're really coming out of your shell," a voice inside the room remarked. "Usually when you lie it's behind someone else's back and not to their face. Maybe your father has begun shaping you into a decent woman after all."

    "Oh no." Gina whined quietly, looking at the floor as she cradled her head. "I lied to the king's face..."

    "Let her in, Troa." The amused voice behind Troa sounded to be Gina's age, but already there was a sense of command and perceptiveness ringing of danger to Gina's tactics.

    When the brunette moved aside Gina was able to get a view of their room. The accommodations were more generous with more decorations, paintings particularly. Calamity as she had once seen her image superimposed now saw Calamity’s and Panos’ as they were stoic, hand clasped in hand at various poses among three paintings. Though their faces were young and fair, the wrath Calamity’s eyes carried gave hint of the vengeful young woman the original must have been. In each portrait it was she who took the center of the picture. There was also a bookshelf and wardrobe, giving sense that this room was more lived in than others of the guest quarters.

    She does live here then. Gina thought. A flutter of black briefly drew her eye to the window, where a crow or a raven was pecking at the snow built up around the sill, but soon enough she had to lay eyes upon lady Leann.

    A girl of her age, the teenager Leann was an unusual sort of beauty. Straight brown hair down to her mid back framed a face with soft eyes and jawline, with stronger brows and smaller lips - making her face a drawing mix of masculine and feminine features. Dressed in green, her dress was held with a silver belt at the waist. For now Leean was looking over the paintings, smiling all the while and waiting for Gina to enter her chambers. Gina might have taken the studying gaze for admiration, but following Bonroe's words the young woman's focus on Cal and Panos took on a darker intent.

    She shuffled over to the bookcase and hovered there, hugging her arms. There were, she noted, an assortment of small, pretty boxes sitting on the first shelf. Gold leafed, with hinged lids; the kind that one might expect to hold perfume. Or powder...

    "Please..." she asked Leann. "Can I just...hide here until it's all over?"

    Troa closed the door gently and walked over to a chair at the end of the bed to sit. The young woman watched Gina until deciding to look out the window.

    "Oh!" Troa said with excitement at the raven she spotted looking in. Leean kept her eyes keenly centered on the painting.

    "What a lovely bird..." Troa said with eager innocence, provoking her mistress to look over.

    "Snooping birds, what is it?" Now Gina was not being watched over by either young woman as both neared the window.

    Gina bit her lip, and immediately took the opportunity to slide her thumb over the lid of one of the decorative boxes. Flipping it half open, she glanced down and away from the two preoccupied women just long enough to ascertain its contents. She quietly lowered the lid and repeated the process as many times as she dared while Leann and Troa remained distracted by the bird.

    Besides Gina, there were two others in the room, and they were coming towards the window. Clearly, it had been seen, but Gina was busy behind their backs opening small boxes as she furtively looked over her shoulder...?

    The raven gave a loud caw and spread out its wings, while the other scouts dove off the roof and began their descent. The window looked to be just ordinary glass, it should be easy to break - but this world was anything but ordinary.

    Leann tapped on the window to garner the raven's focus. Troa smiled when the small aviator responded to the attention.

    Meanwhile Gina flicked through each box, the scents of their oils and extracts coming into the air around her. The third box was a sickening revelation as moments after the lid was moved she saw the expected blue glow.

    Gotcha. she thought, her heart beginning to thud as she thumbed the lid back down. Just in time, as it turned out.

    "Come and see this wild critter." Leann said to Gina with some amusement.

    Gina cuffed her nose and tiptoed towards the window, looking at the raven, but keeping herself between the bookcase and the other two women.

    "He seems really tame, doesn't he?" she said, scratching the back of her head as she watched the bird flutter back and forth. It seemed unafraid of Troa and Leann as they tapped at the window. "D'you reckon he's someone's pet?"

    She could fit the box of arcanium in one hand easily, but it was far too big and blocky to hide in her sleeves or bodice. How was she going to sneak out with it?

    The girl was trying to hide something - from the others? She had no reason to suspect the birds. Two of the circling ravens flew down, landing on the ledge on either side of the bird already there, which had swiftly folded its wings to make room.

    Three pairs of eyes stared back at two pairs. The first one, in the middle, tapped on the glass with its beak.

    Troa continued to watch with a calm yet entertained smile, while lady Leann turned and neared Gina. At the same time she could feel Calamity and Panos starting to slowly head her way. Grabbing Gina's hand the long term guest of Calamity's fortress led the teenager to the bed where she sat down, looking at Gina to join her.

    "If you're going to stay here I am going to need a few stories from you to pass this scary time."

    Gina laughed raggedly. "Yeah," she said faintly. "Yeah, maybe it would help, actually." She glanced down at her hand, still clasped in Leann's. Watch her hands. Leann was smiling, but the cheeky smile pressed onto her features was like a pounce from a great beast.

    "Who is that boy you said wanted to wed you? Mr. Taylor was it?"

    Gina nodded. Ah yes - sweet, annoying Alfred. She hoped that he was safe and being taken care of until the healers had time to awaken everyone else who had been wiped out by Cal's accidental magic outburst.

    "Tell me again how you two met," Leann urged. "I remember it being at least a bit funny."

    How did we? Gina wondered, but she couldn't hesitate now. She giggled again, a little less tensely. "Actually, I can tell you an even funnier one. You know how his house is just across the road from mine? Well this morning I opened my curtains just to see the sun before I got dressed and he was already there, again, just waiting at the window."

    She mimed a staring face, beginning to feel more confident as she worked through recounting the story.

    "Well you know Alfred, he waves and smiles like an idiot...until I point out that I'm still in my nightgown, then he starts," She gasped and covered her eyes with her free hand. "And that's when his sister appears. And even while she's slapping him for peeking he's still trying to sneak glances through his hands..."

    She giggled again as she acted out the scenario. Strictly speaking Alfred's sister hadn't slapped him, and she mentally apologised to the youth once again as she threw him under the bus for a second time that day.

    "He insisted on escorting me here, you know?" She shook her head. "What am I going to do with him? I hope he's alright after what happened downstairs."

    Even as she joked, she was intensely aware of Cal and Panos growing steadily nearer. She couldn't decide if she wanted them here to help, or if she should bail out before they stumbled in.

    Gina and the other girl were talking, while they still had attention of the one by the window. The two flanking raven probes flew off the ledge, while the original continued to watch.

    Leann laughed with bold personality, rubbing her neck in a way of self focus and narcissism as she carried on after Gina's story. Filling the room the young lady gradually eased into a cruel smile as she leaned back, resting her hands behind her on the bed to keep propped up.

    "You know Alfred at one time told me he thought I was beautiful, more than you. You are what is within easy reach." The teenager smirked.

    “Oh.” Gina said, allowing her own fragile smile to wilt away.

    She wondered if Leann’s words had been the truth or simply designed to nettle her, and to her own surprise she found herself feeling slightly wounded on her absent doppelganger’s behalf. Closeted lesbian or not, she was almost tempted to defend her pride and shrug off the insult by telling Leann that she was welcome to Alfred. But she was also keen to keep both him and Caroline out of harm’s way - and Leann was definitely harmful.

    She slumped, avoiding Leann’s eyes for a moment. She had already gathered that the other woman didn’t think very much of her, she reasoned. And it did no harm to her own ego to hand Leann the ostensibly easy victory. Back into your shell you go, Gina Remoni.

