My New Little Brother That My Sponsor Brought In Is Way Too Cute And I Want To Dote On Him But I Don't Want To Scare Him Because I'm A Cannibal, 28 May, 2022
Yukito wasn't sure if she had been scowling when she nodded her head down, but as quickly as her attention had been grabbed, so to was he. Hoisted in the air like a weightless teddy bear, his stoic face rippled with shock and irritation. Further doting one how cute he was, while he started digging his nails in her as they began spinning around the room yet also trying to yank free. He, a cat that didn't like to be picked up. "Let go of me woman!" For a moment the merry-go-round had stopped ad as his head tried catching up the room spun and twirled a bit. The slightly fuzzy picture of a couch being tossed up then thrown across the room and distant yelps and screams. Who the f*ckis this?
Thrusted into her embrace, he was suffocating like a three year old who did not know how to hug, or not hug, a puppy. If she kept this up, something might have popped, and if he hadn't been so shocked at her reaction to him, he might have retaliated faster. Yukito transformed into the ice gremlin at her release in a stance that he would have started with in his days at the dojo. Now that he could see instead of having a big cushioned body suffocating his sight and form, the place which had been bumbling with noise and people was as vacant as an abandoned warehouse.
"I guess you're one of the more popular phoenixes," he started, as Raquel introduced herself and inferred his identity. "Yeah, I'm also someone that doesn't like hugs or being held."Sponsor sibling? Maybe she means she was also sponsored by Hector. Yukito should better than to judge a book by it's cover alone, and the man himself wasn't exactly far from crazy- there was probably something else that drew him to bringing her in. He wouldn't know unless he got to know her. He was fin with trying to warm up to Raquel, just no more hugs or spinning please.
He almost was too dazed by the wild of Raquel Filo that he had briefly forgot how she introduced herself as a veteran. That means she had to have been here for at least three years. Maybe she could even teach him something. Per his own family customs he bowed slightly as means of respect. "Well, uh, sponsor sibling, I guess I was the little brother you were looking for?" Yeah, that felt about as awkward as the effort he'd put in to not make it so. But maybe she couldn't sense that anyways, "I came here to see if any missions or jobs needed doing or bodies for- unless you already have something you need help with?" Maybe he could assist her and get to know her more. He might want to in order to avoid asphyxiation.
My New Little Brother That My Sponsor Brought In Is Way Too Cute And I Want To Dote On Him But I Don't Want To Scare Him Because I'm A Cannibal
Phoenix Headquarters, South District
Pre-Arc 3 | ???
My New Little Brother That My Sponsor Brought In Is Way Too Cute And I Want To Dote On Him But I Don't Want To Scare Him Because I'm A Cannibal
Aw, he's so cute. Look at him standing up like that. It almost reminded Raquel of when Ozma was watching that video with that strange orange and black striped animal. The way it tried to intimidate a rock by standing on its hind legs was similar to how her new younger brother held himself. If anything, it made Raquel want to hold him even tighter. Alas, if she did, she was sure she'd accidentally crush him.
"Well, of course! They can't handle my splendor." Putting her hands on her hips, Raquel puffed her chest out as if it was some sort of achievement. Of course, it was all for the wrong reasons, but she was proud that her fellow Phoenixes were installed with a sense of camaraderie. However, they didn't matter to her now. What did matter was that her little brother was cuter than a stuffed animal.
Getting a little closer than for comfort to Yukito, she wanted to get a better look at him. How could a boy be this small? Was this some sort of genetic defect? She had heard of pygmies before, so could Yukito be one? "Well, yes! When I heard Hecty tell me he was sponsoring another man, my heart just stopped." Turning away and hugging herself, a small fake tear left her eye. "You should have seen the last person Hecty sponsored. An absolutely dreadful man. One look at him would turn any blossoming woman back into a virgin." Raquel was, of course, talking about Milo.
"Usually Hecty brings in women, or some cases a man, back, so I often check them out out of curiosity." That and to intimidate them to never come back. "Though you're a nice change of a body. Who knew that Hecty has good taste in people?" She licked her lips.
Raquel clapped her hands when she heard Yukito announce he was looking for missions to do. "You're such a hard worker. Do you want a lollipop for that?" Joking aside, Raquel seriously considered his question. Although she's been in the Phoenixes for a while, she didn't visit HQ often to get a feel for it. It was mostly because she was often scrutinized by every Phoenix within sight, but she didn't feel like doing it. At most, she'd receive an envoy for her mission from Hector or BB herself whenever she needed assistance for a thorough clean.
"I can't say for sure. I think the commissioner left a little early." Raquel could not hazard guess why, but she had a bright idea. She snapped her fingers, "But I do have an idea." It wasn't too long ago, but maybe this could work. "That rat, Gideon, found some intel from a flash drive about a few people doing a little dirty work from behind the scenes. I'd say we can check that out." It'd be killing two birds with one stone. One for taking care of the people and two for dragging a pair of intestines and slapping Gideon with them. What an absolute joy.
Unsurprising, of course. At this point, he’d be more surprised if when he tailed his pops that he didn’t wind up witnessing some form of drug deal. At least his old man knew better than to start dabbling in dealing. That was the way it went right? Or was it the other way around…
Either way, he slunk back into the alley waiting for his pops to leave. Typically he never saw the same pusher twice but still helps to get a good eyeful in case his dad’s little habit ever made its way home with him. Wasn’t like many could actually hurt him if he could spook some NPs into not dealing to his old man then that meant fewer problems down the line.
Just had to hope dear old daddy wasn’t getting into deeper shit.
He heard the distinctive sound of his father leaving and waited until he was clear before pushing off the dingy wall and sauntering out to face today’s latest dealer.
“Alright whoever you are might as well-”
He stopped mid sentence as he realized that he wasn’t staring at the usually lanky slimy bastards but another kid, and a small one at that.
“Wha- You’re a pusher? You? Uh, did pops finally wise up to who was scaring off his dealers and decide to do something ‘bout it?”
Passeri split off from Dagger without much fuss. She couldn't give her many points for attitude, but the other woman was keeping her eyes fixed on the task at hand, at the very least. Though, that was assuming that her perusal of the delicacies was as investigative in purpose as it ought to have been.
"Excuse me." Her own investigation started elsewhere. A needy look painted into her eyes, Passeri shifted into an adjacent room, and slunk onto one of the creaky, metal stools that lined a well-worn bartop. "Could I get a chocolate martini? Touch of mint in there would be nice, too~"
"This really look like a cocktail bar to you, chick?" Across the counter, the bartender cocked a brow, and chuckled openly. "If ya want special service, head back the way ya came and make one of those nice peoples' nights. Otherwise-" He turned, thrust his hand into a fridge, a produced some generic-looking bottle of booze. "We got bottles of piss, three kindsa piss on tap, and the hard stuff on its own if that doesn't offend that pretty little throat of yours."
