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October 11, 2009.
Rome.


Those living here had no clue of the horrors that would one day visit their doorsteps. The world was peaceful for the majority, however the work of the organisation that was located, hidden, in this country was endless.
Demons, Ghosts, rogue Mages- all manner of threats plagued mankind endlessly and there was only one real bastion that could stop them. However, things were dull as of late, and thus the Principal of the Rome Academy had seen fit to send one of the more.. skilled.. Exorcists of their organisation on his first official mission. Naturally, he would be monitored and send along with at least one supervisor, but it was a maiden voyage of some sort nonetheless.

Pacing quietly down one of the many streets of Vatican City was a woman whose brows were furrowed in annoyance. Normally she'd be in any of the hidden infirmaries that were scattered across the city, attending to injured Exorcists and civilians alike. She'd been doing so until early this morning, the sunrise signalling her forced retirement from duty.
That vampire certainly was strict on not allowing her to overwork herself.
Her steps were soft and nigh inaudible as she made her way down the road, a few cars passing by. Several people inside them gave her waves that she returned as they drove past. People who owed her their lives.
A small, happy smile painted her face as she relaxed a little, continuing on her journey and adjusting the collar of her pristine ivory suit ever so slightly.

Rick Brackwall. Joined the Warriors of Divine Light in the year of 2004 at the age of thirteen. She herself had only arrived in 2006, so he was technically much more of a veteran than she herself was. Still, coming here and immediately being tasked as both his sole medical examiner and psychiatrist combined into one was certainly an interesting little detail that she hadn't expected. However, the Principal had made the reasons quite clear, and there was no argument to be had.

Arriving at a quaint apartment building that would seem completely innocuous to any passersby, the woman reached up to adjust the bandage that covered her face.
Hopefully he was ready for an unexpected visitor.

Quickly ascending the steps and giving a quick nod to the man station at the door, Eine Minerva made her way through the rotating door that stood as the entrance to the 'hotel'. The building was immense, with large marble pillars standing out the front and decor that seemed to scream 'high end'. The flooring on the inside was polished marble that one would easily slid on if one's feet were wet. It reflected beautifully, although anyone who'd decided to wear a skirt would find themselves quite embarrassed if they looked down and saw their own underwear.
Or lack thereof.

A soft chuckle leaving her lips at the thought, Eine made her way through the lobby and towards the elevators situated at the back, past the reception desk. She could use the curved stairs at the sides of the room to ascend to the next floor, but the lobby was essentially empty as she made her way through. The receptionist- a woman named Marie- gave her a cheerful wave and Eine responded in kind. A lovely woman, truly, her skills at pacifying irate guests was second to none.
The entire lobby's walls were glass aside from the one in which the elevator sat. It allowed both a lovely view of the cafe that sit in a little nook to the left of the fake hotel and a view inside to those seeking shelter. There were several people in the courtyard enjoying a cup of coffee, and Eine noticed several of them notice her. More smiles and waves that she returned, as per her usual standard.

Distant, but polite. One must never get close to fragile blossoms, or one would mourn their fleeting beauty.

The stairs lead up to a sort of semi-second floor, with the area in the middle open to allow those up there to look down upon any who entered. It was really no more than a massive ring that lined the walls of the lobby where people could sit and chat and watch the world go by.
On the other side of the hotel was another courtyard, but this one was grassy and well cared for, with a few seats scattered here and there- an area where one could fool themselves into believing they were in nature whilst enjoying a good novel.
Eine, however, was venturing up.

She paused in front of the elevator, tapping the button to call it quickly and stepping to the side for any people who were riding the elevator down to exit into the lobby. Luckily for her, however, the elevator let out the familiar ding, and the doors slid open to permit her entrance. Swiftly she stepped inside as the door closed smoothly behind her. Her hand snaked its way to the card situated in her jacket's pocket and she allowed herself to flourish it more than a little extravagantly before swiping it down the card reading device that sat beside the floor buttons.
After a few moments, an affirmative beep and a green light on the device let her know that she was, in fact, still a staff member of the organisation. The buttons in the elevator were all lit by lights behind them bar a few, which promptly lit up after the device confirmed her identity. Pressing the 7th floor button, Eine felt the elevator begin to make its way upwards to the floor in which her destination- and her target- were located.

Within a few moments the elevator's dinging noise gave her her notice just before the elevator doors slid open and she stepped out onto the plush and well maintained carpet that lined the floor of every level of the hotel where it was an acceptable flooring choice. Her muted steps carried her down the hallway to the door in which she'd find a man with whom she was very familiar.
Rick Brackwall.

Clearing her throat and adjusting the gloves on her hands, Eine took a moment to compose herself.
Her always untouched suit was, as per usual, stainless and lacking any imperfections. A lovely ivory that was at once marvellous yet soft on the eyes, with red trim on the pockets and the edge of the collar. Underneath the jacket was a vest of a lovely burgundy hue. Sometimes she'd swap the maroon vest out for a nice charcoal vest instead.
Beneath that, too, was a surprisingly normal-looking dress shirt that was once again that ivory hue, albeit a little darker to differentiate itself from her jacket. Wrapped around her neck and draped down her chest, though now hidden by her suit, was a maroon tie with a small cross halfway down to signify her role as a nurse to any who saw her.
Adorning her hands were gloves that covered up to just behind her wrists, permanently obscuring her hands from sight. Naturally, Eine's outfit had a hefty price tag, but a friend had paid in her stead.

Her shoes were quite average, a pain of black dress shoes that were secretly running shoes in disguise to enable her full mobility and to make sure that her feet didn't accidentally get cut when rushing to any nearby patients.

She thought she looked nice enough, and with the thoughts of what was to come in mind, she knocked on the door three times and tucked her hands behind her back, awaiting a response from within.
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There he sat, a young man hunched over his papers. With his pen tight in hand he painstakingly drew the curve along the outer circle of the design. Each motion had to be precise to an exacting degree. His mind had to remained focused not only on the specifications of the symbol but on the spell itself in order for this to work.

There was a knock at the door, three to be precise. It came as a distraction at the most delicate phase of the scroll's development. He tried with much effort to block out the disturbance but the concern as to who it might be slowly overcame him, causing his mind to falter. As it burrowed into his mind he relented for it was too late. The process had failed and this scroll was now devoid of any magic. With a sigh of defeat he slumped down on the table, sweat dripping from his brow. With a wave of his hand the paper upon which he was inscribing runes was now perfectly blank, erasing his work entirely.

