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Nettle

When at last they arrived at the library Nettle looked up at the massive collection of books. Her expression was one of a calm but relaxed neutral state. To her the sight of this place was one she was very, very familiar with. If she could have a choice in the matter she'd spend every session here. She'd just search through each and every publication, taking in the combined knowledge stored here to help her hammer down the steps leading up to her ultimate destination: The home of The Caregiver.

"If anyone has anything they need found, do tell Sio. She'll be more than happy to find you anything you need."

Nettle slowly turned her head to look back at Livia. It was less like she was looking at her and almost like she was looking through her.

"Hhh... I remember... Hhlast where I left the books hI was hh researching."

Turning back she continued on until she was approximately in the middle of the room. Standing there she focused her mind, her eyes closed as she channeled the magic through her to open the way. To the observer it would appear as though she were just standing there. To those with sight beyond the human ken three strange nature sprites manifested. Those familiar in such a field would recognize them as Thistle Sprites, mischievous little fae who can bring a fair amount of pain to the unwary. In legends they are known to creep into unwary adventurer's tents where they would gently and subtly devour their toes before scattering back into the wild leaving their victim to awake the next morning with this unpleasant surprise of theirs. There are rumors that this story was spread by someone who didn't know they had dragged their feet through poisonous brush resulting in their toes needing amputation but those who know Thistle Sprites know better.

_
<Hello again.> She greeted the three wild sprites who were already roaming about, tussling through books left about and firing off thin bolts of purple energy tinged with mottled green hues. Little thistle flowers were already growing out of some of the shelves, off the spines of books and other miscellaneous surfaces.

<Could you three find me these books?> She rattled off the titles of the books she was studying yesterday evening, the hyper little sprites staying still only long enough to hear her instructions out. They flitted away, moving about the library like silent invisible little bumble bees. While the sprites worked at the task she set them she found herself an open table to set herself up at. Sitting down she brought forth her bag and produced from it a series of vials as well as her mortar and pestle.

setting out before her a small stone bowl she produced a vial with a fine white powder contained within. She gently tipped the vial, tapping the bottom so that only small smatterings of the substance sprinkled into the bowl. Capping off the vial she reached in the bowl and took a thin pinch of the powder that laid within. She held it a small distance away from her nose initially, taking in it's scent by cautiously fanning the air over it to her. A standard precaution for one who has regular business working with lethal formulas.

The scent of the powder smelled proper. It had a fairly strong scent that while bland would catch in one's chest causing the one breathing it to inhale deeper than usual. To the untrained nose one might mistake it for powdery smelling salts. It was of course much more than that. She could already feel the tingling effects of the substance from this whiff alone already acting on her brain like a small parade of electric spiders crawling all across it.

Having confirmed it to smell as the substance she believes it to be she gently touches a small few granules against her tongue. It had that lovely taste akin to licking formaldehyde but with an added prickly sensation that rolled up to the base of the tongue. While this was not a taste to savor it did confirm that there was no cross-contamination with any other substances in the mix. This was important since the psychoactive properties of this compound she was brewing were very potent. A faulty reaction could have nasty consequences, even on the likes of her.

_
Taking out a couple more vials she repeated the process, adding a couple particular leaf oils into the mixture. Finally she took out something that looked like finely ground cinnamon. It was, of course, not that at all but something much more mystical. Rather than produce a pinch by hand she instead ran her index finger along the length of the clear glass. The portion of this strange dark brown powder closest to the side her finger was at seemed to slide up the side of the glass, following her finger as she traced it along the outside. Soon the powder escaped it's glass prison and hovered right before her finger tip, no closer. Taking her thumb she pinched the floating ingredient against her index finger. Upon her exerting pressure upon the floating substance the edges of her finger and thumb right around where the substance was held caught alight with a magical purple flame. Like holding the flame of a candle it was fairly hot so she spared little time.

She snapped her fingers, the force applied by her finger and thumb causing the substance to elicit a bright flash of this purple flame erupted. Just as quickly as it appeared the purple flame broke apart into gentle drifting motes of dissipating motes of such fire. As these motes dissipated the traces of the powder they carried aloft drifted into the bowl like tiny spores from a freshly bloomed flower. The powder still seemed to glower with residual magic as they landed upon the mixture she had created.

