Hunter and Ardul have returned from a journey beyond the borders of Vesper and come once again to Saren’s Rest. The grey wolfen had decided it was time to take stock of things, rest and allow Ardul to catch up with her former apprentice. There might have been a dinner arranged.
The wolfen is at the table in the apartment he and Ardul occupy and is examining the ‘rod’ that the Valkyr relieved Hyfil of the other day. It’s a curious thing. Solid, seemingly, red and gold and covered in odd, angular symbols. He’d seen it opened on thermal camera to reveal a bright and hot light but… no matter how he twists or examines it, it doesn’t seem to be anything other than a solid rod the length of a man’s forearm. It’s… strange.
It doesn’t matter how often Ardul corrects Hunter, he still calls Kaji her apprentice – or former apprentice now, but she’s pleased to be able to catch up with the youth and see how he is faring.
She’s in the apartment as well, the door open to let Kaji as he will when he arrives. Dinner has been arranged – she’s collected it from Rosseau’s, she certainly wasn’t cooking. She wanted to eat what was prepared.
Standing by Hunters side, wearing a dress that sits just above her knees, the blonde is watching him work “No, Hunter …” she’s saying “… I have no idea. This isn’t something that my people ever had, really.”
Kaji wanted to bring something from Gran’s that he made but it’s not exactly a quick trip out to Saren’s Rest, so something to add to the dinner menu was out of the question. He did bring some cookies of a sort, and while not quite fresh out of the oven were still a fresh batch made this day.
“Knock, knock,” he says, poking his head in as he lowers his hand from doing so against the door frame. “Hey guys, what’s cooking?” Or not cooking, granted the carry-out, but….yeah.
Kaji unslings his backpack as he enters, glancing around, blinking as he notes Ardul’s dress. He smiles as he sets his bag down and pulls out the box of cookies he’d brought along. “Special occasion or something? You look nice, Ardul. Oh, I brought cookies- for dessert I guess. Figured they’d last best on the ferry trip over.” Setting them down on the table he looks towards the rod that wolfen and Iyesgarthian study. “What’s that thing?”
She does look nice has Hunter has remarked repeatedly in the space of the last few hours. When Kaji enters he looks up from his place at the table near the various packages of food and waves a slightly shaggy grey paw. He needs a furcut, probably.
“Hello Kaji. I’m not entirely certain. We took it off one of our persistent headaches and I’m trying to figure out how to open it up. I’m not really sure what’s inside so I don’t want to just try sawing it open…”
Cookies? Oh Cookies are good. Just as Hunter is about to put the rod away and get up it clicks and he’s able to pull it apart such that it’s only now connected by two thin rails. As that happens a bright light fills the room and a ball of… something, energy perhaps, forms in the void between the two ends of the rod.
“Oh… Hearth and Hunt…”
“Hello Kaji …you look well” Ardul greets the youth as he enters. “Nothing’s cooking, I bought dinner from Rosseau’s. ” She’s rather literal at times “I thought you and Hunter would like to eat and not spare my feelings.” She winks, smoothing the dress in a slightly self conscious manner.
“Uh, thank you. Nothing special, just Hunter had said h–” //CLICK// “Hunter, what have you just done?”
This can’t be good …
“Which headache would that be?” Kaji asks, looking curiously at the rod in question. To Ardul he can’t help but smile a bit lopsidedly at her response. Right. He kinda figured she’d take that question literally, but he knows Rosseau’s to be good that he has no complaints.
A brow arching as he’s super curious as to what Hunter said regarding whatever reason Ardul’s taken to wearing a dress, his attention’s just as easily drawn by the sudden opening of the rod and the light that comes from it.
“Please don’t explode, please don’t explode, please don’t explode…”
Hunter moves to close the rod again but finds that he can’t. Then he moves to push it away from him and place it down but finds that he can’t either. That’s when he looks around and realizes that everything around him – everything except Kaji and Ardul – seems to be frozen in place.
Hello Hunter-san, Hello Ardul-san. Comes the sound of a voice like plucked strings. Or in the case of Kazue, for that is who this is presently floating near the ceiling, a voice that comes from literally plucking the strings of a koto. Hello Kaji-kun. I see you’ve found my ball.