_
Rising from his desk young Rick turned to the door. His ruffled white hair was a mess and there were deep bags under his pale blue eyes. Scroll imbuement was an exhausting process, especially in bulk. It wouldn't normally be quite so time consuming but he never felt adequately prepared. Spellcasting took time, time which in combat was precious because each second was a moment he needed to act. With scrolls he could eschew all that time wasted when he needs it by spending it imbuing the spells into sheets of paper ahead of time.

Alas, between both study and combat practice the imbuement of scrolls wound up eating most of his free time and often bled into his nighttime as well. Needless to say he was quite tired and interruptions like this were quite unwelcome. Wordlessly he trudged on over to the unadorned apartment and peered through the peephole in the door. It appeared his visitor was none other than his personal doctor, both for medical and psychological matters, Dr. Eine Minerva. While he did enjoy her company as she was quite knowledgeable and made for enlightening discussion he suspected her visit was on matters of business, namely the business of exorcism. He couldn't of known what it was she had come to discuss considering all he had known were but a few contained skirmishes with isolated demon encounters but he suspected her visit carried a fair degree of importance.

_
He took a moment to straighten up his posture so he wasn't hunched over like he was when he was inking down arcane symbols and then proceeded to unlock the door.

"Ah, Hello Dr. Minerva. Good to see you again. Um-" Standing within the doorway in his standard WDL student uniform he looked down for but a moment, a bit unsure of how to proceed in the greeting.

"Oh, do come in... O-or don't, whichever your preference." He stepped aside just in case she had the intent of coming in. Now this was getting a bit awkward. He needed to cinch this up quick or it may come across as off-putting which was not his intent.

"My apologies for the delay by the way, I hadn't been informed that I was receiving guests so I was a tad engaged. Nothing that couldn't be set aside mind you just, um..." Clearly there was only so long he could maintain the pretense to polite chatter and he well crossed that about three to four sentences in. At this point where he to be slain it would be a mercy killing, sparing him this awkwardness.
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Not too long after her triplet of knocks upon the door was the very door opened by a rather unprepared looking young man with bags under his eyes, likely from a lack of sleep. With a disapproving click of her tongue within the first moments of seeing him, she figured he was probably on edge. Unfortunately, she was also aware that her unintentional intrusion likely caused some unneeded stress for the youth.

Moving inside and past the boy as he stumbled through his awkwardness, Eine took a few steps into the spartan living space and allowed herself a small smile. Always polite, always pushing his own limits, Rick was an ideal Exorcist.
Which is, she supposed, why he was chosen for such an odd task after turning 18.

With speed that put a Tengu to shame, Eine thrust her fingers into her the breast pocket of her eternally spotless jacket and produced a handkerchief. She reached over with one hand, cupping Rick's cheek with it, and dabbed at his face with the cloth to get rid of the sweat that remained from the exertion of his attempted Magecraft.

"Have you been drinking enough water? If you push yourself too hard, you'll pass out or run out of Mana. Take hourly breaks between attempts, as I've told you before."
Her voice was soothing, as it always was, as she pulled back and nodded to herself in satisfaction. Despite not being on duty, it was imbued into her nature to care for those around her that needed her assistance. Folding the handkerchief up into a neat square, she offered it to Rick with a ghost of a smile.

It was obvious that he'd once again been spending far too much time attempting another of his assorted Magickal projects. While Eine wasn't against him doing so in any capacity, such reckless behaviour needed to be stopped before it became too common.

There was far too much on Rick's shoulders than she would have liked there to be.
Noticing the youth getting to the end of his rope, Eine shook her head softly and spoke.
"You don't need to force yourself, Rick. I know you better than most, so you're free to be as you are while in my company. With that said, I'm sure you've already realised that my trip here is rather important business."
As someone who spent the majority of her time in the medical wing with no rest for weeks on end, Eine knew the toll it could take on any person, Mage or not.

"Oh, ah, guten tag, Rick. Forgive my lack of manners. Please, take a seat. Our chat will be long, I believe. I have been asked to brief you about something rather important."
There was a smile on her face, but her eyes weren't smiling. Obviously there had been some furious debate behind the scenes.

"As you've turned 18, the Principal feels that you are capable of being sent on your first ever official Exorcism mission."
She let the sentence hang in the air as she made her way to find a comfortable place to sit and made herself comfortable, awaiting any queries or remarks Rick would most definitely have."
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For a while he scarcely acted, more than happy to be the audience rather than the speaker. He allowed Eine to dab away at him freely since it was to be expected. She was required to monitor his health yes but it definitely did appear that she cared for him in a genuine sense. As one of the few people he wasn't forced to speak hypocritical lies to it was definitely of great comfort that they were able to get along.

As she entered the room he gently shut the door behind her. The room was by and large sparse. The center of the room was open save for a rather basic table and two chairs. In the corners of the room were large stacks of paper gathered in groups to keep them tidy. They filled up the corners of the room but left plenty of space to walk otherwise. His desk on the other hand was basically a fortress, a large wall of paper stacked high enough that anyone sitting behind it could go completely unseen. The top of the desk itself held the work he was previously engaged in, scrolls neatly piled to one side and arcane inks & pens piled to the other. While ink with special ingredients weren't specifically required for scroll imbuement they allowed him to strengthen aspects of the spell bound in it.

"Have you been drinking enough water? If you push yourself too hard, you'll pass out or run out of Mana. Take hourly breaks between attempts, as I've told you before."

"Oh, of course. I have made sure to schedule regular intervals between sessions of scroll authorship." He spoke no falsehood regarding that. Then again the things he included as break time included study, meal times and meditation practice. The last thing in the world he'd want is to cut his career in magic short by misusing his arcane abilities. He took the reclamation of mana as one of his many priorities, definitely not one to be neglected either.

"You don't need to force yourself, Rick. I know you better than most, so you're free to be as you are while in my company. With that said, I'm sure you've already realised that my trip here is rather important business."

He quickly nodded in affirmation. Trying to conduct himself by her words of wisdom he tried to shake off the awkwardness that plagued him only moments ago. It wasn't easy but he kept it in the back of his mind. Turning his focus to the topic of her purpose here helped.

"Oh, ah, guten tag, Rick. Forgive my lack of manners. Please, take a seat. Our chat will be long, I believe. I have been asked to brief you about something rather important."

It was always a bit strange for him. This little bit of familiarity her german accent held for him stood before the backdrop of being trained in the heart of Italy. It was a constant note of familiarity in a place quite far from his own back in the days of youth long past. It was also a constant reminder of what happened that brought him here. It was no fault of her own but there was no day that didn't feel the same as that very day after that tragedy took place. There was little that could ever shake that very memory from his mind.

_
Silently he took his seat at the table in the center of the room and awaited further debriefing from Eine.