"Hmm..." Her brow creased, and she reached across the bar, smiling through her mask as she took the bottle from the bartender's hands. "I'll take the bottled piss, then. I just finished a road trip, so it'll be a nice change to be emptying one. And could I get a straw to go with that, please?" He sighed, and handed her one, exchanging it for a weathered twenty-dollar bill. A few odd looks shot in Passeri's direction as she dropped the straw into the bottle, and then slid it beneath her mask, but it was hardly the strangest thing that had happened that day. It was that sort of establishment, after all.
"Don't worry about the change, by the way." She nursed her drink between words, nipping casually at her straw. "And since you brought it up, I am feeling kind of lonely, you know? Do you have any nice ladies you'd recommend from that special service of yours? My back's not the only stiff thing after that drive, so I'm willing to pay premium, if you catch my drift~"
The bartender's brow dropped, and a look of exasperation stained his eyes. A crumpled handful of change sit sat in his hands, which he regarded in comparison to his barren-looking tip jar. Passeri caught his gaze, and fiddled with a few more bills coyly. It was enough to get the message across.
"Don't know why you're askin' me, lady, but if you're willin' to be so generous, then I can point you the right way." Her eyes brightened, and she slid another bill across the counter. This time, a hundred.
"Another of theshe then! I'll get my night started off right!" She wiggled her bottle, just in case his mind ran as slow as he spoke, and started to impress a slur into her voice. It might've been rushing things, but what easier a mark was there than a lightweight? "And haven't you sheen any cowboy movies? The bartender always has the best scoops."
The bartender gave her a look as if she were an idiot, but kept his thoughts to himself.
"Whatever, lady." He slid the bill beneath the counter, and busied himself with counting how much he'd set aside for himself. "Now do us both a favour and scram. Treat one of the ladies about thrice as well as you did me, and they'll take ya downstairs. Ya can figure it out from there." He nodded at the door, and slid the drink over to her with force. If his words hadn't got through to her, then that would've been enough to get his point across. Go bother someone else, tips or no.
"Thank you kindly!" She popped up from her chair and forced out a woozy-sounding hiccup. She left the room with an unsteadiness woven into her gait, sipping from her bottle as she went, slipping her burner phone of the day from her pick once she'd returned to the dingy, main hallway.
Where are you? I got a tip from the bar. I think there's a basement. We can pay our way down through one of your lady friends. Tell me where to meet.
She typed quickly, betraying her unimpaired dexterity to anybody who might've been watching, and shot the message in Dagger's direction. If Liz was still Liz, then there was no way she wasn't in as deep as this place went. Even if her career hadn't gone anywhere, she was still a woman that anyone would've died to be with.
He could hear it, the clapping behind his back, it seems like that woman wasn't just judging, she was clearly enjoying his display of violence. Charlie, on the other hand, felt disgusted about his own actions...But there was no backing down, for once, he was the one to throw the first hit, and he had to face the repercussions.
"You Phoenixes...T-That's the only way you know of doing things!"
Dahlmer took a hold of Charlie's wrist, attempting to shove it back to set himself free from his grasp. But as one would it imagine, it was completely fruitless, it was like a man attempting to pull out an oak tree. The rookie responded with a second hit, a back-handed slap on the man's opposite cheek, an even louder sound coming the impact, leaving it red and swollen. As he raised his hand once more, a sudden feel stopped him on his track, he could hear a loud shattering sound above his head, followed by the feeling of cold liquid running down his forehead, sides and back of the neck. He looked to his left, the woman from before started at him with crying eyes, a mixture of anger and fear on her face as she tightly held onto the pointy remains of a beer bottle.
"LET HIM GO! JUST LEAVE ALREADY"
Charlie stared at the girl in disbelief, ignoring the beer and the minuscule glass shards on him. Surprisingly, he obliged to her demands, letting go of the man's shirt, who feel on his ass, caressing his cheeks in pure reaction to the stinging pain on his face. The phoenix then approached the girl, who in response held the broken bottle up towards him, but he wasn't having any of that. As he lunged forward on his next step, getting a hold of the girl's neck, who yelped in response as she was held up, her feet lifting off the floor, and the bottle falling from her hands.
"YOU THINK I'M PLAYING AROUND!?" Said Charlie, having accepted the fact that amping up the aggression was necessary. he threw the girl to his right, making her hit her back against the wall behind the counter, her scream of pain indicating that the landing wasn't gentle at all. He then approached said counter, ripping the countertop door apart in one quick move, the piece of hardwood loudly falling on the floor. He stood next to Dahlmer, squating in order to meet him at eye level.
"I'm not stopping until I see the dough, you old fuck, so you better hurry before I lose my temper"
The man stared at the rookie, tears falling down his face as he feared for both his life and that of his employee's
"F-FINE! J-J-Just let me go to t-the safe..." He looked down in utter defeat as he wondered how he'd make it to the end of the month without that money.
Charlie wasn't able to savor victory for long, however, as the kitchen doors opened abruptly once again. The young employee had at some point sneaked out, and she now held a pretty regular-looking handgun, shakily pointed towards the gangster.
"BECKY! STOP THAT, GET BACK TO THE KITCHEN"
But the girl did not oblige, she just stood there, gun in hand while nearly having a panic attack.
There was some hope for him after all! BB had some taste in boys. It was quite the show to the cannibal as she watched Charlie manhandle the restaurant's staff and Dahlmer violently. Raquel would record a video for BB to watch if she could, but that would embarrass poor little Charlie. At least she got to have the front-row seats to this entertaining display. Watching poor, little pacifistic Charlie become violent in an attempt to coerce the restaurant tax's dues were all refreshing. It almost reminded her of her pitiable self when she first joined the Phoenixes.
"Oooh, ten points out of ten!" Raquel said to no one other than herself as Charlie took hold of the girl. Raquel relished the expression she had on her face as she came up and tried to attack Charlie but failed to do anything meaningful. Now she was in the position of getting attacked by Charlie. Her face contorted with both fear and anger, which made a wonderful shade of purple, tried to struggle against Charlie. She almost wanted to yell for Charlie to strangle the girl harder, but it seemed out of place. The spotlight was on him, after all.