    "And Panos...his eyes say it all when he looks my way." Gina looked up, to see that Leann’s stare had returned to the oil painting of Whitebar's ruling couple. Now Gina could see the same focused stare at the artwork she had witnessed when she first entered, but it wasn't for the mastery or wonder of the art itself, it was for the Grecian prince Gina had met universes ago.

    Good luck with that. Gina wished her. But was that it? Was that why Leann was seemingly working against the marchioness?

    “But…” she said aloud, “The marchioness...what if she…?”

    "With what I've heard I don't think there is anything to worry about her. She allowed her homeland to turn into a battlefield. No one will respect her as leader now, she, sadly," Leann said with sarcastic wounding, "Won't be leading anyone for much longer. It is a shame after all the work she had done in her lifetime." Sighing as she took in Panos, the flawless young man captivated her once more. "This was unexpected for everyone, but it'll be right in the end." The whisper was a promise, one Gina could tell wasn't for her as the young woman continued hopefully at the painting.

    Gina rose from the bed and padded across the room with folded arms, ostensibly to get a closer look at the painting Leann was entranced with, but in reality to put herself within reach of the arcanium box as she sensed Cal and Panos approach.

    There’s one massive hole in your story, m’lady. The drakes only got in because someone slipped their prisoner some arcanium, and when everyone finds out that someone was you…

    She looked at the painting of the marchioness, her hand resting sternly on her husband’s shoulder.

    Cal won’t let you hurt him, and neither will I.

    She turned back towards Leann and Troa, putting her hands behind her to cushion her back as she leaned against the bookcase. The tip of her pinkie finger brushed against the arcanium box.

    “One day out here with the king and the drakes is enough for me.” she said, shaking her head. “Right now I just want to go home to my dad. And…” She caught herself. “Well, I guess not Alfred anymore…” She ground her teeth and looked at the floor.

    The Raven on the window sill cocked its head slightly as the Probe back inside its bubble wondered what Gina was up to?

    Leean didn't move, letting herself soak in the image of what she desired most. But as the teenager bathed her mind in fantasy, Troa tired of the raven and left the window. With a faint closed lip smile the young woman approached Gina.

    She felt the woman reach around her back to grab her wrists, bringing Gina's hands before her. Her finger brushed the decorative box, setting it swinging once from side to side. In an instant Leann's head turned and things grew tense. Gina pretended not to notice, focusing instead on the mild surprise of Troa taking her hands. A breath's pause and things returned to as they were, Troa pressing Gina's hand into a pose of prayer.

    "Find faith." Troa's personality changed, her face kinder while her eyes focused on Gina's praying hands. "The gods may give you what you want."

    "Troa, you and your faith..." Leann whispered with thin patience, stepping away from the painting to look over boxes on the shelf. "It hasn't given me what I want..."

    Gina used the excuse of the woman’s words to turn towards her, allowing Leean a view of the arcanium box without actually moving out of the way. Hopefully she would gauge that nothing was amiss when neither Gina nor Troa seemed to pay the box any mind.

    "You never pray properly, lady." Troa was telling Leann over Gina's shoulder. "You seem to forget after every time I show you."

    “Maybe you’ll have to show her again?” Gina joined in with a hesitant smile. “I mean if you want a sign, that bird by the window still isn’t moving…”

    They were talking, Gina was glancing its way. Could she know? Unlikely. Maybe it should build a new scout, one that could listen to conversations on the other side of a closed window?

    Troa and Leean followed Gina's symbolic perspective, observing the black bird still perched on the window. The oldest of the three nodded slowly, accepting with reverence.

    "It is strange." Leean agreed, the more headstrong adolescent sounding unsure. "Alright Troa we will pray Miran and not to Loanon as you always insist."

    "Then we will pray to love." Troa flattened her green dress to lower herself to her knees. With Leean following the two young women were face to face. Her soft light brown eyes settled on Gina.

    "When you have seen enough, you join us." The voice spoken somewhere between invitation and command. Before each other the young women pressed their hands in prayer, silent. Gradually, by the count of five, the women moved their hands together.

    "Miran, many blessings, many hearts, we are the many who worship you." Troa led the prayer, once more by a count of five the young women hummed as their hands returned into prayer pose. Their eyes shut, and Gina began to see a repeating pattern of sound and gestures. The two women were beside the bed and Gina remained nearest the shelf and the door.

    She wasn’t sure what to make of the prayers, but she knew she probably wasn’t going to get a better chance. Carefully, she lifted the arcanium box from the shelf and, hiding it with her body, crept towards the door.

    Gina had taken a box while the two were engaged in some ritual, and she was edging towards the door. The raven on the sill took a step to the left as one of the waiting scouts dove at the window. Unlike an actual raven, it was not about to break its neck.

    The young women screamed as the cracking glass buckled from the impact of the diving bird. Gina had a split second to see the raven come crashing through into the room before her instincts kicked in and she bolted - one, two, three steps to the door, pulling it open with a jerk and slipping through to flee along the corridor, panic blood squirting up her throat and thumping in her temples. She almost lost one of her awkward platform shoes as she ran, the box held to her chest in a white-knuckle grip.

    The invading scout flew around the room flapping its wings while screeching, then dove in front of the door as Gina slipped past, hovering there for a long moment to allow the young woman to make her escape before escaping out the shattered window.

    Back at the stairs the guard which had been her guide was looking on with dismay as he stared at her. The closer she got the more dramatic his worry was noticeable on his face, there was sweat, there was fear. "Our lord and the Adviser were taken by magic.”

    Gina gaped back at him. “What?

    “I think it was the Lord's mage, I saw red hair and maybe a pointy ear but...they're gone!"

    In a whispered hiss the man shared his powerlessness with Gina, giving her an objective complete without the leading personalities to continue on the chain of events.

    “Go!” she hissed back at the guard, flailing a hand back towards Leann’s chamber and hoping against hope that the man’s deference to direct orders was deep enough to obey, even if they were coming from a woman. “I got the arcanium, now guard the door, make sure she doesn’t run! I’ll try and find the king!”

    The Scout who'd been outside on the window sill tried to follow Gina as she ran past the windows. The next time it tried to use card comms, they would have remote activation.
    Spoiler: My RP links 

    PM me for novelised versions of any of my RPs, or ones that I have participated in. Set by the awesome Karma.

  8. #138
    Minkasha's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
    In a world I struggle to understand.
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    Jeon Smythe & 'Melvin'

    The men outside ran as a mass as the new war hero fell as a shambled mess. Jeon was now bombarded by men's voices asking him a list of questions, hands touching him to lift him up. Meanwhile others looked into the establishment to see the scattered pool of alcohol, glass shards, and bleeding child.

    Brinn stood in shock for a moment before coming out from behind his counter. "You were supposed to run! Shit." The man muttered under his breath, looking for something across the counter. "Come over here." he grunted to 'Melvin', returning to the back of his shop with faster steps.

    "Brinn you've done it now!" A man from outside shouted, coming in. "That bastard skewered you lad." The young man in his battle armor hissed as he took off his helmet to reveal a man in his late 20s with a hawkish nose and brown hair, with matching eyes.

    "Someone help me up!" Jeon begged, trying to get a handhold to pull himself upright. "I have to get in there!"

    He heard the shattering of glass - if the boy was injured, what might the man inside do? Yank the pieces out and do more damage to fragile tissue, nerves, veins and arteries? Try to cauterize the wounds with a hot poker, possibly sealing other fragments inside?

    "Tend to my master first," the probe shell said, pointing out the door. "Then he can tend to me."

    "Well isn't that just damn selfless of you? BRINN! Damn it get back out here!" The man kneeled down next to 'Melvin'. The creak of the bar door showed the blacksmith returning with a clean cloth he handed over to the boy.

