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Prisma*Illya
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PostSubject: The Grail Games IC   Wed Jan 08, 2014 4:09 pm


Prologue

Spoiler:
 

A cold, wintery blast of air blew through the stone halls of the Einzburn castle like the eerie wail of a departed spirit. It was an strangely appropriate description, the man standing in the middle of the grand hall thought. He adjusted his gloves and pulled the brim of his jacket up higher around his neck as another windy gust stirred the short, black spikes of his hair.

"Damn, Chalcer... How the Einzburns ever managed to survive here is beyond me," one of his fellow Enforcers, Selwin, said, approaching him from behind.

"Anything?" Chalcer prompted, ignoring this complaint as his grey eyes continued to stare ahead. Selwin shook his head, running a hand through his slicked brown hair.

"Nothing yet..." the Enforcer sighed, his green orbs flickering about at the castle around them. "So, what exactly happened to the Einzburns anyway?"

Chalcer had to stifle a sigh at the unnecessary chattiness of his partner. But since they couldn't do much until their investigation was complete, he saw no reason not to indulge Selwin for the moment.

"They were already in decline since the Fuyuki Grail Wars fell through," the chief Enforcer replied, staring up at the hole in the ceiling where snow was beginning to drift in. "Attempting to ally themselves with Clocktower - who was too far away to do them much help - was their last mistake."

They would have been wiser to cast their lot in with the Sea of Estray, who was much nearer. Dowth had been eager to bring them into the fold, but the Einzburn's resisted. Their folly was believing that Clocktower valued them too much to allow anything to happen.

"A lot's changed since the War," Selwin mused, brushing snow off his coat. There was silence for some time, only accompanied by the blustering winds, before they suddenly heard a call from below their feet.

"Chalcer, sir, we found something!"

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

Spoiler:
 

Alderic Dowth paced the beautiful office of his host, his footsteps dulled by the lush, expensive carpet. Those at Clocktower really did spare no expense in flaunting their wealth, their titles, and their superiority - and the Director himself was no exception.

"Please, take a seat," Alistair Lorelei said, indicating the exceedingly ornate chairs in the corner as he finished pouring two glasses of wine. Dowth noted his hosts impeccable suit and styled hair as he took a seat before Lorelei approached and handed him his glass, the deep red wine sparkling in the light.

"To the end of the war," Lorelei said in his dulcet tones, tapping the glasses together a faint chink before taking an elegant sip of the wine, nearly as red as his own hair. Dowth took his own sip, noting with little surprise that it was of the highest quality.

"So, how is the Sea of Estray faring now?" his host prompted, eyeing him with deep blue orbs. Dowth gave him a smile.

"Sponheim Abbey has suffered relatively negligible losses, thanks to our arrangements," he reported, earning a smile back from the Director. "The Thule Society and Prague Association were not quite as fortunate, but they're recovering."

"I see," Lorelei replied faintly, obviously not overly concerned about the Sea of Estray's happenings. "I suppose you didn't arrange this meeting just to chat about current affairs."

Down to business then.

"I'm sure you're aware that although the war is now over, tensions are still rather high. I therefore determined that the best way to ease these tensions would be with an event."

"An event?" Lorelei asked, arching a delicately shaped brow. "What did you have in mind?"

"A competition to give each of the various factions a chance to prove their supremacy without more losses while simultaneously reminding them all that despite their many differences they have all held one common root - reaching Akasha."

Dowth could tell that Lorelei's interest had been piqued. The younger man sat quite still, eyes fixated on his guest. Dowth took this as a sign to continue and stood, pacing slowly as he sipped his wine.

"You've heard, of course, of Heaven's Feel - the ritual by which Third Magic is used to materialize the souls of fallen heroes from the past to serve as a fuel for opening the way to the Root."

Lorelei finally seemed to shake off his amazement and leaned back into his chair, eyes narrowed.

"Even if this were possible, those secrets have been long lost. It might be possible to reproduce the ritual, but without a homunculus-"

"That is being arranged as we speak," Dowth interrupted, clasping his hands behind his back as he gazed down at his host confidently.

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

Spoiler:
 

Chalcer and Selwin descended the steps into the dank, expansive dungeons of the Einzburn castle, looking about them. It did not appear as though anyone had been down here in quite some time. The footsteps of their fellow Enforcers were therefore easy to make out. Making their way down the hallway, they finally reached another set of stairs descending even further down into a solitary room. The rest of the Enforcers had gathered there, standing around the edges of the room staring at something in the middle.

"Is that..?" Selwin breathed, gazing with morbid fascination at it. Chalcer pursed his lips, stepping closer as he made a circle around it, noting the chains binding it in place.

"The Einzburns don't part well with their secrets," he noted, finally stopping in front of it once more.

"So, it's definitely..." Selwin prompted.

"Yes, it must the last Einzburn homunculus," Chalcer answered, kneeling down to analyze it. Yes, it certainly was a homunculus, though the strangest he'd even heard of. Most were quite human in appearance, if not slightly faerie-like with their pale skin and hair. But this...

It's body was strangelessly sex-less, having no defining features that would indicate a male or female. Its hands and feet were like soft pads with no toes or fingers. It was entirely hairless, and its featureless face - devoid of ears, eyes, nose, or mouth - was bent back to stare upward at the ceiling.

The whole thing was so unnatural that Selwin took a step back, for the first time in his career feeling a shudder at the sight of something.

"Retrieve it," Chalcer ordered, standing up. The other Enforcers snapped to attention, moving cautiously to undo the restrains around the homunculus. Chalcer headed back up the stairs, Selwin following at his heels.

It may not have been what they expected, but they were able to retrieve an Einzburn homunculus. Dowth would be most pleased.

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

Spoiler:
 

Heaven's Feel.. plundering the secrets of the Einzburn castle.. Akasha itself.

"If I understand correctly..." Lorelei said quietly, setting his glass down. "You are, in fact, proposing another Holy Grail War?"

Dowth finished the last of his wine before placing his own glass down on the table and strolling over to the window.

"Oh, I think we've had enough of wars, don't you?" Dowth answered softly, stroking his beard as a triumphant smile flitted across his lips. "I was thinking...

"The Grail Games."

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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Thu Jan 23, 2014 12:08 am

I
Gathering Thunder

"Again!"

Calisa's attention snapped back to the present as she brought up her fencing saber, sighing. The whole of Clocktower had been abuzz with the news of the Grail Games for some time now. And ever since the rumors had started, the Lannisters had been working her harder than ever. They were sure that her brother, James, would be chosen to represent Clocktower in the Games, and thus it was necessary for her to be prepared to protect him when the situation arose. That was, after all, her obligation the heir of the Lannister family for their generosity in not throwing her out on the street as an unnecessary addition to a sole-heir magus family. Of course, it was more likely that they had simply kept her for appearances due to their position in the Association. They neededn't have bothered on her account, in any case; she was sure she would have been happier in any other family she might have been adopted into, no matter what their standing. Of course, the choice was entirely out of her hands, as she reminded herself as her fencing instructor - also her father - thrust his sword in her direction. She knocked it aside and stabbed toward his heart, but he had already taken a step back, and her sword cut through air.

"Slow. You're unfocused," he said sharply, eyeing her disdainfully. "What use are you if you can't even do this right?"

Calisa did not reply, biting back the retort she longed to give. If they'd only let her use magic, she could be of far more use in protecting her brother. But her father wouldn't stand for it... nor would Jamie, for that matter. The Lannister family's magecraft was his right, not hers.

"Father!" came Jamie's voice, and he strode into the room with his shoulders squared and a triumphant expression upon his face. "The notice came. The Grail Games have been officially announced, and I am to be the representative!"

He waved a form in his hand, which his father immediately hurried over to read. Quickly forgotten under all the excitement, Calisa quietly slipped through the door on the other side and headed out onto the balcony.

Spoiler:
 

So that was it then... They'd be heading to Dusseldorf in a matter of days. Calisa supposed she should be happier about finally escaping from this elegant prison, but the prospect of a deathmatch in which their odds were only one in seven was not particularly appealing - no matter how much Clocktower attempted to glamorize it. As usual, however, she had little say in the matter. The Lannisters decreed it, and she was expected to obey.

Calisa opened her mouth and began to gently sing a strain of musical notes. The Lannister magecraft may be Jamie's right, but it didn't matter. She'd manage to create her own spells through song, and in her own way, she'd created an outlet of which they had no authority.

As she sang, a bird fluttered onto the balcony and cocked its head interestedly at her it. It was quite a nondescript bird, only a simple pigeon, but Calisa smiled nonetheless. People thought them commonplace and a nuisance, but she admired them. They went wherever they liked and were unabashed in their determination to walk, eat, and fly where they pleased, even when things that would intimidate other birds were about.

As her tune died out, the pigeon gave a soft coo before taking off into the sky. Calisa watched it disappeared into the clouds with a smile, running a hand through her silky red hair.


"They can only clip my wings for so long," she whispered. "Before I soar free."

