It’s been a day or so since Ardul bought Kaji in from the mountains. There’s the issue of the crystals and the scrap of fabric they’ve found and the blonde knows she has to follow that up.
But… Magic. She really doesn’t trust magic.
Which is why she’s striding towards to the Academy, steps purposeful. Her wings are furled tightly against her back and her armour gleams brightly in the sun, she’s had more than enough time to clean and polish it. Even in a town full of D-Bee’s the tall blonde is hard to miss.
Freedom…! Although to be fair, Kaji hadn’t been stuck at the Restorium all that long, but when you pass out from an mental apocalyptic upchuck, time’s just something you don’t keep track of very well. For all that he remembered, it could have all just been some bad dream. He knew better than to think that. He just wished he could have dismissed being watched by the strange figures beyond the fires of the burning ruins as a bad dream too.
Trotting along down the street, he looks around, hoping Slaine won’t get mad at him for not waiting for her, but he figured that he could just save her the trouble if he caught her at Grans. Gah, did he take the wrong turn again? That’s what he gets when he’s distracted.
Magic is magic — something Felipe doesn’t dabble in, personally, but he’s heard of it. Like those cautionary tales the older folk tell children to keep them from getting too curious about the topic. And thankfully, his interest has been far from it.
That’s not why he’s here, however. His sights are set on the Restorium.
Normally the doctor is wandering around with his rather large shadow following him, but today he’s been alone among the crowds. He trusts Pegi to keep busy and to keep her wits about her, knowing that her skillset will at least help bring in some kind of income on her side of things as he goes about his own business. Still, he can’t help but wonder if she’d be all right in a city like this.
“It’ll be fine, she’ll be fine,” he mutters to himself, tugging on the strap of his bag as he walks with purpose, only to slow down when he sees the familiar winged blonde in armor striding past. “–Ardul?” He picks up the pace, jogging after her, not really paying any more attention to the other people in the street at the time. And at this point, namely Kaji. “Hey, Arduohsh-!”
Coming up the road from the Academy are two figures. One is familiar to Ardul and Felipe. The other will be familiar to Kaji. One is a tall grey furred wolfen with a cybernetic arm, a duster and revolver. The other is an enormous looking being that bears a striking resemblance to a twenty foot wide orb spider.
“Didn’t know you were here now Ingerhast. How long has that been?” Hunter is saying.
“Oh several years.” The voice from the spider is clicking and hissing but decidedly feminine. “Oh a number of years now, Hunter. Left Lazlo a long time ago. Traveled. Finally settled down here. It’s a decent life. Students are… tasty.”
That gets a snort from the wolfen.
“Ardul… not Arduooosh” The blonde smiles a little as Felipe collides with Kaji, her arm snaking out to grab the youth by his collar to stop him toppling over. Her other arm steadies Felipe. “Steady there, young man. You’ve just left The Restorium. Wouldn’t want to see you back in there.”
Once both young men are settled, she looks at them but is distracted as Hunter and his companion appears. “Lo Hunter.” she nods in his direction, grey eyes cutting to the Spider Professor, eyebrows climbing into her brow. “Who’s your friend.” Yes, she heard the last comment and hides a smirk… she thinks the D-Bee is joking.
By this point he would have fully expected to be lying on his back after rebounding with the doctor. Instead, Kaji finds himself being suspended by an unseen force, however not unheard. “-ulp! Oh, hi again!” he says, glancing backwards to look at Ardul with a sheepish grin. With his feet caught up with the rest of him, he quickly adjusts himself so he’s standing upright and not at a forty-five degree angle. “The Restorium’s nice and all, but I don’t think I want to visit again so soon either.”
He fixes Felipe with a look, not quite a scowl, as he rubs his shoulder where he’d gone bouncing off of the man. If he’d been about to say anything, his attention swings about then, looking towards the Academy way as the wolfen and the large spider approach. The teenager blinks.
“Oh, hey Professor Ingerhast!” he greets, perhaps thankfully missing the comment about tasty students due to the earlier mishap.