"As you've turned 18, the Principal feels that you are capable of being sent on your first ever official Exorcism mission."

With solemn expression as he looked down he considered her words, a flood of thoughts filing into the forefront of his mind.

"An official Exorcism mission..." He had heard much about these, having trained all these years for the very purpose of conducting these missions. In some ways it was rather exciting, the possibility of putting all his learned skills and spells to the ultimate test stood as a potential validation of everything he had prepared for. On the other hand it was also rather frightening. Single target take-downs and assisted missions were fairly straightforward, simple. There was some peace of mind to be had in such simplicity even if there was very real danger involved. Conducting his own mission however meant having to consider a truly dizzying number of factors, managing every aspect with the very real risk of death should any particular facet go unaccounted for.

"Apologies if I'm being somewhat forward but is this the briefing for the mission or is that scheduled for later?" He asked after letting the silence stand until it was clear he wasn't cutting her off. His voice was as soft as ever, requiring a conscious effort to remain above a whisper. He had returned his focus to Eine herself as he awaited more information.
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Yet another young man with far too much suffering upon his shoulders, it seems.

"An official Exorcism mission..."

She knew that look. He was thinking hard about what was to come, no doubt weighing up the possibilities in his mind. Eine's expression, as Rick sat opposite her with his eyes down, was solemn. As soon as his focus returned to her, however, her soft smile was back in place.

"Apologies if I'm being somewhat forward but is this the briefing for the mission or is that scheduled for later?"

"Of course. Miss Illusion is quite busy and Arthur too is out on a task of his own. With that, your briefing has been left to me."
Clearing her throat, she reached down into her jacket and produced a simple manilla folder, placing it on the table and sliding it over to Rick. His powers were truly magnificent, a rather niche set of abilities, but the things he could do with them with proper training and application were truly ingenious.

Inside the folder were several documents- the first was a few pages long and detailed the recent disappearances occurring just outside of Sighisoara, over in Romania. Over the course of a few months several groups of tourists had gone missing in the forests nearby.
Not a single item of clothing had been found.
The only reason the forests down south of the city were suspected is because of a local rumour of a rather shady group of individuals making their home there. For most people, a rumour such as that would hold no merit.
For an organisation that regularly dealt with that same type of cult, it was a rumour that seemed a little too accurate to be just hearsay.
So naturally, the WDL had acted.

The second document was the profile of an Exorcist who'd been tasked with scouting the forest with a group of two others. All three had vanished within a day of stepping foot inside the woods.
The following documents were profiles of the two other Exorcists.

"For your first mission you'll be accompanied by another Exorcist of higher rank to assess you during the task. You'll also be kept under close watch by a team of support staff at any given moment, myself included."
Eine was confident that the infirmaries would be fine without her for the time being.

"You're expected to leave in a few days and meet with the supervisor in Sighisoara. I shall be travelling with you to the city as it's your first time there and having myself and several others on site is a necessity. You are an Exorcist the WDL can't afford to lose, after all. We were previously asked by the sector in Russia to take care of this as their own forces are stretched rather thin and, if I may voice my feelings, they'd rather we lose soldiers than them."

The final document was a map of the area with several markings- where Rick would enter the forests, where the cult was possibly located in several areas, and where the backup would be located.

"We'll be in radio contact during your mission, so the majority of the time you'll be able to radio in for any assistance you may need. However, there might be a lack of reception in the forest, so keep that in mind, especially if the cult uses magecraft to interrupt the signal or hijack it. The basis of your mission is both rescue and reconnaissance. Your three rescue targets are all capable Exorcists, so that goes to show that the threat you'll be facing is nothing to scoff at. You'll be sent in alongside an elder Exorcist as I said before, so by the end you should have a party of five which means you may be able to simply combat your way out in the end. However, that's highly advised against."

Eine folded her fingers between each other and placed her hands in her lap, awaiting any questions Rick had. It was always easier to explain things from questions asked instead of throwing out information in the dark after all.
With that, she waited.
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When Eine presented the folder he patiently waited until she was finished relaying details before placing his hand upon the folder. His power to read the contents of paper with little more than a touch allowed him to observe the entirety of the envelopes contents without opening the envelope itself. As the documents were fairly light reading material it caused him very little discomfort to absorb all that info at once. He had to be more careful with content rich writings, limiting himself to only absorbing parts at a time with breaks in between each scanning.

"Depending on the nature of these cultists combat might not be avoidable. We may need to try and circumvent the main body of their congregation. May I ask which exorcist is supervising my mission?" Rick projected his read on the nature of the mission as well as putting forward a couple questions as well.
"Also, if the purpose of the accompanying exorcist is to review my performance does that mean I'll be dictating the means of approaching this situation?"

It was quite a shame the Russians seemed so lax with letting other branches of the WDL come and resolve their occurrences for them. It was nice that he'd have staff implemented nearby to keep in contact and provide support when capable though. Overall there was still a strong degree of unknown factors to what was going to be his very first official mission as an exorcist of the WDL. He had quite a few questions but he decided to reserve a majority of them for his supervisor since whoever it was would be accompanying him and thus able to act upon the available knowledge given. That was not to say that Eine didn't have valuable answers in store for him, only that a fair many of his questions largely regard the role the supervisor will be playing in this mission of his.
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Eine nodded and rested her elbows on the table.
"Those are very good questions, Rick. Your supervisor will be a man by the name of Edmondo Liberto. He is a rather laidback man whom originally lived in Rome itself. Lucky man didn't have too far to look for work."
The small smile on her face was kind as always, but made it easy to see that the woman was, despite her occupation, quite able of making a joke every now and then.
"Naturally, this mission will have you in the driver's seat. Edmondo will be chaperoning you, in a sense, but you will be in command. However, Edmondo is both a safety net and a senior, so if he must take command I have no doubts that he shall."

There wasn't much else to speak about on the matter as far as that was concerned. Rick's questions were much better suited for those actually involved in the mission. Of course, Eine would be the voice in Rick's ear, but aside from that, Edmondo was a far better source of information.

"With that said, you have the rest of today to prepare. Edmondo has asked that our meeting place be in Sighisoara, and with that in mind you are in the unfortunate situation of not being able to socialise with your superior until you have already accepted the task. Naturally, I also came here to receive your consent for your participation in this mission."

Reaching into her suit jacket, Eine pulled out two more pieces of paper and slid them across the table along with a pen she produced from her breast pocket. A typical consent and non-disclosure form.
With the pieces of paper in front of the man, all she could do was wait.
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There was little else to say about it. She had come to recieve his consent on the matter. While it was true such a mission was going to be harrowing for any new individual given the scarce intel on the target there was no way he was going to back away from this operation. He was never going to be prepared to do combat with hell's forces if he never received first hand experience in such a task.