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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:23 pm

A Fleeting Dream


A quiet breeze flowed through Jacques’ workplace from the nearby open window bringing some life to the stuffy archives. The old man was sitting in a plain wooden chair, as he critically scanned over a fresh newspaper about the events that had happened since the war. The room itself gave off a strange vibe, as various books were scattered throughout the room wrapped in a tight and preserving wrap that protecting the books from age expect for a select few that lied open near Jacques that seemed to be recently read.

The room had some life brought into it from the various paintings, relics, and emblems that filled the room that give it fresh leather like sent. Everything seemed to be something from ages past besides the occasional picture of Jacques standing next to a long black haired girl with a warm smile on both their faces.

“I can’t believe so much time has gone by” Jacques mumbled in an annoyed and low voice, as a depressed frown passed over his face for a few moments until he turned the page onto another story, slowly getting lost in the readings yet again until a soft but noticeable knock woke Jacques from his heavy trance.

“Come in.” Jacques stated in an audible but demanding voice, as the door slowly opened revealing a girl that was almost identical to the one in the picture, expect the aura she gave off was gloomy. Despite her poor stature, she gave off a very strong and determined gaze that showed her pride. The other person behind her was a male that was slightly taller than her that peered into the room with a bored and tired gaze, but was well built compared to the girl. Despite their differences, the man seemed to stick close to the girl almost like he was protecting her from the old man.

“Still reading the newspapers I see; I thought you preferred hearing things for yourself.”
The man stated poking at the wall that contained a barely visible memory rune that lit up when it came in contact with the man’s mana.

The girl shot the man an annoyed glare, while she tapped her foot in impatience. The man only sighed and rolled his eyes in response. The room would have been completely silent, if it wasn’t for the memory rune reciting a bit of history as Jacques spoke with the rune in complete unison out of habit.

“Reading new information helps preserve memory, Harold.”
Jacques simply stated, as his gaze turned towards the girl who he know noticed was holding a plain letter of sort with a seal and stamp that seemed to be German in origin.

“And? Is that for me, Juliet?” Jacques stated as he pointed towards the letter with Juliet quickly and obediently nodding in response as she handed him the letter with Jacques opening it almost immediately glancing scanning over the contents.

Spoiler:
 

Jacques expression lit up with a light smile for the first time in a while as he got lost in the contents of the letter. It was an invitation, an invitation to an event he never thought he would have the chance to be graced with in his entire lifetime. The Grail Games…

“This is perfect.”
Jacques stated with a light smile, as he looked up at the two. Both of them had that look of unmistakable curiosity on their face that made Jacques smile at the thought of it. It were moments like these that made him love doing what he was doing, to preserve events like this.

Jacques calmly placed his hands on the table in front of him as he slowly got up, using his old cane as a way to help him up as he reached out and gently touched the cover on one of the books that weren't covered in the protective wrap.

“Isanda.” Jacques stated quietly, as the room lit up for a moment and a rune quickly appeared on one of the books that were lying on the table next to him with a feeling of relief and accomplishment washing over the old man’s depressed and sullen feelings from before.

“So, what is it about old man?”
Harold anxiously yelled, smacking his hands down on the table in front of him in the room, as he glared at Jacques with a dark sort of a gaze.

“Calm yourself, I’ll explain on the way.” Jacques quickly assured him, adverting his gaze from the mess that was just made in his archives.

Jacques quickly walked to the corner of his room as he picked up his cellphone that was covered in dust from all the time it was sitting there without being used, as the old man quickly dialed a number that he had remembered from Rose’s funeral, the number of that enforcer he talked to.

“It’s Jacques, are you still in the area?”
Jacques stated calmly through the phone.
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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:39 pm

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"It's arrived."


Dowth looked up from the tome he was perusing in his garden to see his granddaughter Annabelle staring down at him with cold, affectionless eyes, holding a missive in her hands. Dowth closed the book and set down his goblet of wine before taking the paper and scanning it, his eyes alighting with joyous fervor.

"Ah, yes. The time is finally upon us," he whispered, enraptured by the prospect that all his difficulty-constructed machinations had finally produced the result he so desired. After a moment, he looked up to see Annabelle still regarding him with an unreadable expression.

"If that's all, you may return to your studies," Dowth said, somewhat irritated. His granddaughter watched him for another moment before turning on her heel and departing wordlessly from the room. Dowth stared after her, brows furrowed, before turning his gaze to the garden around him.

It had taken a bit longer than expected to negotiate the concept of the Games with the other faction, but as he'd anticipated, they had all agreed to it in the end. Whatever differences they had, one thing was true, as he'd said - none of them would decline the opportunity to reach Akasha, whether for the source of knowledge or significantly less lofty ideals.

"I'll have to begin preparations to depart for Dusseldorf at once," he murmured to himself, standing up and sweeping his cloak behind him as he turned and headed toward his study. Fortunately, he had already took the precaution of obtaining his relic some time ago. In that regard, there could be no doubt that he was far ahead in his preparations, compared to the other competitors. He arrived into the darkly-wooded study, and as his gloved fingers traced the glass case protecting his precious relic, a smile crept onto his lips. Yes... there was little doubt this would succeed in drawing out the perfect Servant for winning the Games. Then...

Spoiler:
 

His expression darkened, and the hand clutching the paper tightened, balling the paper together with a crinkling sound. Yes.. then he would have what he desired.

"I am more worthy than any other to possess it..." he whispered, drawing back the sleeve of his jacket. Along the length of his arm, extending out of sight toward his shoulder and beneath his glove, were the crests of magi that he had removed from their bodies - living or otherwise.

"For this right I have lied, deceived, murdered, bled, and wept," Dowth said, words dripping heavily with bitterness. "No one will dare to call me unworthy again."

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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:41 pm

The Grail Games… an opportunity for glory and pride, and a chance to touch the Root of all knowledge. Any proper magus would be thrilled for this once-in-a-lifetime chance.

Miliardo Eames gave a disgusted snort and tossed the parchment onto his desk. If the leaders of Yggdmillennia thought the Grail Games such a godsend, no doubt they would be fighting for the opportunity to represent it. As it was, they had decided that he would represent their faction. Going on the run and having Enforcers hunt him down wasn’t an appealing alternative, so it seemed he would have to bear with it, despite his desire to simply be left alone.

A quiet moan from behind him brought Eames’ attention back to his bed. The nameless woman turned in her sleep, undoing the black sheets even more. Eames sighed and retrieved his underwear from the floor, slipping it back on. He’d thought the buzz of alcohol would have been enough to lower his inhibitions and enjoy himself, but it hadn’t worked. He wasn’t really surprised. Whether woman or man, simple animal attraction wasn’t enough to arouse him.

Eames slid the drawer of his nightstand open with a smooth, pale hand, removing from the drawer a small, sharp knife. He slipped quietly back into the bed, careful not to disturb the slumbering form. He brought up the knife and examined the reflection of the nameless woman in it, ignoring the image of his own glazed eyes in it. Dragging the flat of the blade experimentally along the milky-white skin of her thigh, Eames could feel a familiar, blissful fog begin to cloud his senses. His thoughts dulled as the devilish fingers of the fog caressed his senses and pulled him under, even as the knife turned onto its edge.

No, he had to pull back before the fog threatened to consume him. There was work to be done, and he couldn’t afford that kind of distraction right now.

As he slid the knife under his pillow, the woman rolled over, her hand groping at his chest. Disgusted, Eames threw her off arm off and slid off the bed.

“Get up,” he growled softly, pulling the black sheets off the bed. The woman shot him an indignant look before huffily standing and retrieving her clothes from the floor. Eames gave her no notice as he began to clothe himself, slipping on a crisp, black dress shirt and his white suit. He ignored the click of the door, signaling her departure, as he finished the knot of his purple tie and ran a hand through his silky hair to smooth it back into place.


The best he could hope for in all this was to keep his head down and avoid notice to survive until the end. Unlike the other braggarts in the contest, Eames had no interest in protecting such a useless concept as magus pride. The less involvement he had, the better. Yes… he knew which Servant class would do nicely for him.

Still… perhaps… yes, perhaps, if he came through all this, he’d manage to profit in some way. The almighty Grail would surely have its uses.

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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Tue Feb 11, 2014 1:56 pm

Forneus Aincrad was a weak man. He always had been, but it was especially true now that he was approaching his mid nineties.

Still, he was the head of the Prague Association, and that meant the decision ultimately fell on him to select their candidate for the upcoming Grail Games. Without a doubt, he knew that no one in the association would be able to win. Alchemy wasn't a magic suited for combat, or at least not the kind that was soon to be waged. In his lifetime, he had seen cities leveled by the power of it, had been the one to level those cities, but those days were long past, and such expansive uses of Alchemy were too easily recognized before they could reach fruition. So, he had defaulted to the more dastardly of his remaining options. Mercenaries...

