The ferry from Saren’s Rest to Vesper runs regularly, if only during daylight hours. The seas are… wild enough that no one wants to make the thirty mile trip at night, even though as nautical trips go it’s quite short. Still, Hunter had business in Vesper and had gone over this morning with Ardul… and probably also Ardul’s not-apprentice.
It’s a good thing Kaji’s not an apprentice. She might have to wear a robe and a hood and start speaking funny.
So it had been a bit of a shock to be met at the docks by a pair of centaurs and a ‘would you all please come with us.’ They’re Justicars, Hunter recognizes the uniforms. Not wishing to cause a scene, Hunter had agreed to go with them.
And now after about twenty minutes of walking he can see they’re approaching the Justicar headquarters. A squat, and kind of ugly building not far from the government halls… just off the main plaza.
“Can you tell us what’s going on?” Hunter finally asks.
One of the centaurs looks back. “Lieutenant Murphy will fill you in but it’s… largely about her.” He points to Ardul.
Justicars aren’t an uncommon sight, and nor is being in their company, at least for Kaji. But even if one’s friends with all the policemen or their equivalent, one can’t help but feel a li~ttle wary when met unexpectedly by them and informed to accompany them. Exchanging a glance with his two friends and a shrug, he tags along with them as requested, looking at their escorts curiously. Perhaps strangely enough he’s not feeling terribly anxious about the whole matter. He can’t think of any reason why they’d be in trouble, anyway.
Once they arrive at the headquarters, he nods at Hunter’s question that’s voiced. The answer has him blinking as he turns his head to look at Ardul.
Ardul, as usual, travels in her gleaming silver armour. It’s been polished and cleaned though after two years here on Rifts Earth, it’s hard to avoid the dents and scratches. When they alighted the Ferry and were met by Justicars, she’d raised an eyebrow but acquiesced as Hunter had.
She’s also held her peace as they walk.
“About me?” That gets her attention but she’ll wait till see this Lieutenant Murphy before she asks more. This is just a … lackey … after all.
“She’s up this way…”
Her office is on the second floor. It’s not a large office or an especially nice one but she’s only a mid level officer, really.
Murphy herself is a small woman with blonde hair framing an angular face. Hunter blinks as she rises behind her desk when they enter. He looks it Ardul, then back to Murphy, then back to Ardul.
“It’s you…” It’s not exactly her and Murphy is MUCH shorter but the similarity is noteworthy at least.
Murphy quirks a brow. “Miss Trasinger, is it? And Mister… Hunter. And you would be Kaji, would you not? Please have a seat. I’ve got something of a problem I’m hoping you can help me with…”
Once everyone is seated she sits down as well. “I’m hoping you can tell me why one of your people would have assaulted one of our leading Techno-wizards last night.”
Up they go, Kaji’s curiosity growing. He’s pretty sure he’s never met this Lieutenant Murphy before, and when they reach the office he has to pull a double-take as well.
“Huh? Oh. Yes, that’s me,” the young necromancer confirms at his name, nodding at the woman. He steps over to sit down and make himself comfortable, stilling when Murphy goes on to get into just why she’d sent for them, for Ardul in particular. The news has his brows arching. Uh-oh.
Ardul files into the office quietly and regards the smaller woman. She doesn’t see the similarity and gives Hunter a flat look. “No, Hunter. I am here. That is Lieutenant Murphy….” If he didn’t know her so well, he’d think she was deadly serious but she’s teasing. “You can call me Ardul, Lieutenant. Miss … doesn’t really suit me and I have no other title, now.”
Not since Nina released her from service recently.
“One of my people? You mean an Iyesgarthian? You must realise that I am not responsible for them, surely? I am not their monarch nor their commander, but in answer to your question, I might – yes.”
“Where did this incident occur and who did it?”
“Ardul then.” The short blonde woman says as she presses a button on her desk. “And I am aware you may not be in any position of authority but you ARE the only Iyesgarthian we are aware of. Or were, until recently…”
Which is probably because the other ones are in Saren’s Rest or beyond the borders causing trouble.
In any case the button press brings two non-equine Justicars in with a black winged Iyesgarthian between them. He – for it is a he – has long and slightly damp hair and a scar over his right cheek. His eyes are green… and Ardul might recognize him as the third in command of the Royal Guard. The wild, vacant look in his eyes says he’s well compromised.
