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 Fate / Arcana IC

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Payne
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PostSubject: Fate / Arcana IC   Sun Jan 03, 2016 6:41 pm

Chapter 1: The Cards We’re Dealt


Silence reigned in the shadowed room, where Malcom Heartwell sat at an old, wooden table. He was only vaguely aware of the passage of time. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, it occurred to him that the sun was beginning to peek through the window over his shoulder, but his eyes remained on the blood insignia, carved into the table’s surface.

His mind… No. His entire being, had experienced a quickening. It was as if ultimate power had been laid at his feet, and it was now coursing through his veins. Malcom could actually feel the pulse of the mana around him, the very heartbeat of the world.

A voice spoke out, shattering the silence, but Malcom barely recognized it as his own.

“What have I done?”

He slowly flexed his fingers, uncurling them from around the hilt of the knife they’d encased for the last several hours. The insignia on the table pulsated in response to his withdrawal. Like a living, breathing thing, it called to him, and his vision wavered, filled with images of different places.

With shaking hands, he slowly reached for his deck of tarot cards. Mana surged from his fingertips as he gripped them, and the same insignia slowly spread across their backs, as if they had been touched by the ritual as well.

Taking a faltering breath, Malcom laid out a spread of cards on the table, just below the Ace of Cups, which was still impaled by the blade of the knife. With each card he turned over, a face swam into view, and some of the power that he had become drunken with faded, as if it were water being drawn from a basin.

The High Priestess. A young woman swam into view. Despite the early hour, she was already hard at work, hanging clothes on a line somewhere. Liliana Edrington. The name came to him, as if Malcom had known her all of his life.

The Fool. This time, it was a man that Malcom saw. He appeared slightly disheveled, as if he’d never gone to bed the night before, and he sat in a circle of insignias, somewhat similar to the one Malcom himself had drawn some hours ago. Henry Jekyll.

The Emperor. Now, a face that Malcom knew already. An officer of the Queen’s service, standing before his mirror, straightening his coat. Edward O’Neal.

The Hierophant. A lady with an aristocratic air about her lay in her bed, the covers rising and falling with the slow and even breaths of sleep. Elizabeth Hemory.

The Magician. A young man raised his rapier, flashing in the light of the rising sun, towards the empty air. He swiped it one way, then another, stepping through a practiced ritual of the sword. William Marshall.

The Hanged Man. A scruffy man toiled away over a slab of meat, cutting away the bone and fat, preparing it to be chopped for market. Henry Morlas.

The Empress. A woman sat at her kitchen table, sharp eyes skimming over some form of ledger while she munched on a breakfast pastry. Elaina Clemency.


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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Sun Jan 03, 2016 7:36 pm

The key to life was contentment.

Lily had been young when her father first told her that, but the words had stayed with her to this day.

She smiled, eyes squinting slightly against the rising sun. Her short auburn hair blew in the morning breeze, which played with the clothes she was trying to string along the clothes line in the backyard of the Cormier Estate.

Things might not have been easy since her parents died, but she was living each day at a time, and each day to its fullest. Her social standing was no longer what it had been, but the Cormiers were very good to her - especially Delphine.

Thank God for Delphine.

The Cormier's only child had been her closest friend and confidant. Life wasn't easy for Delphine either, being raised as the Cormier's heir had been difficult, especially in dealing with a foreign society. Going to school at Clocktower - a prestigious school, she'd been told - was no easy task, particularly as a French girl.

"Lily!"

Lily turned to see Delphine walking down the back steps, her long blonde hair swept up in the wind.

Spoiler:
 

"You're up early," Lily said, smiling. "Shall I prepare breakfast?"

"Yes, thank you. I need to get over to Clocktower quickly. There's word something big is happening. I think some of the instructors may be taking on apprentices!"

Lily nodded, Delphine's excitement spreading to her as well. Delphine deserved good things to happen to her.

"I'll get started at once," she said, heading for the back door. After one step, her vision tilted suddenly, a strange ringing in her ears.

"Lily?" she heard Delphine cry, as though from a long way off. "Lil-"

The voice cut off quite suddenly, and with it her sight.

--------------------

The Fool. This time, it was a man that Malcom saw. He appeared slightly disheveled, as if he’d never gone to bed the night before, and he sat in a circle of insignias, somewhat similar to the one Malcom himself had drawn some hours ago. Henry Jekyll.

Henry Jekyll hadn't been himself lately.

All his friends found his behavior quite extraordinary. He no longer visited with them. He spent inordinate amounts of time doing research in a laboratory in the back of his house. He wasn't the bright, vibrant young man they'd come to now.

How right they were.

If they were really good friends, they might have noticed this was not the same man at all. But he didn't really blame them. They did look a lot a like, especially once he'd dyed his hair, and he was a rather good actor. Isolating himself from Jekyll's friends had helped to keep people from noticing, but even his staff hadn't seemed to realize they were no longer serving the same master.

Being Henry Jekyll had its benefits. He had plenty of money and plenty of privacy to conduct his research. And he had servants to get him whatever supplies he needed. He didn't feel guilty about commandeering all these things. After all, the real Henry had no more use for them where he was. And besides, this should have been his birthright. If fortune hadn't seen fit to throw his life into chaos those years ago, this should all have been his and more.

Henry shook his head. He must be low on sleep. It wasn't like him to get so introspective.

Lighting the candles around the sigil, he took a deep breath and prepared the incantation. He'd failed over and over again to properly invoke a spirit. Any magus worth his weight could manage spiritual invocation. But then, they'd had the upbringing and teaching of great practitioners. He had no such luxury.

Henry finished the spell, his whispered words echoing through the dark workshop. He finished, then waited.

Silence. Only silence greeted him. Had he failed again?

"Gaaaaah!"

Henry threw the grimoire aside and pulled at his hair in frustration. Again. Again! AGAIN!

His head pulsed and pounded. The stress, the exhaustion must be getting to him. He tried to stand up from the circle, but his body wavered.

Something... something, at last, was happening.

--------------------

The Glory of Britain had reached its zenith.

Edward O'Neal smoothed the medals of his uniform against his broad chest, observing their proud shine in the morning light. He turned from his mirror to the window and gazed out over the bustling city of London.

It truly was the crown jewel of the world, the seat of British power and imperialism. A glory to behold.

His smile wavered. The unfortunate truth was that all empires reached a peak at some time, and the only thing that would follow was descent and ruin.

This city, this nation, this empire were his life. That day would never come. Not if he had any say in it.

He turned and headed down the stately hallway, his heels sounding loudly on the polished floor.

Of course, it helped that the Queen shared his sentiments. With her backing, there was little he couldn't do. Associating with the so-called Mage's Association had been a necessary evil, but a profitable one. With their help - with their magic - the impossible became probable.

That didn't mean he trusted them, however. He hadn't gotten through the Royal Air Force and the Queen's own security force by trusting everyone he deal with. Malcom Heartwell couldn't be allowed too much leeway - in fact, he'd probably have to be silenced once he played his part.

But that day was some time off. For now, he'd settle for just checking on his work.

He paused as one of his men ran down the hallway, looking frantic.

"What?" he demanded as the man slid to a halt and saluted.

"Sir, we have a situation," he reported. O'Neal massaged his temple. Already, he could feel a headache coming on. Whatever it was, it couldn't be good.

"Well, what is it?" O'Neal demanded.

"It's Heartwell. He-"

"He what?" O'Neal demanded. He staggered suddenly against one of the pillars nearby, clutching his head.

"Sir?"

"What's... happening...?" O'Neal gasped.

Somewhere, somehow, something had gone very wrong.

_________________

~Phantom Thief Panther~


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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Sun Jan 03, 2016 8:20 pm

-Elizabeth Hemory-

The sun peaked through the curtains of the dark room. A luxurious room, filled with several paintings of what could only be described a family. A tall man with golden heir and melancholic eyes stood in a frame, alone. In another picture stood a woman and a child. The older one had also blonde hair and unusual red eyes, she had an air around that of charm and experience. The child had golden hair and the same eyes as the older woman and has the biggest smile on her face. Likely the child of both the woman and the man.

In further inspection, the room seemed to be a sleeping chamber, with multiple wardrobes across the walls and a single rather large bed in the middle. The bed seemed large enough to hold multiple people in it, but instead only a lone bulge could be found in it. The silent breath of a young maiden who travels in dream land. This was the usual morning of Elizabeth Hemory.

It would even be like any other, had it not been for three strange cards to appear by her bedside. Alas, even the cards strong mana signature would wake up Elizabeth from her slumber. Yesterday, like everyday she spent all night working and researching on her magecraft and such not in the morning was too tired to care about what happened outside her dream.

But life would not have her way. In the corridor steps could be heard as a maid opens the doors of the room and enters almost oblivious to the maiden sleeping in it. Reaching to the curtains on the window, the opens them letting the sun's light illuminate the room.