Thunder rumbled outside, and Forneus slowly stood from the stool at his desk. He reached for his cane and made the few shaking steps to the window that peered out over the waves. This yacht was his home, and he'd spared no expenses in both decorating and securing it. Even a storm like the one brewing outside wouldn't be enough to get a drop of water below the deck, but he still felt a chill run down his spine for some reason.

A faint sound echoed down the hall outside the cabin, and his old ears strained to recognize the soft rattle. It was foreign to his home, and yet somehow all too familiar. Each metallic rattle was a little closer, sounding out in a measured pattern. Footsteps...

Swallowing dryly, Forneus slowly turned around, and lightning flashed outside, briefly illuminating the crimson figure in the hallway. "It's done..." The voice was deep, but not overly so, and it seemed to crackle as it rolled through the cabin, almost as if its owner had damaged his vocal chords at some point.

"Then I suppose the decision is made..." Forneus responded, looking more than a little uncomfortable with the other man's presence. "Did you..." He paused, unsure of whether or not he really wanted to hear the answer. "Did any of them suffer?"

The man in the doorway didn't move from where he stood, but his eyes seemed to reflect the turbulence of the storm outside for a moment. "Does it matter?"

"No..." Forneus said as he hobbled back to his desk and propped his cane against it. "No, I don't suppose it does." His wrinkled fingers reached for the box on top of his desk, and he slowly opened it, taking out the cloth inside. With shaking hands, he unwrapped the trinket inside, a simple earring with nothing particularly special about it, other than who had once worn it...

Clearing his throat, he wrapped it back up and held it at arm's length. "As the representative of the Prague Association, you'll be expected to summon a Servant." He said, trying to sound more resolved than he looked. "This is a token that the Association has been in possession of for some time. We believe that it will aid you in summoning one capable of victory."

Lightning flashed again outside, and a peal of thunder drowned out the rattling sound the man made as he crossed the room to accept the token. Without looking at it, he stuffed the cloth into his coat pocket, and again Forneus swallowed, unnerved by the presence of this man so close to him.

"You'll be expected in Dusseldorf in one week's time." Forneus said as he lowered himself back onto his stool, looking far more weary than he had only a few moments before. "I trust you're capable of making it there in one piece." He continued. "As requested, half of your fee will be deposited into your account tonight. The other half will be transferred to you after the Games have ended."

"I'll be taking my leave then..." The man responded again in that eerie, crackling voice, and Forneus felt another shiver run up his spine as the man turned and left the room, leaving behind only the rattling echoes of his footsteps for long after he had disembarked from the yacht.

Forneus slowly worked his fingers opened and closed on top of the desk, trying to banish the cold presence that seemed to linger all around him after his visitor's arrival. Yes, he was a weak man... For what he had just instigated, he would pay someday. No, he was paying now. It weighed more heavily on his mind than he ever could have imagined.

"What have I done?" He whispered to the storm still raging outside.
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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:27 pm



The clunking of automobiles rang out in dead silence. Two collided, their motors were still running even if the rest of the cars weren't able to. A back road in China, out in the rural boonies, the crash had occurred. Two women faced each other in silence, while a robed figure in the drivers seat of one car was limp against the wheel. The woman with long shaggy hair made the first move. She called out to the other, walking towards the trunk of her car. The one that had caused the collision. "You know..." The jingling of keys, but as she fidgeted with the broken vehicle, they didn't seem to work. She tossed them over her shoulder, and suddenly the groan of metal rang out. The trunk's cover flew through the air and landed with a clang by the roadside. The shaggy-haired woman, more of a girl, lowered her foot and reached in the trunk. "It's really hard to talk to you, Miss Shiyan, when we're not in a lounge surrounded by each other's body guards." A sword sheathed over her back, the young woman pulled back out with a can in each hand. In her left, canned tea, which she tossed at Shiyan Fu. It was caught deftly by the Grail Games representative for the Eastern Magi Alliance. Meira Franz kept the other can, one of coffee. "Ah, that's better. Now, let's continue negotiations."


"I expected to run into my favorite city thug on my journey... but... Out in the middle of nowhere, crashing a car into me?" The painted face of Fu showed distaste. "What do you want? Revenge? You look pretty good with only one eye." Meira shook her head. "Nah, that's just a bonus they're paying me. Right now I'm after the Holy Grail. ..." She sighs and rolls her hand before Fu can speak. Taking a sip of coffee, she continues on. "Yes I know I need to be chosen. That's why I'm after you. I'm sure I more than meet the qualifications. Oh yes, and the matter of the servant. Well you procured the item needed to summon one. It's a pity those three ran into a group that just robbed a bank. They were killed in the scuffle, but when police arrived they noticed something was wrong. Especially one little box which they took into evidence... Before losing it." This time Fu took a sip. "I have to agree you're qualified. It's a pity you're only half. Magus. I don't care what race you are." She squeezes the can, some of the liquid spilling over. "Five good, strong men. All cut down just for that damn scar on your face and body." The two sat in silence, tension rising. They finished their drinks.

Meira smirked. "Well at least you're still alive. Pity you can't have children any more." Fu grinned in return. "Unlike you and your rabble, the EMA has good doctors. Great ones. So don't act like you know what you're talking about, when you know so little." The long haired woman, in return, threw the empty can over her shoulders, arms spreading out. The smirk became a vicious grin. "I know what I'm talking about. And I know who you're talking about. He's a good doctor for magus. Maybe even the best. But he's also very greedy. Money wasn't a problem. But he wanted to have you before ruining you. Lucky him, not only was he your last, but your first too! I'm kind of jealous you held on to your virginity that long."

Fu was still, the shock and despair plain on her face even through the paint. She was the head of her family, and she couldn't give any children. But while she was still, the robed figure still the car burst out. Through groan of metal it jumped out, landing and dashing at Meira. The robe shuffled and a large weapon swung out. The cyclops pulled her sword out in time, blocking the hit but sliding back. After giving out a slash of course, though it only hit cloth. "That's..." Her grin and joy ended as she stared at who was in front of her. "Your mother. Not your real one of course, she's off somewhere wishing someone would do what you did to me. The one who raised you, trained you, the only one who showed you a shred of mercy in tha-"

Spoiler:
 

Meira's grin returned as a genuine smile while she closed the distance in an instant, her sword passing in and out of the robed woman's heart before she took a few steps more. "So? Come on Fu, you know me better than that. That closeness only makes me happier to kill her." Advancing another step, it was the gleam of wires and Fu's finger twitch that made her react. She rolled forward, turning around to see the risen dead. A warm wetness on her back pre-empted a sharp pain. The cut didn't feel deep thankfully, and it didn't reach her spine either. Wasting no time, she charged forward and lashed out with her sword. It was a toothpick compared to the large side-blade her 'mother' Roxy grasped at the center. It was even deflected as such, but Meira repeated the motion. Faster, Stronger. It met again with the weapon, but this time they were both deflected. Once more and Roxy was the one who could hardly hold her weapon. She was wide open. Once more and...

Meira suddenly stopped and reversed motion, flipping backwards as the wires that lead to Roxy's body burst out. Trapped between the wielder and the wires, Meira escaped upwards by jumping, a light blue sphere forming under her foot mid-air to allow her another distance and enough space to evade most of the wires. Shaggy hair untouched but multiple lacerations on her skin and clothes, Meira landed far away from her enemy. "I'm more annoyed that you didn’t' let me cut her to pieces than at the trap you pulled..." Her sword in both hands now, it swung again and again as Fu's wires came by the dozens. Not only slashes, but loops meant to hang and whips meant to lash. The gauntlets were off now... or rather in view. The thin metal wires were attached to two unfitting full-arm claw gauntlets on the oriental woman.

But it wasn't enough against Meira. She considered the mana in the air as hers, and freely used it for enhancement. Her technique was already perfect, she just needed the physical boost. "Just die you unseemly girl!" Fu screamed out as she called back in the wires and bunched them out, throwing them all out once. Meira took the break to close in some of the distance, ready to bash the wires out of her way. Once more it was her observational skills that warned her. The wires were suddenly easy to spot, charged with prana. Once more it was her ability to instantly react with Ex-Accel that saved her. She kicked back in time to avoid the brunt of the explosion. Her existing wounds bled harsher from the motion. But the dust raised from the explosion was all the downtime she needed. She poured in mana from the air into a spell. She'd close the distance and wouldn't need any from here.

Dance in the devil's grasp,
and then those claws shall impale you

The dust was blown away as a barrage of dozen of air bullets blasted at Fu and her wires. Fu, for her part, bulked up the wires to defend. But the air, upon hitting the wires, didn't splash off. It didn't bounce, it didn't disperse. The air... grabbed on to the wires, and continued on their way. Before Fu knew what was happening, another barrage came and another. Her wires were sent flying back, and she was unable to control them. Like a kite that caught too powerful a gust of wind, the wires sprung her arms back and flew from her grasp. She couldn't chase them, because charging her down was her enemy. The arms that were stretched back suddenly flung forward like elastic, far longer than they should have. Meira, who had additional reach with her sword, wasn't even close to striking distance of Fu's body. "Damn you're freaky."