    "Make use of it, best I've got." the man grunted.

    "You want us to shove you up in there?" A voice among the many men asked surrounding Jeon. "You look 'bout a quarter skewered. You've got brazen balls to be making any demands!" An older man yelled at Jeon, slapping the doctor's shoulder hard.

    "He's the hero that killed the sharp tooth bookie, what are we going to do?" a soldier asked another, men talking around Jeon. Looking at each other, the men pulled back Jeon's wheel barrel - taking him further from the door.

    "You need a healer, let's get!"

    "What?" Jeon yelled, "But Melvin's injured, I...."

    "Thank you," 'Melvin' said as he took the cloth from the smith, watching as Jeon was being dragged back the way they came. "The wizard's bolt welded the head of the pike to his armor. The healer tent sent us here to see if you could cut him out of his suit. As the marchioness is expecting him sooner rather than later, I'm hoping you can get them to bring him back so we don't keep her waiting?"

    “Don’t keep our marchioness waiting you drunkard.” the brunette man said, with stinging jest at the blacksmith. “I’m taking you back to the tent. Brinn will oversee your master.” The poised man whistled to his compatriots, waving them to bring Jeon over. Grabbing ‘Melvin’s’ wrist, the man pulled the youth aside.

    "No," The Probe Shell frowned, pulling back from the would-be samaratan as he glanced over his shoulder at Jeon. "If we're separated, bad things happen. I must stay with my master."

    Jeon was sent on a violently shaky ride, the pike waving ridiculously as drunk soldiers brute-forced his wheelbarrow up into the shop. Binn raised two eyebrows at the slapstick performance.

    “If it were in your guts it’d have skewed you again!” the hairy man laughed with disbelief.

    "Get me out of this, I need to see to my... apprentice," Jeon scowled, then added, "Please.

    Removing glass had so many risks, especially in the face area.
    The men tossed the handles of the wheelbarrow up throwing Jeon out with little time to catch himself on his feet. Before the Zyan doctor could fall the blacksmith caught him.

    The soldiers looked at the sight of the injured kid and frowned. 'Melvin's' hand was still held by the more forthright adult, "Apothecary I'm not sure you're in the right state to look after him. I'm going to bring him to the healer's tent, come" The man pulled lightly on the youth's hand, attempting to lead the mired faced child to the exit.

    "Please!" Jeon yelled, exasperated. "Right now they have far more serious cases to consider, the boy will be waiting for hours and the people in there are already exhausted! All I need is to be cut out of this suit and I can treat him."

    "I have a lot of experience with wounds like this," he added tiredly. "Just leave the boy here and let's get me out of this."

    "Relax, you're going to poke someone’s eye out with that thing." The man took 'Melvin' with a tug of the hand he held out of the building. Leaving Jeon by himself with the strangers, the soldier tried to hold him steady regardless of his struggle and push the doctor onto the counter.

    Brinn sighed, cursing to himself while he moved to the back of his shop to procure tools. "You're going to need to not fucking move if you're expecting me to get you out of that mess" the man spat at Jeon over the noise of many moving men in leathers and metals and Jeon's pleas.

    Jeon sighed, forcing himself to be still. "As you would," he sighed, wondering how Melvin was faring with a face full of glass? The mutterings of men and their alcohol-scented breath was complimented by the blacksmiths grunts each time his cuts. His sharp metal tool eating one by one the metal links keeping Jeon trapped.

    Jostle after jostle, the uncomfortable time spent pinned by these men ended with Brinn releasing the lodged pole out of a great hole from the doctor's armor. "I spared the man who spared the city, what does that make me?" Brinn asked Jeon and the men with a touch of slyness to it.

    "Thank you. I'd be grateful if you could undo these connections on the shoulders, too," Jeon asked quietly. What sort of pain must that boy be in?

    "Your magic can kill a wizard but it can't get you out of this?" One of the drunk men laughed while Brinn accomplished what Jeon asked. The crowd around the doctor looked on with interest as they seemed to be wondering about his supposed magic as well.

    There was that word again - "magic." And how to tell these people he didn't remember anything from the battle? Or even how long he'd been in this world?

    After Brinn had undone the clasps, he grabbed the neck of the AnySuit and pulled it down, wiggling to free his shoulders from some sort of quilted paddled suit - a gambsome? There was a burn there, about where the spear had been.

    Jeon gingerly probed the burned padding and hissed in pain. Gingerly, he lifted up the edge - skin was red, no charring or blisters, thankfully. "That's going to be sore for a few days," he sighed, letting the edge of the padded jacket fall.

    Then it was true - he'd been in a battle. He killed this 'wizard'. What was going on here?

    "Thank you," he told the blacksmith, gathering up the AnySuit - was that a surgical tractor with a rocker switch? "I uh, better go see to the boy."
    Brinn's raising shoulders and distancing body language matched his shifting eyes. The man was uncomfortable, guilt riddled perhaps, as the boy was brought back up.

    "Let us go with the hero!" One of the other drunk soldiers shouted to rouse his fellows. Swinging an arm around Jeon's shoulders, he and a small gathering of others stared on, waiting for the Zyan to lead them.

    "Now hold on, hold on now!" Jeon cried out, eyes blazing as he rounded on them.

    "Down there," he said, pointing the way he came, "is a tent full of wounded and dyin' men, and those tendin' to 'em. And you want to come in celebratin'?"

    He shook his head. "All you'd be doin' is remindin' them of their pains, how they're stuck in beds, possibly maimed for life or worse. That's a cruel dagger for any wounded man to bear. If one or two of you are sober enough and want to help me with that barrow, I'd be thankin' you properly, but the rest of you should stay here, out of earshot of them what's dyin'."

    "Blacksmith, I thank you for freein' me from me suit, but there's no tools you have what could mend it. It best come with me for now, and quickly. That boy must be sufferin' right feircely."
    The mood of jubilation was punctured by Jeon's lecturing, a few men saying where they stood while they reflected.

    "I think seeing us well's going to make them feel better!" An idealist among them countered, rushing outside to get the wheelbarrow while two more joined him. The others emptied out but went their own directions in the snow into the rest of Whitebar. Brinn leered and Jeon and shook his head.

    "We know fear all too much, we are just celebrating while we can" The blacksmith turned his back to Jeon. "Sorry about your boy..."

    "It was an accident," Jeon sighed, "but thank you. I better get back to him."

    With the burned out AnySuit lying on top of the duffle bags, the four of them made their way back to the hospital tent.
    Jeon was able to fake confidence by following one of the war survivors, not having to lead down the alleyway shortcuts.


    "Brinn loses himself, always drinking. Sorry that happened to you boy." The man went on to say while leading Melvin out. He had snatched a blanket from a passing man who was waving it out was a victory flag to wrap around 'Melvin's' young frame. "How do you shrug off the cold so easy? Must have some Western in blood in you too huh? Well don't be stupid about it." He looked over 'Melvin's' wounds and patted him on the back to move him along.

    Through the same route back the man took the same back alleyways to shortcut the duo back to the healer's tent. This time however Lady Lyina was in attendance, giving her self-sacrificial attention to the wounded with her supernatural abilities.

    The battle had taken its toll on her. 'Melvin' could scan many sighs of increased tension though her physiology. Regardless of the fact she was an attractive woman her skin had become a touch paler and her eyes looked sleep deprived. And yet when the woman saw the boy her hands instantly stopped radiating the white light over the soldier she was tending.