Simply touching the pieces of paper to review the entirety of the forms and the details within he applied his signature where required without needing so much as a single motion, the letters filling into the blank spaces where necessary.

"You have my consent." He stated simply. As it seemed the matter had come to a close, he now knew what was required of him. With that he stood up from his seat and calmly proceeded into the kitchen. Taking the empty kettle he proceeded to fill it up at the tap with hot water before setting on the stove. It was only after a couple moments left to his thoughts that he remembered he left his guest in the living room unattended.

"Ah! Sorry about disappearing like that. I-ah, you're welcome to stay as long as you care to. I was just preparing some tea in the meanwhile." He was leaning in from the archway leading into the kitchen, hands fidgeting nervously behind his back due to his embarrassment from this mistake in etiquette.
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With a faint smile and a chuckle to herself, Eine slowly shook her head.
"I would love to stay, but I should head back to the infirmary and allow you to make your preparations in peace. We'll be meeting again soon enough, after all, on a lovely trip to Sighisoara. I hope Edmondo and yourself get along."

With that small smile sitting upon her face, Eine stood from her chair and, giving Rick a curt bow at the waist, she made her exit.

And yet, once again, she was plagued with worries.
A young man in his position, fighting things a boy should never fight..
While Rick was far from incapable, he was still a teenager. He should be in schooling for at least another three years.
However, as she paused just outside the entrance to the hotel, she reached up to gently touch the bandages that covered her face.
However was the key word.
Rick was not a normal young man. This was not a normal young man's world.

"You have my consent."
She hoped he knew what he was consenting to.

At least he hadn't announced himself as some sort of Hero.
That was the worst thing he could do.




It was the next night when a message from Eine would reach Rick's phone.
'6 AM pickup from outside the hotel.'

It was a simple message that carried all the weight it needed to.




The next morning was still dark as Eine leaned against the side of the vehicle, arms crossed as she waited. She'd made sure to arrive early versus late just in case Rick had managed to get himself together before she'd notified him of her arrival.
With her phone in one hand she sent a second message notifying him of her arrival at 5:50.
'I have arrived early, but please do not rush yourself'.
It was simple.

And thus, she waited, her usual white suit replaced with an almost identical charcoal one. Her other garments were the norm beneath aside from her change to black gloves.
A pair of glasses sat on her face, probably quite surprising for anyone who saw her bandaged visage. Glasses on top of bandages? What was this?
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Once the two had bid their mutual farewell for the time being Rick got back to work, taking a break only when the tea was ready. Such was the remainder of that day of his.

During the day after he went about preparing for the mission ahead. He sorted all the scrolls he believed he would require for the mission ahead into a tidy pile before setting out the local store to purchase a satchel appropriate for the transport of sixty scrolls. He really didn't want to come inadequately armed to this mission. Better to have something and not need it than to need something and not have it after all.

When he received the message notifying him of the time his transport was due to arrive the day after he made sure to set his alarm to adapt to the schedule and went to bed earlier to come out better rested for the day of his first mission. That was to say of course he set his alarm for five AM since he wanted at least half an hour to wake up and run down his morning routine before getting all his gear together and heading down at five thirty, easily half an hour earlier than the listed time. It was his first mission after all and he'd much rather show up early rather than late.

_
Upon the day of the mission his alarm clock rang. He always favored older fashioned alarms as opposed to those new digital ones that were so popular. Getting up he did his usual morning routine, had a healthy breakfast of eggs & toast with a glass of milk for the added calcium and got to work assembling his belongings for the trip ahead. Dressed up in his WDL regalia he ran an inventory check to make sure he had gathered everything he had set aside prior and left to go wait for his ride to arrive.

With his satchel to his left and his scabbard to his right he proceeded down the elevator and into the lobby where out from the many windows he could see a vehicle pull up before the front of the apartment complex. It seems he wasn't too early since his transport had apparently opted to arrive early as well. Stepping out from the building he approached to see Eine stepping out from the vehicle. He stopped and offered her a salute as was appropriate when one was approached by those higher up in the chain of command.

"Agent Brackwall reporting for duty." He stated, bringing his arm down from his salute but remaining at attention nonetheless. It might of been a bit too formal but as it was his first mission he had little idea as to how much formality was strictly needed. He opted to err on the safe side and approach this with utmost formality.
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Her focus shifted over to the man leaving the hotel.
Apparently both of them were the type of person to arrive early.

Waiting for him to make his way over to the vehicle, Eine's visible eyebrow rose as he stood at attention and saluted her. The edges of her lips curled up and she looked away, covering her mouth with her hand to stifle the laugh that threatened to escape her. Clearing her throat, she turned back to the young man and, smile still intact, stepped aside and opened the door to the car for him.
"Please, Rick, I am certainly not someone whom you should be so formal with. I am simply a nurse, nothing more than that."
With that said, she waited for Rick to make his way into the car before closing the door quietly behind him and slipping around the front of the vehicle and to the other side. Pulling open the door and sliding inside, Eine closed the door on her side and reached over.

The interior of the vehicle was quite.. unnatural. It was, from the outside, a perfectly regular car. On the inside, however, it was far from it. In front of Rick was the steering wheel that Eine had just been seated at, however, she reached over, did something with the thing and then pulled it from the column behind it and replaced it in front of her. It was a system not too widely seen, but in the case of the WDL it was an innovation that quickly became a necessity. Far too often had an Exorcist gotten in on the wrong side of the car or had their driver shot down and were left vulnerable because of the inability to drive their vehicle. Thus, a pair of steering columns was introduced that allowed a vehicle to be used even if the original driver was out of commission or worse.
She reached over and pushed the collapsible column in front of Rick down into the dashboard and gave him a small smile.

"Our R&D division pulls their weight, I like to think."

Pressing the wheeling in place with a loud affirmative click, Eine swiped her ID card through a card reader embedded in the middle of the dashboard between the wheel columns and the car suddenly roared to life before settling down to a rather fulfilling purr that filled the entirety of the car with gentle humming and vibrations. The lush seats in which they sat seemed far too out of place in such a regular car- in fact, they would be much more at home in a sports car.
Which, despite looking like any old company car, was precisely what this vehicle was. Chasing down a flying demon or a speedy Tengu in a regular locomotive would be nigh impossible, so the WDL had.. innovated.
As Eine pressed her foot down on the accelerator, the car smoothly transitioned from sitting idly to almost hovering down the road.
It felt less like a car and more like some sort of advanced hovercraft in disguise. The bottom of the windscreen in front of the duo lit up and neon red arrows pointed the way they had to follow to get to their destination. It was a long drive for sure as they'd be leaving the city and heading to the airport.