White smoke rose from the bowl. Initially she fanned a small sample of the smoke into her nose to make sure it wasn't faulty before she took a full dose of the stuff. The effect of this smoke, even in as small a sample as she had just tried, did far more than just tingle her brain and rush her lungs. She could feel all her senses and awareness widen as her mental processes unfolded and expanded all at once. Memories once distant and foggy were now clear and instant. Her thoughts ran as though time were slowed around her. She was aware of so much more around her, able to process and comprehend it all in ways uncanny to the normal mind.

As everything seemed to check out she leaned over the bowl, burying her face a slight bit into the white smoke and breathing in her wondrous mind enhancement formula. Her eyes were wide, pupils dilated and breathing deep. A smile tugged at the side of her lips as she began to internally brainstorm for her more esoteric speculations.

The sprites were fairly prompt in hauling in the books she desired despite the fact that they were almost as big as they were and easily a half times heavier too but to Nettle's expanded mind it seemed to draw out for an astonishingly long time as each second felt as though it contained an hour.

"So what are all of you here studying, anyways? I'm looking into some...legends around an old eastern empire."

"Hhh... I am currently hhstudying Yggdrasil. I also am hhhstudying the dreaming... Amongst other hhhthings." Even as Nettle spoke she wasted no time. She took the first book that was brought to her, opening it immediately to the page she left off at. As another book arrived she opened that one as well. She held both of the books simultaneously, rapidly reading through one and quickly glancing over to the other one, flipping through pages and reading through select passages before returning to her primary text. It seemed she was studying this tree of many realms and switching to a separate text to cross-reference certain details.

To what ends only she knew.
Who watches the watcher indeed.

_
The next morning Sophia awoke in her own bed, having returned to her room for the night. When it came morning she was back at her task, busily searching the web on her phone for a new site of some promise for her to visit. She held no interest for the landmarks, the tourist traps and what-not. Her sights were set on finding a new place where she could surveil the city in relative peace.

A good few hours of searching passed but soon she had found it. A place that was relatively secure. There was an abandoned warehouse some distance away. Using the street-view function she ascertained that from most appearances the building was unoccupied. It was remote, dark inside and from all appearances empty. An ideal location to hide.

Slowly rolling out she bid her mother good day, her father currently out at another meeting for the time. After that she took the elevator down to the ground floor and rolled out the lobby into the city itself.

_
There she was. After several hours of travel she finally arrived at the old warehouse. It was even more dilapidated than it appeared in pictures. The travel was long by wheelchair but the buses there had no space nor means of access for handicapped folks like herself. That wasn't to say she couldn't stand but leaving her wheelchair behind was a big no.

After making her way past the old fence gate she found the path to the front door was uneven with debris and litter. Old stones, unkempt ground and lost pieces of miscellanea scattered about from the days of old all stood in her path, little obstacles to be overcome. Her path was unsteady and fraught with uncertainty but she pressed forth, determined to see her way through into the dark which laid ahead.

It was a little difficult navigating her wheelchair up the step that lead into the door. Giving the old rusty knob a twist she had to exert a firm effort in order to pry loose a door which had not seen use in quite some time. Inside the doorway the sunlight which backed her peaked a bit inside, illuminating the decayed interior which gave way to long deep shadows at the sides and corners away from where old broken windows stood. Through the narrow passage she negotiated her chair inside. Over old wood, loose stone and stray metal she went along until eventually she found the spot she sought. It was not in plain view of any of the windows or entrances, it was not a spot that one would come upon if they were simply traversing through room to room and best of all it was positively bathed in darkness.

Descending into the darkness she rolled her way into it. In inky black obscurity she shifted into her magical girl form. With her powers now active she merged her visage with the shadow, becoming unseen as light under this dismal relic of a structure was positively sparse. The ravens formed out from the darkness, the many manifestations fluttering out through all the various holes out into the world at large.

So began another day of surveillance for her.
I'll see to getting a response up sometime tomorrow myself.
Got my post up. I would have asked what Wadanohara's fears were prior to posting but I felt like the post was delayed enough as it stood. My apologies for the delays all the same.
Daisy

As soon as the music started to influence her emotion to a supernatural degree her reaction was to calmly but quickly produce a notation scroll and quill from a pocket located inside her robes. Taking the quill, a feather plucked from a particularly large raven from her home realm, she pressed the tip against her tongue. The deep black ink which always filled her mouth stained the tip of the pen allowing her to begin noting the changes and effects produced by the music. While she figured this type of empathic magic was largely used purely for showmanship both she and her loyal servant were still on edge despite the music. They'd be more concerned but such was the nature of the music effecting them, dulling the fine edge of their misanthropy and paranoia. Despite the potential danger this presented however it also was useful to document and observe should she find an instant to attempt such magic herself.