However Elizabeth sleep proved too much, even with light hitting her face, she seemed unfazed by it and remained in the bed breathing like an angel.

"Really now, it feels like you grow used to this with each day."

The maid complained, her name was Alice, she seems taller than Elizabeth, has light brown hair and a pair of sapphire eyes that were half hidden behind a set of glasses. She was probably the only person in the mansion with enough courage to speak in such a fashion towards Elizabeth. Closing her distance to the bed, she grabs onto the sheets and yanks the sheets off the bed.

"Kyaa!"

This time the force had been strong and sudden enough to wake up Elizabeth.

"Why must you be like this every day!?"

Elizabeth yelled in frustration, although her voice betrayed her as she sounded like she wanted to cry from the violence the maid was displaying.

"Perhaps if you would be less diligent, mornings would be more pleasant."

Although Elizabeth was a mage and researching magecraft should be her priority, sometimes she would forget time fly and would spend entire nights in her workshop. This was troublesome since Elizabeth had to maintain status during the day, else she start losing it.

"Also, how long did stay in there to forget to leave your magic things in it?"

Alice complained as she looked at the three cards in the bedside. Alice wanted to pick them up to place them else where, but she was smart enough not to touch magical items that she knew nothing about.

"Huh?"

Of course, Elizabeth still being in a daze was having difficulty registering what the maid was saying. Apparently something about magic things. After a couple of second of rubbing her eyes, she looked towards the maid and then downwards to where the maid was looking. Three strange cards lay in bed. Hierophant, Death, Twins was what each card had, all of which seemed to have strong mana signatures.

Alice tensed as she noticed the change in mood, she started backing off around the same time as Elizabeth picked the cards up to examine them.
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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:27 pm

Sweat dripped from his brow as William swept his blade through the air. He didn't have to think about the motions anymore. They had long ago become reflexive. What he did think about was the speed of them. Always trying to move through the steps of this sword dance just a little bit more quickly. In a battle of steel, it wasn't the stronger man who survived, it was the quicker one. After all, a single wound, if well placed, could end a duel before the enemy ever struck at all.

As he finished the set of motions, William lowered his rapier's tip to the ground, standing completely still. His breaths came fast, but they weren't labored. Years of training made the effort of this practice seem far less than it had once been. With the sun just beginning to creep over the treetops, William swept the rapier up and twisted it into its sheath, which rested over his left hip. It wasn't uncommon for young lords to carry a blade in public these days. With word of war breaking out in countries that seemed less and less distant, most men of William's age were expected to be prepared, should the Queen's army ask for their aid.

In some senses, William was a special case though. As the second son, he hadn't inherited any of the family's estate. He still held a title, but it would never be that of a lord, just the brother of one. Of course, that could change if his brother, Maxwell, were to die, but despite their differences, William didn't wish for such a thing. The Marshall family was also different from the other lords for a different reason though.

Magecraft ran through their veins, making them a far more rare breed of nobles. Between the ages of seven and eighteen, William had been tutored by a magus from Clocktower. Even though he wasn't favored to be the next lord of the house Marshall, it was still in his father's best interests to prepare him for the possible outcome.

William had taken to magecraft far more easily than he had to the sword. Perhaps his mind was stronger than his body, but it didn't hurt to have wits just as sharp as your sword in a duel either.

Taking a deep breath, William turned toward the manor, which was on the other side of the garden where he practiced in the mornings. His sister, Cynthia, would be waiting for him to join her for breakfast and tea. After a single step, William stopped short though. His heartbeat had escalated, pounding in his ears, and a chill ran down his spine. He reached for the hilt of his rapier again, because he wasn't alone...

"Who's there?"
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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Mon Jan 04, 2016 9:05 pm

High up in the top floor of Clemency Industries the owner, the aptly named Elaina Clemency, was sat at her magnificent dining table, pouring over the report that had been left there last night. A small satisfied smile crept across her face as she flicked the page over. How nice it was to see how in the black they were! Why, with her expert negotiating with the Ainsworth brothers, they had more than doubled their exports to the North. She tilted her head, allowing her thick, long brown hair to fall over the shoulder of her blue dress. These numbers were impressive, even for herself. Was there no end to her genius?

“You see,” she announced to the room, her rich, booming voice easily filling it. “All it takes to make yourself is a little discipline!”

“Y-Y-Yes Miss C-Clemency…” A smaller woman was hovering by the door, visibly jumping when her boss spoke.

“Honestly, those country folk who’ve set up camp down the street, do you think they make profits as good as this?"

“B-B-Bond Clothing? N-No, Miss Clemency…”

“Exactly! And do you know why? Because they don’t have the discipline to succeed! No wonder they’re already closing down…”

With a cackle the woman turned the page. Yes, yes, all perfect! As it should be, under her rule… wait, what was that? Putting down the bagel in her hand (both breakfast and lunch for her, a woman had her figure to maintain after all), she peered at a sentence with hazel eyes.

Brown tunics. Quanttity: 55 units. Price: 10 (Ten) shillings.

…Quanttity? Quanttity? Oh of all the… who would dare misspell such an easy word? She had specifically asked for an accurate copy of the last week of trade, and someone had dared to screw up? How dare they? How dare they? Rage suddenly filled her, and the maid by the door could hardly hold back a scream as a abrupt shriek filled the air;

Foul beast! Who was responsible for compiling yesterday’s report?”

“M-Mr Ashe… J-James Ashe miss… I’m s-sorry, he w-wasn’t f-feeling well when he wrote it, I w-w-will t-t-tell h-”

“Tell him he’s fired!” She screamed, hurling the book at the girl’s head. “Messy ledgers are not allowed in my company! Beat him to a pulp if you have to!”

“Y-Y-Yes M-Miss Clemency!” A small whimper followed, as by some miracle the girl had managed to catch the offending ledger. In return, Elaina trilled a “Thaaaank you!”, and waved her hand for the servant to leave. The girl recognised the sign and ran as fast as she could; she hadn’t survived in her position for the last six months without learning each and every one of her master’s quirks. After all, it only took one slip up in this place to find yourself out in the street with no job… and no uniform. Elaina wasn’t going to waste good money on buying a new outfit for their replacement, after all.

The owner of Clemency Industries laughed as the maid scurried out, her rage quickly subsiding. An unpleasant sound, more suited for a bunch of sticks being snapped than the sound of merriment. However much the girl tried to hide it, she could never fully hide her fear of being around Clemency. What was her name again? Mary something? It did not matter really. Elaina was growing bored of her, she’d find something to fire her on. Perhaps it could be arranged for her to drop something? Yes, that could work, she could easily arrange for a box or two to be brought up from the basement, surely the girl would relish such an exciting challenge, hmm? Oh, the possibilities!

But alas, that would have to wait. As loathe as she was to admit it, Elaina did have work to do. While she had always considered pride and greed virtues, the other five of the Seven Deadly Sins were but that, and sloth was no exception. At least it was an easy day; only a few deals to work through and look at, maybe visiting the work floor to ‘motivate’ her staff if she felt inclined. Hell, why not? Output had been a little on the low side recently, perhaps she convince them to work a little harder… it’d be a shame if an accident or two fell upon one of them. To them, anyway; Elaina wouldn’t care. They were just the poor after all, their social class was far beneath people like herself. When you started feeling sorry for them, you had clearly been working too hard.

She bit into her bagel, flicking over the page of her ledger (for the writer had been bright enough to foresee the need to make two copies). Hmm… more smudges. Looks like she’d been correct to fire… James? Whatever, there was no point wondering now he was gone. She was getting a headache just thinking about him… literally, as it turned out. With the end of the bagel-holding hand she tapped the end of her temple, a small frown flickering across her head. Her head was starting to pound a little, no, a lot. Where had this come from? This was ridiculous! Well, it changed nothing! Elaina Clemency would not going to lose to a headache! She was above that after all, it was just a distraction! So instead of doing something sensible like finding a cure for her sudden migraine, Elaina growled, and continued eating her bagel.

----

While it was perhaps blasphemy for a butcher to say, Henry Morlas always considered the cutting of the meat each morning to be the most boring part of the day. It was just so… repetitive. The fat was always in the same part, he had to cut it in a specific way. Oh, it changed on the type of meat of course, that much was obvious.

Take the meat in front of him, on the counter in the middle of a semi-clean kitchen. It was a pig’s leg, fresh from the pig itself not two hours ago. The stench was overwhelming, and the more it bleed, the more the butcher wished he was anywhere bar her. By the grace of God, this was going to take forever to clean up…

A chuck was expertly carved off, hitting the side of the counter with a squelchy thud. There, that was it finally done… He stepped back, admiring his work. …Yeah, that’d do. ‘Admiring’ had been too strong a word maybe; ‘tolerated’ was more suited. It was just… meat. Again. As it always was at this time of the day. Him in the kitchen with his carving knife, waking up at God knows when to come in early and prepare, pick up the latest batch of meat still looking bleary eyed, carve it all for the day, and then, just as he was starting to wish he was back in bed, open shop and serve customers for the next ten hours.