It takes Ardul some time to realise they are in … a field … of some sort and she reaches out to move Kaji closer. “Be awa–” Another sentence not finished as the waterfall of chords sounds.
“Kazue,” she almost hisses “Have you come to taunt us some more with riddles that we can’t possibly know the answer to …” Her ball? The Valkyr looks to Kaji, trying to work out what she means.
It doesn’t explode. That’s definitely good news. Kaji steps closer to Ardul as she pulls him over, but the concerned expression that had passed across his face fades away easily enough with the familiar sound of koto strings.
“Kazue-san!” he says, smiling despite Ardul’s apparently less than pleasant reaction to the fox-like being’s presence. That does make him blink at the Iyesgarthian. Didn’t they answer most of those riddles?
“…ball? This thing?” he asks, looking from Kazue to the rod, the brief look he casts Ardul revealing him just as clueless as they are.
Hunter stands carefully. When he lets go of the rod it just floats in place though the ball seems to pulse.
Yes. My ball. It’s rather important to beings like me. Hyfil and Horatio were keeping it from me. You wouldn’t do the same would you? The fox creature floats down next to Kaji and smiles in his direction even as it asks the question of Hunter and Ardul.
My riddles, though, are not meant to be answered when I give them. Only before. Or after. Both are true in the end. Horatio will know what you did before long. You have endangered his project. His wrath will be great.
Ardul sighs and looks at Kaji. “Kazue came to Hunter and I not long ago and told us she is being held, or was held, or will be held by Horatio. It is she that is helping them with the magic devices they are creating.” Beat. “I think. I find myself getting all twisted up when I think about what she said.”
One thing was clear though – Kaju was involved, involuntarily.
“So that is why you sent us to Clearwater …” to retrieve the rod that Hunter was examining. Her ‘ball’ as the Fox Being calls it. “Horatio can be wrathful, I’m none to pleased with him myself. If that brings him here, then all the better.”
Squinting a bit as Kazue speaks, Kaji glances over at Ardul again when she mentions that she’d visited them again. “Hmmm…” He thinks he kind of gets what’s meant, but it’s one of those things that he’s sure if he thought too hard on it wouldn’t make any sense again.
“What does it do? Your ball. Although that’s good that you got it back from Hyfil and Horatio- that means they won’t be able to use it for…whatever they’re doing.” Which doe bring up a good question. “What were they using it for? And…where are you really, Kazue-san? Are you here now, or trapped somewhere..?”
I knew that Hyfil would be there and that you had met him and won. There goes the shifting tenses again and Hunter quietly rolls his eyes. It’s easy to get twisted up in what the fox-being says truth be told.
My ball is, was and will be my power. Our magic, our being is stored up in it.
“That’s why it seemed so powerful…” Hunter mutters.
Yes, Hunter-San. And Kaji-Kun, what is here, really? Perhaps you should ask when I am…
“Oy…” That’s Hunter again.
Horatio wishes to turn the course of your evolution. He seeks to do so with royal blood. He will wish for his niece back. The wind will not shield her when he comes. Her safety, a secret only fire can tell.
Ardul really tries not to parse what Kazue says too heavily. The shifting tenses, the riddles, tie the Valkyr in knots as it is.
“And they took it from you when they captured you?” The ball she means. She’ll leave Kaji to ask about when for now, she’s interested in the evolution.
“Change the course… you mean he wishes to change the Iyesgarthian to something other? Like those creatures Hyfil had in the tanks that Yaren told us about?” Or is it something worse? The mention of fire though has Ardul looking carefully at Kaji. “That’s your element, isn’t it?”
She’s seen him wield fire before.
Kaji looks towards the glow that’s been exposed by the rod casing. “Er, yeah. That’s what I kinda meant, ‘when’ you are…” he says carefully, as though checking his words with how he parses it all as he says it.