But it only slowed her. Dozens of pounds being swung at her like a cannon, Meira repelled them with only light slashes and movement. She was already running, so what was a few extra steps to the left or right? A slight redirection of the blow. She didn't need to fight power against power. She had technique. And now her blade could reach the body. She swung. Fu met it and knocked the blade away with her gauntlet. Her other went for Meira's throat. It was pushed away with an elbow, the hand of it going to rip off Fu's face. She leaned back and to the side to dodge a sword slash, her gauntlets once more going forward to attack...

To an onlooker, it was a flurry of blows. But to these two, they were only looking to the next move. Each split second, each attack, every movement could determine the end of the scuffle. Fu was spending everything she could muster on enhancement. She was certainly attacking faster, stronger than her opponent. But the cyclop's eye wasn't even glowing that bright a red. She was hardly using any magic. Fu only swung harder and harder. How? Why? "What the hell kind of magic are you using, witch!?" For although it was much slower, although it was only one, Meira's blade was striking just as much. Fu tried pushing it away, even grabbing it. But instead it seemed she was only helping its movement. Pushed back for a moment, it flowed to strike again and again. "Magic. Something that can be done with science, with skill. But if you control the building blocks of this universe... If you bond with the world, then things that aren't possible... you make them possible! A sudden shine of Meira's eye and her blade was in two places at nearly the same instant. Fu's gauntlets were knocked back, and the sword was already outstretched with one hand at Meira's side. The other hand was going for Fu's neck. She could tell even without experience that it wasn't going to strangle her, it was going to snap her like a twig. She could feel the mana in the air disappear as it went into the preparation for Meira's executioner swing. Such ridiculousness! Fu had been using Mana all this time, trying to drain it from the air so her enemy, who had such low levels of internal prana, couldn't use it. But she was only halfway done... and now that ridiculous half-magus was using the other half in a single blow. Fu could only spend enough prana to move herself out of the devil's grasp going for her neck. Meira was spending enough to cleave through, gauntlets and waist all.

The sword swung through the air, so swift, sharp, and powerful that it made no sound. Its swing was not stopped. Fu couldn't move out of range in time.

And yet, the swing missed. Even Meira was surprised, stunned for a moment even, that something so... odd was right in front of her. Fu's upper body had just folded backwards, as if a practiced gymnast in act. Her life saved for the moment, she wasn't about to let the opportunity pass. Her gauntlet blasted for Meira's unprotected side. Meira was fast in grabbing the metal, but it was too late. The claws were already in flesh. In blood. Meira, for her part, didn't care. She had a grasp of her enemy's... no, the fight was over. She was now a victim. Meira grabbed hold of her Victim's arm. A sudden burst of air and motion, the ground beneath them exploding in dust.

A near instant movement of full momentum, Meira jumped back away from Fu. The gauntlet was still in her hand. But... The arm. The arm wasn't there. She only only ripped away the gauntlet. The head of the Shiyan family laughed, sure of her victory now. "Who cares if you're a prodigy! Who cares if you don't have a limit! You're dumb! Stupid! You pig. Battles are won with skill, but this is a war girl! It's won with information! I knew about your stupid technique, so I altered the gauntlet! My arm is safe and sound, unripped from my shoulder. But you! You should at least know there's poison on that gauntlet! But you don't know what poison... So even if you prepared an antidote, there's no hope. Science... Magic... It doesn't matter what you use if you know nothing! ... What are you doing? Praying?!?"

Meira's hand was on her bosom, pressing down. She could already feel the effects of the poison in her body. It wasn't a paralysis or weakening substance. It was deadly. "I've already told you. If you use the building blocks, your ****ty information means nothing. I'll just remove the poison. Doesn't matter what kind it is then." A sudden burst of mana and a slapping sound. Meira's hand exploded against her chest and she slid back, head down. A green gas flowed out through her pores and mouth. She stood up straight in a moment, sheathing her sword on her back. Fu was a statue locked in despair. She no longer trusted common sense, but she asked anyways. "The fight isn't over. I'm not even done. Why do you seem to think it is? What do you have up your sleeve now, you damn prodigy!"

Meira giggled. She was genuinely basking in happiness right now. "The battles over because you already tried everything that could kill me. Just looking at you tells me that. But I still have plenty of things... up my sleeves. Still, I don't even need them. I just need to pick up a card you haphazardly threw out." She walked as she talked, and now Meira was at the puddle of flesh that was her 'mother' while she was in the Franz group. There was nothing left of the woman, but her weapon was there. She hoisted it in one hand, and held it up along with Fu's gauntlets. "Souvenirs. If you survive, I suppose I'll take you as well. You should at least know that I have a method to petrify, right? Oh, and about tricks, they don't matter. What matters is your ace in the hole. This dumb broad that's nothing more than flesh at my feet thought they should never be used unless everyone who saw it would die. Probably what got her killed! So I guess I can be a good little student and show you what she couldn't. The true nature of this weapon isn't a sword... But an arrow."

Fu could only think Meira was speaking more nonsense. Not a sword? She was right in that aspect at least. That damn blade which was almost as big as a human had cut down a magus using reinforcement. Reinforcement magic, that went beyond the bounds of a normal human. And a normal human's swing had cleaved right through! And now it was supposed to be an arrow?!? But right now she couldn't trust what she thought. Meira began swinging the huge double-spike in circles. Fu ran away, ran for her wires. Almost like a sports game, one was running and one was throwing. Fu reached the wires first and shot them forward, wrapping and crisscrossing them to build a strong defense.

But Meira didn't care. She swung once more, then skipped forward and made a throwing motion without actually throwing. The blade made another swing and she made another skip, twice as fast. Once more, twice as fast as before. Meira flourished the action once more, but now the motion was over in an instant. This time she let the blade go. Faster than any bullet, it crashed into Fu's defenses. Like a truck smashing into a car, the explosion of the impact was as loud as the sonic boom. Meira's eye faded from the bright red it had been, back to its original deep blue. She whistled as she walked forward. Fu had tumbled quite some distance. "Well I doubt good ol' and now-dead Roxy could throw it even a twentieth as hard as that, but that was it. Still though, your wires are pretty amazing. I mean, I can hardly recognize you and all of your limbs are broken... But you're alive. Here, let me get them off you. I don't want my third trophy covered in silly string."

Meira was speaking to a half-conscious person. Shiyan Fu could only groan in agony as Meira unraveled the metal strings, taking almost motherly care not to scratch her. Fu could tell it wasn't just her limbs that were broken. Her ribs, her hip-bone... She suddenly screamed into clarity as Meira smashed a protruding snapped bone back into her body. Meira winced and kicked the broken woman, sending her rolling into the dust. "Okay girl, don't scream so loud. My ears are still ringing from throwing that damn thing. ... Hah yeah, that's better. Sniffle and cry." The smile on Meira's face was not one of sadism. It wasn't a twisted thing, even if it was caused by such. Right now she looked as happy as a girl could be. Nothing strange about it. Nothing was off. Fu should have never thought about this woman. From the very first day she met her, she should have listened to the voice in the back of her head that told her to run away.

And now because she didn't, Shiyan Fu was being propped up by blue spheres, being adjusted and primped like a Barbie doll. Family, Legacy... Her brother... Fu could only despair. This woman had taken everything... "You truly are a reaper... I should have never awakened the devil to her origin. I pray for the sake of the world that you don't get the grail." A fist slammed into Fu's gut, but she hardly felt it. "Just a secret between you and me. I'm not going to do what my dear 'father' wants me to do this time around. That grail is mine, and I will get it. The sake of the world? The world wants me to get that grail. This sword. My skills. My magic. My trump card. Even my personality. It's all aligned to save the world. I'm the villain. And until a hero shows up, I'll win. Not a fake hero summoned from history's past, but a real one in the present that will save the future. That's how things go. " Meira closes in, her single eye in the middle of Fu's vision. "Last time I checked, magus are hardly heroic. Well it's been fun Fu. Since you can at least talk, I don't mind last words. " Seemingly pleased with the positioning of Fu's broken body, Meira walked a few feet back.

... Fu let out one last sob. "None. I... have nothing."

Meira sighed, a bit disappointed. "Well that's not very theatric. Well whatever. Once I finish this little 'war,' then I'll hear what you have to say. Until then, you'll have plenty of time to think about them. And hey, if they're good enough, maybe they won't be your last. You are the only real friend I have you know."



You are to be punished from the light of the sun,
I gift upon you that which none have blessed, only cursed.
May you be forgotten from the world itself, and rot in its underbelly,
Be devoured by the abyss for all eternity!



Her hand extended, a large gray sphere jiggled and grew and grew. Taller than the tallest man, it shot out for the restrained Fu. Without any destruction it passed through, the air growing stale. Fu was still there, alive. Meira walked up to her, but Fu couldn't see it. She put a hand on the ex-representative's shoulder, but Fu barely registered it. The only thing that she could easily sense were Meira's words as the sound vibrated through Shiyan Fu's petrified body. "That shocked face... I mean it looks good and everything on the statue, but is it really that surprising? That I think of you as a friend? I can't help but feel a bit... happy."