He sighed, running a gloved hand through his scruffy black hair… damn, he’d have blood in it now, wouldn’t he? That was just great… He looked around, surveying the bloody, decaying room. The flies were back... they were circling in the corner, hovering over the remains of a carcass he had forgot to clear up. Well, not forgotten exactly, he just hadn't felt like touching an animal that stank so foul. They'd lied when they'd delivered it, it was certainly not fresh when he bought it. When he'd cut it, he'd found maggots wriggling from it. Hundreds of them, tiny, wriggling little monsters, hitting the floor with a sick pitter-patter noise. He'd thrown the body in the corner in disgust, far, far away from his finer meat. And so it had stayed there for the last day. ...The head of the decayed seemed to be looking at him. What was it's expression? Henry could not tell. Amusement? Yes... it seemed to be laughing at him, with its mouth open like that. In fact, with its left eyelid closed, it almost looked like it was winking too. Henry shuddered, looking away. He hadn't worked out if it was better or not that it still had its eyes or not... he wasn't sure he could handle it staring at him with hollow sockets. No, ignore it! Get back to your live... get back to... this.

He sighed again, looking at his wares. This whole place… it was just so… tedious. Tedious and boring. It was the same every day, he got up early, staggered through the day, and crashed out in the evening. All to get some money which immediately went into buying more product. God, he’d be doing this for the rest of his life, wouldn’t he? The monotony of all of this was wearing him down. He couldn’t even take a break; the land was so expensive even a week off could set him too far behind. Everything… it was all just too much. He needed… something. Something to distract himself from it all… anything would do.

But miracles like that did not happen in the real world, however much he wanted it to. So trying to distract himself from the horrors of entropy, he began dragging the biggest slab to the walk in freezer. He didn’t even notice when the bright light suddenly filled the room.
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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:00 pm

The young woman stood underneath a vast apple tree, atop a hill overlooking lush, green meadows. She was dressed in a fine white dress, adorned with a trim around the edge depicting various flowers, which was billowing slightly in the soft wind. Long, brown hair swayed around her as the wind picked up. A large hat sat on her head, the hem of which obscured her face.

She was looking down the hill towards a man walking towards her. A navy blue cloak was wrapped around him, obscuring his waistcoat somewhat. Piercing green eyes gazed out from behind a pair of thin-rimmed glasses, framed by a shock of messy black hair.

As the man ascended the hill, the woman smiled, and called out to him, waving. She did not notice the form that detached itself from the shadow of the tree. It rose up behind her with a menacing air about it. The man opened his mouth to shout a warning, but was too late. The spectre thrust an arm forward, into the woman’s back. Her hat fell off her head, revealing deep blue eyes widening in shock and pain as an ethereal blade protruded out from her chest.


Elliot woke with a start. It took him a moment to gain bearing on his surroundings. He was sat in front of a desk, upon which sat a large number of books, including one open which he guessed he must have been reading before he had fallen asleep. A bookshelf was arranged next to the desk, the names of the books difficult to read from the dim light reaching into the room from the window next to his bed. An armoire sat at the head of the bed, with a grandfather clock quietly ticking away in the corner of the room.

How many times had he had that dream? Despite six years passing by, the pain of losing his sister still took him by surprise. His eyes drifted towards the grandfather clock, realizing with alarm that he had overslept yet again. He couldn’t afford to be tardy for much longer- he reckoned his superiors’ patience would run out sooner or later.

His parents had recently secured Elliot a job working at the Royal Archives. How they had managed to achieve that, Elliot wasn’t sure, but he didn’t really care. After all, he had easy access to the greatest (and most accurate) collection of texts in the country. Even ignoring the fact that there would surely be some texts pertaining to magecraft squirreled away somewhere, the vast wealth of knowledge stored in those Archives was incomprehensible. And as his parents always told him, knowledge is power.

But that would all be irrelevant if he lost his job. He hurriedly dressed himself, gathering the first set of clothes within reach, and made his way downstairs, grabbing his cloak from the clothes rack in the landing, noticing that once again, his parents’ outdoor wear was curiously absent. Elliot had noticed recently that his parents would disappear from the complex early in the morning, sometimes not returning for a few days, without prior warning or indication as to the purpose of their departure. Probably attempting to procure new material for their library, he mused. Pushing the thought from his head, he opened the front door and exited.

The door opened onto a small square. An aged tree sat in the middle, hiding part of the outhouse behind it. To the left, a modest building stood, which through the windows could be seen large numbers of bookshelves. This in turn was dwarfed by the stone structure behind it, the main building of the library Elliot’s parents owned. While he itched to peruse the extensive collection contained within, Elliot had somewhere to be. He swiftly strode past the structures and exited the front gate of the complex, heading towards the Royal Archives with a purpose in his stride.
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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:59 pm

A pair of icy, blue eyes regarded William from the shadow of a large tree nearby. "I see I chose well." The voice was feminine, almost playfully amused even, but there was also an undertone of steel in it. “You’re quick to recognize a threatening presence. A desirable trait in a Master…”

“You haven’t answered my question.” William responded, hand still resting on the hilt of his rapier. “Who are you?”

A woman stepped into the light, the morning sunlight turning her blonde hair into a curtain of gold that fell over her shoulders. She wore a hooded, leather jerkin. Not typical for a lady of stature, but she certainly carried herself as if she were such. “You may call me Lancer.” She responded, never letting her icy stare waver. “And you are my Master.”

“Master?” William raised an eyebrow at the woman, unsure of where she was going with this. Not even the servants in the Marshall household called him master. That title was reserved for his father and brother. Her name said far more about her though. William was an educated man, and his tutor from Clocktower had mentioned a particularly interesting ritual that had taken place in the East some time ago.

“Are you…” He paused, unsure of whether he was truly prepared for the answer. “Are you a heroic spirit?”

Lancer finally blinked, and it was almost as if a spell was broken. Her eyes seemed more like deep pools than ice now. Or maybe it was the smirk that now tilted up the corner of her mouth that made her seem less threatening. “Yes. I am Lancer. And you are my Master.”

-------------------------------------------------------------------

“Be careful with those, my cute Master.”

The voice came from the other side of the bed, and although deep, it clearly belonged to a woman. She was dressed for warm weather, a long, flowing cloak covering the bulk of what was obviously a breastplate. Wavy, auburn locks tumbled over her shoulders in what appeared to have, at one point in time, been a braid. Now, it simply seemed to tangle in whatever direction it chose. Gauntleted arms were crossed beneath her breasts, and a longsword hung on her hip.

“You can only use them once, and I don’t think you’ll wish to waste them, once I tell you what they’re for.”

Her tone held some measure of amusement, but the woman’s face gave away nothing. Clearly, she wasn’t someone to be trifled with, despite her unannounced appearance in Elizabeth’s home.
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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:25 am

Lily awoke with a start. The room was dark, the curtains having been drawn shut. The feel of her sheets and pillow beneath her were so familiar that she wondered at first if everything had merely been a dream.

However...

Lily felt a shiver run down her spine. She was not alone in the room. She understood that at once. Where had Delphine gone? Had she carried her in here?

"Who... who's there?" she whispered into the room.

--------------------

The circle around Jekyll began to pulsate and hum with life. Jekyll stared, transfixed, as energy began to amass within.

It only took a moment for his fascination to turn to dread. He was within the circle. The mana was beginning to gather around him. It sent a chill of power through every nerve in his body that quickly began to smother his senses.

It was too much. Too much.

He was drowning. Drowning in an ocean of power.

Too much. Too much.

He screamed. Again and again and again. It felt as though a man was trying to fit into a coat several sizes too small.

And he was the coat.

He contorted, gasping and writhing in pain as mana filled him to the breaking point.

Then, all was still.

Jekyll gasped, sweaty and exhausted, upon the laboratory floor. Something was wrong. Something felt distinctly off inside him. What had happened?

He could hear beating against his door. His servants? One of Jekyll's friends?

"Go away," he moaned. "For the love of God, leave me!"

--------------------

It was like something out of a fantasy.

Before his very eyes, a figure materialized before him like some phantasm of the past. He was a tall, thin man, with silky silver hair and mustache. His eyes were keen and intelligent, deep set into a pale face. The man swept his cloak back in a bow, mouth curving into an elegant smile.

"I am Servant Caster, come to serve her Majesty once more. You are her emissary, and my Master, correct?"

O'Neal stared at the man, transfixed. Servant...

Someone was going to have some explaining to do.

--------------------

Blood.

Blood was pooling at Henry Morlas' feet. It was far too much, too much for the carcass he held to be spilling. As Henry stared down into it, a ghastly face stared back at him. He staggered back, only to see the apparition standing before him like a malevolent stage performer.

"Thou hast called out to me," he said, the mouth beneath the mocking mask curving into a foul smile. "And I have answered your call. I am Servant Assassin."