Like a bowling ball, Charlie had thrown the girl into the wall making a huge thump sound as she collided with the wall. Clearly, Dahlmer had finally begun to realize the error of his ways, but then a new challenger appeared. The girl from before, Backy or something, held out a gun. Raquel frowned at the situation. Really? A gun? What were the supposed to bloody do to Charlie? Not to mention the girl seemed frantic just by judging her eye movements.
The girl eyed Raquel for a moment.
Like a good customer, Raquel smiled-
Raquel fell onto the floor. Blood had lodged itself straight into her forehead. The body of Raquel Filo did not move, nor did it breathe. In a moment like that, what was once living was now dead.
The patrons of the restaurants stayed quiet. They eyed the now-deceased Phoenix before looking at Charlie. Just as quickly as they turned quiet, their expression turned violent. All of them raised out of their seats. Their grief and anger towards the gangs that disturbed their mundane life had stoked the flames of rebellion in their wretched hearts.
"DEATH TO THE GANGS!"
With that, numerous NPs, and a few HPs, all rushed toward Charlie. The bravery of Becky had stirred them to act. No longer will they have to live in fear of gangs. They will protect themselves and free themselves of the gang's tyranny.
Horror was painted in Charlie's face as he managed to catch a glimpse of the figure behind him, the girl from a moment ago was now armed and ready to shoot. He did not fear for his life, far from it, but rather of the possibilities of escalation. Before he could get up and reach for the weapon, the worker pulled the trigger, shooting Charlie just above his shoulder blade. As expected from not just someone with HP proterties but also blessed with his Hypercharge, the boy was pretty much unharmed by it, the only real problem being the newborn holes in his jacket and shirt. This wasn't all, however, as with impressive accuracy and speed, the girl shot once again, this time, towards Gourmet, the shot landing right in her forehead. The rookie stare in disbelief as her lifeless body fell on the floor, possibly unconscious from the shock.
As in, quite literal disbelief, he refused to believe that a small caliber gun like that could off an HP just like that, break her skin? most likely, pierce through her skull? Absolutely not...Yet she lied there, motionless. The feeling of triumph gave the people in the restaurant a newfound desire for retribution, shouting in anger as they approached Charlie. Of all ways this could've turned out, this had to be the worst possible.
He closed his distance with the armed girl, delivering a controlled and soft jab at her face. This was enough to send her back against the nearby perpendicular wall to the one she landed against previously, knocking her out the moment the back of her head hit the hard surface. He hopped to the other side of the counter, now-fully-charged feet heavily landing on the tiled floor. The mob managed to close in with him, starting their onslaught.
The first few landed their hits, and the rookie blocked them with his forearms raised high, the first couple felt like gentle caresses, but the third one clearly felt like it packed a decent punch. Now that he was able to tell which were NPs and HPs, he was able to act accordingly. Grabbing the first two by their shirts and flinging them across the building, easily dealing with them. The third one needed some more attention, as he blocked a couple more jabs from the attacker, and counterattacking with a kick to his side. The HP yelped in pain, but attempted to carry on with a follow up punch, which didn't work much as the rookie simply tanked the blow with his cheek, painful, but not particularly damaging. In response, Charlie grabbed the man by his shirt with his left hand, and proceeded to rain down hell with his right on the man's face. It wasn't long before he fell on the ground, passing out from the attack. Fight was far from over, however, as a chair was smashed against the back of his head, and more people attacked from his front.
The battle continued, a myriad of blows were traded between the customers and the lone phoenix, a few hits even managing to make him bleed a bit, especially a surprise ability from one of them in the form of a hand-turned-scythe. But at last, he managed to knock out the last of them, panting heavily as the long battle drained a fair deal of his stamina. His eyes watering as he watched the unconscious masses in front of him, people who were ultimately fueled by a desire for revenge, against the cruel gang that controlled their district. He wiped the tears off with his sleeve, before staring at Dahlmer's direction, who cowered in fear under the counter.
"I'm not asking twice" Was all he needed to say as the man rose from his hiding spot, hands in the air and shaking non-stop as he stared at the rookie. His piercing, merciless gaze coupled with blood trailing down his forehead and a messy mane gave him the look of a raging predator.
Before Charlie could get far with coercing Dahlmer, the doors of the restaurant opened once more. There were two figures that stood out from them. A very rounded man with a straw hat and a nervous, brown-haired woman holding a polearm. "We'd like to stay your hand for a second, Temperer." The rounded man said. The duo both turned and walked over to Raquel's corpse. Standing over, they both looked at each other.
"D-do you think she's finally dead?"
"I dunno, why don't you find out yourself."
The woman took a deep breath and took out her polearm. As if poking a dead insect, she nudged the blunt hand against Raquel's face. At first, a few nudges earned no reaction from the inanimate body. That was until the sharp end of the polearm accidentally grazed the eyelid. The corpse's hand shot up and grabbed the polearm earning a screech from the woman.
"Now, now, Ozma. I don't think that's polite playing around with corpses." Raquel said with a grin. As if she hadn't been shot in the forehead, she stood tall and mighty amongst the unconscious bodies that now littered the broken restaurant. With the slightest push, Raquel pushed Ozma down to the ground before looking at her surroundings. She chuckled to herself.
"Weiyuan, you know what to do." With that, she walked over toward Charlie. The chef nodded before going around to the nearest unconscious person.
Each step of her heels sounded like death coming closer to the frightened restaurant owner. Stopping to grab the unconscious girl by the hair, she dragged her toward Dahlmer. "You know, Mr. Dahlmer. I think you should train your staff better. Getting shot in the head isn't exactly the most pleasant experience." With her free hand, she dug the bullet out of her head. Blood gushed out from the opening before slowly being healed up until not a scratch had remained. Tossing it in front of Dahlmer, she watched as the man stared in horror at the bullet in front of him.
Dahlmer looked at her bated breath. He stared at her before staring at Becky. "P-Please don't-"
"Nuh-uh! I'm afraid we're doing the talking around here." Waving Becky's head in a sign of denial, she smiled. "Though I do have to say, you do have good taste in workers." Her fingers slid around Becky's face, touching every corner of her skin. "Soft. Delicate. Young. If I took a bite out of her, I'd feel it'd be quite the treat." Her mouth neared Becky's ear. Dahlmer watched her sniff the young girl's ear and opened her mouth wide.
She bit down. A bit down at nothing but air. Raquel scowled at the man. "Is what I would have done. Thanks to you, my appetite is all ruined." She lied. More than anything, she wanted to eat every single person in this restaurant right now. Throwing the girl aside, she knelt down in front of Dahlmer. "Remember this, Mr. Dahlmer. Next time you don't pay up, I'm afraid you'll need more staff for your restaurant. Got it?" When the man nodded, she 'lightly' kicked him in the stomach.