So she stood, scroll in hand and ready to put to ink what Wadanohara had up her sleeve for the next performance. Neither her nor Thanatos were aware of the danger brewing by the castle, at least not yet. Daisy did also take into mind the fears which stood above Wadanohara herself. People's fears and the strength of said fears were rarely far from her mind given their presence and impact in her life.
Nettle

"I apologize for my sister again, Nettle..."

"Hhh... No hharm done." She assured her, none too disturbed by the numerous disturbances around her. It seemed the summoner behind the black cat receded and she was no longer being force fed sweets so she returned to eating her soup. There seemed to be some disturbance off in the distance, some students caught up in strife with each other's summons it seemed. It did not bother her. Every day was like this in the cafeteria. The day someone wasn't getting injured by someone or by their summon would be the day she'd officially call 'Kinda weird'.

So she ate her soup. She overheard Livia and Odhra discussing heading down to the library for their first free period which so happened to also be her own free period.

"Hh-I will be hheading down to hthe library... As I hhh usually do." She affirmed. After calming finishing her soup and tea she gathered up her things and made her way back to one of the cafeteria booths. As was usual for her mornings she picked up a large bowl from the silverware distribution stands and filled it with water at one of the food stands.

With the water in hand she made her way over to the courtyard, careful to make her way through the throngs of busy students all making their way to their respective classes, at least among those who didn't have their morning as their free period. Eventually she made her way to the courtyard where she saw a large rooted tree among the smaller less extraordinary trees. This was of course her summon, the Nidhogen. She didn't even need to be linked to it to tell that this particular plant growth was it's body set and rooted. This was it's method for adopting other forms separate from it. She had seen it happen before so it was not unfamiliar a process to her.

"Hhh... I hshall leave this water for your hhh... return." She placed the bowl neatly at the base of the tree. With the water delivered to her summon, at least where it left it's main form, she began upon her way to the library. She would reunite with Livia and Odhra on their way there.
Zun - Airport



Just as he was about to eat an unhealthy diet of led some jacked looking nomad jumped between him and the young lady, deflecting their shots off him like hail off a car roof. While this was certainly a cheesy spectacle as the guy seemed to be eating all of this attention up Al was never one to stop and gawk, his attention immediately back on the frightened young woman and, consequently, the men who were after her.

Of course one human sized piece of cover was by far not enough to keep an entire squad of dudes from getting shots in at him. Just as the young lady held herself tight against him several rounds rang forth, hitting him dead on. He grimaced slightly as piping hot led splattered against his cheek, the bullets impacting his skin and flattening out like rain drops against concrete. Each bullet that hit him was met with a momentary glow beneath the surface of the skin that was hit, his skin turning a radiant sky blue as his energy reflexively hardened his body in passive response to the incoming attacks.

While these troops were equipped to deal with most nomad's defenses against mundane attacks and regular firearms even the shots that hit him dead on did little more than break skin. He remained hunched over the small frame of the girl as he started to move, careful not to expose any part of her to the oncoming gunfire that struck him. That was of course until their weird red Splinter Cell-esque agent made his entrance.

_
Al grit his teeth, scowling with contempt for these Eclipse guys or whatever she called them. Killing some normal security personnel for no good reason was a real shitty thing to do. Having been on the receiving end of such an attack he knew full well the only reason he wasn't dead right now was because of what he was. Dead like that guy there was, crushed under the boot of some good-for-nothing punk with nothing better to do than pull shit on people who have no business being involved. He was already pissed that these guys would try and shoot up some poor girl and go to the lengths of shooting up an entire airport just to isolate her but this? This was personal.

But this wasn't some street fight. The girl cowering behind him was at risk of being murdered by these homicidal gestapo and he wasn't about to throw down when someone else's life was on the line. He looked at the hooded guy dead in his glowing red goggles, the air between them metaphorically crackling like static as the tension held despite the gunfire and chaos surrounding. The fact this guy was gunning for him right here and now remained true. The moment to their clash so ever close yet for that moment time felt to be crawling past like even it knew that once past the threshold there was no turning back.