He stooped, his white gloved finger dipping into the pool of blood at the butcher's feet. He watched, fascinated, as a single ruby drop suspended from the tip until it splashed back into the pool.

"This time, this city will never forget my name."

_________________

~Phantom Thief Panther~


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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Tue Jan 05, 2016 5:42 pm

-Archer-

"Ah, it seems you have waken up at last."

A male voice spoke up from the emptiness of the room. Mana started to gather in one of the corners of the chamber, allowing the form of a rather handsome man to show. Blonde hair, fairly white skin and amber eyes, the man seemed to be in his middle age and had some form of aura that spoke volumes of him. He definitely felt like one of noble blood.

"Sorry to have frighten you. However you fainted upon my summon and I felt that my presence would have only disturbed those attempting to help you."

He spoke with a calm tone and broad smile. It certainly didn't feel force, he wasn't trying to calm Lily down, this calm nature was part of who he was. Looking at his attire, he was dressed in rather sophisticated pieces of silk and cloth similar to those found in countries from the south. Displaying bright colors of red and gold.

"You may call me Archer, I will be your Servant and protector in this coming Grail War, young lady."

_______________________________________________________________

-Rider-

Mana spiked in the room that Elaina resided in. It concentrated in a single point only to burst in an intense light. When the light calmed down a tall man armored from head to toes in what seemed to be armor from older times stood in front of Elaina.

"Hmmm, so you are the one who summoned me?"

The man opens his eyes as he examines Elaina. Making sure not to miss a single hint from her reaction. His eyes at first seemed unimpressed, but soon change to that of amusement as he through out a laughter.

"Hahaha! So you are the lucky one to have summon me? Hahaha! Know that I am (name) and have been summoned in this war in the Rider class. Together, we will ride to victory and trample all foolish enough to stand in the way!"

Rider boasts in a mix of laughter. Looking at him closer he seemed to have short blonde hair and a pair of brown eyes. He was also big, probably the biggest man Elaine had ever encountered in life.

_______________________________________________________


-Elizabeth-

Elizabeth's eyes went wide as she saw the appearance of a strange woman dressed in clothes that while sophisticated and detailed, were out of place in this day and age. Elizabeth's first instinct was to step in front of Alice, her maid. She had no idea who this person was, and while she certainly didn't feel threatened by the stranger's presence. It was better to be safe than sorry.

Alice on the other hand almost shrieked when she saw the stranger, and had it not been Elizabeth quick action to step in front of her, she would have called the other maids and butlers to stop the intruder.

After a second, Elizabeth calmed down. She looked at the woman in front of her in the eyes.

"May I know the purpose of this intrusion, Miss...?"

She could tell the ridiculous amount of mana the woman in front of her had. It was palpable, so Elizabeth concluded. Whatever option she takes will get her killed if the woman is there for blood. But if she's not, then she should try and figure out why she's even here to begin with.
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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Tue Jan 05, 2016 7:27 pm

It was the fact his feet suddenly felt a lot wetter that caused Henry to look up. He immediately wished he hadn’t. The meat hit the floor was a squelch; w-who the hell? Who was… the sight was a horrifying one, even for a man who had seen as much blood as he. The man looked… insane. Completely and utter, it was the only way to describe him.

The butcher’s thoughts faced; had he not locked the door? No, that was impossible, he had double checked the lock after he had entered. Was this some sort of prank? Again, no, the kids around here were sometimes odd, but they’d never think up something like this. So… some man, in a mask and cloak, had decided to break into his shop, sneak up on him and… well, Henry assumed by the man’s name it was nothing pleasant.

But Henry was not one who scared easily. Who this man was, he did not know. An assassin? Who on earth would send one of them to a mere butcher? He didn’t care; if this man had broken into his shop for his own nefarious ends, Henry was not going to just let him get away with it!

“What the hell are you?” He roared, grabbing the cleaver from the counter to his side. It gleamed in the bright light on the walls, and he pointed it at the strange man in the manner of someone who was well customer to handling such an unusual weapon.

“Get out of my shop! I don’t care who you are, nobody tries to rob me! You think you could come in here with your damn mask and get me scared? Hah! I’ve seen a lot worse than you!”

---------

Elaina blinked a few times as the rapid headache suddenly went away; that had been exhausting dealing with that! Still, it was gone now, as always she had won her battle and… oh. Oh…

Rather than call for help or shout, the owner of the building merely stared in wonder at the man in front of her burst in from the light. No, there was no point getting anyone in; if he was here, he must know how to slip past them. Although… yes, now she thought about, there was definitely a lot of magic in the air. Hmm… a teleportation spell perhaps? Interesting… there wasn't many who used magecraft in these parts anymore…

Then the man spoke for the first time, and Elaina couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow. She’d... summoned him? There must be some mistake; she had done no such thing. Perhaps he was mistaking her for someone else… She didn't like to admit it, but she was completely lost. And admit she would not; no, there was no need to show weakness to this oaf. She would do as she always did, assume control.

“Of course I was Rider.” She lied, staring at him, marvelling at the man’s physique. My my… just how tall was he? Seven feet? Certainly taller than the usual idiots around here. “I had expected you here a little sooner, but I suppose I can forgive a little tardiness. Still, I wouldn't count on having such forgiveness often though, don’t you think that's fair?”

She laughed again, though this time it sounded much better than her cackling of before. After all, some appearances had to be kept up around strangers.

“Yes, I think that suits me just fine… care for a seat? We are not riding anywhere until I have finished my breakfast, after all. I dare say we have a long day ahead of us."

She pointed out the spread in front of her; the dining table was covered in food, chicken, turkey, salads, toast… the list went on. Of course, she was content with her pastry. She had no intention of touching the rest, but there was no need for the chefs to get sloppy.
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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Tue Jan 05, 2016 9:45 pm

Weaving through the warren of streets, Elliot made his way to the Royal Archives. Already, the sounds of city life filled the air- the buzz of people talking and the clang of industry. However, he paid them no heed, anxious to reach his destination. Before long, the Royal Archives came into sight.

Sat overlooking the Thames, within sight of Westminster, the Royal Archives was a grand affair. Its high walls were decorated with fine embellishments, with large, ornate windows letting the natural light into the structure. To either side of the main structure were smaller annexes branching off. The wrought-iron fence surrounding the building was decorated with lion heads. Despite the early hour, a number of people were already moving in and out of the great wooden doors at its entrance.

Making his way inside, Elliot found himself looking into a tall reception area. In the centre sat a semi-circular desk, where receptionists were already conversing with patrons. Behind the desk on either side were two large staircases leading to the upper levels of the Archives. Through the two doors located next to the stairs, Elliot could see vast arrays of bookshelves.

As he passed the desk, a loud cough caught Elliot’s attention.

“And what time do you call this, Master Swann?” Elliot turned, already bracing himself for yet another angry tirade from the Head Receptionist.

Marianne Everett was a young woman, and yet she seemed confident in herself despite her youth. She wore a smart uniform emblazoned with the royal crest, a lion and a unicorn flanking a shield. Her brown hair was tied neatly behind her, and she possessed stern blue eyes that seemed to be regarding Elliot with a look of disdain.

“That makes it the third time this week you have arrived late. I don’t care about your personal opinions on your work here, but we expect you at least arrive in a timely fashion every day. You do your country a disservice with your tardiness.”

“I’m sorry ma’am! It won’t happen again,” Elliot apologized, offering a slight bow as he did so.

“And how many times have I heard that from you since you started here?” replied Marianne. She sighed, rolling her eyes at him. Her expression softened however, as she continued speaking. “I understand that juggling your work here and at home can be difficult, but let me remind you that you are working for Her Majesty the Queen in this establishment. If her subjects do not arrive in a timely fashion, what does that say of Her Majesty, or of her Empire?”

Marianne appraised the state of Elliot’s attire, noting with displeasure his messy hair and clothing, a frown returning to her face.

“I also notice that you are not in uniform. You forgot to wear it again in your rush, didn't you? You’re a mess.”

Elliot’s cheeks burned red with embarrassment, and lowered his head bashfully, admitting that this particular aspect of his personality was not the most desirable of traits in an employee. He couldn't help himself though- he had found yet another intriguing document in the Swann library, and had stayed up all night poring over it. It was surprising to him that he had not found that particular article sooner, considering he frequented that section of the library more often than others. He was snapped out his reverie by a sigh from Marianne.

“There are spare uniforms in the back. Put one of them on before you start, okay? I need you to search the Sciences section for these books, they’ve been requested by a number of patrons,” Marianne spoke, handing Elliot a large list of book titles and then turning away, apparently having finished the conversation with Elliot. Although he wore a humble look on his face, inwardly, Elliot was pleased. This would give him an excellent opportunity to search the East Annex for any articles that might be hidden there pertaining to magecraft.