“This gentleman attacked the technowizard in question outside his shop last night. He tried to abduct him but Mister Cortez fought him off, fortunately. Then we were called. He’s been a handful since then.” Which might be why he looks like he’s been through the ringer.
He’s muttering something. Or mouthing something. It’s hard for Ardul to tell what but it looks like it’s in their native language.
Kaji sits straight in his seat, craning his head about as the other Iyesgarthian is brought in. He frowns, watching the black-winged man guardedly as Lieutenant Murphy goes on.
“Is this the only instance of such an attack?” he asks, glancing back at the woman before he looks at Ardul. “What would they want a technowizard for?” Even as he asks that he already has a sinking feeling that he can guess, and it’s nothing good. As his eyes drift back towards the Iyesgarthian under custody he tilts his head. “…is…he saying something?”
At least the wings of this Iyesgarthian aren’t tipped red. Ardul just shakes her head when he’s bought in “Captain Kennedy …” she murmurs, grey eyes meeting Hunters and then Kaji’s “He was a ranking member of the Royal Guard. Artur Kennedy.” Then to Murphy, which she’s sure the Justicar is going to love “He’s been compromised. Injected with nanites that provide control of the host. I must … insist … that he is taken to the Restorium and treated. They’ve been working on a cure. When we’re finished here, of course…”
With another glance to Hunter, she steps closer to the Iyesgarthian, trying to catch what it is he’s saying “Report Captain.” The tone is crisp and clear and not one used to being ignored. It had made many recruits quail.
“They’re looking for a way to activate the Wulf crystals…”
“He’s been mouthing something since we caught him. Not sure what.” Murphy says.
Hunter turns to look as Ardul addresses the man. His eyes come up and he sees Ardul though there’s no recognition in his eyes. He keeps mouthing whatever he’s mouthing though. It seems like it’s some kind of phrase though it IS in Iyesgarthian.
When he sees Kaji though, or rather, when his eyes fall on the pin on Kaji’s lapel, the fox pin that Kazue gave him, they widen.
“Tails. No. NOOOO!” He lunges, arms stretched out to grab Kaji by the throat.
“…better make sure the local technowizards are made aware of possible unhealthy interest…” Kaji suggests. He looks on as Ardul attempts to get through to this Captain Kennedy. What happens next isn’t quite what he’d expected.
“Gah!” he yelps, jerking back in his chair as the Iyesgarthian tries to get at him. He feels the world shift as gravity tips his chair in favor of falling, and makes a desperate kick to try offsetting his compromised balance. Or end up on his back on the floor.
Ardul frowns as Artur looks at her and doesn’t respond. “They say some of our people are immune to the treatment, it is … not surprising that some … are driven mad. It was one of the reasons we outlawed the experiments nearly a century ago.” Just how long lived are the Iyesgarthians? Those experiments were done when Nina’s father was young-er.
“By Fire and Wind.” she repeats softly now that she catch the slight sound he’s making. “The … oath… Kaji!!!!” She doesn’t stop as the House Guard leaps, coathangering with her arm and put him into headlock and driving him to his knees, her own knee in his back.
Ardul brings the lunge up short. Murphy almost comes up over her desk as the two Justicars move to restrain the man. That had been unexpected.
“Seriously you two, keep control of your prisoner,” the human Justicar chides.
“Are you alright Mister Kaji?” Professional isn’t she? “Why did he lunge at you? Have you met him before?”
“What oath, Ardul?” Hunter had picked up on that but he’s not quite sure what she heard yet. He’s guessing it has to do with whatever the man was – strike that – IS mouthing. Still. Even as he’s restrained and restrained hard. He’s struggling, it should be noted. Still trying to get free of Ardul and get to Kaji.
His chair clunks back onto all four legs with a jarring clatter, Kaji’s feet planting on the floor firmly thereafter as he breathes a sigh of relief. Once it doesn’t feel like his heart’s in his throat, he looks slowly back at the struggling prisoner, shaking his head.