"Temperer, come with me outside. I need to talk with you. Ozma and Weiyuan will take care of the rest." At the sheer mention of her name, Ozma saluted Raquel as she walked past her. Opening the door, she looked over to Charlie and waited for him with a smile. "Well? It's not nice to keep a lady waiting."
At the mention of working out, Isobel involuntarily raised an eyebrow. Were rich people always this strange? Was the reason for class divides because rich people had such bizarre interests that the only people who would understand them were other rich people? She couldn't be entirely sure. The only rich person she knew with some familiarity was Markus and he wasn't exactly open to sharing what he did in his free time. At the very least, this explained why the young rookie looked so solemn all the time. His interest was working out.
Looking down at the pile of stuff spread out across his coffee table, she realized that more drastic measures would need to be taken. "Come on," She said while getting up from the sofa. "We're taking a field trip."
Two bus rides and about forty minutes later, the pair found themselves back in the vicinity of Isobel's neighborhood standing in front of a shop with the word ANTIQUES in large bold letters on a sign above the door. Isobel steps into the shop without hesitation.
Inside was a maze of shelves and tables tightly with a hodgepodge of old furniture and objects. Mismatched silver and glassware, dainty ceramic figurines, tarnished costume jewelry, masks, candlesticks, oil lanterns, out-of-tune musical instruments, and even a collection of novelty salt shakers. It had everything one could possibly need and also didn't need. Seated at an extremely cluttered register was an elderly man with a round pudgy face and thinning grey hair. He had been reading the paper and looked up in surprise when the door opened. However, when his eyes settled on the Jack, he merely acknowledged her presence with a small grunt before returning to his paper. Safe to say, it wasn't her first time here.
Carefully maneuvering through the narrow aisles, floorboards creaking beneath each step, Isobel led them to the back of the store. Displayed here were various audio devices including two vintage vinyl players. The first was a large V-M console player dating back to the 1950s. The console itself was made of dark mahogany wood and rested atop spindly metal legs. A copper-coated horn in need of serious polishing rose out from the corner. The second was a simpler, sleeker and more compact player by Rega. Vividly remembering the state of Ezra's apartment, she easily settled on the latter.
Shuffling through the small and limited collection of vinyl the shop had in a box nearby, she returned with one and proceeded to set it up in the Rega player. The record began to spin and the quiet room was suddenly filled with the well-known opening guitar riff to Layla by Derek and the Dominos. A small smile spread across Isobel's face and she tapped her feet along with the beat.
♫ What'll you do when you get lonely
And nobody's waiting by your side?
You've been running and hiding much too long
You know it's just your foolish pride ♫
Unseen to them both, the shopkeeper too bopped his head along to the familiar tune. As the rock song approached its chorus, Isobel turned the volume up a little more and started to mouth along to the lyrics.
♫ Layla, you've got me on my knees
Layla, I'm begging, darling please
Layla, darling won't you ease my worried mind ♫
His blood rushed with adrenaline, Charlie almost wanted to continue his display of violence on the defenseless man, a fiend deep inside of him that enjoyed the feeling of his fists caving into people's bodies, spilling bone and breaking bones. But just as he took a single step, his attention was diverted by the two people entering the restaurant, taking an interest on the "corpse". Soon enough, Charlie's assumption was correct, as the veteran rose from the ground as if nothing ever happened to her. The rookie simply stared the rest of the event play out, uncertainty and doubt about Gourmet's intentions freezing his body in place, although he almost jumped in to stop her from killing the worker she held under her grasp. Fortunately, that wasn't necessary, it was just but a trick. As he heard Raquel calling for him outside, he took a few seconds of pondering what had just happened exactly, before stepping outside, he worried a bit about walking out of there empty-handed, but if his senior said she'd handle it, he didn't need to worry.
"...I'm glad you weren't hurt" He said as he stepped outside, the sun bathing his dirty face. Misuteeku
Raquel raised an eye at Charlie's opener before she covered her chuckling. "Well, that's the first time I've heard that phrase in a long while." When was the last time she heard someone show concern before? The last time she remembered someone doing that for her was when she first met Hector. The time when her knight gleamed under the moon came to take her out of her personal hell. A fond, rare smile graced her expression before it reverted back to her gleeful self.
"I wouldn't be exactly a veteran if I let my junior outlive me." A slight jest, but Raquel leaned back against the restaurant. "Now that you've passed the punishment, you're free to go," Raquel said as she looked away and waved Charlie off. As Charlie's overseer for his punishment, he had proven that he was still loyal to the Pheonix. Although he did technically allow that staff girl to shoot her in the head, Charlie was incentive enough to go violent. If he hadn't, then she'd have gone through with the original plan. If it was the original plan, everything would have been a lot more different.
"Though word of advice. Next time you mess up, I won't let you off as easily as this time." She gazed at Charlie. "Family comes first. Why you decided to disobey the former Queen's orders is beyond me." Raquel didn't have a full context, but she only needed a part of it to understand why Charlie was in trouble. "Someone's going to take advantage of your 'cavalier' attitude eventually, so nip the bulb while you still can." With her lecture seemingly over, she looked away from Charlie and seemed to busy herself with the surrounding area. The place seemed clear of people, no doubt from the commotion that was caused inside the restaurant.
When a few seconds of silence elapsed, she suddenly spoke. "Though if you do act on your own again, realize that you're doing it for yourself." Her voice lacked the mockery or glee that was there before. It was as if something had resurfaced from the cannibal. "Family comes first, but you are your own person. Remember that." With that, she stayed silent. She didn't really care how Charlie took it but said her piece. Perhaps it was a show of empathy, of weakness, or a test to see how Charlie would react. Regardless, it was unknown what lay in the mind of the girl, stained with the blood of many.
Even though at this point his mind was just numb to it all, he listened to Raquel with undivided attention.
A swirl of emotions came over him as she finished speaking, a mix of relief, anger and confusion stirring in his mind. Just what was her purpose? She faked her death, it was her fault that things had escalated like that, just a bit more intimidation and they could've gotten away with it. But at the same time, he was surprised of how refrained she was, despite the things he's heard of her in the past.
"Uh...Thanks, I'll keep that in mind...It was nice working with you" Despite what his words may try to convey, the dead tone in his voice was a giveaway of their insincerity, as he was rather hoping to never be in a situation like this ever again.
With a wordless bow, Charlie took his leave from the location, and started his long walk home. It was probably better to take a bus or a cab, but realistically he needed it to arrange the scrambled thoughts in his head. The words of...Wisdom from Raquel repeating in his mind like a broken record, unsure if he now respected or disliked the overseering veteran. The boy's inner struggle between the interests of the Phoenixes and his own would continue for the unforseeable future.