And in that moment Al made a conscious decision. He raised his left hand and flipped the middle finger at this guy. After that it all came together like thunder after the lightning.

_
He spun on his heels and grabbed the girl tight. Even despite the rampant booming of gunfire filling the air he could hear the squeal of the assassin's boots against the floor tiles. Before the blades attached to the assassin's arms could strike him Al kicked off the floor, leaping up to the second floor with ease. It was one of the many benefits of being very strong without being weighed down by hundreds of pounds of muscle.

"Hold tight and don't look down!" Al ordered her over the din of mayhem, glancing down to see what the assassin was doing. The hooded killer's feet were squared, the subtle mechanical pneumatic supports that boosted this killer's physical abilities kicking into action as he braced to jump.

Crap. Al could tell this ninja wannabe was going to come up to the second floor for him. That didn't change Al's course but it did complicate what little of a plan he had cobbled together. Not waiting a second longer Al launched himself towards the windows overlooking the landing strip. Simultaneous to that he channeled his power into her, bestowing half of his protection into her. It was going to be a rough landing but being half as hard as a diamond would be more than enough for either of them to withstand it.

_
SMASH!

Al's frame hurtled through the window like a rocket propelled brick, thousands upon thousands of shards of glass raining out from behind them. Arcing through the air they soared for nearly a hundred feat, his trajectory taking them right over a parked airplane. Despite the speed at which he had launched them they seemed to linger as they reached the peak of their jump. It was as though he was weightless for that brief moment, the feeling of soaring seeming to linger until the pull of her weight reminded him that gravity still reigned supreme. She would notice it too, that moment where it felt almost as though they were floating just a little longer than would be natural.

Thud.

Al had angled his jump so he'd be at the bottom of the landing. When they hit the ground it was a remarkably soft landing, nowhere near as hard a landing as one might think falling from the top floor of a building would pack. This was no new experience for Al, just something that seemed to be a fact of life since he was a child. Falling hurt, yes, but the closest likeness to compare if he knew of the difference would be like launching oneself off a swing set and landing in the sand. High enough heights still packed a punch but the landing was always dulled somehow. The fall was likely far more strange to the young lady as the ease of the landing for Al would count for even more to her since she landed on top of him instead of the hard pavement.

"You okay?" He asked her, gently moving her off him while sitting up and looking over to the airport to see if they were still being followed. Back at the base of the building right below the shattered windows the assassin could be seen, having just jumped out from the window albeit at a much shorter distance than they. Al scowled, looking first at the killer agent and then to the skies to see if there was anything in the skies that might be threatening the two of them.

_
"Get below the plane." Al quickly ordered, standing to his feet and assisting the young lady to her own before turning back to the attacker and moving towards the underside of the jet they had just vaulted. With one last glance to make sure there wasn't anything else making a move on his current ward he looked back, locking eyes with those three beady glowing red lenses. His fists tightened as the man approached.

The assassin had the natural advantage of reach, mitigated of course by the fact that he had his swords mounted on his forearms like some Baraka wannabe. To try and even this out Al opened with a straight kick aimed for the agent's midsection but due to his training and physical augmentation he simply parried his kick while sidling past the length of it. The assassin moved past with superior speed as he brought both blades up from where he had blocked the leg. He twisted as he moved past Al, using the natural rotation of his motion to slice at him with greater power. Since Al had both his hands up in a defensive guard as he always did whenever he entered a fight the assassin picked his targets carefully, choosing spots left open in his guard. One shining blade ran across Al's stomach, right below the elbows while the other was poised for his neck. Despite the superior skill in his weaponry the assassin could only score a cut across the left side of his jaw since his shoulder was hiked up on that side to try and shirk blows off on it.

Given the strength of his weapons and the power of the blows he struck the assassin stood past Al, waiting in that moment for the inevitable visceral spray of blood that ordinarily accompanied his attacks. After all these focused energy blades were more than capable of making short work of most nomad's defenses. Heck, they had performed tests that showed that these blades could even pierce tank armor with a straight on thrust. He was confident that there was no way that this nomad in particular could survive the combined might of his energy blades and the mechanical enhancements of his armor.