Without a word, he walked towards the staffroom underneath the stairs. He felt hopeful that his search today would yield useful results, despite the grilling he had received.
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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:11 pm

Lily sat bolt upright at the sound of a strange voice. She stared, transfixed, as a man appeared before her like magic. Was he a some traveling performer? No, his clothes were far too fine for that. Had the Cormiers let him in, or had he sneaked in?

Archer, he called himself. A strange name. Stranger still, he talked about a war.

"I don't understand," she whispered. "Who... what are you? What war?"

Was Britain about to go to war?

--------------------

One moment they were in his office in the palace, and the next moment they stood in the middle of a London alleyway. O'Neal staggered back, looking pale in the face. Caster didn't seem to notice, staring off into the distance.

"The other Servants have arrived as well," he said calmly. O'Neal stared at him, bemused.

"How do you know that? How did we even get here?"

"The sigil I drew upon your floor did that," Caster said. "As to how I know, it's one of my many Skills."

Before O'Neal could ask another question, Caster brought up two fingers and tapped them to the officer's forehead. Instantly, knowledge that was not his streamed through his consciousness. Powers, abilities, and most importantly-

"You... can't be," O'Neal said, staring at the man. Caster smiled, inclining his head gracefully.

"I assure you I can," he said. "But we have an engagement, do we not? If my suspicions are correct, we may uncover the matter shortly."

O'Neal narrowed his eyes, but nodded. He breezed past Caster, heading for the workshop the Queen had funded for Malcom. He stopped before the door, then shot a look at Caster.

"Can't you just blow the door open?" he asked. Caster raised his eyebrows.

"That would be rather rude, don't you think?"

O'Neal glared at him, then hammered his large fist against the door.

"Malcom, God help you, answer this door!"

--------------------

Assassin stared at the butcher, waving his meat cleaver threateningly. Then, quite abruptly, he let out a screech of laughter.

"Surely, you jest!" he cried. "But I must applaud your spirit. A worthy Master you must be. To look into my eyes and not falter is either bravery or stupidity of the highest order!"

The smile slowly slid from his face, however, and he stepped nearer to Henry.

"However, I suggest you lower that weapon, or the next thing it sinks into will be your thick skull."

He grinned once more, inspecting the carcass-filled room around them.

"I'd rather not just yet. After all, losing my Master on the first day will say something dreadful about me, won't it?" he said cheerfully. "Now, sit, and I will make things clear to even the likes of you."

_________________

~Phantom Thief Panther~
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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:46 pm

-Rider-

Rider's grin slightly fell, although he still maintained good humor. He takes a seat for himself, his armor clicking and clacking with every movement.

"True, we have much to speak. And I am a rather patient man, so I'll forgive you for being dishonest."

Rider ignores the food in the table. While he certainly wouldn't mind eating, he doesn't feel like that should be a priority right now. The woman in front of him seemed clueless of what was going on and every minute of her lies to cover that up was putting him in a bad mood.

"Hmmm, I suppose I'll just give you the gist of it. Any doubts ask away afterwards."

He lifts his legs up and with a rather large bang, lands them on the table. He tilts the chair backwards only slightly and crosses his arms.

"You have been chosen to participate in a mini war. You plus six other mages will fight to the death."

He lifts his arms dramatically

"To aid them, a great spirit has been summoned to fight for them. In your case, I am your spirit. After the other 6 spirits are dead, both you and I will be granted the Holy Grail and with it, we can have one of our wishes granted!"

Rider laughs, his words showing that he is completely confident in winning this war. After such a small scale war would be child's play for someone like Rider.

________________________________________________________________

-Archer-

"Hmmm, troublesome but expected."

Archer commented passively, his demeanor in general seemed to be that of someone that easily accepted any problem thrown at him. Truthfully though, he found it strange that there was no marks of a ritual near the girl, so he suspected that his Master had become one with knowledge of it. He lifted his hand and made it disappear.

"I am a spirit, as you can see, my body is not normal."

His hand appeared again, now he crossed his arms and rested his back to the wall.

"Unfortunately it seems that you have been chosen to participate in a bloodshed. You and six other mages will fight to the death, that is you, a Master. To aid them, Heroic Spirits have been summoned, that is me, a Servant."

He leaves the wall and approaches the bed. His voice soothing and calm, it seem like he was used with explaining things to others. He almost felt like a teacher.

"For the better or for the worse, I am your Servant. I am your guardian and protector. I promise that so long as I remain here, that no harm shall fall upon you."

Archer kneels at her bedside, a gesture reminiscent of knights from old fairy tales.
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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Wed Jan 06, 2016 2:36 am

-Saber-

“Saber.” The woman finished Elizabeth’s sentence, answering her question at the same time. “And this is a discussion that should, perhaps, be slightly more private.” She continued, nodding to the frightened Alice.

Saber made no other movements, seemingly content to remain where she was. Her Master seemed concerned with those weaker than herself. It was obvious from the way she’d stepped in front of the maid, and Saber could identify with that. Perhaps she and her Master would get along even better than she’d originally hoped.

“I’m neither here to frighten you, nor to cause you harm.” Saber continued calmly. “If you’ll speak with me for a moment, I believe all will become clear.”

------------------------------------------------------

-William, Lancer-

A Grail War? Here? And he was a Master?

William’s mind was spinning in a million different directions. He wanted to deny it, say that this woman was crazy, but her very presence was overpowering. She couldn’t possibly be described as human, at least not by normal standards. How was he going to explain this to his family? His brother wouldn’t take well to William being the one chosen, and his father… Oh God, his father wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Lancer regarded William with an inquisitive expression. Her Master seemed to be fighting some kind of internal war. As a deep thinker, she often did the same. So, she decided to wait for him to work whatever it was out.

“Can we put this discussion on hold?”

She blinked again. Okay… Not what she had been expecting. “Excuse me?” Lancer asked, raising an eyebrow at him.

“I’m supposed to be meeting with someone right now, and it will look suspicious if I’m missing without an available reason. It’s best that we avoid any suspicions until we find out who the other competitors are, yes?”

Lancer smiled at that. Her Master was good at thinking on his toes. “I can wait.” She responded, fading from view. “But I’m not going anywhere…” Her words, painted with amusement, drifted hauntingly out of thin air.

“Great…” William muttered, again turning towards the manor, where his sister would be waiting for him. Something gave him the feeling that his life was about to become a lot more complicated...

------------------------------------------------------

-Malcom-

The door swung open abruptly. If O’Neal had put too much force into the second knock on the door, he might topple forward, due to nothing absorbing the blow.

“God has no place in this.” Malcom answered, his voice raspier than O’Neal would have remembered it. In fact, much had changed about Malcom since O’Neal last saw him. Only a week had passed since their last conversation, yet in that time, Malcom seemed to have aged at least twenty years. His eyes, which had originally been a soft brown, now glowed golden, and his hair, also once brown, had turned white at the tips. Perhaps the most strange thing about him was the intricate tattoo that wound its way around his left eye.

“Come inside though, and we’ll talk over tea.” He paused for a moment, eyes resting on Caster. They flashed with an unusual understanding. “I’m sorry if it may seem disrespectful to one, such as yourself, but only the living may pass through this threshold.” With a half-smile, he stepped away from the door, leaving it open for O’Neal. Should Caster try to follow, he would find himself unable to cross through the doorway, as if some invisible force kept him from entering.
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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:05 pm

Spirits. Mages. Fights to the death.

It was too much for Lily to take in. But this man - Archer - had a very calming presence. She watched as he kneeled beside her bed and pledged his loyalty to her. For one moment, she felt like a princess.

"Th-thank you," she said, blushing. "I don't fully understand, but I trust you'll help me figure things out."

There was a sound of footsteps in the hallway. Lily snapped her head toward the door, wondering if they were coming to check on her.

"You have to hide," she said quickly, but the man had already vanished from sight. She blinked. Had she been dreaming?

It was strange though. Despite the fact that she could no longer see him, she felt as though he were still in the room.

The door opened, and Delphine slipped into the room, shutting the door softly.

"Delphine-" Lily began, but Delphine held up a hand.

"You're up. That's good. Can you walk?"

She was speaking quickly, clearly agitated. What had happened?

Delphine produced a satchel filled with supplies and began to hurriedly pack away some of Lily's clothes. Lily watched, dumbfounded.

"What's going on?" she asked. Delphine approached her, pressing the bag into her hands.

"Lily, you have to go. Now."

Go? But this was her home.

"What?" she cried. "Why?"

Delphine's mask of composure broke, and tears began to swim in her eyes.

"Lily... They're going to hurt you."

Lily stared, transfixed. They... She knew who Delphine was referring to. It was the only thing that made sense, but... How could that be? The Cormiers, who had taken her in and treated her so well?

"Delphine... why?" she whispered. Delphine bit her lip, glancing over at the door before stepping closer.

"Your collapse in the garden wasn't an ordinary fainting spell," Delphine whispered. "You've been chosen, Lily. I heard rumors of the Heaven's Feel, but I never thought it would actually happen."