Removing her hand from the statue, Meira reached into her pocket and dialed a number. "Alright, I'm done over here. Bring the car around. Oh, and toss two of the guys out. I have a person who's feeling rather stiff. ... I don't care that they have to walk a hundred miles, it's that or I kill them. ... You know what, I also don't care if I've used that stiff pun before."
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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:26 am

Spoiler:
 

Laplace's Demon...

...an infamous equation developed by the first director of Atlas that miraculously predicted the end of the world. Sima Zeltran Atlasia had considered it a masterpiece of paradox since he'd first learned of it.

A blessing and a curse

A gift and a burden

An omen of doom and a symbol of hope.

Sima had always considered himself a man of purpose, of destiny, and that destiny was inexorably tied with the Equation. He knew many did not understand his passion - his obsession, as they deemed it - but it didn't mattered. He'd known from the start that his was a high and lonely destiny.

He'd led Atlas through the war and prevented their society from crumbling. He'd prevented the expansion of Clocktower's tyranny. And he'd prevented the world as they'd known it from ending.

Sima sighed and set down the parchment on the wooden desk of his study, burying his face in his hands.

But now... now Clocktower was attempting to revive the old Grail Wars... and despite his abhorrance of the idea, it was an evil he could not avoid. He could hardly trust any of the other competitors from each faction to be responsible such power. Although he'd delayed the end of all things once, these Games could once more usher in the destruction of everything they held dear. For that reason, he and only he would take upon the mantle of responsibility and enter the Grail Games.

Not for Atlas.

Not for his own pride and glory.

But for the fate of the world itself.


"Let them call me what they like," he said quietly, parting the curtains of the study to peer out into the vast expanse of desert and mountain beyond Atlas. "They will soon know the truth."

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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:53 pm

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A solemn chapel, filled with the soft glow of twilight through the beautifully painted mural windows, sat abandoned by all earthly presence save for a lone figure knelt before the altar. It was at this hour, away from people and the influences of the world, that he could feel closer to the presence of holiness.

Our Father, who art in Heaven

He lifted his prayers to God, with the spirit of one whose flesh and earthly desires had been left on the threshing floor, as the Scriptures told.

Hallowed by thy name.

There could be no greater purpose than for him to serve God. There was no other purpose left for him. This was the path laid down for him, and he had already felt the stinging repercussions of deviating from that path.

Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done

Where his own selfish desires had once been the center of his focus, the center of his whole world, there was nothing now in his world but the service of the Father. His own will did not exist. Only the Father's will mattered. His will would be the Father's.

On earth as it is in Heaven.

For now, it would seem that service would be to watch over the proceedings of the magi... these "Games" of theirs to win the Holy Grail. Had it been thought to be the actual Grail said to hold the sacred blood of Christ, there would be no doubt of his obligation to obtain it. To supervise a pagan ritual brought distaste to his mouth, however. But in the name of the Church, he would do what was asked.

Give us this day our daily bread

The city of Dusseldorf would be his residence in the coming days. With a chapel provided for his residence and his meals and other material needs attended for, his only real concern would be to ensure that the doings on these magi would not interrupt the life of the innocents upon whose city the ritual would be forced without consent.

And forgive us our trespasses,

Magi... Those who would dabble in heresies against the Church. Those whose insatiable lust for power would drive them to any lengths... even to breach the sacred boundaries between life and death and desecrate their very souls and those of others simply to gain more years on this earth.

As we forgive those who trespass against us.

For a moment, the image of a lovely, slender-faced girl with wavy raven locks appeared before his eyes, and with it a dull throb of pain in his heart... but he pushed it aside resolutely. That was from a different time, when he was a different person. He must not hold onto the pain or memories, but relinquish the pain and resentment to God.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

If he did not guard his heart and mind from those thoughts and feelings, he might be driven to any lengths to fill that void left by the memory of the love he once had... Even descend into the very evil he opposed to connect with her for even a brief moment.

For thine is the kingdom,

No, he would have no regrets. This was the only path. No matter how much he had tried to fight it... no matter how much he had sought to resist it.

And the power,

He was unaware of loss, for what had he left to lose now but his faith? In that he would find true strength, beyond any weapon forged my the hands of man.

And the glory,

He was unaware of gain, for there was no mortal recompense for his service. His rewards would be stored up in Heaven. There he would finally obtain peace and joy. There he would finally grasp the true glory behind his sorrow and his suffering.

Forever and ever.

Until that time and that day, when the Lord saw fit to relieve his soul of its earthly bounds, he would continue upon his sacred work. And that would begin now, in but a few days' time, in Dusseldorf.

Raphael stood slowly from his place on the cold floor, turning his eyes reverantly to the image of the Virgin gazing fondly down upon him, an ethereal glow on her marble face.


"Amen."

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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Thu Feb 13, 2014 7:30 pm

5 Days Later...

Schloss Eller, the beautiful and expansive estate on the outer edges of Dusseldorf... one couldn't have picked a more garish location in the entire city to host the opening ceremonies for the Grail Games.

"Overdone," Dowth thought derisively. "Like everything in Clocktower."

The idea that the Lannisters had actually purchased this location to serve as their headquarters for the Games and had invited all the competition to arrive for the ceremonies was incomprehensibly absurd. Not only would every Master know exactly where the Clocktower faction was location from the start, they would also have inside details of the location in the event of future invasion.

"Not that I expected much from such arrogant braggarts," Dowth thought, as he arrived and strode up the lawn amongst the fairly sizable crowd of magi who had arrived to watch the momentous occasion.

"Dowth, good to see you again," Alistair Bartomeloi said diplomatically, smiling and grasping the elderly man's hand. He stood aside to allow Dowth to pass and stand beside Jamie Lannister, who was, of course, the first to arrive. Jamie ignored his presence, but Dowth didn't hardly minded; the less time spent in the Lannister's presence, the better.

He recognized Sima Zeltran Atlasia, the rather infamous head of Atlas. Dowth noted with veiled amusement that Alistair seemed to great this guest with a notably frostier attitude, which was reciprocated in spades. Sima was proceeded by a young man in a suit, looking distinctly out of place with the other magi. Dowth did not recognize him, though given the man's noticeable distaste for the entire affair, this was not unexpected. Since neither Sima nor the other man seemed eager to engage in conversation, the representatives remained in austere silence before the waiting crowd.

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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Sun Feb 16, 2014 11:06 pm

The next to appear were those who had travelled the farthest. They were also newest among the magi clans, and thus the underdogs of this competition. They had only a few generations in the use of magic, which along with being underdogs, meant others would certainly hold little respect for the Eastern Magi Alliance. That said though, they seemed to rip those views to shreds, at least in the opening ceremony. Arriving in a limo, out stepped the representative Shiyan Fu. She was clad in a traditional crimson silk robe that covered even feet and hands, yet followed her curves and floated through the air in a hypnotic fashion. When combined with an ornamental headdress holding up her raven hair and her usual painted face, she would most certainly be getting the most attention by appearance alone.

As 'Shiyan Fu' walked down the path, another woman, exiting from the other side of the limo, joined her. Something unexpected since there was only supposed to be one representative, the appearance of the second woman was a compliment and a foil in the same. Taller than Shiyan and most notably not very Asian, she wore a more western dress. A semi-low cut deep red one, with a cut a foot below her left hip to show off her leg as she walked. With black strapped high-heels that walked exactly one step behind Shiyan, it was a simple but elegant look. But like Shiyan, the face and hair were notable. Of the statuesque-faced woman's eyes, there were only one. The left had a scar running straight down to the end. Her hair could only be described as 'very long and thick.' Running down past her hips, it flowed gently behind her in a single motion, almost as if it was a cape.

Shiyan Fu arrived in front of the other representatives, making a slight bow. The translator, a step behind, made a much deeper bow. Shiyan began to speak Mandarin, but a rather old version. Half a second later, the woman behind translated. "Greetings to you, my honorable associates. I must apologize for this unworthy translator, but my household is rather set in its ways of tradition and I have only learned Old Mandarin. We may be infants in magic, but our culture extends beyond three thousand glorious years. I hope you, as fellow magi, understand the importance of tradition and do not take this extra baggage as an affront to your honor. I have undertaken the English language for this prestigious event, but as of yet it is unrefined. I fear I would only embarrass myself, beyond that which I am already doing by using this trash. I apologize once more. She is nothing but an unwanted half-magus dog of an executed traitor, so feel free to treat and call her as such. I thought it a better decision than a trained magi, who may unduly threaten, or a normal human, who does not belong. I hope my decision has not offended you and shamed me in this honorable event. She will, of course, not be brought into the games themselves. I expect myself to have mastered the nuances of English by then." Once more the two bowed, Shiyan with the painted expression as before, even with the flowery language. The translator, for now it was apparent that was her job, still had a stone face. Now though, it was notably with a faint frown.