“I-I’m okay,” he assures. “But no, I’ve never seen him before. I don’t know why…” Or rather, he’s not sure. His eyes drift to the lapel he wears and had for the most part forgotten, fingers brushing it. His frown returns.
“Do you know who Kazue is?” he asks Kennedy.
Ardul grunts as Artur drops to the ground and she plants her knee firmly in the winged man’s back. “I said enough Captain!” her voice is like a whipcrack in the Lieutenant’s office, not that she expects this man will pay attention. “It is not their fault, Lieutenant Murphy…” she doesn’t glance at the other two Justicars.
“What was that about tails…” But Kaji is already asking the right questions so she answers Hunter instead “By Fire and Wind, Hunter. It is part of the Oath of the Royal Guard. I’m not sure why he would be reciting that over and over – perhaps he is trying to retain something of himself …”
The struggles… lessen. They don’t stop. It’s almost like the Captain is fighting with himself. If that is true it’s more awareness than most of the prisoners show. Maybe different versions of the nanites have been used on them. It would make sense if the tech has evolved over time.
“Tails. Bad tails. Can’t have tails…” It’s still in Iyesgarthian but he’s not saying his ‘phrase’ now. If he knows the name Kazue, he certainly doesn’t react to it.
And then Hunter stands and sprays him in the face with something that looks a lot to Kaji like pepper spray, probably.
Artur sputters and blinks and slowly his spasming stops.
“I… where am I?” His eyes light on Kaji again and he lunges once more.
“Witchspawn! I’ll kill you for what you’ve done to us!”
He won’t get very far of course with Ardul holding him. But my he doesn’t seem to like Kaji.
“Charming.” Murphy says dryly. “Your spray doesn’t seem to have improved his mood, Mister Hunter.”
“Give it a moment.” Hunter is sure that it worked… but he doesn’t seem to like tails anyway.
By then Kaji’s gotten to his feet, pushing the chair back. His brow furrows at the Iyesgarthian’s rambling. It doesn’t make much sense. Man Kazue, what have you been up to? he wonders.
“Hunter..?” He blinks at the Wolfen, stepping back as the spray is applied, and then his attention once again focuses upon Artur as he reacts. Oh hey, that worked–
Kaji manages to stand his ground this time as Artur makes to lunge for him, but he looks more offended than startled. “Wh-” Witchspawn? That’s a new one. “Enlighten us. What’ve I supposedly done?”
“Greymane …” Ardul corrects Murphy absently as she wrestles with her countryman. “I didn’t realise, Hunter, that you carried one of those with you.” She’d tease some more except that she’s kind of busy. “Captain. I will not speak again.” she snaps this time. “Control yourself and act in a manner befitting your station!”
With Kaji asking the questions, she’ll just hold him here for the moment.
“Mister Greymane…” Murphy looks to Hunter curiously. The wolfen shrugs one shoulder. “Common enough name.”
“I’m sure it is…” The Justicar focuses on the task at hand, looking to Captain Kennedy.
“That symbol…” He looks back at Ardul instead of answering Kaji directly. “It’s worn by Horatio’s inner circle. They call themselves the Chosen and wield unnatural powers.”
“Iyesgarthians don’t much like magic.” Hunter explains in an aside to Murphy.
“Why…” Now Kennedy glares at Kaji. “Why would you be wearing that symbol if you were not one of them? Did you teach them? Did you give them what they needed to terrorize our people? To overthrow our Princep?! To… force us to betray her and follow the usurper?”
From offended to confused again. Kaji stares at Captain Kennedy like he’s grown another head. “Wait, who? No, hang on- whose side are you even on??”
He looks to Ardul for clarification, if she could make any sense of that. “I don’t know what you’re even talking about. What sort of powers can they use? Who are you loyal to and why were you going after a technowizard?”
It’s a lot of questions that he’s rattling off all in one go but he’s getting kind of flustered with this blame that just came out of nowhere. No doubt something else Kazue’s known about but neglected to mention outright, he figures.
Ardul does not miss the look that Murphy bends on Hunter or his casual way of shrugging it off. She’ll ask him about it, later though.
The Winged blondes eyes widen as Artur starts to explain and she gestures for Kaji to remove the pin and show the Captain it more clearly. “You are sure, Captain, that it is exactly this symbol that they wear. That was given to Kaji by an … acquaintance. An acquaintance who is supposedly helping us find a way to return Nina to the throne. Answer Kaji, Captain.”