    The men's eyes followed her until they saw to whom she was moving before. The bloodied image of the child was surprising to them as well. "Who did this to you?" The woman asked with a whisper when she had kneeled down to his level and scanned all the bits of glass. "I can remove this but you will need to be very still. It won't hurt, alright?"

    "Your hand is shaking," the Probe Shell replied, calmly reaching up to pluck one of the shards out of its face. There was a trickle of blood before the skin sealed itself. "If I let you do this, you'd probably faint away a minute into this. When was the last time you ate anything or got any rest? Tea back in the castle?"

    Another glass shard was plucked out, bleeding for a moment then stopped..

    "Do they call you over to treat every little cut and scrape?" 'Melvin' asked nonchallantly, carefully digging out another shard. "No wonder you're exhausted. If someone can get me a mirror, I can take care of the rest of this myself, why don't you lie down for an hour and eat something, build up your strength?"

    Everyone in the tent looked at the supposed child with degrees of horror and increasing surprise by the second.

    "If you could do that why didn't you earlier?!" The man that had been escorting 'Melvin' asked with a shrill of his shock and irritation.

    "I told you I wanted to stay with my master," 'Melvin' objected, glancing at him irritably. "You dragged me here instead - where I'm now doing this instead of him."

    Lady Lyina stared wide eyed, quickly getting to her feet the woman hurriedly turned away and began leaving the tent. Men watched her go, concern and confusion on their faces from her sudden action.
    "You're going to have to stay here until we get word from her" The soldier told the child imitating robot sternly.

    "Then fetch me a mirror," the probe shell ordered, working on another shard. It could just as easily push out the fragments, but that would be too much for the humans to accept, even for magic.

    Lyina's abrupt departure, however, had the Probe concerned. Could she had determined the shell's nature? The crows at least were getting in position if it needed a distraction.

    "We don't have one of those" one the primitive medicine men answered, staring at 'Melvin' and giving the youth a powerless shrug. The soldier which had brought the robot here returned to his side with a cloth.

    "That magic, is that a Elven enchantment?"

    "A mirror?"'Melvin' asked, working out another fragment. it paused, glancing down at the bloody shard, and then put it aside. "No, this isn't magic. I'm ignoring the pain. And this is glass. The bits are sharp enough that the cuts are smooth, the skin can bounce back and start healing."

    Outside, one of the crows broke away from the flock, flying toward the castle to see if it could spot Lyina.

    "No one heals that fast from a cut. We know what a mirror is" the brunette soldier cross his arms. "I don't know what you've been taught but lying about magic can be a death sentence."

    The boy-sized figure turned to stare up at the solder looking down at him, then he sighed. Placing his fingers on either side of the most recent extraction, he pried it open, wincing slightly as the end tore. Blood seeped out, running down his blood-smeared face. "Does that look healed to you?" he asked.

    He squeezed his hand to clamp the tear shut.

    "So, wizards train boys as young as me?" 'Melvin' asked.
    The act unnerved some of the wounded men on the tables who had been observing the exchanges, Melvin's nameless guide did flinch but kept resolute.

    "Wizards do damn near anything they like, least other one keep them in check. The Emperor's wizard watches mercilessly" The man answered, answering with a tinge of caution, perhaps intimidation.

    "When I was very young," the probe-shell said, "my Master left me in a village with monks who wore saffron robes and worshiped a very fat god. I wasn't the only child, there were many there. And we could see the older boys punching, kicking, breaking boards and bricks with their bare hands."

    "Broke mine trying to copy them," 'Melvin' sighed ruefully. "The monks were very upset, of course. But after they bound my hand, they began to teach me their ways. It started with breathing, it was very important to them that I breathed properly. And I had to breathe properly while sitting cross legged on a cold stone floor with my back straight with a bunch of other boys also trying to breathe and avoid the master's cane."

    "When they were happy with how we were breathing, they brought in a girl monk to teach us how to meditate. We were to sit as before and to breathe while clearing our mind, and we were told to ignore any outside distraction."

    "You know what she did, don't you?" the boy robot sighed, carefully shaking his head while still keeping the gash clamped tight. "She started giggling. And then we started to giggle. It was all very silly, but they would do all sorts of stuff to try and distract us."

    "But meditation can help a mind to withstand hunger, thirst, pain, and yes, help one to heal faster. You need that when you start training to fight with the Saffron monks."

    The robot boy unclamped its hand slowly, then rubbed the gash, feeling the thin scab that had formed. A small drip of blood appeared at the end where the artificial skin had torn.

    "Is that magic?" it scoffed bitterly as the blood began to trickle down its cheek. "Breathing quietly?"
    For a time there was a silence.

    "What's...a monk?" A man on a table asked who laid on a table injured. "Didn't your balls freeze on the ground?" He asked with stifled laughter until one of the medicine men slammed a fist on the man's bandaged thigh, causing him to grunt in terrible pain.

    "The boy's got glass in his face, let him have his stories" Condemned the man to the injured. The soldier with 'Melvin' raised a brow. "I will say you can resist much more than a boy can, should have been able to" Looking past his strong nose, the soldier spoke down to 'Melvin' agreeably. "Otherwise, I have no idea what you're talking about"

    "Monk..." Another on a table mused, "Maybe that's an Elven thing too"

    "But no Elves are fat-uhh!" This injured man sustained a blow to his cut at the arm. The injured quitted themselves to avoid any wrath.

    "Monks are a kind of priest..." the Probe shell began, looking doubtfully at the men. They didn't have monks here? So much for Ms. Grundy's myths and legends class.

    "Boy, why don't you sit and we help you" One of the medicine men suggested while walking towards 'Melvin'.

    "Without washing your hands first?" Melvin sighed, scanning the approaching medicine man as it extracted a fragment from its arm. "Do you know about germs and bacteria?"

    There was movement - Jeon was walking towards the tent at last.
    Everyone looked at one another, 'Melvin's' question unable to produce an affirmative answer.

    Jeon Smythe & 'Melvin'

    The silence the boy-robot's advanced questions injected into the conversation was culled by rowdy men surrounding the unknowingly alien Doctor. The soldiers left the doctor to make small talk with their wounded comrades, a white noise of voices adding life to the environment. Those speaking to the robot-boy still stood around wordlessly and uncomfortable. The scene was odd for Jeon to walk into, sensing something was off in the mood.

    Seeing Melvin, Jeon's face clouded but he said nothing, coming over and carefully taking the boy's chin in his hand, examing the fine web of scabs under the blood.

    "Steady hands," he sighed, then saw the bleeding tear. "What hapened here?"

    "They thought I was using magic to heal myself," the Probe-Shell shrugged non-challantly. "So I showed them I was still healing."

    "Who's been removing these shards?" Jeon asked. "I'd like to commend them."

    "I've been. Probably part of the problem - using magic and denying it is apparently a crime here. They've been watching me pulling out these shards and not bleeding or screeming all over the place."

    "Eh? How do you manage that?" Jeon whispered, shocked.
    "Buddhist mediation healing," 'Melvin' shrugged. "They don't know what a monk is, though."

    "Well, Buddhist or not, I need something to stitch up these wounds... what's this?"
    "Liquid bandage," the Probe-Shell smiled slightly. "Somehow I managed to bring a few things with us."
    "In a glass vial?"
    "I had a few minutes alone this morning in your apothecary shop."
    The people around were paralyzed at the jaw, looking between the boy-robot and the proclaimed magical war hero.