"We will be driving to Rome Ciampino Airport. Vatican City has its own helipad, but as our organisation is relegated to rather innocuous activities we are not allowed to use it. Besides, I thought you might enjoy getting to experience one of the WDL's premier scouting and hunting vehicles firsthand. You may have seen the previous model in your training, but actually driving one is a far cry from the 'sit and stare' nature of those lessons, I feel. On top of that, this is a new prototype of the next generation of the 'Incognito' cars we use. As you may have noticed, it's almost ghostly. Hence the nickname- Phantoma."
The inside of the vehicle was a nice black that matched the outside. To onlookers, a rather normal Maserati GranTurismo would catch their eye if anything. The plush seats inside were stark contrast, however.
The inside was a myriad of technological marvels and also what seemed to be the interior of a competition racer. Seats with four belts and an easy release not unlike those in a baby seat. The windows were all tinted black aside from the front windscreen to prevent unnecessary vision inside.
The car was a wonderful thing, comfortable and practical all at once, and roaring down the streets wouldn't include any roaring at all as the Phantoma was specifically designed for midnight pursuits through empty streets. The vehicle itself was, despite appearances, an all-terrain vehicle.
If you're chasing a flying beast, you can't rely on only roads to catch it, after all.

With the car gliding down the asphalt road like a ghost, Eine pressed a button on the dashboard and soft music began to play. A lovely song, one of Eine's favourites, by the name of Clair de Lune.

Around halfway to their destination, Eine casually pulled over to the side of the road and turned to Rick, faint smile upon her face.
"Would you like to have a turn driving, Agent Brackwall?"




The air was surprisingly fresh as Eine stepped out of the vehicle and surveyed the area. Luckily for her there wasn't many people here at this hour who weren't engrossed in their own business or rushing themselves. They'd arrived not long before and been allowed to drive out the back and straight onto the tarmac where the planes themselves were. She exited the car and pushed her door closed behind her, having told Rick where to go as they'd navigated their way to the rear of the airport. Awaiting them was a small plane, much smaller than the other commercial planes that sat awaiting their journeys beside it. Nodding to Rick over her shoulder, Eine made her way across the tarmac, but not before pausing beside the Phantoma and applying pressure to a specific place just beneath the door handle. The car let out a cheerful chirp of confirmation as it powered down and locked itself. With that done, Eine made her way across the ground towards the private jet with, hopefully, Rick in tow. The man and woman standing on either side of the staircase up to the inside of the aircraft both gave her deep bows from their waists and warm, appreciative smiles. Eine returned their bows with a quick nod of her own, a warm smile sitting upon her face as she made her way up into the plane.
However, all Rick was given was a polite nod from either of them.
If Rick were to look back at the Phantoma that Eine had seemingly abandoned, he'd find that it was somehow, impossibly, completely vanished.

Considering the surprising internals of the Phantoma, the inside of the jet was quite normal in comparison. High class and comfortable with enough space for at least ten people, but nothing too different or crazy. Eine made herself comfortable in a plush leather swivel chair that was very, very cube-like beside one of the windows about halfway down the craft and she motioned for Rick to sit opposite her. Between them was a small table upon which sat a jug of water and two cups sitting on coasters. The entire plane had a surprisingly warm feel to the interior.

Without much delay at all the plane took off and their trip was a nice one. Eine didn't push Rick for conversation as she knew it wasn't exactly his forte. In fact, she understood that the time on the plane would likely be spent much more productively for him and he'd prefer it that way.
For her, however, she decided to sleep. Not having slept in a few days was, while it wasn't getting to her by any means, it was never a good thing. She wasn't required in the infirmary for quite a while when she was away in Sighisoara, but she'd still be working.
For now, however, Eine simply closed her eyes and let herself rest.
Simple.




Eine's eyes opened as the plane landed and she was more than a little annoyed that her sleep had been disturbed. Reaching up to tiredly rub at her eye, the woman slowly sat up in her seat and looked around as the aircraft began its descent. Staring out at the world around them, she felt a familiar pang of worry in her chest as the aircraft descended to the ground below.
She was never particularly good with planes, but it was a fear she'd quickly learned to bury deep beneath her other concerns.
Like the realisation that she hadn't eaten a proper meal in two days and her body was complaining about it.

That, however, like her fear of the plane crashing upon landing, was buried into her subconscious so she wouldn't worry herself nor her charge.
Much of the success of the upcoming mission depended on him, so having him on edge was something she'd like to avoid at all costs.
Soon enough, the plane had touched down and, not long after, had begun to slow itself before it came to a complete stop. Eine was already standing by the time it did and when the door that doubled as a staircase dropped out and onto the tarmac, she was the first off of the plane. She turned and gave a nod to the pilot who appeared in the doorway behind Rick as they departed and, turning back around, wordlessly made her way across the tarmac to the Phantoma.
The exact same Phantoma, to be precise.

Getting close and unlocking it the same way she'd locked it, Eine pulled the door open and slipped inside.
For the last leg of their journey it was an hour's drive from Targu Mures to Sighisoara. Luckily for them, the Phantoma was quite comfortable. With the steering wheel still on Rick's side of the car, Eine gave him a quick nod and once again closed her eyes. This time, however, she didn't sleep. She meditated.
The car, already with the GPS showing Rick the way to Sighisoara, had the familiar bright red directional arrow in good view on his half of the windshield.




Eine came to just as they arrived in Sighisoara and, asking Rick to pull over to change the wheel, did just that. From here on out she'd be at the wheel. She was rested and alert, feeling much better than she had previously. With that out of the way their trip resumed and Eine made her way through the city's streets, eventually parking at a rather surprising locale- a hotel.

Parking the car and getting out, Eine locked the car once Rick had entered her sight and she made her way towards the entrance. The doors opened and she stepped into the foyer of the Hotel Korona. Making her way over to the desk, she announced their arrival and the duo were soon taken to their rooms. A single room for each of them, right beside each other. As they were shown around Eine's room, the woman kept a pleasant smile on her face at all times.
"Would you like a tour of the hotel?"
"No, but thank you very much for your offer. My friend and I will be happy to explore on our own."
The woman gave a nod to the two of them and left, and Eine closed the bedroom door behind her. Immediately making her way over to the window and testing the lock, Eine clicked her tongue in annoyance. Far too easy to open from the outside. She checked every window in her suite the same way and, after exiting her bathroom after checking the window, gave Rick a smile.