“Can magic be taught to non-magic wielders?” Ardul’s never really thought on that. She’s always assumed, perhaps wrongly, that you have be ‘born with it’.
Artur looks at it more closely. “Yes, that exact symbol. The symbol of our oppressors.”
He pauses and takes a deep breath before looking back to Kaji. “I am loyal to Princep Nina to whom I swore my oath. I was… forced to show my wings to the tyrant usurper after he performed… witchery upon the royal guard. I was ordered three days ago to secure another… magus for Hyfil’s use.” Hence the attack.
“Technological witchery.” Hunter says with a rumble. “Are you sure magic was actually used?”
“I have seen the witches call upon powers that should be wielded by no man.”
Good thing Kaji hasn’t… done any magic in front of this guy.
“You can teach people magic, Ardul, yes. There’s some level of innate talent required but with the right education a lot of people can do at least simple magic.”
“That doesn’t make any sense…” Kaji murmurs as he refastens the pin after Kennedy’s given it a look. “Well, like Ardul said, someone gave it to me and she doesn’t really explain things very well.” He sighs.
“What kind of powers are we talking about here?” he asks as he glances back at the prisoner again. “Bear in mind that this world’s kind of full of magic. And by another magus- does that mean that you’ve already brought in others to serve Hyfil?” The very thought turns his stomach, but then they’ve been experimenting with the populace for months now, haven’t they?
“So it really is just like Science…” Ardul nods, happy to bring Magic back to something she’s comfortable with. “Most people can learn the basics but only the truly gifted can understand it’s mysteries.” she grunts again and looks down at Artur “If I let you go, will behave, Captain?” He can’t be comfortable in the position he’s in.
“So what you’re telling me, is they used the nanites on the Royal Guard and maybe some technowizard devices and you’re now calling this Witchcraft? I would expect more of you…” she sounds so reproving. Much like a disappointed parent to a child.
“Which … witches? And do you know where Hyfil is?”
She hadn’t caught the ‘another’ from Artur. Kaji gets an approving look.
“As far as I know Hyfil has not been able to get another… ‘techno-wizard’.” The way he says it is with obvious distaste. Artur blows out a sigh.
“Call elemental forces, speak in the tongues of alien languages, conjure beasts from the ether, affect probability… I’m sure they do other things. Commune with malign powers…” Clearly he hasn’t actually seen that but he’s making assumptions. Trouble is he may not be wrong.
“Knight Commander this is not simple advanced technology. And the techno-wizard… is wanted to unlock some fell power held in crystalline artifacts of an elder race meddling with the forces of the universe.”
It’s only a slight relief since Kennedy doesn’t seem completely certain that there aren’t any other technowizards involved. Kaji folds his arms, relaxing a little where he stands, but he still watches the black-winged Iyesgarthian.
“That’s a pretty broad range…” he comments, letting his doubt show as he eyes Kennedy. But to be fair, with that sort of wording, can the necromancer really be blamed for being dubious about it? He knows the Iyesgarthians are particular about magic, so he’d prefer facts over assumptions.
“Let’s go back a bit. Are these ‘witches’ you mentioned from this world? And those Chosen, are they your people? If so, do you know who taught them magic?”
He quiets at the mention of an elder race, paling just a little as he hopes it’s not related to the same elder race that comes to mind.
“Ardul….” the blonde corrects Artur. “Knight Commander no longer. I have been … released of my position as I’ve taken a Companion ….” she sighs. The other Iyesgarthians had been a bit shocked by that. She expects Artur is no different. “Technowizardry could do that, right?”
That’s to Hunter and Murphy more than anyone.
“You also said oppressors … did you mean Hyfil and Horatio? Or … some others?” Given Kazue gave Kaji that pin, she could be forgiven for clarifying that.
“You… what?” That shocks Artur out of answering any more questions for a long moment. He looks from Ardul to Hunter and back to Ardul. It’s only the fact that he’s still restrained and on his knees that keeps the conversation on track.