Heaven's Feel? Was this related to what Archer had been telling her?

Delphine rolled up her sleeve, and Lily gazed in confusion at the pale arm. Then, suddenly, a glowing tattoo appeared down the length of her left forearm.

"I'm a magus, Lily," she said. "My family is a lineage of French magi. We came to England, to Clocktower, so I could study magic."

Lily looked away. So much was happening so suddenly. How could she be expected to digest all this?

"I didn't want to hide it from you. I just..."

Delphine trailed off, downcast. But she only allowed herself a moment. She swallowed, then forced herself to look into Lily's eyes.

"The Heaven's Feel is an unprecedented opportunity. The magus who wins it would have everything. That's why..."

"Your family... they want you to win it, don't they?" Lily asked. Delphine closed her eyes and nodded.

"You were chosen, Lily. Not me. I don't know how or why, but they're not happy about it. So they planned to... to force you to relinquish your familiar to me."

Lily stared. Now, it was all starting to make sense. A shiver ran down her spine.

"They like you, Lily," Delphine said softly. "But for magi... their legacy means everything."

--------------------

O'Neal's fist beat dead air as the door swung open, causing his balance to waver. This was a most disagreeable day.

He had planned to berate Malcom the moment they made eye contact, but his voice died in his throat. What on earth had happened to the man? He looked as though he'd been to hell and back.

At the invitation for tea, he nodded reluctantly and made for the stairs, Caster in tow. Caster stopped short, however, at Malcom's words. He inspected the doorway, eyes narrowed intently, then stepped back.

"Very well," he said breezily. "Here I will remain."

He turned his back on them and began to survey the city around them with interest. O'Neal frowned, displeased with Malcom setting all the rules here, but it couldn't be helped. Up the stairs he went behind his host, impatient for answers.

_________________

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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Wed Jan 06, 2016 10:58 pm

-Elizabeth-

Elizabeth eyed Saber for a moment, trying to understand the situation. After collecting her thoughts, she looks at Alice.

"Alice, would you mind going ahead? And be sure to prepare one more plate for our guest here."

Alice understood clearly, Elizabeth wasn't being cold, she was being commanding not leaving any space to argue. And while she hates the fact that she's leaving her mistress alone with a stranger. She has no option but leave.

...

The moment Alice left, Elizabeth's body relaxed. Her defensive posture completely gone and instead Elizabeth felt relaxed and not worried that there was someone else in her room.

"So, mind filling me in?"

Elizabeth beckons Saber as she moves towards one of her wardrobes. Truthfully Elizabeth didn't trust Saber right now and in normal condition she would never put herself this vulnerable. But as far as she can tell, if this person wanted to kill her, she would have already been dead.

Plus it was getting late for breakfast and the hunger was getting annoying.

_____________________________________________________________

-Archer-

Archer observed what unfolded in front of him. There were many things going through his mind, many of which included methods to defuse the situation. However one thing he was certain, this new girl, which he had seen before when Lily had collapsed definitely cared about Lily and wanted to help her.

"What terrible luck you have Master. Albeit that might also be my own."

The cheerful voice of Archer fills the room as the manifest in front of the two girls. It didn't seem like the dramatic situation had affected him visibly, he was still wearing a calm smile as if there was no worries in the world.

"Still, this is quite a pickle. Ah! Where are my manners? My name is Archer, thank you for caring about my Master."

He makes a polite bow, crossing his arm on his chest and lowering his head. He needed to show gratitude when it was deserved.

Now then, to deal with the biggest problem, Lily was definitely about to have a mental breakdown. Not only has she been shoved into a war, she's already being hunted down and it's by her own family! Archer couldn't stand for this, he had to help her out before she mentally broke.

"If I may Master, there might be a solution that at the very least should gain you time to think over your position. As Delphine has stated, they like you, so certainly if you simply explain your situation they should understand. From what I understand you are still under their care, so even if you are not their blood, surely your victory would bring the same honor to their family."

Archer words were filled with conviction and wisdom. Truly none of his words were lies or misguided. But there was one problem that most magus would agree on with his observations. He seemed to put much value on emotional bonds.
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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Thu Jan 07, 2016 8:50 pm

-Saber-

"As I stated before, you may call me Saber." The woman repeated, now that Alice had left the room. "I am one of seven heroic spirits summoned to participate in a War for the Holy Grail."

"At the beginning of this War, the Grail chooses Masters for each of us spirits, and we are to act as your Servants for the duration. Due to the nature of the War, we do not know our enemy beforehand. So, I thought it best that I reveal this information in private."

Saber had followed Elizabeth across the room, and her fingers reached out to touch one of the dresses hanging in the wardrobe. "Is this what the women of your age wear? It's so.." She paused, clearly not sure what words to use. "Well, it's highly impractical, by the standards of my time anyway..."

She unfastened her gauntlet and slipped it off, revealing slender, although calloused, fingers, and pressed her hand into the fabric. "So soft..."

-----------------------------------------------

-Malcom-

"I'd ask why you're here..." Malcom began, pulling a tea kettle from the stove and pouring its contents into two cups. "But we both know there's little point in that."

He sat one cup on the side of the table where O'Neal was standing, and took a long sip from the other one as he sat down on the other side. "You want to know what's going on."

"No." He interjected, after a very brief pause. "You already suspect what's going on, but you find yourself unable to fully believe in it." Malcom tapped his fingers on the table in a steady rhythm. "Unfortunately, this is exactly what it appears to be. My experiments had reached a state in which some practical testing was required. This is simply the test in question."
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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Thu Jan 07, 2016 11:48 pm

Even if Lily felt he was still in the room, it was still quite a shock to see him materialize again. And if it was a shock for her, that was nothing compared to how Delphine must feel. She gave a violent start and backed away, though her loss of composure only lasted for a moment. Immediately, she drew herself back up in a dignified way Lily had never seen her use before. Was it the look of a magus?

"Archer," Delphine repeated, inclining her head. "Thank you in advance for caring for my friend."

Lily squirmed uncomfortably. She was not used to people of such clearly higher station than her fawning over her this way.

Archer seemed to propose a valid solution to the problem, and Lily immediately brightened at the prospect. Delphine, however, shook her head.

"I appreciate your insight, Archer, but I'm afraid it won't do," she said. "Even if Lily is under our care, it wouldn't suit our reputation any to have a servant girl be selected over the chosen heir and win our battle."

She looked apologetically at Lily. Clearly, she didn't share this view.

"This might be your only chance to get away," Delphine said, pressing the bag into Lily's hands once more. "Please, you have to go."

She shot a glance at Archer, pleading he would see reason and do what was best for his Master. Whether he wanted to or not, however, Lily trusted Delphine. She didn't want to consider it, much less do it, but there seemed to be little choice.

Lily took the bag with trembling fingers and got up from the bed. The window of her bedroom overlooked the alleyway. They could get out there without being seen.

"I will see you again, won't I?" Lily asked, voice constricted. Delphine swallowed thickly and looked away.

"I hope so."

Lily stepped away from the window and seized Delphine's hands. Delphine's blue eyes widened in surprise, and she stared into Lily's face.

"I won't go unless you promise," she said. "Please."

Delphine smiled through watery eyes and nodded.

"I promise. Now go. Quickly."

Lily turned away and clambered over the window sill. She gave Delphine one last look, then slipped out of sight.

--------------------

O'Neal stared at Malcom with steely eyes, his expression inscrutable.

"Did you forget?" he said in a low voice. "You are in the employ of her Majesty the Queen. To enact these plans without her explicit approval is nothing short of treason."

He leaned back in his chair and reached for the tea. It was soothingly warm on his throat, and set him a bit more at ease.

"However, this does open up the sort of possibility we had hoped for," he continued. "Provided we win."

He narrowed his eyes, the sort of face he reserved for dealing with his most troublesome insubordinates.

"We will win, won't he?" he asked, more of a demand than a question.

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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Fri Jan 08, 2016 5:42 pm

-Elizabeth-

Elizabeth half registered what Saber said, half. It was difficult to digest everything, but as far as she could tell. Saber was an ally for a war that she had apparently been thrown upon. Which not that she mentioned it, Elizabeth started to notice a connection with her. It was similar to a familiar's connection, except much stronger.

"This is a bit sudden..."

Elizabeth sighs, she's not sure on what to make of this. First, of all there was no reason to believe what Saber said, she was just an intruder. Second, what she proposed is kind of out of the blue, if there was a war going around between mages in London then the Clocktower would have known of this for sure and probably advise magus to avoid it or join it. Yet, there was no reason for Saber to be lieing and while out of the blue, there did seem to be some proof to back her up.

Elizabeth eyed Saber once more when she approached, now that Elizabeth was calmer she could see that Saber was rather beautiful and graceful. Not to get her wrong, Elizabeth herself was a rather attractive woman, but Saber had a strange charm outside of mortals reach. Her attire was also rather entrancing, although on more masculine aspects. Thick furs and cloth covered Saber and her front side and members were well protected with elegant yet robust armor.