Helva, at least when she wasn't out soaking everything in a coat of red blood, seemed like a pretty reasonable and normal person. So if Zulin said that Helva in theory could've owned the black car, then it eased Gideon's worries that perhaps he would look douchy with it.
Zulin seemed to have a solution to Gideon's misgivings regarding the price tag, which worried the weak-hearted villain. On one hand, Zulin's ideas were most definitely thrilling, and they helped expand Gideon's horizons. On the other hand, Zulin was simply on a different level from Gideon, and his mischievous schemes were sure to push past Gideon's comfort zone. Regardless, Gideon simply watched Zulin with concerned eyes, allowing for the plan to go ahead.
When Zulin hopped into the passenger seat, Gideon took that as a cue to jump into the front seat. The seat was made of a comfortable faux leather which creaked underneath Gideon's weight. He pulled the seat forward in a comfortable position so that he could easily reach the gas pedal, adjusted the rearview mirror, and placed his hands on the steering wheel. Yeah, that felt good. Gideon remarked, "This is definitely a good car."
"So what is your plan?" Gideon hissed under his breath to Zulin, "Do you want me to go take it out on a test drive or something?"
Zulin's plans weren't going to be anything legal, Gideon guessed based on Zulin's pandemonium-loving personality. Part of Gideon was disappointed that they were breaking the law so soon after entering the dealership, but then again, they were gangsters. Breaking the law was what they did.
Well. That was unexpected to say the least. Gideon hadn't thought that he would win the confrontation with Raquel. Not when his stomach was churning over the sight of the bloody, disembodied arm. Not when he stared straight into Raquel's eyes, refusing to look directly at the blood and gore that she was waggling at Gideon. And especially not when he was unsure of whether he could inflict the mental suffering that he threatened.
But a win was a win. Gideon felt his ego balloon a bit as he turned away from Raquel. Now all he had to do was get out of there before he barfed up his lunch. It was a miracle that he hadn't done so already. He off-handedly commented to Raquel with rather dry humor, "Does this mean that you're one of those 'thigh lovers'?"
Gideon turned back towards Raquel and Mr. Barlo in order to catch the small USB drive that Raquel tossed to him. Big mistake. He didn't turn away fast enough, and so he got to see Raquel take a big bite of Mr. Barlo.
"Well this was fun," Gideon said, turning white as a sheet as he began to flee from the scene, "See you around, Raquel."
As he rounded the corner, Gideon leaned over a trash can, dry heaving over it. His stomach muscles spasmed painfully, and Gideon's body shook as he gripped the sides of the trash can. He couldn't stand the sight of blood, and seeing Raquel's teeth cut through flesh like that with the blood spurting out around her mouth was just simply triggering. Thankfully, the nausea didn't last too long. After half a minute, Gideon wiped his mouth on his sleeve and began to turn his attention to the USB drive.
He was still shaking from seeing the gruesome scene, so his hands could barely hold onto the USB drive without shaking. Gideon plugged an adapter into his phone, allowing him to plug the mysterious USB drive directly into his phone. After scrolling through the files, Gideon's standard scowl deepened. The more that he looked, the more his expression darkened. But despite that, Gideon was quite happy. It was a series of pdf, mp4, and m4a files.
"Good news! Mr. Barlo was a fucking idiot and stored all the information he gave away into the USB drive," Gideon shouted down to Raquel, "I'm going to go send this off to Hector."
As Gideon left the headquarters, stepping out into the streets of New Oasis, he breathed in a deep breath of cold air. That nightmarish scenario was finally over. He didn't think that he had such an unbearable encounter ever since joining the Phoenixes. The only thing that was comparable was Helva's massacres.
On the other hand, in a way, Gideon felt that he could thank Raquel. The cannibal's honeyed sadism was effective at lording power over other people. And it wasn't like Gideon wasn't ever going to see bloody, gruesome scenarios like this again. And knowing how to waterboard people was important... even if it was with soda. It was all good exposure therapy. If Gideon's intention at the start of the interrogation was to become a better villain... then he definitely accomplished that task.
But regardless, Gideon needed to wash his eyes out with Chlorox after what happened.
Past Midnight, October 9, 2021 | Between Arc 2 and Arc 3
Markus' Penthouse, West District
Catch A Tiger By The Tail
She looked, almost worried, at the King. He was in no place to glare at her like that. She could see it in his eyes. Distrust for her and her associates, and pure loathing at his own current disposition. Pride was the precursor to falls, she knew that much. She had used that as the guiding ideology behind her mass murders. They were always too proud to admit when they had lost. HPs were all the same. She deigned to act as the loyal servant, turning away from him. Akela and Gunnolf materialised beside her. With a nod of her head, she sent them to the kitchen to search for the medkit. The place was already a mess. A little bit more wouldn’t hurt.
Ignoring the loud clanging and crashing from the kitchen, she fished out one of her outdated phones, procured from a flea market at a heavily discounted price. She punched in the Knight kid’s number, drawn directly from her memory banks. Before she could hit the Call button, she heard a noise. She swung around, just in time to see Weiss starting to move from his chair. “What are you–” she started.
The instincts of a soldier never went away, it seemed. It was more than just the killing, more than just the fighting, more than just the country itself. It was the bonds with her fellow men and women that tied a fighting force of ragtag specialists together. Providing suppressive fire, as another member ran forwards to drag an injured soldier out of danger, patching them up while providing words of encouragement, either through insults or soothing nothings, it was all part of the parcel.
Even now, they remain with her. She darted forwards, one arm hooking around his torso, and another on his shoulder, catching him before he could plummet to the floor. The phone clattered onto the floor. “Easy there, pal, I got you.” Her voice was soft, almost maternal. The ice that was in her remaining eye thawed, worry setting in. “You need to sit and rest. Let me take care of this.”
She guided him back to the chair he had sat himself in earlier. The momentary warmth of her expression froze over once more, hardening into the same cold, solemn stare. “Don’t make my job harder than it already is, Weiss.” Her tone had also returned to its grave and glacial one.
Akela returned with the medkit, shaking pieces of ceramic off her fur, with Gunnolf in tow, looking dejected that he had not found their prize before his sister. Dagger patted both of them on their heads nonetheless, and retrieved the medkit. She motioned towards the phone on the floor, as she returned her attention back to Markus. Akela nodded at Gunnolf behind her, letting him take the phone this time. Looking pleased, the bigger wolf picked up the phone in his mouth and trotted over to Dagger, laying it at her feet. Both wolves vanished, dispersing into light blue motes.