'Shiyan Fu' took her place besides her fellow contests, her translator at least a dozen steps behind her in the background. Hidden, but accessible if needed.


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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Mon Feb 24, 2014 1:25 am

“Did we really have to take a boat up the river?  It’s winter for heaven’s sake!” Harold ranted with passion, as he made more hand gestures that seemed right for the conversation.  In fact, some of the hand gestures weren’t even directed at Jacques but Juliet.

Jacques looked at Harold with mild disinterest, as he sighed heavily about his friend’s continued ranting with him zipping up his light coat slightly more at the mention of how cold it was.  Still, his eyes filled with excitement, as he glanced around the city that seemed to be glimmering with life to his eyes from all these old buildings glimmering with history.

“It’s nice to vary up the travel, and I wanted to pass through the older section of the city.”
Jacques stated with a slight smile on his face, as his eyes focused on the estate that they were about to reach.

Juliet gave a few hand signals that now deeply resembled sign language that had seemed to come from France that was directed at Jacques, and while Harold mimicked the sign language with a slight and quiet smile on his face for the first time in a while Jacques immediately returned a slight scowl that he quickly hid before either of them could notice.

Yes Goodbye, we’ve done a lot of missions together, and I hope I’ll be able to see the both of you again.” Jacques stated in a strangely bittersweet manner, as he tipped his hat towards the both of them, as Jacques began to walk in the opposite direction from the two and onto the estate where the rest of the magi resided.

The estate looked very beautiful to Jacques, and he could tell how much work many of the constructors put into it, but alas he found the older buildings more interesting than this estate.  He just felt out of place here, like he belonged in a more humble building.

Still, there were many strong competitors scattered around the lawn, and Jacques took a good long look at each and every single one of them to the point it would be considered creepy.  He recognized the majority of the larger players, but it still irked him that he didn’t know much about the smaller players that lurked around here.

“Pleasure to meet you, my name is Jacques Nold, the representative of Thule Society.” Jacques briefly stated in a friendly tone taking off his hat and bowing to the various respected magi for a second seconds.  Then, he walked over to the rest of the magi to take his spot amongst them making sure he didn’t stand too close to anyone of them but remained open.

This place attracted too many of unqiue people for Jacques to pass up a chance to talk to them for sure. Plus... most of them.. himself included may end up dead before too long..
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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Sun Mar 09, 2014 2:51 am

The soft rattle of chains preceded the next arrival's footsteps for several moments before he actually came into view. The hood of his crimson coat was pulled up, veiling the portion of his face above his nose in shadows, but it was obvious from the way he held himself that he was observing everyone in the crowd as he silently handed off his invitation and entered the estate.

People shifted away from him as he made his way to a space away from the center of activity. His very presence created a sort of gulf in the crowd that opened in front of him and nervously closed behind after he had passed. That was fine by him though. He hadn't come here to make friends, or even to make small talk with the various leaders of the Magi societies. The only reason he'd made a public appearance tonight was to get a look at the competition.

A pair of crimson eyes drifted across the crowd as he settled his back against a wall some distance from the nearest group of people. From here, he had a good vantage point of the others, and anyone approaching him would have to do so in plain sight. No surprises... He didn't like surprises...
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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Sun Mar 09, 2014 4:16 pm

With all the Masters gathered, the crowd fell into silence as the Director of Clocktower stepped forward, hands raised to the crowd.

"Welcome, fellow magi, to this most momentous occasion," Bartomeloi said in his dignified, dulcet tones. "On this day, we make history."

There was applause from the group below. Dowth and Jamie seemed to hold themselves more erect, befitting the honor, though the majority of those in attendance did not seem quite so partial.

"Although our factions have been plagued by differences in principle, methods, and practices throughout time, we have always remained united at the very center of our societies - that one pure desire from which all magecraft is born - to reach the very Root of Knowledge itself, Akasha."

The crowd listened with rapt attention to Bartomeloi's words. Dowth was able to see first-hand one of the many reasons why the young man had achieved the Director's position at his age.

"For that reason, we have set aside our differences to gather here for the revival of the Heaven's Feel ritual in this, the Grail Games!"

More applause followed. Bartomeloi smiled before raising his hands for silence.

"Each faction has chosen an individual to represent them in the competition. For his contribution to the Games and for the very concept itself, I will start with him. Representing Sponheim Abbey, whose close ties with Clocktower have always provided a stability through Europe, the highly regarded Alderic Dowth!"

Dowth smiled and raised a hand to the crowd, which applauded loudly. Bartomeloi resumed his introductions, moving next to Jacques.

"Holding true to what many consider the original origins of magecraft, it has preserved the powerful and ancient art of runes in both study and practice. Representing the Thule Society, Jacques Nold!"

A decent applause followed, which Bartomeloi allowed before moving on.

"Studying and advancing the original precepts of alchemy, it has long formed an essential component in both the Sea of Estray and the world of Western magecraft. Representing the Prague Association, Logan Levatte!"

The applause was somewhat less than Jacques', owing no doubt to the off-putting expression of the shadowy representative.

"Lift not the seal of Atlas lest ye wish to have the world destroyed seven times over!" Bartomeloi announced with mock gravity, earning derisive laughs from the audience - which, to Sima's credit, he supremely ignored. "Representing the great institute of alchemy, Atlas, Sima Zeltran Atlasia!”

There was a very sparse amount of applause, but again Sima seemed above it all. To him, all this pomp and circumstance was unnecessary and dismissable. Eames, who was introduced next, seemed to be of the same mind.

"Although their beginnings were humble and unexpected, they have risen to prominence through a diverse range of unorthodox magecraft and as much quantity as quality. Representing the conglomeration and family of Yggdmillennia: The Tree of a Thousand Realms is Miliardo Eames Yggdmillennia!"

There was a polite smattering of applause as Eames looked out over them with an aloof, perhaps even surly, expression that did nothing to earn him more enthusiasm.

"Though they remain the youngest association of magi, they have remained a strong force in the east since their conception, perfecting their own unique brand of magecraft steeped deeply in their culture and practices. Representing the Eastern Magi Association, the equally elegant and gifted Shiyan Fu."

Bartomeloi waved a hand toward the only female Master, standing with her interpreter, which earned some decent applause. Turning to the final competitor, the Director of Clocktower could not help but give a more noticeable smile.

"And last, but certainly not least, is the very pillar of Western magecraft that has advanced the science in immeasurable ways. From enlightening research to inspiring academia to awe-inspiring combat, it has stood as the pinnacle of thaumaturgy since its inception. Representing the revered Clocktower, the heir of the noble and austere family of Lannister, James Avery Lannister!"

This introduction received by far the most enthusiastic applause, and quite a few covertly dirty looks from the other competitors as Jamie smugly closed his eyes and held his head erect, as though absorbing the praises of the crowd.

"And now that we've completed the introductions, let us lay down the rules for this competition," Bartomeloi said, turning to face the representative.

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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Sun Mar 09, 2014 6:03 pm

The puppet imposter Shiyan Fu sat there and smiled, as if she was used to such showy proceedings. She politely watched and nodded as each representative was introduced, her painted face hiding any thoughts she might be having. But if one were to actually know, then they would know there were no thoughts, only orders. Meira made sure to remove any doll-like actions, of course. If Meira herself felt like fidgeting, then she would fidget. But keep impressions out, keep thoughts out. Shiyan Fu had a tough outer shell, and you couldn't just look past it. Meira would love to embarass this woman, even if it was not the Magi, but it simply wouldn't do. Meira did not care if someone suspected something, she only cared if she was found out. She had some things to get together beforehand...

Meira, the 'unimportant half-magus translator,' stood off to the side, away from the ceremony. Of course she wouldn't be needed when the contestants were being introduced by others. Still, Meira pouted inside. She even dressed up nice. While she may be hiding her intentions, she truly was a half-magus, and she knew enough languages to make money as a translator. Old Mandarin was more of a side-project, but it had finally come into practical use, at least. Of course, the real Shiyan Fu knew more than one old soiled language, their household wasn't THAT traditional. But it was a real enough lie, considering Magus already respected such things. Meira scoffed at their unified goal. 'Finding Akasha.' It was an utterly pointless goal. Much more foolish than a 'Theory of Everything,' even. They're not asking for 'when the world will end' or 'how long do I have to live?' What they're chasing after is every piece of information in every possible state in every timeframe. How much does each nail grow every second? Nanosecond? Femtasecond? How does each hair of a billion grow on the head of each of 10 billion people? No generalizations, no summations, just raw, mostly useless, information. How did they expect to find such a collection? Understand it? Access it? Magic wasn't capable of finding out. SORCERY wasn't capable of finding out. There was no possible medium for it either. The only thing that knows everything that happens in the world is the world itself.