    Finally the brunette with a sharp nose and sturdy confidence, the one whom had brought 'Melvin' here, cleared his throat. Extending a hand for Jeon the man's hand. "Rugnuth, West Gate Defender Leader. Your boy apprentice has great potential to be in military service of our Emperor"

    "What on...." Jeon demanded, brow furlling as he turned towards the soldier.
    "Emperor?" 'Melvin' interrupted. "We've met the king, but no emperor. Unless....?"

    Melvin looked around gravely. "I'm sorry, master. They must be in disguise as humans, probably how that other fellow managed to elude us."

    "What are you...?" Jeon demanded, confused.

    Gina Wright

    Gina could feel Panos and Calamity nearing. They must have been in the castle now. However they were still a floor away and most likely the opposite side of Calamity's fortress. The guard hesitated, looking at the door and its ruckus and Gina. Sternly he pointed at the teenager.

    "Don't you do anything with that, don't touch it!" He warned while running to Leann's room.

    “You don’t have to tell me twice.” Gina hissed in agreement, cradling the box.

    Pausing only long enough to satisfy herself that Leann and Troa had no way out except through the guard now taking position outside the door, she turned and hurried down the stairs - following the ethereal tug of Cal and Panos rather than any real knowledge of the castle layout. Finding herself in another empty corridor lit by wavering tapers, she halted briefly to fish the Tarot card from her pocket.

    “Cal?” she whispered into it, glancing around in fear of approaching footsteps as she cradled the card and the box. “O’doln’s teleported off somewhere with the king, can you see him anywhere?”

    Gina had reactivated the card. As the Probe relayed the communication, the firmware on the card got an update, allowing the subchannel to become passive surveillance, even if the card was turned off.

    Outside, the raven-shaped scouts returned to the roof, waiting for the teen girl's next move.

    "What?!" a young man's softer yet pointedly sharp voice hissed back to Gina, Panos taking the left hook she delivered. "No, what did you do?" the young man asked with whispering skepticism.

    “Nothing.” Gina hissed. “I’ve got the arcanium, someone called lady Leann was using it to try and get Cal out of the way. I’ve locked her in her room for the moment. Is Cal still with you?”

    "Calamity is busy speaking to the citizens, she's occupied."

    Gina chewed the inside of her cheek.

    “I’m coming to you.” she whispered. “Hold on.”

    She tapped the card off and pushed it back up her sleeve, before taking off again through the castle.
    Stepping down the stairs she could hear the building of voices, their reflections ricocheting and reaching Gina’s senses. In tandem the direction Panos and Calamity were, the teenager was able to see a mass of leather- and wool-wrapped people massed around a grand hall, stuffed inside the expanded room and spilling over in uncertain clusters at the doors.

    She realized what she had been listening to were their collective whispers for one young woman’s voice spread over their volume, inside the grand hall. It was Calamity, but the words were not able to be made out.

    Moving left and right the children and women moved aside, Panos drawing nearer until his pale complexion and blanch hair were seen emerging from the crowd. Riding on anger, the sapphires of his eyes clawed into Gina while he walked straight to her.

    If he’s gone we have to find him. If it’s...sorcery, he could be anywhere...” Panos’ face stressed while he thought more of the circumstances, “Lyina. She’s close to that man.” The teenager said it scornfully, with an anger which seemed incredibly personal.

    “Okay.” Gina whispered back, still unsure why Panos seemed to hate and fear O’doln so specifically. Maybe it’s something to do with... She shut the thought down. She owed Panos better than that. “Where is she?”

    She’s in there.” Panos pointed with his thumb back into the crowded room.

    Gina followed his gaze, and was struck by a sudden, irrational sense of foreboding. Something about the grand hall, and the press of bodies in it...she remembered a gun flashing, Panos arcing almost gracefully over the balcony as the bullet scattered blood and pearls from his back, Baka already lying dead with his eyes glassy and accusing. Hiss, shriek, bang.

    She dug the heel of her free hand into her eyebrow. Not again, not again…

    Panos was standing in front of her, his expression still hostile.

    Promise not to leave him alone. Calamity had said. Not again. Gina thought for a third time, but this time the words were enough to pull together the fraying threads of her courage.

    “Can you take me to her?” she asked. “I don’t think the crowd would part the same way for me.”

    Panos delayed a moment, eyeing the dramatic center of events that lay in Gina's hands. After taking in the box, Panos' face vanished behind a veil of bright hair as he turned around and began to walk through the people. Indeed they moved for his every step, Gina sensing and hearing her approach to Calamity.

    Despite everything, Gina could still feel her heart beginning to skitter as they pressed into the crowd. It made her grip Leann’s box so tightly that the skin under her fingernails blanched white. She focused her senses outward against her inner turmoil, the fear sharpening her senses as she glanced about for threats and strained her ears to try and catch what the onlookers and the unseen Cal were saying.

    "-we claimed victory." The cold push of Cal's voice was an act that Gina could hear was entirely unnatural to the teenager, but delivered with icy inspiration. The people exploded into cheers, Calamity standing firmly and looking over the crowd while guards and Lady Lyina kept nearby. Gina felt a small flush of pride at her friend’s speaking skills, one which managed to slightly thaw the ice that was grinding around inside her torso. As she looked up, Cal’s amethyst eyes spotted her and Panos.

    The faintest hint of a smile came when the marchioness made eye contact with Gina, but she stomped it with her stoic act. Reaching out a hand for Panos, he took it and adorned her arm. He whispered into her ear and Calamity waved Gina over quickly.

    "We need privacy, escort us to a place we may be alone." Whipping her guards under her command, the men began to move. There was natural leadership to Calamity which radiated off her, despite internally each second being an impromptu scramble. "Do what you see is best, I trust your judgment." the black haired beauty told the healer moments before leaving.

    “M’lady?” Gina hailed as she and Lyina crossed paths, pausing to accost her with a gentle touch of her fingertips against the healer’s arm. “Have you seen O’doln since he left to fight? I feel like I should thank him for helping keep us safe.”

    Lyina's state continued to fall, the woman's exhaustion lined under the eyes worsened. It was apparent how she, despite not being leader of Whitebar, carried the people on her shoulders as well. For a moment the woman turned, hiding her face behind blonde tresses until she looked back at Gina and shook her head.

    "He is elsewhere for now, excuse me." With that, Lynia turned to walk away. Gina bit her lip, and hurried after her friends.

    Following the guards out, clapping and cheering citizens hurt the ears until they were many doors away, the guards stopping at the front and the click of footsteps taking the three away from possible earshot. Finally able to reveal herself Calamity sighed and shook her head, losing the detached queen persona.

    "Maybe you should set that down..." the teenager said to Gina with a degree of worry.

    Gina looked down at her hands, and saw that they were still holding Leann’s arcanium box in a death grip. Her fingers were painful from the strain, the pads of her fingertips numb where they crushed against the wood.

    “Yeah.” she agreed. Not for long, though. If the wrong person found it…

    She placed the box down shakily, on the sill of a window that was three quarters covered by snow. She leaned against it with a tired sigh.

    “I owe you an apology, Panos.” she said while she massaged her fingers. “Turns out there was a traitor here after all. But I don’t think Leann meant for the drake to leave and come back with friends.”

    Panos eyed the box again. "A failed assassination and the king's missing. If we immediately execute the failed killer we shouldn't be delayed in going after him. It will also distract from us losing control of the Draconian if it's made public." the androgynous young man suggested in preemptive rebuke to other ideas, his cutthroat aristocratic background making itself apparent.