While Saber had the grace and beauty of a goddess and was dressed like a god of war. Elizabeth actually blushed when Saber got close, forgetting for a moment that she was female. She completely missed when Saber remarked how impractical her clothes were. But Elizabeth snapped back when Saber removed her gauntlet to feel the clothes. Her fingers just like Elizabeth expected where the mixture of two genders, the slender finger of a maiden and the calloused hands of a working man.

"Uumm... Do you want to try them on?"

Elizabeth's eyes almost sparkled with glee, she could not even begin to imagine what kind of life someone had to be this strange of a chimera. But she knew one thing, Saber would look gorgeous in one of her dresses!

And so Elizabeth forgot everything that Saber told her about a war.

____________________________________

-Archer-

Archer was disappointed but he did not object. Certainly the young lady would know more about her family them himself. So with that he turned back to his spirit form to let the two maidens have their farewell.

Truthfully Archer was sad for Lily, she had just joined the War and already she's being forced to run away from her only family. Even during his time such thing was unthinkable, family was above all else. It was a man's job to protect his family to the death even if that family were to back stab them in the end. As such watching Lily's pained face as she ran through the streets of this rather large city, he couldn't help but feel his heart sink.

Eventually Lily started to slow down.

"Master, where are we going?"

Archer asks, again his calm and smooth voice hopefully would calm her down, even if for a minute. While Archer was given information from his summoning, aside from the name of this city and land he had no idea about the layout of it. So he hoped that his Master would have an idea of where they should go.
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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Sat Jan 09, 2016 5:17 pm

-Malcom-

Malcom sipped his tea with a far away look in his eyes. "You misunderstand. The Queen's government paid me for services rendered, but I was never under her employ. My research has always been my own, and it is the only thing I swear any fealty to."

"That said, you are correct in assuming that the possibility you'd hoped for is within your grasp. Whether or not you have the will to overcome the obstacles and take it has yet to be seen." His gaze suddenly turned to O'Neal, almost too sharply. It was as if Malcom didn't see the man in front of him at all, but rather saw right through him. "To exert any type of pressure upon the outcome would be adding unnecessary variables to the experiment. If my goal is to see how well my prototype handles the process, and it is, then I must leave your victory entirely up to you."

"The only endorsement I can offer is the fact that you were granted a Servant, based on your iron will, rather than any magical talent you possess. Such a strong will should have a decent chance of completing the trails laid before it. Am I wrong?"

---------------------------------------------

-Saber-

Saber paused, fingers still wrapped around the silk, and raised an eyebrow at her Master. After a moment, she looked back to the garments, raising them into the air in front of her. "I'm not sure that would be wise..." Saber said, having trouble finding a nice way to turn the woman's offer down. "You and I aren't exactly..." She waved to Elizabeth's form, then her own, clearly trying to indicate the difference in size. "I probably wouldn't be able to fit one of these over my..." A slight blush crept up her cheeks, and she cleared her throat uncomfortably. "Well, over my anything."

"I don't suppose you have anything more practical on hand? Something that I can wear to blend in a bit, but that doesn't inhibit my mobility so much as one of these?" Saber asked, swiftly changing the subject as she laid the dress back over the chair she'd pulled it from the back of.

---------------------------------------------

-William, Lancer-

"She was sweet..." Lancer said, appearing beside William as he walked down the path outside the manor. Her voice held a note of teasing again, but William didn't take the bait.

"Let's get to business, shall we?" He loved his sister, but discussing her mannerisms with a woman he barely knew wasn't at the top of his list of things to do. Besides, considering what Lancer had told him earlier, it was important that they hash out details now.

"Very well." Lancer responded, sounding almost disappointed. "I am one of seven Servants, summoned by the..." She trailed off when William raised his hand in the air. "You did not just shush me..." Lancer said, putting her hands on her hips and glaring at him.

"Sorry." William gave her a sheepish look. "I already know the basics. What concerns me is why I was chosen."

Lancer rolled her eyes at that. "Because I picked you, silly." She responded, matter-of-factly.

"You picked?" This only seemed to confuse William more. "In the texts I've read, the Master summons the Servant, and that's after the Master has been selected by other magi."

"I'm under the impression that these 'other magi' you're talking about probably didn't have anything to do with my being summoned then." Lancer said with a shrug. "I answered the Grail's call, and chose my Master from those it made available."

"And you picked me?" William asked, pointing at himself dumbly.

"You're saying I picked unwisely?" Lancer asked, sounding more annoyed now. "You've already shushed me, and now you're questioning my judgement? Be warned, Master of mine, if you prove yourself right on this, it won't end well for you."

"Point taken." William responded, holding up his hands in mock surrender. "So, what else do I need to know?"

"Well, I suppose we can start with my real name..."
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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Sat Jan 09, 2016 8:48 pm

With a heavy thud, Elliot placed the last of the requested books onto a large pile, stacked neatly against the wall. He had gone about his task with machine-like efficiency, and thus he had finished earlier than he had expected. Which worked perfectly for him, as it gave him more time to explore the Archives before Marianne expected him to return.

He didn’t bother looking specifically for magecraft documents- as an institution open to the general public, it was unlikely that he would find mention of it anywhere among the shelves accessible by everyone. Instead, he focused on searching for inconspicuous doors hidden out of sight, or telltale signs of false walls or bookshelves that might lead to a hidden section, where he would find what he was looking for.

As he meandered through the shelves, Elliot entertained the possibility of someone else having the information he needed. It was unlikely one of the staff here would know- after all, magecraft was a well-kept secret, its wielders few and far between. Perhaps he could find a map or cross-section of the Archives. An empty space might be an indication of one such hidden room, after all.

Elliot was so deep in thought that he nearly missed the door on his right. He paused in his pacing, and examined it. The door appeared quite aged- the wood was chipped, and the hinges and handle had flakes of paint coming off of them. A keyhole lay underneath the handle, its edges weathered from use. It was set back into the wall somewhat, almost as if it was trying to hide.

Tentatively, he tried the handle. There was no give- it was obviously locked.

Examining the area around the door, Elliot noticed some peculiar scuff marks on the floor, in line with the front of the shelving next to the door. Curious, he reached over to shelf, giving it a light tug, and feeling it shift slightly. His interest piqued, Elliot secured his grip on the shelf and pulled hard. The shelf slid in front of the door, concealing it from view. Despite its size, the shelf made no real noise as it moved across- some hidden mechanism must have aided the movement.

Well, that’s a good start
, he thought. Evidently, whoever had constructed this particular section of the building had gone to great lengths to hide the existence of the door. But why? He could only assume that whatever was behind the door was of some value. Something to be kept a secret. Perhaps…even magecraft related? Elliot couldn’t let this chance go- he needed to get past the door and find out what was behind it.

So how was he going to get the blasted thing open? Brute force? Elliot scoffed at the idea. There was no way he would be able to achieve that. Besides, there may have been countermeasures to prevent such an event occurring. What about looking for a key? His mind drifted to the set of keys Marianne kept on the reception desk. He could try one of those keys, but how was he going to get them?

Slowly, a plan began to form in Elliot’s head. A very unorthodox plan, especially for Elliot. But all things considered, it was probably the quickest way of gaining access to the door and whatever lay beyond. He returned to the stack of books and placed his hands either side of it, bracing against the weight of the books as he lifted them up. He made his way back slowly towards the reception.

Arriving back at the entrance, he moved over to the desk, in front of Marianne. He saw the glint of light reflecting off the keys on the desk. He set the books down onto the tabletop, shifting his hands closer back to him, tilting the stack of books forward. Gravity did the rest of the work, and the stack toppled over, scattering books around Marianne.

“Good Lord, can’t you do anything right today?” she muttered, resting her head in her arms. She got out of her seat and began to collect the books from around her. As she did, Elliot moved around the desk as if to help her, and picked up some of the books that remained on the desk, apologising profusely as he did so. At the same time, he quickly reached towards the keys and snagged them while everyone’s attention was distracted, slipping them into a pocket.

Marianne waved Elliot away, with a look of weary resignation etched onto her face, as if she had come to expect such behaviour from Elliot.

“Just…get me the rest of those blasted books. And try not to drop them, okay?” From the tone of her voice, Elliot could tell that her patience was wearing thin. It seemed likely to him that continued infractions would end with him losing his job. And his parents would be livid if that happened.

Nonetheless, his plan had worked. As he went to retrieve the remainder of the books, he patted his pocket, feeling the hard shape of the keys inside. He would have to wait until his shift had finished, but at least now he had a way of getting past the door. Or so he hoped.
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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Sun Jan 10, 2016 12:29 pm

Henry did not stop back as Assassin approached, even somehow managing to stop the cleaver from wavering. However, even as brave as he was, Henry was but a man, and even the bravest of them could not stop themselves from quivering when a Servant like his own threatened him. There was just something… off about him, even ignoring all the obvious signs. If the man just was in normal clothes, and walked by you, it’d be enough for you to want to cross the street.