And so, Meira held much derisive contempt for those Magus who has such a pointless goal. Her sword alone would be the closest to their goals, and they other contestants would soon find themselves at the mercy of it. Dreams are not goals. That's why she was prepared to do whatever it took to win this competition. The introductions were pointless, but it was a nice little summary. Meira had looked up these people and more, but it was troublesome enough to recall them. Schoolwork she didn't want to think about. This whole affair she hardly cared about. It would be different, of course, if she could simply be herself, a contestant on her own. But these worthless Magi made up the competition, so they made their own rules. Meira would have to follow along, at least until things were set in motion...
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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Sat Mar 15, 2014 12:05 am

Logan's expression remained impassive throughout the speech. He didn't care much for large gatherings, especially large magi gatherings... They tended to do unsettling things in large groups, and he'd much prefer to be left out of those. A shudder started to creep up his spine, but he pressed his shoulders into the wall behind him, stopping it before it could be noticed.

He couldn't afford to show weakness here. The magi around him were like a pack of dogs, looking for the tiniest hint of a sheep in their midst. Logan himself didn't quite blend with that image, but that's why he presented himself as he was now. Given the choice between appearing to be the sheep or a wolf, he'd take the wolf any day of the week.

The presenter's turn towards the rules of the competition couldn't have come at a better time for Logan. He'd been about to leave the estate after each of the participants was named and he had a chance to get a look at them. Rules were something he could deal with though. If he knew what wasn't permitted, it made it easier to know what the other participants might try. Process of elimination...

For a moment, he saw a mercenary, crumpled at his feet, wheezing for mercy. Yes, that had been process of elimination too... He thought to himself as the image faded back into his memory.
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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:27 am

"As you are no doubt aware," Bartomeloi began, regarding them all. "The Heaven's Feel ritual entails seven Servants - the materialization of the Heroic Spirits contained in the Throne of Heroes - by seven Masters to do battle against one another. You will each obtain a Servant from one of the classes - Knight of the Sword, Saber; Knight of the Spear, Lancer; Knight of the Bow, Archer; Mounted Cavalry, Rider; Magus, Caster; Silent Killer, Assassin; and Mad Warrior, Berserker."

Dowth wondered idly if any of the other Masters knew which Servant they would be obtaining; he doubt many had been as thorough in their planning as he had.

"You will each receive three Command Spells with which to control your Servant - powerful, crystallized magic to realize any order upon your Servant, even beyond the realms of ordinary magecraft," he said, and as he spoke, Raphael moved forward and pulled up his sleeve to reveal the Command Spells upon the length of his arm. "But be warned - to use all of your Command Spells is to lose control of your Servant. Once a Servant has become rogue, they may kill their Master and begin to work independently. In this case, they will be considered rogue elements and will be dealt with."

As Bartomeloi continued his speech, Raphael walked to each Master in turn and seized one of their arms, the Command Spells sliding off of his arm and onto the Master's. As he did so, he stared coldly into their eyes, as though imprinting the memory of each face. As no one spoke, Bartomeloi took that as a sign to continue.

"The competition will be viewed by the entire magi world through the cooperation of many magi to create a bounded field around the city, which will allow the proceedings to be viewed remotely. You would do well, therefore, to adhere to the rules that we will establish."

He viewed each of them in turn before continuing.

"You will not be able to access the boundied field from within it; however, you are prohibited from contacting outside sources with which to take advantage of this field. Furthermore, with the exception of your Servant, you are all to do battle without any outside help," Bartomeloi continued. "Refusal to adhere to these rules will be dealt with by our Mediator."

Bartolmeloi gestured to Raphael, who by now had finished giving each Master his three Command Spells.

"In another gesture to strengthen ties, we have again reached out to the Church to retain its customary place as the mediator of our Heaven's Feel ritual. Raphael Mercadier Chevalier will be taking this position from the city's church, which will act as a neutral zone for any Masters wishing to abdicate their role in the Games. Chevalier will be responsible for ensuring that the Games proceed smoothly and do not affect the surrounding population, in addition to handling the distribution of Command Spells. His word on these matters is as good as law, so take care to heed them."

Seemingly finished, he turned to address the crowd now, gesturing for their attention.

"With the opening ceremonies complete, we will now retire for the banquet," he spoke to them. "At midnight tonight, the Games will begin in earnest. May the one most worthy to obtain the Grail and its mysteries reign victorious!"

Tremendous applause nearly drowned out his voice as he turned to the others and indicated for them to follow him into the mansion. Jamie was first at his heel, with Dowth following close behind, as the others trooped in behind.

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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Mon Mar 17, 2014 8:49 pm

It was all pretty much information she already knew. Meira stood silently in the background, a forgetable figure even if an odd one. Midnight, huh? She hadn't known about that. It would have been preferable to start during the day, that way she'd have more time to prepare. Her hideout was already chosen, and was quite comfortably loaded out. Meira Franz had practically spent her life's fortune, and it was quite a bit, in preperation for this. And her father's group... her family... her organzation... had no clue about it. The money was still there in her bank account. It would be too obvious otherwise. The thing is, it was no longer in her name.

She smiled genuinely as she trailed behind her puppet, entering the housing. Meira was in a rather jovial mood. It was, of course, not out of character. Maybe she was smiling because this was an important occasion. Maybe she was smiling because the 'little arrogant princess' she was trailing around would be sent into a death battle. The cyclops wanted nothing more to kick her feet on the fine tablecloth, and grab that whole delicious roasted lamb to munch on. Mock all the foolish magi here who thought this was actually a competition. The name may have changed, but... this was still a war.

She dutifully stood behind Meng Yui, translating any polite inquiries. Of course, she had learned this young woman's name before hand. It only made what came after all this so much sweeter. A husband, but no children. They had tried of course, but it just wouldn't happen. They didn't have the money to visit a doctor and see whether it was her or him. So the two were being driven apart. It was certainly a nice story. Mrs. Yui was the fourth candidate, and was the most appropriate. Surprisingly she hadn't been scolded on killing the other three. It seems for once in her life, her whims were being accepted. Somewhat. Meira inwardly frowned about the two goons that were going to be stuck with her. She'd have to deal with them when the time came.
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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Mon Mar 17, 2014 11:31 pm

Logan had only been halfway paying attention until Raphael was mentioned, but at the familiar name, he tipped his head back a little to get a better look at the man from beneath his hood. Of course, he'd never met Raphael in person, but dark events made good gossip in the Burial Agency, and this man had suffered through his share of them. To find him mediating the games now was definitely a surprise.

Making a mental note to visit the man before the games began in earnest, Logan turned his attention once more to his competition. Several of the chosen had seemed somewhat incapable, considering their physical attributes, but from experience, Logan knew that didn't matter as much as it should. Magi were tricky characters, and they often weren't as frail as they'd like you to believe.

The curiosities were the magi that didn't appear so frail though, particularly the representatives from Yggdmillennia and the Eastern Magi Association. Both of them appeared to be not only in their prime, but also very flashy in their appearances. Unlike the obvious showiness of Lannister, these two didn't exude an attention seeking aura. It was more like their cold pride wouldn't allow them to not show up in style, and that troubled Logan. Anyone with that much self-respect usually had the power to back it up...
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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:53 pm

The main dining hall was nothing short of lavish. The Lannister's had certainly spared no expense in arranging things. No doubt the expected to be properly compensated by winning the Games. Dowth had every intention, however, of making sure this would not happen.

He glanced at the table, properly surveying his fellow competitors. Jamie sat at the head of the table, looking as insufferably smug as usual. Bartomeloi sat to Jamie's left and across from Dowth, seemingly very pleased with the way things had progressed. To Bartomeloi's left was Shiyan Fu, sitting with graceful elegance and poise. Dowth had met her father before during the negotiations between factions in the war, and was not surprised to see that he'd raised his daughter with the same manners.

The remaining guests were fairly negligible to Dowth. On his right was Jacques Nold, but Dowth knew little of him. Beside him was Logan, looking more like a thug than a magus. Across from him was the Yggdmillennia man in the suit, Eames, stabbing idly at his plate. Beside Logan was Sima, and to Eames' left was the Mediator Raphael, both silently eating slowly from their platees.

"This will be most memorable," Bartomeloi was saying, sipping elegantly from his glass. "The entire magi world will be watching this event."

Dowth snapped back to the conversation as Jamie turned to the Director and smirked.

"A perfect occassion to display the might of Clocktower and the Lannister family."

"I am surprised the Lannisters would risk sending their only heir to compete in the Games," Dowth replied casually, sipping his wine as he glanced toward Jamie with a carefully constructed expression of mild surprise and interest.

"What risk?" Jamie snorted dismissively. "The Lannisters are most assured in my success. Besides, I see it as my duty to prevent the Grail to fall into... unworthy hands."

Dowth had to contain a satisfied smirk; Jamie's unbearably condescending attitude would no doubt earn him many enemies tonight. Bartomeloi seemed to grasp Dowth's intention and intervened smoothly.

"Now, James, I have no doubt that each person here is worthy to obtain the Grail. That is why they were chosen, after all."

Jamie gave another contemptuous snort at this and chose instead of reply to sip his expensive wine instead.