"We have the rest of the day to sort things out. Edmondo will be meeting us tonight. Despite the urgency of our task, we cannot do anything until night has fallen. I would suggest checking your room to make sure the windows are not broken and then setting up some innocuous wards around it to prevent intruders and silence your room."

Eine still seemed more than a little tired, but a small smile sat upon her face.
"And, Rick, welcome to Sighisoara for the first time. I do wish your stay was under more pleasant circumstances, but we take what we can, don't we?"
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The trip there was pretty uneventful.

Rick was a fairly careful driver, always staying under the speed limit and carefully gauging the cars around him at all times. Upon arriving at the airport he made his way into the airplane. It too was pretty uneventful. Rick spent the majority of his time in flight in silent meditation with one hand on his spell book. It served as both a repository of knowledge and a catalyst for his magic. He had practically memorized every passage within the book but he took the time to reabsorb the knowledge within it's pages yet again just to make sure there was nothing he was missing.

Upon landing it was his turn at the wheel yet again until they arrived at town. They pulled up to the designated hotel, easing their way into parking before disembarking the vehicle. Upon receiving the keys they proceeded up to their respective rooms.

"We have the rest of the day to sort things out. Edmondo will be meeting us tonight. Despite the urgency of our task, we cannot do anything until night has fallen. I would suggest checking your room to make sure the windows are not broken and then setting up some innocuous wards around it to prevent intruders and silence your room."

Rick turned to set about performing the tasks mentioned by Eine before turning back to hear out what she added.

"And, Rick, welcome to Sighisoara for the first time. I do wish your stay was under more pleasant circumstances, but we take what we can, don't we?"

Rick nodded before proceeding to remove an ink set from his satchel. He got to work applying wards around the windows and door to ward off spirits, demons and intrusive magic. Unfortunately cultists tended to be regular humans, something that none of the aforementioned wards protected against. Looking at the fragile state of the door frame he figured if they really wanted in these rooms would offer little protection against mundane intruders.

Since there would be some time before his accompanying supervisor would be due to arrive so in the meanwhile he figured he'd get some extra surveillance on the woods they were expected to infiltrate. Shutting himself in the bathroom he closed the drain to the sink before filling it with water. With a sheet of paper to his side to record what he sees he began the incantation to cast a scrying spell. It took some time but images began to swirl within the waters reflection. His aim was to get a bird's eye view of the woods and save it to paper so that it may serve as a makeshift map to guide him when the time came to enter the heart of enemy territory.
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The scrying session was as normal as could be to say the least. If Rick had expected anything abnormal to happen, he would likely be sorely disappointed.

That is, until, he was finished.
The very map he'd worked hard on, spent his time putting every detail into, was blank. Once the scrying ritual was done with, the paper had simply.. been erased. Immediately, without explanation, without warning. For Rick, was an obvious sign that something was wrong.
And likely an annoyance.




While Rick was cooped up in his room and scrying, however, one Eine Minerva had left the building and begun a little wander throughout Sighisoara on her lonesome. Her elegant stride and rather.. odd visage would've caught the attention of many if not for the ace up her sleeve.
Magickal Makeup.

There were no bandages upon her face, and her eyes were hidden behind a pair of quaint, rather surprisingly fancy designer sunglasses. Her trip didn't take her anywhere near the woods, although she was well aware of the eyes that were trained upon her inside it.
She paid them no mind, however, as she went about her day buying groceries, chatting with the locals, and purchasing a rather large amount of salt.

"Like salt, miss?"
The cashier gave her a kind, cheerful grin as Eine readied her card to pay. The older woman nodded, giving the woman a warm smile in return as she swiped her card and entered her pin number.
"I do. It's tasty, and there's a lot of recipes that make good use of it."
"Yeah, that's true. You here on vacation?"
"Business."
The card was accepted as she'd expected.
"What kinda business?"
Eine looked back up at the cashier, whose cheerful expression still remained.
No traces of Magick, no traces of Non-Human traits. She was just a curious girl who wanted to chat with a tourist.
Flashing the girl a grin, Eine nodded. "Top secret, super important business. I've got government documents I need to smuggle out of the country."
The girl snorted as she gave a quick laugh, covering her face in embarrassment as she realised she'd just snorted in front of a line of customers. Coughing once and handing Eine's bag to her, she gave the older woman a nod.
"Have a good day, government lady."
"You too, miss. You have a nice smile."

Leaving the somewhat flustered teen behind as she exited the store and stepped out into the daylight, Eine let out a sigh.
This is why they did what they did. Why they fought. Why they..
Killed.
Narrowing her eyes and adjusting her sunglasses, Eine noticed the sun falling just above the horizon and soon to vanish completely. The dazzling orange-red rays of the noon sun lit up the town around her with a beautiful, almost comforting glow. It was almost enough to make her really think she was here on a vacation.
It was almost enough for her to forget that, later this evening, she'd likely be sending a young boy to his death.
It wasn't that she didn't have faith in Rick, of course. She had plenty.
But not even someone like him was truly ready for a mission of this calibre. Withholding information wasn't something she'd ever liked to do, but that vampire had threatened to rip out her tongue if she spoke too much.
All Eine could do was keep in contact with him and help him as much as she could.
That's all she could always do.




Step, step, step.

A small, young girl was pacing the halls of a building not too far away from where Rick and Eine currently were. Her eyebrows were knitted in concern, her crimson eyes only serving to further betray her feelings. As a Master of Illusions, showcasing one's true thoughts and feelings on the matter was never good showmanship.
But the situation was different.

One of her very own beloved children was putting his neck on the chopping block, and she'd been absolutely powerless to stop it. The sound of a door opening caught her attention and her head whipped around to catch sight of the tall, somewhat angry looking man exiting the room.
"Arthur, what did he say?!"

He shook his head, and Illusion's firm line of a mouth turned down at the edges.
"He won't allow us to recall him. Says that if we were so eager to send him out, we shouldn't have any problems with him being sent on such a dangerous task."
"Are you *kidding*?!"
She marched towards the door, anger fuelling her stride before Arthur put his hand on her head, stopping her in her tracks. She swung at him, but her arms were far too short to reach him as she flailed in his direction, sometimes landing glancing blows on his arm.
"Aaaaarthuuuuuuuuur!"
"I know. You're worried. I understand you are. I am too. He's my son."
Arthur's eyes remained focused on the little girl's face as she looked up at him, genuine tears brimming in her eyes. He let go of her and she shot forward into his chest, burying her face into him and sobbing quietly.
It was a rather morbidly humorous contrast to how the two had met- a sight Arthur would likely remember for the rest of his life.
Now, after 6 years of working side by side, the two of them were quite close. Good friends.
And that wasn't even mentioning the wonderful people they'd raised together- they were all wonderfully skilled Exorcists and people, and Arthur was proud of them, very much so.
The vampire hugging him, however, was a bit clingy. She'd never let it show in front of them, but she cared about them very much. They were her family- a bunch of people who accepted her for who she was no matter what, even if Angel was a bit prickly towards her.