Saved! Clutching onto his bag, the doctor manages to stay on his feet as Ardul allows him time to regain his balance in short order. “Thanks Ardul,” he says a little flatly, smirking a little at the correction. His expression immediately drops when he hears Kaji mentions his recent stay at the Restorium. “–You just came from the Restorium? Oh g– I’m sorry I wasn’t looking! The last thing I wanna do is send people back in there…”
His babbling trails off when Hunter and Ingerhast appear, leaving him to blink at the spider professor. Not that this is too out of place. Maybe.
Well, okay, he’s still astonished.
“Hello Ardul. Doctor Felipe.” Hunter also looks at Kaji but comes up blank on the name. Does he know this one… no… he doesn’t. “This is Professor Ingerhast. She’s an instructor in magical theory at the Academy.” Being taught by a spider…
That’s gotta be an experience.
“Hello Kaji. Ardul. Doctor.” The spider ducks itself a little. A bow perhaps. “Pleased to meet you. I know Hunter from some time back. He used to live in Lazlo, far from here.”
“Mmmm, so I did…” The wolfen looks behind him and then at the group of people. “Were you all going to the Academy?”
“Don’t mention it…” the blonde smirks just a little at Felipe “This is Kaji by the way …” That’s for Hunter and Felipe as the Professor seems to know him. “He went out on one of my patrols the other day…” she tells Hunter, he can tell from her tone that she didn’t really approve.
That the Professor knew Hunter has Ardul assessing her. “A pleasure to meet you, Professor. And yes, Hunter I was thinking about it.”
Which might surprise him, given her distaste for anything magic.
“We picked up some artefacts on that patrol and I was going to check on what might have been found.” She glances at Kaji. The youth had had an interesting response to them, perhaps he’ll share more. “But I might be persuaded into delaying my visit…” it really wouldn’t take much “… were you and the Professor catching up on old times?” Or was there more.
His fingers wiggle in a bit of a wave at Hunter and Felipe, but as Ardul mentions their little expedition from the other day, Kaji’s gaze drops towards the floor. He shuffles in place awkwardly, no- it hadn’t been the best idea and yeah, it could have been a lot worse…
Slowly he looks back towards Hunter. “Er, well…actually I was heading back to Gran’s, but I think I took a wrong turn. I was going to go with Slaine and maybe Ser Mercier to the Academy later or something, though.” Finally he manages to look back at Ardul, meeting her gaze quite by accident as she’d happened to glance at him then. He clears his throat, stuffing his hands into his pockets.
“Hunter! ‘Ey. And…Professor Ingerhast.” Felipe stiffly nods as he’s introduced, slowly coming back around from the mild shock he’s experienced. Hopefully he doesn’t come off as rude for staring like that. Shaking his head, he glances back toward Kaji’s way. “Kaji. Not the best of ways to meet, I know.” Another glance between the two is given before he adds, “Pleasure meeting you both. And Felipe’s fine, really.”
Smoothing all of that out, he listens to what the others have to say about the Academy and the artifacts found. He may as well clear things up on his end, though. “Me?” Felipe says, pointing to himself briefly. His hands quickly gesture a casual wave of placation. “Oh, no — I was heading the other way. But…if you don’t mind my asking, what kind of artifacts did you find?”
Felipe’s discomfort gets an arachnid chuckle and the spider starts to shrink down, becoming a slavic looking woman with straight black hair, aristocratic features and a red dress. She bows again. “There, better?”
She and Hunter both look at Ardul and Kaji to explain what exactly they found. “I might be willing to help with that if you’re willing to help me with a problem of mine. One of my students has gone missing on an expedition to Dinosaur Swamp. He’s a necromancer. I’m quite concerned.”
Interesting… Ardul’s eyebrows rise even further as the spider changes form. She really shouldn’t be surprised. She’s seen many things since she’s been here. “Impressive…” she murmurs to Ingerhast and then looks at Kaji again.
She’s not that scary, really. Just a Soldier and someone used to command.
“Some crystals that were laid out in a ritual circle and a scrap of fabric with a symbol on it…” She explains “… we were tracking a band of demons that hit Clearwater again to a building in the low foothills of the Appalacians. The scout started collecting the crystals, but this young man…” she gestures to Kaji “… decided to touch them. It was an interesting result. Same for the scrap of fabric that Ser Mercier found.”
Yeah, Kaji had touched that too. But he can explain.