    “Execute?” Gina repeated, shifting uncomfortably. “Chuck the two of them in the dungeon maybe, but…”

    She trailed off, not sure how to continue the argument. Marchioness Sauver had a bloody reputation to uphold. And Panos was right about seizing control of the narrative while they still could: the people needed to know that it wasn’t Cal who had let the drake escape - even if they would expect vengeance on the one who did. The Nikas court, the cat-people, the angels, this empire...are they all obsessed with killing?

    “There’s Bonroe too.” she said, remembering the young apprentice under guard outside the dungeon. It probably wouldn’t be long before Leann and Troa started pointing fingers at him too. “He needs to get way, way away from here. Maybe your guard captain could see him off? If he didn’t bat an eye at standing up to the king for you I’m sure he’ll keep schtum on any secret mission you give him…”

    Panos was right that they needed to focus on the king, but it didn’t take much to save a life. A horse, a small bag of coins, and an instruction to fuck off far away and start another apprenticeship that didn’t involve torture. Out the back door when no-one was looking, and it would be done. She could do that much at least.

    Calamity released a steady stream of air, enchanting eyes moving away from the box and glossing over. Her thoughts were distracted, held by the subject prior and not ready to progress.

    Panos ignored any mention of mercy or the box, other than a side glance to the object, crossing his arms and looking away. "The more dead the crowd can see the more they'll believe a conspiracy freeing the Draconian than just one girl." Panos settled his stare on her. "How easily would you believe one girl was able to free a prisoner of war?"

    "Panos, you're asking me to be similar to someone I've...despised my whole life." Calamity told her equally beautiful counterpart, the two young people locking intense eye to eye: Panos' stare spiteful and sad, hers heartbroken and firm.

    "Our parents shape us regardless if we want it to happen or not." The reply followed a brushing back of his hair in an elegant but standoffish means of body language. "It would be effective, blame the two of them, working together. If you want this city to keep in order and not ask questions about you, then you have to keep to your part."

    The perplexing, pertinacious lay of the problem caused the young leader to pace.

    Gina watched her move back and forth, chewing her lip in a helpless mirror of Cal’s own stressed gnawing.

    “This is fucked.” she mumbled unhappily, more to herself than to her friends.

    Protect your friends, logic was telling her. Like you’ve always done. That’s your first priority. It’s not your problem that Leann and Troa already fucked it for themselves.

    Was that it? ‘Fuck you, got mine’? It was certainly easier, when doing the right thing was always so relentlessly hard.

    Small wonder half the world’s run by bastards.

    “Maybe there’s another way…” Gina ventured, pulling her hair over her shoulder and tugging at it for comfort. “Jeon’s robot knocked O’doln out and everyone thought he was dead, right?”

    She fished the glossy Tarot card out of her sleeve and tapped it.

    “Melvin? I dunno if you were listening in before but I found out who helped the drake prisoner escape. This lady called Leann wanted Cal out of the way, she got her maid to help her and tricked the apprentice torturer into helping too. Cal needs to punish them or she’ll blow her cover. Can there any way you can help fake an execution? Or make it look like they killed themselves, or…?”

    She trailed off, hoping against hope that the alien robot would reveal a solution in a simple, wonderful transformation of pixels on the card face. She didn’t want to voice her final suggestion: Can you at least make it so they don’t hurt.

    The girl could not have contacted the probe at a worse time, with its probe shell facing possible exposure by one of these 'wizards' like the one that had damaged it internally already.

    And how was it supposed to identify them so it could take action?

    'Need description,' appeared on the card. 'If one of them is in sight, point the card at them.'

    The card didn't have a camera, but the crow standing sentry on the window sill might be able to see where she was pointing at.

    Either way, it needed to extract the probe shell. The rest of the drone crows took off, heading rapidly for the healers' tent.

    “Leann’s about my age.” Gina told the card, as quickly as she could manage. “Straight brown hair, green dress with a silver belt. Troa’s a bit older, same sort of hair, brown eyes. They should still be in the guest quarters on the east side of the castle, it's got a broken window. I left one of Cal's guards to watch them.”

    That was the room she was just in. If those two were conspirators, then it was unlikely anyone would let them live long enough to get dragged in front of Cal, afraid of what they might say.

    Occupied, it sent as it pulled another glass shard from its bleeding skin. Will see what I can do.

    The problem was only the probe shell could be considered "armed" - the drones had a communication n-gate only, and at the moment only one of them was at the castle, watching Gina.

    Gina bit the inside of her cheek, twirling and untwirling the ends of her hair round her fingers. “Alright.” she whispered. “Keep an eye out for O’doln or the king as well. If you see Lyina, she might know where they went.”

    'Lyina has just left the healer's tent', the probe-shell messaged on the card. 'Current wherabouts of O'doln and the King unknown.'

    Calamity had come closer to Gina, studying what she was doing with hope. Panos kept a distant eye while looking around the room they were in.

    "Regardless of how it's done we will need cover for why Calamity and I are leaving if we want to keep up appearances..." the teenage prince informed the two young ladies, a detached tone of voice to his thoughts. "If she says she is in search of allies to retaliate against the invaders it may buy some time."

    Calamity ran a hand over her knuckles, looking between her two companions, "Well, it would depend on how long we're going to be here..." So far their exploits had been short, but this clue had been far more ambiguous for her to understand. How long were they going to be trapped? This reality was unapologetically dangerous, as much as the others. If they stayed long how much worse would it become?

    “We’d need a story regardless.” Gina reasoned, hugging her elbows. How long they might be here was a question she hadn’t had the time to consider yet, and now that she did, it disturbed her too. They had been one day in Panos’ world, and several in the cat-men’s, but the single day in Greywall already felt like a lifetime. “Where would we even start looking for the king, though? The only place I can think of is O’doln took him back to the city, but that’s still just a guess…”

    She pressed a fist to her forehead, scrunching her eyes shut in thought.

    “We can hide the arcanium here until it’s time to show it to the king - put guards on the door so no-one goes snooping, that’s easy enough. If you can find your captain and tell him to do as I say, I can deal with Bonroe while you tell everyone about Leann and Troa. That’d give us time to make sure the king’s not still in the castle. If Lyina doesn’t know anything then maybe Hedspeth could guess where O’doln would go for safety. If we need to twist his arm I could...yeah, I could get Bonroe to write a confession saying it was him who gave Leann the arcanium. We need to work fast but we need at least some idea of where O’doln took the king before we leave.”

    Calamity pressed a finger to the side of the chin, nodding to agree with Gina's ideas.

    "That man is annoying but I can make him listen." the young lady explained, setting up some of the details into alignment. Panos stared at Gina, ever the agent of chaos and disorder. And yet, his silence was an approval never given to her before as the prince continued to study the teenage girl. It was enough to bemuse Gina as she began casting about the room for supplies. A worm-eaten writing desk yielded wax, pen and paper, and she was looking around for some kind of inkpot to go with it when the realisation struck her.

    “Oh.” she said aloud, quietly. It’s a fountain pen. She had no idea that they had such things back in...whatever time this was supposed to be. She had been expecting feather quills. Shaking off the random bit of trivia, she began to carefully print a note while Cal set about hiding the perfume box.

    This man is about my business. Let him pass. That might help Bonroe on his way out of the castle.

    She wrote a second matching note for herself, and gathered spare sheets for Bonroe’s confession before looking up. “Cal, do you have like a ring or something? Or would your signature be enough?”
    Calamity shakes her head, reflecting within a second's delay before she signed the documents.

    “Okay.” Gina said, exhaling as she gathered up the papers. We can do this, we can do this. “If there’s nothing else we’d better get going.” But of the trio to cut into Gina's hopes and ambitions, it was Panos. And he looked at her papers with distrust.