"Do you seek the Root, James? At your age-" Dowth began, but Jamie cut swiftly across him.

"Of course, as all true magi should," he replied, casting a glance around the table. Dowth, however, doubted the veracity of this statement. No doubt most of those gathered here were more interested in the almighty wish-granting vessel than Akasha.

"That's very noble of you. So very like your father," Dowth commented quietly, unable to withhold a cutting edge to his statement. He neededn't have worried, of course; whatever Jamie's other strengths may be, perception was assuredly not one of them.

"Oh? Did you know my father?" Jamie asked, looking very lofty at the mention of his esteemed father. Dowth gave a thin smile and turned away.

"Oh, not personally. But I certainly know of him."

Before Jamie could inquire further, Dowth turned his attention to Shiyan Fu, inclining his head respectfully.

"Miss Fu, I've heard many good things about you. Is your father well?"

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

Eames was not enjoying this affair in the slightest - although undoubtedly he could appreciate that the food and drink was of exceptional quality. It was painfully obvious that they had arranged to have all the influential and aristocratic types at one end of the table, while he and the other lifeless bunch were deemed unworthy enough to break bread amongst the elite. Admittedly, he could see their point - between Raphael's complete indifference to match his own, Logan's dark scowls, and Sima's look of solemn withdrawal, they were hardly the most engaging bunch. Even so, it was certainly better than being at the other end.

Whenever Jamie opened his mouth, Eames could feel his arrogance and condescending nature pouring out - it reminded him of a gaping wound, bleeding so profusely that no amount of mending could stop it. Dowth at least had the sensibility to hold his obvious pride in check.

As he unavoidably listened to them speak, Eames could only hope that Jamie would be the first to die. Perhaps his Servant would kill him upon being summoned out of sheer annoyance.

Of course, killing Jamie himself would be more satisfying; people like him were the most enjoyable to break. The woman beside him - Shiyan, if he recalled - looked so poised and regal. No doubt she would squirm most spectacularly as well.

He could feel the familiar haze reaching out, but he withdrew quickly. This was neither the time nor the place. He would need to stay firmly grounded in reality, as utterly grating as that may be.

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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Sat Mar 22, 2014 3:34 pm

Well, newcomers certainly had an advantage. The Eastern Magi Alliance may be considered young, but it didn't have the deep-seated rivalry and hatred between the other factions. It was simply an underestimation of their abilities... Or maybe not. Because they wouldn't be dealing with those people. It was Meira who would be fighting these arrogant snobs and moody rejects. She made a show of whispering in the imposter's ears, translating what was being said. For her part, the fake had a slightly annoyed look as if it wasn't that necessary. She had caught Dowth mention her name and bow his head in her direction, and she returned the gesture while her translator interpreted.

A brief discussion between the two, and one that was a bit of a one-sided arguement favoring Shiyan, and Meira went to work. "Miss Fu believes her father has fell ill to a bit of cowardice and hopes for his quick recovery. Recently there has been movement in the regular underground, and the master of the Fu house had ignored it until it became unignorable. Unforunately, he has taken a passive, more diplomatic, stance towards the situation than Miss Fu does not tend to agree with..."

Suddenly there was a light clink, as if a few glasses of wine had toasted together. Shiyan Fu had her arm hovering above the table. Beneath the flowing crimson robe, her hand was reavealed, a small metallic ring with a point crawling along and slightly past her index finger. It was now embedded in the roast lab on her plate as she used a knife with her other hand. She didn't saw or cut, but rather made a single sweeping motion as if breaking a man's neck. After that she withdrew her hand, resuming her normal respectful and elegant dining method.

Meira made a face of grim shock. She imagined her mother and her... 'father together has a happy family. That would be an appropriate reaction, she believed. "Miss Fu heavily disagrees with her father and will use the prestige from winning... or participating.... in these Grail Games to over-rule his decision and crush the rats trying to take over our home." Meira gulped, as if wanting to eat the words she had just spoken. It was obvious that the 'or participating' was not part of Shiyan's speech. It was also rather obvious that Shiyan Fu had just declared a Monroe Doctrine.

All in all Meira was pleased. She could think of this as the real Shiyan Fu thankfully, since the two were familiar. She had picked up on the poor girl's displeasure at her father, and her rather blatant desire to crush Meira's own group. It was something they shared, really. Meira certainly held no love for her own father. And she wanted nothing more than to crush everyone who got in her way.
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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Fri Mar 28, 2014 11:46 pm

Logan grimaced at the conversation flowing around the table. If not for the excellent meal they had served him, he might have regretted staying for pleasantries. Even so, he couldn't help but growl at the mention of broadcasting the Grail Games.

"Humanity..." His harsh voice rattled in the air over the table, causing those sitting beside him to fall silent. "We've come so far, developed so much, and yet we still find amusement in the most carnal things..."

He forked another bite of the pasta he was eating and slipped it beneath his hood and into his mouth. "To think that this bloodbath is going to be broadcast for all magi to see, to enjoy..." Logan cackled softly. "Perhaps we're still exactly where we started." The tone of his last words was cold, almost accusing, and it cut through the rest of the witty conversation at the table like a sharp knife through tender flesh, leaving behind a fetid note that would put a damper on any further small talk.
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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Sat Mar 29, 2014 2:15 pm

Dowth raised his eyebrows at Meira's speech, interested to hear a first-hand account of the rumors that had been coming from that region.

"I sympathize most sincerely with your plight, Miss Fu," he said, inclining his head toward "Shiyan" and completely ignoring the interpreter behind her. "A most difficult circumstance, to be sure."

This was not entirely untrue, although his sympathy for her was grossly outmatched by his sympathy for his own circumstances. Such was the way of the world, of course. He beared Shiyan no ill will, but her death would be a necessary sacrifice for his own gain - whether by his own hand or another's.

"I certainly hope that regardless of the outcome of this venture, you will manage to put things to right there," Dowth continued. "I know-"

But the rest of his words were cut off by an unwelcome disturbance from the other end of the table. Dowth, Jamie, and Bartomeloi seemed highly affronted, more by the interruption than by the actual words spoken. For his part, Eames actually managed to look somewhat amused by the whole affair, while Sima continued to serenely ignore everything around him.

Raphael, however, narrowed his eyes interestedly at Logan. Logan Levatte. The name had not gone unnoticed by him, though he'd had difficulty believing it could be any relation to the Levatte he had known.

Asche Levatte, a very accomplished Burial Agent, had been known by most of the Executors that had passed into the church. He knew little of her personal life, however, which made the possibility of a family not entirely unfounded.

Still... what would a man bearing her name be doing in this magi competition. The idea of the Church having ulterior motives crossed his mind, but... would this information really be kept from him? It would make performing his duties easier, no doubt, but...

"And yet," he found himself saying aloud, eyes locked on the young man, "you are here, aren't you?"

The members of the table were surprised by the sudden input from the Moderator, though in some way the acknowledgement of Logan's words seemed to diffuse the tension as they all returned to their previous conversations - or otherwise ignoring of them - and left the other two men to stare silently at one another.

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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Sat Mar 29, 2014 4:12 pm

The crimson orbs of Logan's eyes locked onto Raphael's from beneath his hood. He hadn't expected the moderator to be the one to answer his inquiry, and judging from the looks that passed around the table, no one else had either.

For a moment, he remained silent, but it was obvious the other man expected some form of answer from him.

There wasn't a single shred of amusement in his voice when Logan granted him that reply, only cold determination and a faint note of deep sorrow. "Bear no illusions father. I'm here at a high cost, although exactly how high has yet to be determined, and I intend to do many, many horrible things before this contest has ended."

He sat down his fork and slowly pushed himself to his feet. "For now though, I'll be taking my leave..." Logan's gaze turned to Jamie for a moment, and his hood dipped slightly as he nodded to the man. "My thanks for an excellent meal. It's the best I've had in a month."

Without another word, he turned from the group and made his way towards the exit, the eerie rattle of chains following his footsteps to the door.
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PostSubject: Re: The Grail Games IC   Sat Mar 29, 2014 5:50 pm

Throughout Logan's inturruption, Fu had an eerie smile of amusement. It was of course, obvious with what she was amused. The Eastern Magi Alliance was mocked for being out of date and newly cultured, but the show of this man, a contestant of the grail games, made it clear enough that EMA wasn't the only one with problems. Meira kept up a steady stream of translations, feigning to keep her puppet up to date.

When Logan left, the dinner crept along. The first contestant having left, it was certain enough others would begin to trickle out so he didn't have much of a headstart. Meira, too, needed to get going. The faster she could start her plan, the faster things would end. Shiyan deftly ate the last bit of her steak, finishing off her plate. She carelessly put her eating instruments on the plate and stood up, wiping her face off needlessly with a napkin; she hadn't any trace of food. For once she spoke up herself, a strange and strained voice. "Good Luck. Remember, the church is safety for those who can't go on." She left, Meira following in her footstops. The crimson-dressed pair retreated to their car, and Meira quickly lost any traces of subserviance.
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