She didn't know, yet, that in just a few years time she and one of her adopted sons would be in a secret war with each other.
She didn't know what was really in store for her other son, either, despite knowing what she knew.
She didn't know that an ever seething darkness was slowly coming to ruin them all.

For now, she was just upset that someone had forged her signature to send Rick on a dangerous, dangerous mission with a man he'd never met and a support team far too distant to save him in time.
Arthur was distraught, too. He, for the first time in a long time, didn't know what to do. The Archknight wasn't allowing him to call Rick back.
It seemed almost a miracle that Eine had been sent with him, but even that put horrible thoughts in the back of his mind.

Why did whoever forged the signature send a half-Demon Exorcist and one of the world's most powerful Mages to the middle of nowhere to investigate a cult?
He'd be upping security while they were gone, but even then..

He knew that there wasn't much he could do.




Night had fallen and Eine was back in the hotel, pouring some salt in a circle in front of the doorway. She'd already requested that room service only attend to both her room and Rick's room when they left. No doubt it made the staff curious, but in Romania superstition was quite rife- the circle of salt would likely remain undisturbed even if the cleaner disregarded Eine's instructions.
Not to mention they'd risk getting a horrible review.
The windows, too, had undergone the same treatment with salt placed upon the windowsill, something she intended to do with Rick's room as well before they left.
And, on top of that, she'd made sure to leave a trap in her bedroom just in case anything somehow got in.
Even the slightest amount of Magickal energy would set off the alert in her mind and tell her that the hotel was compromised.

With that in mind and done, Eine knocked on Rick's door to alert him that the time had finally come.
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His scrying had ended in an odd fashion. While he got a fair overview of the forest but the page was wiped blank. It spoke of an obvious presence, one that definitely didn't wish to be found.

But is it aware of me? He wondered. Is it a spell that reactively erases evidence or is there something watching me, trying to keep me in the dark? He couldn't get the answers to these questions from his room. In truth he would of preferred to set forth in solving this mystery himself but unfortunately the order stood. He was to remain until his accompanying supervisor was ready for them. So he waited. He set no traps, the wards Eine had instructed he set would suffice. He cared little for layering his room with magic because he suspected his stay at this particular hotel would be fairly short, at least for him. Retrieving those taken by who or whatever laid in the woods was his primary concern and after that the best hope of securing their safety would be an immediate extraction. In and out, minimum risks taken and no casualties in his team. That was the most optimal outcome he looked forward to. He didn't have high hopes of meeting those conditions. This was looking messier and messier the more he learned
about it.

There was a knock at his door. Exiting the bathroom he approached it, peaking through the peephole to confirm who stood on the other side. It was Eine, at least it looked like her. He had no reason to believe that something would be impersonating her, at least not this early into the mission. He opened the door and stepped through, his satchel on his shoulder and his sword at his hip.

"Do lead the way." He stepped through before stopping, waiting for Eine to lead on. It was too late to prepare any more. There was nothing left but to dive straight in and hope to whatever deities that were taking the time to listen in that he would be able to make it at least partway into the woods undetected.

It was probably in vain but hope was a wonderful drug.
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The sun had set not too long ago and Eine had retrieved Rick from his room, casting a glance inside before muttering something under her breath and flicking her wrist into the room.
A second trap, just in case the first was disabled. This one was on the roof. Rick might've seen the slip of paper she'd tossed, but it wasn't easy to tell in the questionable light coming from the hallway and the speed she did what she did.

Wordlessly she nodded and began to leave, giving Rick ample time to lock the door behind him before the two made their way outside. A car awaited them, and Eine wasted no time in getting inside. The driver waited for them both to be seated before taking off towards the forest.

"Edmondo scouted the area out earlier but decided not to come out. He's not that far in. I'll lead the kid to him. I'll drop you off at the station first, ma'am."
Eine nodded and the rest of the drive continued in silence. The last rays of the fleeing sun had completely vanished by the time they pulled up at a building not too far from the forest and Eine opened her door to get out. She paused before she did and turned to Rick, reaching over to place a gentle hand on his shoulder.
"You'll be fine. I know it. I'll be in your ear at all times." Her other hand placed a small item, an earpiece, in his grip before, after a moment's hesitation, she spoke once more.
"Möge Gott über dich wachen."
Her words were genuine and lingered in the air as she left the vehicle, but then suddenly leaned back in and tossed something else small into Rick's lap. A small charm, apparently handmade. She closed the door before he could mention it to her, however, and the sharp sound of her tapping the car let the driver know to take off.
And he did.

The drive was rather uneventful, the older man seemingly refusing to speak to Rick. Naturally, someone so young being sent on a mission like this didn't sit right with him, but who was he to go against a direct order from the higher ups? Did the kid even know how to use basic charms? What about wards? Barriers? Could he use that sword he had on him?
None of this was communicated to Rick, though, as the man's gaze was firmly on the road ahead.
And soon enough they stopped once more, the man opening the car door and closing it behind him. He waited for Rick to get out before locking the thing behind him, motioning with his head for Rick to follow as he began to trudge his way into the woods. It was a rather long walk through the almost pitch black woods.
The man's flashlight didn't seem to do that much at all to keep the darkness at bay. Eventually, however, he paused in place and turned to Rick, handing him a second flashlight and giving him a nod. "Edmondo's likely got your location by now. He's a good tracker, and he's got support in his ear too. He shouldn't be-"
"Of course not!"

The man's face went pale as he looked past Rick and, standing behind the young Exorcist, was a man who was currently brushing leaves from his outfit.
The duo had just walked straight over him without even noticing. The man gave a bow at the waist and made his way over, flashing his ID in the light of the man's torch and showing that he was, indeed, Edmondo. The man with the flashlight nodded and dropped the backpack from his back. "Supplies for you, sir."
"Apreciez asta foarte mult."