So once Assassin demanded he lowered his cleaver, Henry did, albeit reluctantly. He laid it on the table, and while he did not sit on the counter, as one last act of defiance he leaned against it. If this madman was going to try anything, he wanted it to be ready. Sure, he just wanted to talk for now, but the butcher figured that wouldn’t last long.

“Alright… what do you want? Who the hell are you? Why do you keep calling me Master?”

------

A small frown crossed the Master’s face as Rider sat down. Impertinent fool! Did he not know how much this table had cost her? Three hundred pounds! That was worth at least four times this wretched man’s value! Stifling an irritated sigh, she let him continue. While many would just scream for help or throw something at him, for once Elaina was curious. The fact alone that he knew of her mage’s powers was interesting enough…

Admittedly, she wasn’t quite sure of what to make of the man’s talk about a ‘mini war’. Great spirits? Was that why he had given her such a peculiar name? That would make sense, but… hmm… and the mention of the Holy Grail? That was just a children’s story, along with the rest of King Arthur and his useless crew. Elaina had never been a fan of them in honestly; perhaps unsurprinsly, she had been more interested in Morgan Le Fay. Still… the sounds of having a wish granted more than appealed to her. Anything she wanted? Well well… perhaps she’d let this man continue on a little further…

“I see.” She replied, sounding surprisingly sweet, as each this was all just common sense to her. “Well, that all sounds lovely. I’m sure I can think of a few things to wish for, a more competent workforce for one. I think I can share your enthusiasm too, if I summoned you, you must be fairly powerful. But… you gave me two names? You’re a Rider class? Would that infer the obvious that you’re good with horses, or does that mean a little more?”
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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Sun Jan 10, 2016 5:07 pm

Archer & Lily

Lily kept walking. And walking. And walking.

She walked even though her feet ached. She walked even though her legs screamed in pain.

She walked and walked and walked, like someone in a trance.

Eventually, her steps began to slow. Eventually, she came to a stop.

She knew this place. Hyde Park. She'd been here with Delphine many times. Was it coincidence or a subconscious leading? She didn't know. It didn't matter anyway.

"Master, where are we going?"

Lily looked up, her lip trembling. She tried to speak, but she had trouble producing her voice.

"I don't know," she whispered. She sank onto a nearby bench, her chest constricting. She didn't want to cry. She didn't want to be weak.

But after her parents had died as a child, she'd had nothing. Denny had been separated from her, and the Cormiers were the only ones who were there for her.

And now...

She pushed back those thoughts. She had to keep herself from unraveling. She looked up at the sky, wondering how long she'd been walking.

"What do we do, Archer?" she asked.

--------------------

Caster & O'Neal

"That's what employ means," O'Neal snapped irritably. Clearly, these magic-types didn't think with a rational mind.

It was also obvious that he had no intention of backing him and Caster up. O'Neal was not used to being trifled with, and his instinct was to grasp his rapier and remind Malcom exactly what his position in all this was.

The truth was that he was no longer certain what that was. Something about him had changed, and as a soldier, he knew better than to make a move without having proper intel.

"Is that so?" he growled. "I'm flattered. Anything else I need to know?"

--------------------

Caster perched on top of Malcom's building in spirit form, allowing his awareness to spread out over the city. Thanks to his Scrying ability, he now knew where each Servant was.

Something else had interested him as well.

The fact was, his Master wasn't ideal. Servants drew a lot of mana, and as a Caster Servant, he consumed more than any other. His Master was not a magus though, and wouldn't be able to provide the mana he needed.

However...

Someone else could. And someone nearby happened to be more than suitable.

--------------------

Assassin & Henry

"I am Assassin," the masked figure said with a flourish of his hand. "One of seven Servants, the spirits of deceased heroes, in this Holy Grail War."

He pointed his blood-stained finger tip at the butcher.

"And you are one of the seven Masters who will compete to obtain the Holy Grail, the omnipotent vessel of your heart's desire. Kill all the other competitors, and it could be yours."

Assassin glanced around the dingy butcher shop, at the staleness of it all, and grinned with very white teeth.

"If nothing else, it's a departure from your drab, meaningless existence. It's why you called to me, isn't it?" he said in a strangely enticing whisper.

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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Sun Jan 10, 2016 5:20 pm

-Elizabeth-

Elizabeth sighed in disappointment, she was eager to see how this beauty look in proper clothing for a woman. But looking at her again, she started to notice the masculine traits, Saber was rather tall, easily above average for a lady and likely just slightly above average for a gentleman. Ah, that gave Elizabeth an idea.

"Hmmm, perhaps some male clothing would be preferred?"

She could get some butler clothes for Saber, she had no idea how a woman would look on them, but considering Saber's attire, she should look just as good as she would do in a dress.

"By the way Saber, you said that both of us were in a war, but what's stopping me from just not participating. No, perhaps the better question would be why should I participate?"

Coming back to the topic at hand Elizabeth wasn't exactly interested in a war. She had research to do, she had to find a cure. After Elizabeth picked a nice red dress she dropped her night clothes and started to get dressed.

________________________________________________________

-Rider-

There was something Rider could tell from his Master. She was smart, dangerously smart. In his time he dealt with people like her on a daily basis, she was perhaps too smart. Truthfully Rider doesn't like people her, people who have to pretend to be someone they are not, people who wear a mask to show an appearance they lack.

Yet he found her rather charming, perhaps it was because she was a woman, maybe it was because only a small part of her was pretending. But even though her voice carried a tone of superiority, he felt rather enchanted by her. It didn't help that she was a rather attractive woman.

"Hmmm, I feel like it will take work, but their partnership will certainly be one of legends..."

Rider mused to himself, uncaring if she heard him or not.

"Ah how astute. Correct, although I possess no sword or bow worth a name, my legend stands above all as a mighty force that trampled all opposition."

Rider proclaimed rather arrogantly. He laughed heartily, stepping up, his armor clicking in sound.

"But Master, I must make one thing clear... I have given you my name, yet do not know your own. So, what is the name of such a lovely lady?"

Rider inquired as he made a small bow. His voice still filled with confidence and determination. He didn't dislike her, while her behavior was patronizing, arrogant and even humiliating, Rider enjoyed her antics.

____________________________
-Archer-

Archer sited next to Lily and patted her head to comfort the young lady. This was a hard scene for him to watch. And Archer was starting to blame himself for this. He looked around him, this park, it was considerably large and could be used as a playing field. But...

"Perhaps it would be best to find a place to stay, does this park have any building that we can use?"

If it was him alone, he would be able to easily survive even without a roof over his head. But for his Master, who doesn't even seem to know that she's a magus, it would be impossible. He needs a building, from there he can protect her better without having to worry whether or not she can be at ease.
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PostSubject: Re: Fate / Arcana IC   Mon Jan 11, 2016 7:53 pm

-Malcom-

Malcom took another sip of his tea, looking distantly at the wall over O'Neal's shoulder. Clearly, he wasn't entirely present in the conversation, but he had yet to ignore any of the O'Neal's questions. For a moment, it seemed like that would change now, but then Malcom turned his attention back to the man sitting across the table. "Yes." He responded, vaguely. "One of the Servants that was summoned is being restrained somehow. It's an anomaly in the experiment, and therefore, it could have a negative effect on the intended results."

There was a pause after that, although it was unknown if it was to give O'Neal time to absorb the information or Malcom time to finish his obscure train of thought. "In theory, this anomaly should be the easiest to remove from the competition because of its limitations. However, it should also be the most difficult to track because those limitations are masking the Servant's presence."

With that, Malcom got up from the table and sat his empty cup on the counter by the sink. "This is all I can give you. Any more would effect the true results of the experiment." One thing was clear. He was dismissing O'Neal from his presence.

---------------------------------------------

-Saber-

Saber contemplated Elizabeth's question for a moment before a grin pulled at the corners of her mouth. How amusing that, even in another time, a man's clothes might suit her better than a woman's. "I don't know that they would be preferred." Saber responded. "But I doubt that I would find them as impractical as these." She waved to the dresses, indicating what she was talking about.

The next line of questions made her grin disappear though, and her face took on a more solemn look. "Aye. We are both in this war, and the others will come for you, whether you choose to participate or not. Unfortunately, that is the nature of war. My job is to make sure you are protected, but if you choose not to attack, I will stay my sword." She looked thoughtful at this. Was her Master a pacifist? Saber hadn't intended that, but it wouldn't surprise her in some ways.

"So, by being alive, you are participating." She continued. "However, as I believe the saying goes, 'to the victor go the spoils'. The last Master and Servant standing at the end of this war will be granted a single wish by the Holy Grail. A single wish that you can use to ask for anything your heart desires... It's why the Servants even return to this world for the contest. We all have something we left unfinished when we died..."
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