“Yes they’re all Iyesgarthian. Even Horatio wouldn’t let foreigners rule us. And the… inner circle, they all wear that pin. Horatio… taught them. I think. They venerate him. He plumbed the depths of forsaken places for knowledge… or so I presume. I was a servant and a… unwilling one at that. They didn’t tell me much, they just weren’t careful around me.”
Why would they be? They had him on lockdown with the nanites.
“Hyfil and Horatio and his lackeys, yes Ardul.”
Hunter sighs and looks at Murphy. “Your technowizards have a lot of experience with crystals do they not?”
“Yes they do and I’m sure they could make a very decent go of unlocking anything based around them.”
“But this Horatio guy had to have learned it from someone or somewhere…” Kaji murmurs, nose wrinkling as Captain Kennedy says as much. That doesn’t answer the question he wants to ask though, and it seems unlikely that they’ll be able to get it here. He sighs.
Looking at his friends and Lieutenant Murphy again, he taps his fingers over an arm, eyeing the tail-pin out of the corner of his eye while Hunter asks about technowizards.
“…where are they basing themselves, Captain? Anything else you can tell us about the situation?”
Ardul hadn’t done anything to indicate that Hunter was her Companion and she snorts at the Iyesgarthians disbelief. At least he didn’t blurt out the name they’d given her. She can be thankful for small things.
“Horatio is Nina’s uncle, Kaji… The one who usurped the throne from her.” The blonde rolls her eyes as Artur ‘presumes’ what happened “Tell me I wasn’t this bad about magic, Hunter …” she asks dryly.
“You mentioned an elder race, Captain. And crystals. What do you know of the race and how many crystals does Horatio have?” She wants to ask about the rest of the Guard, but she’s not going to derail the conversation just yet.
“Lieutenant, you should put your technowizards on notice of threat and advise them to take precautions against kidnapping.”
“I was sent out from a town two and a half horizons west of here. There is a large contingent of Royal guard at their disposal… all… like me. Or like I was until moments ago.” A ‘horizon’ Ardul will know is about thirty miles, give or take. He’s likely describing the location of the town of Clearwater. “We don’t know much. Horatio seemed to think they were powerful warlocks holding some kind of sway over an elemental plane, if such things can be believed.”
Hunter snorts. This ‘elder race’ that Artur is describing is no older or any stranger than his own. And in fact… the two are quite similar.
“Maybe a little bit…” The wolfen murmurs to the winged woman.
Murphy nods at the suggestion. “We’ll put the word out but they ARE private citizens. They’ll do as they will, like as not.”
Kaji doesn’t know how to measure things in horizons, so he hopes at least one of the others do. His own confusion is pretty clear on his face from the slight furrowing of his brow, but Captain Kennedy had provided a definite answer. They have a target. But what are they going to do about an army? Not to mention unknown powers at the disposal of Horatio and his inner circle.
“Oh, right,” he says as Ardul reminds him who Horatio is. Well, now they know where to find him, maybe.
“Hnnn…..” Groaning a little, he rubs at a spot between his brows. “So…what’s our next move? Ah, what are you going to do with Captain Kennedy?” The latter Kaji asks Lieutenant Murphy. If he’s been proven to have been influenced against his will, would they let him go with them?
“Clearwater …” Ardul murmurs to Hunter, finally letting go of Artur and allowing him up. “A horizon, Kaji … is how we measure distance. About 30 miles or so.” she takes pity on the youth as he frowns.
“Really Captain, I expected more from one of the Royal Guard. The ‘elder beings’ are likely the Wulf who, I believe are pyromancers. They use the crystals to focus their power. What Horatio wants the crystals for, I’m not sure. And I’m not sure why his inner circle are sporting pins like Kaji is wearing.”
Kaji asks a good question though. What next. “I would like to storm Clearwater and free my people. And I would rather like to speak to Kazue again and find out why my people have pins like the one she gave you…”
“Well, given that he assaulted a citizen of Vesper I’m inclined to throw him in jail pending a trial. Can you think of a good reason why I should not?” Murphy hasn’t made it a foregone conclusion but it’s clear she disapproves of lawlessness in her city.
Hunter doesn’t answer that right away. Artur could be valuable but the goodwill of the Justicars is also. He pauses and looks to Kaji and Ardul to see if they want to defend the man.