    "How do we know the signature matches the girl she's pretending to be? If they are significantly off it would be obvious."

    “Good point.” Gina paused, crossing her ankles as she stood in thought. “I’ll test it on Bonroe. Once he has it people from the castle who recognize him should let him pass anyway, and anyone who doesn’t probably won’t know Cal’s signature either.”

    She folded the papers in half then half again, and took a steadying breath.

    A knock came to the door and Calamity made rigid her young voice, "What is it?"

    "Sorry Marchioness, but Lady Lyina has returned with urgent news." Panos pulled back some of his locks as he looked at the two young women with narrowing eyes.

    "Hide the papers first!" Panos prodded Gina with a hurry in his voice.

    Gina hurriedly stuffed the papers down the front of her dress and moved to one side. Calamity checked between her two companions, raised her head a touch and returned into character. The one crack in her act the careful way in which she held Panos' hand, either supporting him or finding support for herself, Gina could see both in their new friendship.

    "Enter." With the attending guard opening it for the blonde woman, the steps in were quicker. The woman though beautiful looked to be ready to fall at any moment, dark circles under the eyes giving way to her giving her all.

    "I believe there is an unusual boy who may have unregistered magic. And if the rumours are true from the battlefield the Apothecary himself may as well. Wizard-Lord Tengirn hearing of this may..." She quieted and looked down to the floor. "My Lady I wish us to be cautious, but all decisions are yours of course."

    Melvin and Jeon? Gina bit her cheek, and decided to risk an out-of-turn question in return for a bit of potentially useful information. "Magic?" she asked, feigning confusion. "That's...but how do you prove someone is using magic? I mean, unless you actually see them fly or something?"

    Lady Lyina seemed taken aback by Gina's brazen behavior but Calamity was able to catch the situation in a heartbeat, "Answer her." The black haired young lady commanded.

    "...Yes," The tired blond looked directly to Gina, "It is most often through observation but some such as O’doln or Wizard-Lord Tengrin may detect it within someone when close by."

    Gina nodded stoically at the bad news, and cast her gaze towards the floor.

    “Sorry, marchioness.” she apologised. “The lady is right, perhaps you should have them brought here and see for yourself.”

    So, basically anything that wasn't understood was considered "magic", the Probe mused to itself, listening on the cards.

    "See it so" Calamity waved a hand, shaking her head side to side out of character the moment Lyina's back was turned. When she left the room Panos leaned forward to look more at Gina, turning his head occasionally to meet Calamity.

    "I don't know how we are going to hide this..."

    "Well we don't know who the...Wizard-Lord...He can't here or I'd have seen him already..."

    "We should focus on keeping away from them and find King Kinglos" Panos sighed,"we worry on nothing else" Panos interjected.

    Gina already had the Tarot card cupped in her hands. “Melvin.” she whispered. “Lyina’s going to fetch you and Jeon and bring you to us. Keep an eye out for the king and O’doln on your way here.”

    Of course she was.

    A green checkmark appeared on the card.

    "King Kinglos..." Calamity whispered, sharing a look of stupid disbelief, the two royals having a moment in unspoken ridicule of the name. However Calamity quickly walked over to Gina, letting go of Panos' hand. "I have to 'confirm' Jeon has no magic? It is the only way to keep him safe" The leader of Whitebar questioned, eye Gina for insight.

    "But," Panos countered, tapping his jawline "If you confirm he does 'have magic' it might be distraction enough for people to overlook the Draconian prisoner of war outright if these people are that superstitious."

    “Let’s find out exactly what it was they did.” Gina suggested. “If it was something we can explain away then fine. If not...yeah, it might be easier to just run with it. Say they’ve helped protect the castle and you’re going to watch over them until they can be vetted by this guy Tengrin or whatever.”
    Thank you MayhemsCurse <3

    Spoiler: Memorable Quotes 

  9. #139
    Minkasha's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
    In a world I struggle to understand.
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    Calamity Isis Mae Sensibility, Gina Wright, Doctor John Smythe, 'Melvin' & Panos Lambros

    Gina was let in on a terrible new complication which added a new dilemma to their adventures: Jeon claimed to have no recollection of events. Though the way which this was explained was dearth of detail, the uncomfortable and foreboding of tone and expression the weight of the message. The two royals were unsure who the man is that would be walking in the door, that is, by the wellbeing or recall of mind. Calamity provided detail of the odd situation they had physically found Jeon last they met him, but hoped he was to come not in such condition for he'd would have had to be dragged or carried.

    Panos only wanted to remind the two of them that the strange boy Jeon had as a companion specifically mentioned that Jeon was 'not human'. From yearning for the adult man's aid in their dire journey to scorn, Panos was a harsh critic of yet another thing. However it was evident to the three teenagers that the man of medicine was also a man of mystery. And currently intrigue was aplenty, in too much supply in fact for one of their compatriots to provide another stifling layer.

    Jeon and 'Melvin' were unable to find any sign of their targets along their escorted path. The boy-robot had made a filled tent into a place of awkward silence after his feats and questioning, making Rugnuth hesitant to wave them goodbye once the depleted Lady Lyina fetched the two.

    When the door opened, Calamity sighed and Panos' tilted his head side to side as the duo saw the man not coming into view with something still partially impaled into him. And Jeon was now able to meet the third of his connected entities: Gina Wright.

    A young lady in dress suited for an affluent woman of the time period was layered in an embroidered dress whose material was rich with complimentary undersilks at the neckline but finer details were more subtle than bold or tacky. Loose skirts swept close to the floor as she closed the door behind them, casting a furtive look up the corridor to make sure they had privacy. The long sleeves and length of her garments with its fit all gave her the part, but Jeon was inherently aware she too was different, very important to him, as were the two other adolescents.

    Pale skinned, with her copper hair in an easy pulled up hairstyle, blue eyes which were complimented by a touch of creams under the eyes to brighten them and a paint of red to the lips. Next to the other two there was a fantastical degree of appearance. While Panos and Calamity drew the eye of many the doctor could see their dispositions were more shaken or unruly: Panos with judgmental scorn and arms crossing and Calamity showing hesitation the moment the four of them were left alone in the room.

    It was Gina Wright who looked on with the most grounded body language and disposition.

    Now all together the four of them were reunited the two teenagers standing closest with matching wedding rings kept quiet.

    It was strange, Jeon could feel the presense of three ahead, but not Lyina. Was this then "magic"? But why them and not this woman who lead them? Were there two kinds of magic, then? How many kinds, he wondered? Was it magic that brought him and this boy to this world? Or were other forces at work here?

    And what was it they wanted him and this boy to do here?

    The Probe shell caught Jeon glancing at him and nestled inside its private pocket universe, the Probe hoped the Zayan wasn't about to stick his foot in his mouth again. Overhead, the drone ravens circled, ready to respond as the boy pushed along the wheelbarrow, despite objections. They might need the AnySuit.

    Once in the castle, Lyina lead them to a room where Gina, Calamity and Panos waited.

    "I'm sorry," Jeon said, waving his hand back to Melvin. "I was still treating the boy when we were summoned. Meditation can only take you so far, you see."

    Open mouth, insert foot.

    "I'm fine," 'Melvin' responded, resisting the urge to rub the thin scabs of drying blood from its synthetic flesh as it stepped aside from the wheelbarrow. "You're the one that needs rest, that jolt you got affected your memories, it's a wonder you can still talk and walk at the same time."