He frowns, glancing at the others before his attention settles upon Kazue again. “You mean like a time paradox? He’s gonna pull a ‘Back to the Future?'” Maybe he’s understanding it all wrong, but then again, if they’re using Kazue’s power and she’s not particularly fixed in time, it seems a possibility. And rewriting history to work for you is a pretty frighteningly effective way to do things.
“Huh? Uh. Not really?” Unless she meant the self-combusting ofuda he wrote out on paper. Otherwise the only thing that came to mind was that crown Slaine had borrowed when they’d fought zombies.
It was taken from me… The koto string voice is almost a snarl. When they trapped me. Losing it’s power will hurt them, but their plans long laid, are already in motion.
Hunter folds his arms and watches as the fox-being composes itself.
I am now, of course. And in the not yet. The already, that has already been written.
“What will Horatio do?” Hunter presses a bit.
He will twist royal blood, for as the throne goes, so goes the kingdom.
That makes Hunter frown. He’s got no idea what that might mean.
Ardul winces as she listens to Kazue. She’s getting a dull headache from trying to understand the Fox being. “There’s nothing in our Lore to suggest that …” The Valkyr says after a very long moment. “But it is believed that our Princeps are the embodiment of the Iyesgarthian people …”
She shakes her head and looks at Hunter “Some rite perhaps? Are mages powerful enough to convert a whole people?”
Naturally no one gets the reference. Elpida might just curse or something if she were here and able to follow the implications as Kaji thinks he’s getting. “Hey Kazue-san? What power does your ball possess?” he asks. They may not be getting straight answers from the questions they’ve asked, but Kazue’s responses were winding and still held some sense. Or was that just him forcing sense into it? Either way, he feels that answers to other things might help to clarify the rest.
“Because if they’re going to warp time to change things so that Horatio can take the throne without any problems, then you don’t need to convert a whole bunch of people. You just need to change key events.”
My ball is me, Kaji-kun. Or much of me. Into it I have poured my power, my malice and my will to dominate all living beings. Pause. That last part is a joke.
Kaji and only Kaji might recognize the book that it’s quoted from.
“I don’t know that mages can. If they could though they’d need something representative of the entire race. A king or queen or Princep might do that. But I suspect given your people’s proclivities that the problem will be solved… technologically. If Horatio really does want to remake the race in his image then…” Well…
It is not time that is your enemy now but space. Horatio has made friends who will supply him his needs. Friends with sharp smiles and sharper knives who plot their own devices. He will appeal to them soon, and they will answer. And in all the great vastness of the multiverse, your charge will be to be in the right place at the right time. I would start, I think, with Hunter-san’s long lost home.
“Technologically makes sense and I think Yaren saw some of that.” Ardul murmurs to Hunter frowning again at the mention of Friends “Do you know a race that meets that description, Hunter?” The blonde is very quiet as she thinks on this.
“Your … home, Hunter? Do you know where that is?” Ardul’s pale brow rises to her hairline in question. As an aside to Kaji “It sounds like an invasion force to me, but I don’t understand Kazue most of the time, she might be suggesting we try knitting for all I know.”
Kaji makes a face at Kazue. It’s kind of hovering between amused and ‘really?’ He reaches out for said ball. If Kazue’s in the now and not yet then does that mean she can take it now? Or how do they even get it back to her?
“But they’ve also been dipping their toes in magic, haven’t they?” he notes, giving a meaningful nod towards Kazue. “So anything seems possible. And technomagic is a thing.”
He looks towards Hunter as that last from Kazue is about the most direct she’s been with them. “Well, invasion force or not, anyone making friends with Horatio is bad news for us.”
“I know… roughly where it is.” Hunter says slowly. “I was only there once, a long time ago, when I was very young. I know a way we can get there, I think but… it DOES involve taking a trip to Splynn…”
Splynn, the city of Lord Splynn’crynth, the Splugorth overlord of Atlantis. It’s a… rather cosmopolitan place and not at all bad if one can avoid being taken and put on the market as one of the goods.
When Kaji touches the ball he starts to glow. An almost fiery aura flashes around him and he feels…
Well if it is possible for the ball to feel ‘foxlike’, it very much does. And it’s that ‘fox like’ energy that it pulls into him.