She made a gesture with her hand at Markus, indicating that he should remove his shirt. “Let’s see the damage.”
Senpai was busy with his usual work, now that he had been promoted. Even if he said that he had time for her, she didn’t want to bother him. It was too much of a hassle to hang out with him while he was focused on his own duties. Even in her most manic episodes, she was still acutely aware that Bash had other responsibilities now. She had to give him some space. So she decided to bother Raph again.
Alas, he wasn’t here today. Not in this lab, anyway. No matter who she asked, no one knew. She slumped down onto one of the tables, fiddling with an empty flask. The lab assistants dutifully ignored her, which was the best for them, to tell the truth. As long as she wasn’t fiddling with a flask filled with active chemicals, she was to be treated as part of the upholstery. A very dangerous piece of upholstery, so to speak. She sighed loudly, fitting her finger into the flask’s mouth and rolling it around the table surface. There was nothing much to do. Even her socials were pretty much dead. There were no actual fights going on. She saw Sang-cheol momentarily enter, caught her eye, then left in a huff. Even he didn’t want to hang out with her.
Her face scrunched up into the veritable image of self-pity. This was so boring! She wanted to do something, but there was just nothing to do! She let out another loud, extended sigh.
And lo, did her saviour from this hell arrive! The room exploded, plumes of smoke shrouding the attacker. She shot up, the jagged grin lighting up on her face. Electricity coursed through her body, the lines in her body sparking to life. She kicked the chair out from beneath her, straightening up. She cracked her knuckles. A creature stood in the smoke, declaring his challenge. And at her, no less!
She rolled her shoulders back, then pointed at the monster. “Kisara McDowell, King of the Monsters, stands before you! You dare challenge your king, great monster?! Come forth, and I shall show you the errors of your ways!”
She didn’t even seem to register that it was just Sang-cheol in a costume. If anything, she just didn’t seem to care. All that was swirling in her head was the thought that this was going to be fun!
This costume was fucking stuffy. Why the hell did he fucking put this piece of shit of a costume on? All he remembered was trying to get advice from his workers on how to deal with Kisara. Timothy suggested giving Kisara food poisoning. Aristotle advised playing terrible music. Gerda wanted to release a bunch of puppies to cuddle Kisara to death. Rebecca brought out this dumb costume...
He ended up wearing the costume.
"KISAAAAARAAAAAA! THIS WILL BE THE LAST DAY; YOU'LL RULE IN THIS LAB!" Sang-Cheol roared at the pink-haired woman. As if he was some sort of bull, he kicked up some dust and then charged at her. He was oddly in his element despite being in this strange outfit for a strange reason. While stuffy, it felt comfortable to wear. Where did Rebecca even get this dumb thing anyway? Even better, why did she have it on her?
Upon reaching Kisara, Sang-Cheol raised his arms to grab her with his now grubby arms. His costume let out a fake kaiju sound going, "Gwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!" The head of kaiju's head automatically moved by itself as if motioning a challenge. Sang-Cheol, himself, was peeking through two eye holes that were made around the torso of the costume. The costume was slightly taller than himself being a foot higher.
Kisara sighed, her shoulders slumping. “Bash is busy right now, yeah. Bein’ an Ace and all that, he’s got no time for fun and games.” Back when he was still a rookie with her, they were an unbeatable duo, the terrible twosome, the dream team. She couldn’t blame him, really, and she didn’t want to push her nose into his business too much. She recognised that there were some things that she wasn’t privy to. All she needed to know was who to punch, and where! Still, it still stung a little. Hopefully, she’d catch him when he wasn’t busy one of these days– wait a second, did Raph just call Bash her beau? Her face flushed red, and her lips contorted into one of the most manic of smiles as she tried to parse this new information. She wasn’t sure what beau meant, but if the letters were to anything to go by, it was something cute and fuzzy-feeling.
“D-did he really say that?” She gave an unsteady giggle. “Senpai would never–” she stopped short before she could start rambling, and then slowly mulled over what she had just said. She exhaled in relief. “Yeah, right, Senpai would never call me his beau. He’s definitely not my beau.” She glanced at Raph quizzically, brushing the stray locks of pink hair that fell over her face in her fit of giggles. “He’s not, right?” She still wasn’t sure what the word meant.
But enough about Senpai, even if there was never enough of him. “Enough about Bash!” she swiped her hands to brush away her invasive thoughts. “Allow me to escort you out of these premises, young sir!” she bowed low, her hand outstretched to show him the way to the exit, in a grand display of unnecessary formalities. As he went, she recovered, and skipped after him cheerily.
“So, wanna go smash things up? Wanna go check out the cool new aquarium they made in the North? Maaaaybe get something to eat first? Ooh ooh! Maybe I can finally take you to the place I was talkin’ about! The one where I get to get into fights! It’ll be so cool! Maybe you could join in too! I always liked how you whirl around with the blood and all that! The crimson rivers flowing about, dicing and slicing and mincing~” She did, genuinely, enjoy the displays of his Potential. Every time she saw it, she was filled with a sense of…nostalgia. It reminded her of something…someone, long in the past. The memory blurred beyond that, but the crimson rivers…yes, it was reminiscent of something she had seen before.
She shook her head, then bounded after Raph again, like an over-excited puppy, still hurling suggestion en masse at him.
Hauteclere always had been the lady killer. The rugged, bad boy look, with the ever-charismatic smile earned him quite the arm candy, but also earned him just as many slaps across the face. Try as she might to suppress the thought, she was reminded that he only stopped his cavorting ways shortly before he died. Elise couldn’t look his girlfriend in the eye when she and Julie broke the news to her. One-third of the reason for her vengeful journey.
To use his skills and his words to charm some common whore in an infested hive of debauchery like this seemed like an affront to his name and legacy. She cursed inwardly at herself, as she allowed her mark to trace her false nails across her tie. “A husky Ruthenian approaches,” she greeted Dagger with a purr and a giggle at her earlier compliment. “Stranger people have come here, but I gotta say, one eyed snowwomen are pretty rare.”
Dagger offered her a smirk, as she took her hand gently, prising it off her tie. She couldn’t let her be on the offensive. “Alisa Vassiliev. Charmed to making your acquaintance. You know of Ruthenia, then you also know of its cold. That is why I am looking for some warmth.” She gave a low chuckle again. “You look like ah, what you call it–” she faked her inability to speak the common tongue as easily as she breathed, “hot,” she finally finished.