    Gina massaged the bridge of her nose hard as the two bickered.

    “Okay.” she said, holding up her hands. “You can talk now and Jeon’s lost his memory. I’ll unpack that later. Lyina said the folks here think you did some sort of magic outside, what did you do?”
    Calamity looked onto 'Melvin' uncomfortably. She kept her mouth shut, awaiting for Jeon's answer. Panos kept with her as he too continued to say nothing. However his drawing of breath an sigh gave commentary to the situation, a sentiment not optimistic.

    "I don't know what I did," Jeon snapped. Was he really being taken to task by children? "I woke up in a wheelbarrow with something sticking out of me, or rather, somehow electrically welded to my AnySuit, which is now burned out completely. Maybe I can tell them the suit burned out while I was at a renaissance fair, but they're going to deny my claim because I violated the warranty by having surgical tractors attached to it - and I have no idea where those came from!"

    "Oh, I had them," the Probe shell said. "In any event, while I was trying to get a blacksmith to cut Jeon out of his suit, the blacksmith threw a glass at me. It shattered and my plucking the shards out of my face and arm was somehow declared to be magic. I had no idea they could be so easily impressed. By the way, the man who took me to the tent said something about an emperor. Having only met a king, I was wondering if you knew who this emperor is and why their men are here recruiting?"

    Gina shrugged and looked to Cal and Panos hopefully. "That's the first I've heard of an emperor, but it makes sense for them to keep a record of everyone who can throw fireballs." Calamity bit her lower lip, not wanting to be on record.

    "You only what, pulled glass out of your face you said?" Gina asked Melvin, sitting down on the bed. "If that's really all then I'm sure we can just wave it away..."

    Calamity winced. "Ummm..." she corrected. "They also saw Jeon close the portal and shoot down the Draconian wizard..."

    Gina put her hands over her face and arched over backwards, slowly collapsing with a soft thump into the furs.

    "Oh Go-o-o-o-d." she lamented, the words muffled by her hands. She let her arms slump to either side and stared at the ceiling. "Alright. Fine. You're still a hero right?"

    She sat up on her elbows to look at Jeon, and then turned towards Calamity.

    "Cal, you could publicly thank him and tell everyone you'll keep an eye on him until the king returns. Like we were saying earlier."

    "Then how do you expect her to be able to go anywhere if she has to babysit this man?" Panos asks with a silver brow raised and looking between Gina and Jeon. "We have no idea when he will return. I suggest she say she will take the man to the King for his judgment on the matter. That way she will have excuse to leave. Executing the two traitors and delivering the 'hero' to the King will keep her social potency strong" Panos lectured against Gina's plan.

    "Panos your ideas are a little harsh..." Calamity kindly put her hands on his wrist to soothe him while she explained something difficult to him. "But there is something to them, and Gina's ideas too."

    It seemed it was Calamity's role to keep Panos and Gina together rather than opposed.

    "If I stay here I'm going to be expected to act the way this girl has. There will come a point where I couldn't do it anymore, I know it. She maims people in ways my mother wishes I would..." Returning to looking at Gina, Panos side eyed the black haired girl by him yet stayed silent. It was Cal who had an effect on him Gina did not possess. Gina did not begrudge her that.

    "We have to think of a way for me, her, to save her reputation but leave." Calamity insisted to Gina, "What should we do?"

    Gina sat forward and pressed her lips against her clasped hands for a moment. "Panos has it right about finding the king. If we can't get anything out of Hedspeth about where he might go then we'll just have to head for the city and hope he's there."

    She looked up at Jeon and took a breath.

    "Okay," she sighed, fixing onto the apparently memory-less doctor. "Here's the five minute version. Someone has sent us here, into the lives of...these people. To leave we have to fulfil some kind of..." She paused for a moment to recall the words from the zodiac book, "Altered consciousness or societal evolution - some kind of big, unexpected change. And the king and councillor Hedspeth are both part of it."

    She did her best to explain the council's plot, and how Cal had influenced the drunkard king, and how he had set her the task of finding the person who enabled the Draconian attack only to disappear before she returned.

    "Give me five minutes with Bonroe and then we can talk to Hedspeth. I'd suggest you to lead that but you don't remember him and last time I spoke to him he seemed mad at you anyway."

    She shrugged.

    "Don't worry though, between Bonroe's confession and knowing that he spent the Drac attack whingeing in bed with a porcupine quill up his arse, I think we've got enough blackmail to keep him out of any more plots for a bit."

    She looked towards Cal and Panos for confirmation or input.

    "Then we decide what to do about Leann and Troya. Then Cal can make her announcement and we can head - to the city or wherever Hedspeth thinks the king is. Out of the castle and on our way in an hour, tops. Sound like a semi-decent plan?"

    "We can't kill the king now that he's been...changed to be, perhaps, of use. But his lists of incompetents stirs no confidence. If anything he is now the most predictable for us as we know exactly what his motivations are." Panos gestured with no luster to Jeon "And what of the doctor? He knows how to treat others but he seemingly has no social skills, less than the eerie child at his side. He is a vulnerability if he opens his mouth."

    Calamity bit her lip, looking over to Panos. While she looked uncomfortable to the smarting edge of Panos' warnings she hadn't interrupted him or resisted once said. Perhaps she agreed.

    "We have all made mistakes, and we do not know him well enough to be entirely sure. But, it would be for the better that I lead conversation, if only to keep appearances. I've been trained my whole life among people like these." Stepping near Gina, Calamity hugged the other girl. For a moment it was awkward until she settled into it more, and let go not too long after. "Thank you Gina for all your help, I think we have a plan we can follow."

    "Wait a moment, what is this talk about killing kings?" Jeon demanded.

    “No-one’s talking about killing kings.” Gina said, looking confused. “Well, no-one except Hedspeth and his merry men.”

    "There was another Jeon, a pharmacist." the Probe Shell said, raising its hand to forestall the others. "Your 'lover' and the council got that Jeon involved in a plot to kill the king.

    "Instead of letting me take care of the council, you decided that we needed to make sure we knew who all the conspirators were, so our plan was to give the king a sedative so that he would appear dead to his enemies, then sneak him back to the capital and revive him, then see who would try to take control. Unfortunately, one of the captives escaped and we were all knocked out.

    "You also made a futile attempt to try and sober up the king so that you could warn him of the plot, but he wouldn't take the pills, even after watching you take them. Nor would he answer your questions about the enemy they face up here.

    "After the castle came under attack by Dracosians using some sort of portal, we tried to help defend the castle using molotov cocktails. Some of them came after us and so we hid out and modified your AnySuit there with some salvaged emitters. You tried to dig a pit in front of the portal but to everyone's surprise, that broke their portal.

    "When the Dracosian wizard gravely wounded the king's wizard, it seems you were able to use the AnySuit to amp your strength so you could throw those spears at him. He threw one back at you and there was some sort of energy blast that destroyed your Anysuit and knocked you down, but he missed that you had thrown a second spear at him and died as a result.

    "Truly, you are a hero who tried to save the king and may have saved the kingdom as well, but now we're suspected of being magicians and somehow pose some sort of threat in a kingdom full of magic. It's been a very trying day, I must say."

    It used its IR scanner to check for heat sources again, to see if someone was listening. What sort of idiot admitted a plot against the king like that? Surely they were aware of spies?

    “It has.” Gina agreed, “For everyone.” The older girl sighed and managed a wan smile. “Lets get going then, and maybe at the end of this we can all go home.”
    Thank you MayhemsCurse <3

    Spoiler: Memorable Quotes 

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