“Uh, Kaji?” Hunter’s not sure that was a good idea.
“Splynn…” Arduls heard of that. “That’s dangerous. Is there no other way to get there?” That’s where the Atlanteans sell their slaves isn’t it?
“Kaji, I don’t think you should be doi–” The blondes fingers twitch and when the aura flashes, she reaches out to tug him away. By the collar of his shirt.
“Spleen?” Kaji asks distractedly, his thoughts all but vanishing on that subject upon the reaction from the ball. He flinches, eyes widening as he stares. The energy seems oddly familiar to him in a way, and although he wouldn’t necessarily call it ‘foxlike’, he wouldn’t deny equating it to such.
Part of him feels about the same as Hunter and Ardul do for their warnings. Another part insists on holding on, and that he does, until he feels himself being yanked back. He yelps, stumbling back, likely against Ardul unless she moves.
As Ardul grabs Kaji her wings almost INSTANTLY change color. They turn red at the tops and slowly gradiate down to grey at the feathertips. It’s a rather striking effect but it’s not the only thing that happens. Ardul also grows short little fangs and claws. And a tail. A big fluffy tail that her pants are just not really equipped for so it winds up in an uncomfortable ball behind her.
Kazue seems to reach out with a… something. Something too fast to see and yanks the ball toward her.
You should be more careful with power, Kaji-kun.
“Ardul!” Hunter stares. He starts to reach but it’s over before she can intervene. “What happened to her?!”
She reacted to power. It will fade. Beat. Probably.
Ardul grunts as Kaji stumbles against her and doesn’t realise her wings are changing – not at all. Of course, she wouldn’t – there’s nothing to feel. It’s the claws and fangs – claws that dig into Kaji’s neck for a moment – that has her yelping “What .. the …”
The tail … well the effect with the dress … is interesting.
“Hunter…” she slurs slightly around those fangs. “… what’s …. It had better fade, Kazue …”
At least now they know what the power does.
Briefly distracted by sudden claws poking into his neck, Kaji still has enough time to see that something’s going on around him, or behind him, rather. His attention’s torn between Ardul and the ball as Kazue snatches it away, and for a moment he’s a bit unfocused as it feels like his head’s spinning.
“Wha…” He blinks up at Kazue, and then finally moves to glance back at the Iyesgarthian, eyes practically bugging out. “Oh crap..! What…how..??”
Kazue pulls the ball ‘into’ herself somehow. Soon, soon I will be free, as always I was. Do not delay. Horatio will not. And then she’s gone. Everything unfreezes and starts to move again.
Ardul is still, er, changed…
“Um…” Hunter is really not quite sure what to say. He just sort of looks between Ardul and Kaji helplessly.
Ardul moves, rather uncomfortably … that tail. Best not to think on that at the moment.
Her fingers flex, releasing Kaji “Sorry…” she says, so uncertainly. What else is there for her to say? She’s … changed and it’s worrying her. “I uh … Does it look bad?”
Well, that answers Kaji’s earlier unspoken question. He’s a little disappointed that the ball’s no longer in reach, but it’s where it should be. He nods at Kazue, about the only thing he manages since he’s still processing other things.
Like Ardul’s new look.
“…n-no, not your fault. I…guess I acted as a conduit somehow, when you grabbed me? Although I’m not sure how -that- managed to happen…” Then again, with fox powers, who can say? Kitsune were wily sorts, and he knows that they can be tricky with their gifts, as another part of him has experienced first hand.
“It’s…not really? It’s different. But you don’t look bad…”
“…okay I’ll shut up now.”
“Um, we, um…” It’s not often that Hunter doesn’t know what to say. Kazue said it should fade. So if it doesn’t they may need to visit the Restorium. Surely they could… fix this.
“Why don’t we… eat. I’ll go get the tail – Dishes! Er, Dishes…”
Hunter turns and hurries to go get the dishes before he says anything else. Food will help, yes?
Ardul and Hunter's latest find calls up another visit from Kazue, but will anything the fox spirit have to say make any sense to them?
November 09, 2411