“I would gladly help locate your student, even without your help…”
Felipe gets the faintest, briefest of smiles- he’s forgiven for the blunder. Kaji knows he’s gone careening into people enough times himself. He catches himself holding his breath at Ardul’s recap of the events by the mountainside. “I didn’t mean to touch the crystals,” he protests. “There was just this sort of…draw, to it. I didn’t even realize I’d gotten that close. But when I did, I saw something. Someone, rather. And a bunch of bloody bodies at their feet, probably killed by them given the wicked knife they were holding.” He wrinkles his nose. “…and then I had a look at the scrap that Ser Mercier found, and I guess I blacked out from the overload…”
He looks at Ardul again, then. “Um. So what did happen then, because I don’t remember. Everyone’s okay, right?”
At the spider professor’s situation, Kaji tilts his head in Ingerhast’s direction, blinking. “How long’s he been gone?” he asks.
A giant spider shifting into human form is another thing he doesn’t see happening on a daily basis. His eyes widen a bit. “Y-yeah, better,” he replies sheepishly to Ingerhast, absently scratching the back of his head.
As Ardul and Kaji speak, a brief look of concern crosses Felipe’s features. “You saw it?” He’s far from incredulous. Details such as this are not unheard of, but it’s definitely not something anyone wants to discover. Or feel, in this case.
Not wanting to let them dwell on things like that, he lets the focus slide over to the missing person case. “Necromancer? And why would he go to the Dinosaur Swamp?”
“He’s been missing nearly a week now. Well, he’s been overdue for two days, but he’s been gone for nearly a week.” Ingerhast supplies.
“It was supposed to be a field trip to study the site of an old city well south of here. Sort of place where there might be a lot of lingering necromatic energies.” Hunter picks it up. Clearly they’d been discussing this. “There’s a lot of things that can go wrong with a trip like that and it’s also somewhat worrying that he went with only a local guide and a couple of people to help carry things. Small group. Big swamp. Lots of chompy teeth and that’s without discussing rifts and such.”
Ingerhast nods. “If you’ll help, at any rate, I’ll be happy to look at your artifacts. They sound interesting. If you don’t have them here you can have them delivered to my office at the Academy.”
Felipe gets a bit of a smile. The spider’s regard is. Curious. And perhaps a bit intense.
Doesn’t he look tasty…
“The artifacts are already there…” Ardul murmurs and looks to the Professor. “Kaji here will arrange to bring them to you.” Yep. He just got drafted.
“As soon as you touched that piece of fabric, you froze. Kept repeating something about death and destruction. Ser Mercier took the cloth and dumped you Zyx’s back…” The blonde frowns. “We didn’t get much chance to do anything after that. I had a visitor…” There’s a look to Hunter at that “… a winged, cyborg decided to say hello. We were already extracting, so I just made happen faster.”
There’s a frown from the blonde as she looks back to Kaji “The others are fine. Though Ser Mercier got a bit hot. It was you that I was worried about.”
“Of course I will offer my help but I’m unfamiliar with that area. I’ll need a guide.” Now those piercing grey eyes land on Tasty Felipe.
A week’s a pretty long time. Kaji wonders what all people did for study at a magical academy anyway. He didn’t exactly see anyone flying on broomsticks or wearing striped scarves… Necromancy would have probably been frowned upon in the particular school he was thinking of.
Blink. “I will?” he finds himself saying before he can stop his mouth, peering back at Ardul. “Um. Well…I wouldn’t mind, except I’m not sure who to go to to ask about it…” That frown finds its way back upon his face, already having crept into position with the sudden charge he’d been given. “Oh…” His eyes glance towards his feet again. At least everyone is okay, then. Still, he doesn’t like the thought of having potentially put others at risk for being a liability. “…’m sorry,” he murmurs. “Thanks for looking out for me, Ardul.”
“Of course.” Not that the doctor knows anything about necromancy. This is all new information to him, maybe even trivia he can keep on hand if an occasion calls for its use in the future. But he nods his head all the while, getting everything as if they’re all relating certain ailments for a final diagnosis.
But why are Ingerhast and Ardul looking at him?
Well, he’s certainly not aware of the fact spider lady may or may not want to eat him, but he can’t shake that feeling for some odd reason. Ardul, on the other hand? He meets her steely gaze on accident.