Artur for his part stays silent, waiting to see what his fate will be. He can’t entirely remember everything so there isn’t much he can say in his defense that he hasn’t said already.
While he doesn’t try to fumble for a notepad to jot things down like he used to do more often, Kaji does make mental note as Ardul explains roughly how far a horizon is. His thoughts turn inward at the talk of focus crystals, eyes drifting down towards the almost tooth-shaped hilt of his plasma blade that’s clipped to his belt.
“Huh? Oh. Actually I’d like to know what Kazue might know too, but she seems to pop up whenever she feels like it…” He lifts his head, glancing about briefly as though expecting the kitsune-ish being to have appeared.
Slowly he nods at Murphy, not at all surprised at her say. Kaji looks between her and Artur Kennedy.
“I can’t blame you for that decision, Lieutenant. But it wasn’t of his own will, and if we’re going to go after who -is- responsible for all this, we’ll need as much help as we can, and the captain here would be valuable in whatever insight he can provide us. Whatever Horatio’s planning with Hyfil needs to be shut down as soon as possible, otherwise it won’t just be technowizards getting targeted that you’ll have to worry about. …but after this is all done, maybe we can work something out in terms of the captain serving for that assault charge. Community service or something? He thankfully didn’t succeed in kidnapping that technowizard after all.”
The necromancer glances at Ardul to see if she has anything to say.
Ardul smiles approvingly at Kaji. He lays it all so well. Will she speak for Artur?
“I would take him into my custody, if you will, Lieutenant.” Ardul says quietly, looking to Hunter to confirm her request. “He was not in his right mind, under the control of another. And I have people who can … care for him.” The blonde inclines her head though, gracefully with that touch of arrogance that comes from self-confidence and being a warrior.
“However, I can understand that a trial may be necessary and should wish to detain him, you’ll have no arguments from me. I’m sure you can spare the personnel to watch over a prisoner.” That last is a pointed comment. Whilst she doesn’t know what happened recently with Sanka’a and her people, she does know that the Vesper law enforcement was already stretched thin.
Which reminds her. “Where, might I ask, is Lieutenant Otmin?”
“I’ll remand him to your custody then. Keep him out of trouble.” That’s not a threat, merely a requirement. Should there be more trouble involving him it would most decidedly not be good for anyone. Especially him.
“Otmin? Downstairs likely. He’ll be directing the patrol officers. I handle more… special investigations.” What might be ‘special’ for a city full of magic? Good question. It’s probable that hers is not one of the jobs people generally compete for.
Hunter nods. “We’ll keep his nose clean.”
“Is there something on it?” Artur rubs at his nose experimentally.
Hunter rolls his eyes.
While he hadn’t necessarily expected Lieutenant Murphy to reject the request, her acquiescence lifts a weight from Kaji’s shoulders. Hopefully the captain will be more agreeable now that they’ve gotten a few things straightened out, and maybe he’ll be happy to see the Princep again.
“Thanks, Lieutenant,” he says, smiling a little. At Hunter’s comment and Artur’s response, Kaji’s not quite able to hide a laugh. “-pff.”
“Ahem. Is there anything else we need to talk about here, or shall we take our leave?”
“That is the intent, Lieutenant.” Ardul answers and nods about Otmin. She doesn’t apologise for Artur’s infraction though. As Artur rubs his nose, Ardul blinks and stares at Hunter. “That really is a strange thing to say …”
“If there’s nothing else, Lieutenant, as Kaji says we will take our leave.”
“Of course, go ahead.” Murphy heads back around her desk and sits down. “And no offense but I hope not to see you again under similar circumstances.” Others would be just fine.
Hunter snorts one more and leads the way out. “Likewise. Come on everyone. We’ve got ourselves a bird to plan on plucking.”
Kaji ducks his head in a quick bow towards the lieutenant. “Eh-heh, got it. Thanks again.” As Hunter leads them out, he folds his arms behind his head to follow along.
It’s as Hunter’s said. They’ve got some planning to do.
Ardul finds that she has another Iyesgarthian-involved situation to resolve at the Justicar Headquarters, where she, Hunter and Kaji gain more information that might be beneficial towards the encounter they have ahead of them.
August 20, 2411
Justicar HQ, Vesper