The man left quickly after and Edmondo cleared his throat.
"We'll be speaking English. I'm not aware of your knowledge of Romanian but I am fairly certain our cultists aren't familiar with English. That works for you, I assume?" The man was sizing him up with his eyes, making sure he wasn't going to drag him down, and it was quite obvious. At the same time, Edmondo wasn't doing it to be rude or judgemental- he was just, like everyone else, surprised to see such a young man.
Edmondo himself was at least early thirties with the faint wrinkles to prove it. His figure was a little wider, with a triangular shape to his torso. It was hard to really make him out, though, with his form-concealing outfit that blended a little too well into the shadows behind him. His long, dark hair was tied back into a ponytail to keep his face clear and his eyes were a dark brown that seemed almost the same shade. He awaited Rick's answer.
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Travel left for little to say. The paper she slipped into his room did not slip his notice. He had known it was in her pocket before she had even produced it. Alas, it was a little note of little note.

Pretty much for the remainder of their trip he was no less silent. The two times Eine spoke with him he responded with a short nod. He caught the charm tossed to him, giving it a quick look over before placing it within one of his pockets. If he had to guess he'd figure the charm held some magic in it. As powerful a mage as Eine was it seemed that even without purposeful enchantments it was bound to have at least a mild level of magic simply due to it's proximity to her.

Once she left it was just him and the driver. He had little to say to the driver, his eyes forward and his mind active. Going in blind like this was a fairly risky endeavor. Were he to have the time he'd of looked further into the reason the magic over the forest concealed it from mapping. Time was not his friend it seemed however. His eyes followed the silhouettes of the passing trees not illuminated by the headlights. He kept aware all the while as they arrived at their destination.

It seemed stepping out from the vehicle they had somehow passed by the senior agent who was camouflaged quite nearby. Rick hadn't even flinched as Edmondo revealed himself. His stare was cold, unreadable and unbroken by this.

_
"We'll be speaking English. I'm not aware of your knowledge of Romanian but I am fairly certain our cultists aren't familiar with English. That works for you, I assume?"

"It does." He answered laconically. It was time to get to work. Without sparing another moment he began the gestures to his spell. It would be quite improper to fall prey to magical trickery or traps at this stage of the operation.

"Detect Magic." He completed the spell, the world shifting into a flat grey scale. What was real was washed out and devoid of color while what was magical would appear in a color appropriate to it's nature should it pass before his eyes, obstacles or not. He did a full sweep of the area with this spell active, even over Edmondo. He couldn't rule out the possibility that he was captured before their arrival and replaced with someone or perhaps something equipped with all his belongings such as his badge.

Rick wasn't going to pay paranoia too strong a mind since there was much at stake here. Sabotaging the effort out of such paranoia would be foolish but so would going in without expecting such possibilities. Enemies or not he was going to try to become aware of what was around. By this point he could only assume they were being watched somehow so it was only fair he try and look back at it.

With little to say on the subject currently Rick took a single step forward and listened to hear him begin forth as well. He was meant to supervise and see how he handled the situation so he wasn't here to hold Edmondo's hand. It sounded more like the other way around from what the higher ups had made it sound.

Nonetheless, they needed to proceed forward.

Sooner or later.
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"The forest is large. Almost as large as Sighisoara itself. We've got a long trek in front of us."

Edmondo kept stride with Rick, moving alongside him. However, he had already drawn something quite.. different.
A pistol. Already readied in his hands with the grip that let Rick know two things almost immediately.
One, Edmondo must've had prior experience with firearms in a professional capacity.
Two, Edmondo was on guard.

"We may not find cultists or the like just yet, however there are plenty of creatures that roam the forest at night. Bears, wolves, deer. The usual, but there are a few things you may not see elsewhere. However, I recently found tracks of an unnaturally large beast. I'm thinking it may be a bear that the cult has corrupted for use as a border guard of their territory. It seems to stick to a very rigid path every night and head back during the day." He cast a glance over at Rick. His gait was odd, too, somewhat crouched down and almost as if he were expecting an attack at any moment. "We follow the bear's tracks, then get off of the path if we see or hear anything coming along it, understood?"

The trek was long, though, and uphill in some parts. An annoying venture that took them deeper and deeper into the woods by the second. Even if it wasn't approaching nighttime, the darkness of the woods would've made it just as difficult to navigate.




As predicted, the sun had vanished below the horizon and drenched the world they made their way through in shadows. Edmondo had quickly pulled a pair of flashlights out of his pack and offered one to Rick, using them to pierce the overwhelming darkness of the forest. The air, for a long time, was full of the sounds of insects and birds going to bed, but soon enough it had fallen silent.

After that, however, the silence was broken by a crackling in Rick's earpiece before a familiar voice came through to him.
"Hallo, Rick? Can you hear me? We have established a connection, however it is a little.. iffy, so we may drop out. However, we are here to provide assistance. We cannot help with cartographic means, unfortunately, as the forest prevents our satellites from seeing past the foliage. This is likely how the kidnappers have been avoiding immediate repercussions. Where they are.. not even Lady Illusion could reach them easily. Please keep this in mind and be careful, Rick."

Though she'd stopped speaking, Eine was indeed there. If Rick needed anything, she'd be happy to assist him.

Eine herself was sitting upright in a chair in a nice, air-conditioned room, staring at a monitor that was tracking their estimated progress.
However, this was only due to the fact that the earpiece also doubled as a tracking device. Rick was currently deep in the forest to Sighisoara's east, heading further southeast by the second. She crossed her arms and leaned back, listening to the hustle and bustle of the people in the room around her. Rick and Edmondo's operation was far from the only one active at the time, but Eine's presence had drawn a large commotion amongst the other staff in the room, and they'd even been kind enough to allow her to use the satellite to track her charge's movements.

The only problem she could foresee is that, despite her monitoring, the distance between them was growing.
That meant more wasted time to get to Rick if an emergency broke out.




It was three hours into their trek when Edmondo suddenly dropped to the ground and waved for Rick to join him. Up ahead there was a faint glimmer of torchlight, and there seemed to be two figures up ahead of them. Edmondo's pistol was at the ready, and he slid behind a tree with the practised ease of a veteran. The darkness made it nearly impossible to see Rick from his position, but the figures ahead were practically bathed in torchlight, allowing the two to focus on them and only them.
They were talking, too, quite loudly, in Romanian. Edmondo's eyes narrowed, but their words were somehow hard to distinguish.

"Rick, can you hear me?" The older man's voice came through Rick's earpiece, breaking the silence. Still, the other men would likely be unable to hear it since they were still far away enough that they weren't actively visible in proper detail.

Edmondo was leaning hard against the tree he'd taken cover behind, listening in to the conversation between the people- deep voices, men. In one hand, his pistol was ready. The other was pressed against the earpiece in his ear to allow him to talk.
"They're talking about their latest captive. Nothing of much importance, but they're definitely our people. We're on the right track."
Flashlight off, they were almost impossible to see in the pitch blackness.

"Alright, Rick. Now's your chance. What do we do with them?"
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