“Guide?” he echoes, blinking rapidly at the realization he’s just been recruited. He tries to laugh, only getting a half-hearted, dry cough as a result. “I can’t be a guide…”
‘I’m a doctor,’ he thinks, mind running. ‘I’m pretty busy with my job.’ Yet he has time to wander about, traveling like he’s cursed to walk the earth forever. Which is an exaggeration. And people have been pretty healthy lately, that’s a clear sign some of them are able to take care of themselves! Less health issue to worry about. Surely he can help them out, right?
With a resigned sigh, his shoulders slacken. “…but I may know someone who knows the area well.”
“Wonderful.” Ingerhast grins. Sharply. Maybe she’d known. Or maybe she just likes looking at Felipe. “You can arrange it with Hunter and Ardul here. And Kaji, I’ll look forward to your personal delivery…”
Hunter just sighs. He’d say this woman is a bit of a black widow. But that’s the wrong arachnid.
“Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find lunch.” Ingerhast begins to amble off. Hunter waves and turns to the others.
“Well, sounds like we’re gonna be busy.”
Ardul just shakes her head at Kaji. “Names I can give you. You’ll do fine, lad.” She claps him on the shoulder firmly. “Don’t be sorry. Just learn a lesson from it. All of us have made mistakes in our time.” She ruffles his hair “And of course, I’d look out for you. You were in my squad.” But it might be just a little more than that.
As Ingerhast wanders off, the blonde watches, smirking in Hunters direction “Dare I ask what she’s going to find to eat?”
“Excellent, Felipe. When can you be ready? We don’t want to waste any time, they’ve been missing a while.” It seems the Winged Warrior will be ready to go soon. She’ll need to get some supplies. “You are coming with us, Hunter? Your Bot will be useful, I’m sure…”
As Felipe runs through his mental obstacle course, Kaji can’t help but look back towards him. Didn’t they say he was a doctor? Well, maybe traveling doctors knew how to navigate the wilderness. –unless he was some kind of animal doctor!! And now Kaji can’t get the image of Felipe skulking about through marshlands with a big hat on his head as he stalks prehistoric alligators-
Shaking his head, the teenager looks towards Ingerhast at the mention of his name, managing not to gulp. She probably doesn’t mean anything by it, it’s just that after you’ve found out that she’s actually a gimungous spider…. Okay, Hunter? Sighing, not helping.
At least Ardul’s being a little more supportive of him then. He squints a bit as she ruffles his hair, bringing a hand up to try nudging it back into place a bit. But he nods, both at the help in figuring out who all he needs to talk to about getting those items transferred, and at her encouragement. Mistakes are only natural, he knows, and hopefully you learned from them- and didn’t blunder through so many that you spent your chances of doing so.
“All right. Well, since I’m here, I guess I can go see if I can talk to who I need to, once you give me that info.” He’d ask if they were going to be all right out in dinocountry, but Ardul seems more than capable, and if Hunter’s got a mech, then they might be golden. Felipe….
Kaji glances at the anxious doctor again, deciding not to think too much on that.
Busy is right. Felipe just signed up for a mission he isn’t prepared for.
At the rhetorical question, he shrugs. “Sandwiches?” he offers not-so-helpfully. A few beats of silence pass between the answer and his decision to bite the bullet, giving him time to meet Kaji’s gaze with a brief smile. It may or may not have been a little uncertain in its meaning.
He’s thankful Ardul skips ahead and asks another question pertaining to the trip. “Since I don’t carry much, I can be ready to go within a day or two. Just say when and I’ll relay it to Pegi.”
Hunter does have a bot and he knows some people who can help with transport. That’s the easy part. The hard part will be figuring out what happened to the necromancer.
“Right. Well Kaji… good luck.” He doesn’t answer Ardul’s question about what Ingerhast is going to eat. He just grins at Ardul. Then at Kaji. Then at Felipe.
“I’ve got some things to get ready so I’ll see you all later. Oh, and Doctor, you’re gonna need a hat.”
What? He will. Hats keep the sun and rain off your head.
Hunter heads off, duster swishing behind him.
Felipe runs into a few both new and familiar faces. He also finds himself conscripted into an expedition to search for a missing necromancer with Ardul and Hunter.
February 15, 2410
Teddy Mercier, Kthzyx, Pegi