“Hm.” She withdrew her hand from hers. “Okay, lady, that’s enough foreplay.” Dagger looked hurt, but her hand was already thumbing the handle of her knife. She was not interested in this. She wasn’t her type at all. The make-up was too much, coats upon coats of it applied onto her face. Enough to drown out her imperfections, but not enough to hide what lay beneath. “That’ll be 250 an hour.”
Just trying to survive, that’s all. Two fifty was actually fairly reasonable, all things considered. “Very well,” she fished around in her pocket, drawing out a leather wallet that she had taken out just for this occasion, and withdrawing the amount from it. The woman snatched it out of her hands, leafing through the notes, then nodded.
“Alright then, rich girl, over here.” She took hold of her tie again, and drew her into the door behind her. The door closed, and the woman locked it behind her. She started to speak again, laying down the rules of their…engagement, but Dagger’s mind was elsewhere. She pulled the woman's hand away, again, from her tie, and her eye darted across the room, searching for any small crevices. With tech nowadays, devices were all over the place.
None. Their security wasn’t compromised.
“Hey, are you listening?”
“Sit.” The Ruthenian accent was off now.
“Sit. I won’t ask again.” There was no emotion in the voice, no unbridled fury, no soft-spoken sadist, just an empty void behind the words.
The glare from her one eye forced the woman to comply. She sheepishly set herself down on the edge of the bed. “Please, I’m just a working gal, I don’t have any–”
“I don’t give a damn about your fucking money, lady.” Dagger moved over to the washroom, peering inside, sweeping the walls as she had done with the main room. She turned back to the whore. “You ever hear of a girl named Liz in this place?”
“If you say ‘what’ one more time, I will cut your mouth open from sides to ear.” Still level, still calm, still as chilling as ever.
The woman fell silent, her earlier face of confidence now a dejected look of despair. Dagger rolled her eye, and sat down on the opposite side of the bed. She had to play the good cop for this one now. Break 'em down, then earn their trust. “That was harsh of me. Sorry.” She dug into her pockets again, and pulled out the picture of Park’s friend. She thumbed the picture pensively. “I’m here looking for a friend of mine. I haven’t seen her for the longest time, and my leads pointed me to this place.”
The woman looked at Dagger quietly, still afraid to speak. Dagger grimaced, then lifted the picture up, handing it over to the working woman. “Her name’s Liz. Have you seen her?”
“I–” the woman started.
“Please, you gotta help me. She’s my only friend in this damned hellhole. I’d burn this place down to the ground to find her, but I can’t do that now, can I?” Dagger begged, almost convincingly.
“I-I don’t know. I’ve never seen her around here before. I'm still kinda new here.” She finally answered, returning the photograph to Dagger. “I’m sorry.”
Dagger gave a sigh. “Damn it,” she hissed, angry only because she still couldn’t get another lead for Park after all that business.
The woman sat uncomfortably in the room, keeping her hands to herself, still too nervous to actually do anything. Dagger shot her a glare. “What are you still doing here? Go, get out.”
“You did pay me. I’m yours for the hour. Even if it means just sitting here in very uncomfortable silence. 250 is a pretty large sum, you know. I thought you’d at least haggle a bit.”
Dagger almost laughed. How old was this lady? That much loyalty to a paying customer? She opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted by the beep of her phone. A message, from Park, speaking of a basement. The cogs turned in her head, and she nodded slowly to herself. She shoved the phone and the photo back into her pockets, and stood up.
“What’s your name?” she asked, her voice softer than it had been.
“Carla. Carla Fleck.”
“Take me to the basement, Carla. There’s an extra two hundred and fifty in it for you. Maybe more, if things go well.”
The promise of another jackpot was enough to brighten up Carla’s eyes. She didn’t even bother asking how Dagger knew about the basement. The woman had probably surmised that Dagger was not one who enjoyed being the one who was asked questions. Leading Dagger by the hand, she brought her out of the room, and back to the main hallway. Dagger’s eye met Park’s. Wordlessly, she motioned to Park. Carla, to her credit once more, did not ask questions again. Good. She didn’t need to know.
"Haaa... Haaa... Haa..." A lone man dragged himself through the cold, wet alleyway. To say he was alone was a bit of a stretch. He was accompanied by someone beside him, though to call it someone was not accurate either. The woman beside him was dead. A corpse that the man was dragging alongside him back to the lab, to his home. He didn't know why this woman had to die; she was making important breakthroughs in neurology.
As well as the composer from the south. The shut-in from the west. His former partner as well. All of them wanted to live, yet he was ordered to kill them. He burned the composer within his theatre, broke into the shut-in's sanctuary and slaughtered him, and overdosed his partner with drugs and let her die. Finally, the neurologist from the East was his latest hit. He had killed her on the cold, rainy night.
"Ugh..." The man lurched down and dropped the body. Crashing against the wall, he leaned against it for support. Though not without a fight. Unlike the composer nor the shut-in, where he had the tactical advantage, nor his partner when he tricked her into a higher concentration dose, the neurologist put up more of a fight. Not to mention that it was raining; it was the first time the man had to fight without his potentiality.
Blood seeped out from his improvised bandages as he leaned against the wall. Blood. Blood. Blood. It sickened him so. Up until this woman, the man didn't see a single drop until now. The composer died from asphyxiation, while the shut-in died after the man tranquilized him. His partner, the only one of the three who could have resisted, died without resistance. An enigma that has been with him until now.
Perhaps, he should die. He didn't want to do any of this. He didn't want to kill anyone, the composer, the shut-in, the neurologist, his former partner, and that cashier. He didn't want to; he didn't want to; he didn't want to...
His destination was close. Despite the injuries he incurred from fighting the neurologist, the man could still reach the lab before he bled out. The Professor would fix him up, and he'd be as good as new.
Though what was the point? He'd only be sent out to kill another innocent person. What was the point of returning if he was going to be introduced to a new hell the next day? Why should he live while everyone else dies? When he knew in the end, everyone would eventually leave him behind. Just like hyung, just like father, just like Isobel. An inevitable ending awaited him in his journey.
"I'm... tired." The man said before he slumped down. His blood decorated the wall like a slash of paint, though he turned around to face away from the phobia. He was tired of everything.
Tired of stalking. Tired of killing. Tired of burning. Tired of living.
It was oddly fitting for him to die in the cold, damp alleyways of the North. Born in the backstreets and died in the backstreets. A place lacking in warmth and happiness. Perhaps death would offer him respite from his worries, from his sin.
Her expression contorted into one of disgust, as if she was looking at a pile of trash. "Rob you?" She vocalised her thoughts openly. Again, the pride and prejudice of HPs struck through. He saw her as just some rat, scurrying around, looking for scraps. She gritted her teeth and snarled, before retreating back into her seat, attempting to clear her head slightly. Maybe he was still groggy, maybe his head was still spinning from the beating he took. She made it a point to wave towards the equipment around him, saying nothing. If his mind was still warming up, she could at least give him some exercise to help it jog along.
"I already sent a message to your friends. Using your phone." She pointed at his pocket. She forwent the introductions, and the apology for utilising his mobile device to contact his friends, skipping straight to what she had already done. No point in apologising. She didn't know the man, she had no wish to know the man. She was simply doing what she thought right. "If you can move, you're free to go." She hesitated, examining his unsteady state. "I don't suggest it. Not without backup." She wasn't about to play reinforcements either. He was a HP, from what Doc had said. HPs draw other HPs, and right now, she wasn't looking to tussle with any of those demons. Even if she had just helped one, getting into a fight with any number of them without proper preparations was asking for trouble, for her more so than for her current guest.
"How reliable is this person, 'YY'? How soon do you think she will arrive?" She queried, straight to the point, and once again, omitting severe amounts of information. A need-to-know basis, that was all. He didn't need to know. If he had half the amount of braincells she expected of him, he'd figure it out himself too.
Charmy was far too drunk to be shocked, delighted, or any other emotion in the face of the call being picked up. In fact, despite everything, she might have even expected it in her current state. It was just a harmless call to a friend after all. They hadn’t chatted in a ‘few days’. So what was the problem with a little catch up?
“Zue-Zue!” Charmy tittered, her voice getting hung up at every word. “Happy C-Chrissy day!”
She mumbled something incomprehensible.
“I know. I know.” She waved her hand despite it not being visible. “It’s—It’s not yet. Not here any—”
“Not here! Not here anyw-way.”
Her laughter escalated.
“How a-a-about over there? Are you—Are ya in the future yet? How far—how FAR is it?” Her eyes wavered. “Pretty far… r-right? Right!”
Her voice lifted.
“You never call.” The device was barely distanced from her mouth and the audio began to scramble. “Never, never, never!”
“I know it wasn’t”—her eyes peeled open. ”It wasn’t always good—wasn’t what you wanted.”
The embarrassment that gripped Hifumi’s lungs was more akin to a deep abrasion of shame. The weight on his shoulders had fallen deeper into his core. A sensation of twisting disharmony that played a tune of pure mortification. This was not a fresh wound, but the tender widening of one, preexisting. Had there been any strength left in his ankles he may have sought to stand up once more and right the wrong, but even that notion was a bold lie intended to quell internal discontent. Further yet, it was an impossibility.
When Shen’s applause rang out, it only echoed within the freshly hollowed piece deepening the gnawing desire to flee from sight. Only the clapping didn’t seem to cease, and the almost aloof comment began to lighten the dragging burden. There was something about how it was said that pried Hifumi’s eyes off from the floor. Both the seeming authenticity and the disregard for the surrounding opinions.
It was dignified.
“A Yue’s impressed.” His sister nudged, but Hifumi’s attention was already taken.
With the proceeding events, the young man took careful note of the movements both perfected and flawed. Fearing pen and paper would be seen as disrespectful he kept these considerations within the temple of his mind. A concentration so deep not even the scorn of his father’s eyes could make it falter, but when it came time for his single supporter to make show, things took a turn.
Hifumi realized he had used the word ‘perfect’ too soon.
The demonstration unfolding in front of him was not a simple show, it was a declaration. The other participants had displayed form and control as well, but they were naught but childish games in comparison. Shen was exhibiting unparalleled power, and without sweat nor strain. This was something as innate as breathing, and his face read as one who felt no gratification from something so… easy?
Hifumi had mistaken what he had felt then. It was not awe. It was fear.
As for the Bae family’s head, there was only one word for his expression.
You’d think a few years would be enough time for her to acclimate to this place’s dreary weather.
As far as jobs went, this was a simple one. She just had to pick up some rubbish package. It was straightforward enough and, compared to the alternatives, it was the most appealing. She should have known there was some inconvenient twist. What had been described as an ‘isolated’ location turned out to be ‘not on GPS’. So she just had to go off of some extremely vague details.
It made no sense really. Likely just some dumb excuse to make things harder.
Then of course the rain had to come.
Had this been years ago, she might have welcomed it, but in her current situation—her current state—it was nothing short of incredibly exhausting. The foundation applied to her face had begun to smear on one side, and her hair was the only thing keeping it exposed from the wider world. The streets were empty enough, and with this sort of dark it shouldn’t be an issue. Yet the prospect still swirled around in the back of her mind. This wasn’t something so easily escapable. Only rejectable.
Things were never that easy, however, and the alley she turned was one of chance and rue.
She hadn’t noticed immediately. She tread along the somewhat sheltered backways until she nearly stepped over a corpse—make that two. Only one of them wasn’t a corpse. The black of his hair had blended against the dark of the adjacent environment with only the red of smeared blood to mark his perilous state.
It was of no interest to her.
Whatever depravity had occurred here was nothing to concern herself with, and she would make haste.
It was a vacant evening at the shrine. The lits were not lit, and hearth was not welcoming. Instead of prayers there were uneasy murmurs being shared by those huddled within the main building. Refuge was being taken in the junctions that were unmarred by the break-in just the night before, but the feelings of unrest were just as high. Both the family’s and the Shrine’s head were absent and any sense of order was left to the wind. There were would be visitors just on the outskirts, rightfully hesitant to approach.
Just beyond the fallen gate were a mere handful of individuals headed by the Bae Family’s current representative. A young man still not of age, but burdened with the expectations and duties that came with tempered lineage. His normally soft face had taken a much more forbidding expression—not unlike his father—but his heart was not nearly so equipped.
The rest were Azure Dragons. Whomever could be spared at such short notice at the request of the ever supportive, but enervated, family. None could argue the limited value of assisting the Bae’s in their current state, yet some help was provided regardless. Most were ill-equipped for anything skin deep, but there were outliers.
After a long pause of respect, lost to most, the pale haired boy spoke.
“I humbly thank you for your hospitable and timely arrival.” Pretty words without spirit. “In the stead of my house’s head, I welcome and honor you.”
He lowered his head.
“I—We—At present it is paramount that guests are kept off the perimeter.” He gently smoothed the fur of the small animal sitting atop his shoulder. “What remains of the staff are inside. They can provide further accounts of the event. The Bae family would plainly request that you insist they keep this event to themselves. I understand that is your intention already, but you have our continued gratitude.”