Just as the assassin turned his head to look back, notably confused by the lack of immediate death caused by his attack he was struck with a fast jab right in the middle of his mask. Metal and plastic bent and shattered around the fist as the knuckles dug in, leaving a deep impression all the way down to the face of the wearer who immediately flew back. The stunned form of the assassin fell to his side from the force of the blow, rolling across the ground before smacking into the parked wheel of the plane. Not only did his punch crush his helm's armor and send his whole body flying but it was only a jab, a straight punch that Al wasn't even putting that much of his weight behind.

_
There Al stood, fist dripping with another man's blood as his own wounds wept. The cuts that the assassin had dealt to him were shallow but wide. The gash across his stomach exposed part of the stomach itself though it was hard to tell amidst all the red. The fact that he was even alive, let alone not spilling his guts everywhere was testament to just how much more potent his defense was compared to the passive protection of most conventional nomads. The slice on his jaw was far more than just a bad shaving wound but nothing that would impede him any. It just hurt but he was used to hurt.

"You're not hurt, yeah?" He inquired as he looked over to the young lady, wincing as his body turned. The motion pulled at the wound across his body. As he started walking towards her however he noticed something was wrong as surprise flashed across her eyes. The assassin who looked to be defeated had, in the time that Al was not watching him, gotten up and dashed up behind him. Just as he turned to see his attacker the two energy blades were driven into his side with the full force of the assassin's weight and speed behind the thrust. One blade was stopped dead by his rib-cage which was too solid for even the likes of this guy's weapons to pierce. The other however met only resilient flesh, the glowing red energy plunging just a couple inches into the sky blue flesh which shined like he was made of neon.

Despite being a rather shallow stab since even all the force that charge afforded the assassin still couldn't best Al's protection completely it was still pretty bad. Getting stabbed was never pleasant and depending on where for most people even a stab a couple inches deep could be lethal. Al wasn't most people but his survival wasn't for lack of the assassin trying.

_
In this all out attack the assassin had made he had to come in close, abandoning the safety of range to try and secure victory. With the attacker now in his reach Al lashed out in response with a fast back-fist coming down across his head diagonally. The force of the fast strike drove him into the ground where he just laid in a slumped over pile of unconscious Eclipse agent. Well, Al assumed he was unconscious but it wasn't all too clear. All he knew was that he held his strength back enough to keep from fully gelatinizing the guy's skull which was about as much mercy as this assassin could expect out of Al at this point.

So he stood. This was no victory. There was still danger around every corner as this Eclipse group was still very active and very much present. He staggered forward a bit, lurching towards his side as he held his hand over the stab wound he sustained. Already he could feel the pain in his wounds dulling as he started to concentrate on his healing. He looked warily to the sky to see if this mysterious gestapo had any helicopters covering this area. He then looked back to the airport's main hub itself to see if there were any more agents coming up on them. Finally he looked back to the girl to make sure nothing was happening around her either.

He didn't really have a plan this far forward outside of keeping her out of harm's way. It was what he was going to do until this whole debacle was done and through.

He had failed to stop all this. Keeping the gunmen from their target was the least he could do now.
@Darkmoon Angel - Schedule's been a bit rough with my new job but come the long weekend I'll have ample opportunity to catch up on everything. If I get a chance before then I'll see about getting something up but I'm afraid I can make no guarantees currently.
@VitaVitaAR - To be honest as Sophia is the sort of character who is happiest operating in isolation you needn't worry about her being isolated too badly. If something interesting is happening she'll get involved in her own manner since she has eyes everywhere. Unfortunately her ability to meetup and communicate with other characters is limited until she acquires a method of communicating with them remotely (Such as the chatroom for one example) but such hurdles are to be tackled organically as it is an area for her character to develop around and grow as she faces these particular challenges.

Until then she is a mysterious servitor. One who watches, plans and plots, scanning her rival's weaknesses all the while watching for the invisible hand that's controlling it all.
@VitaVitaAR - I'd say for the most part Sophia's scene is pretty much done but I can't say for sure since I don't know if there is or isn't something happening with her. She's alone maybe? Or maybe she isn't? It's your call what comes of that scene but nothing's really happening until you initiate something that warrants more than just "I think I'm alone but I don't feel alone" flip-floppery from Sophia.
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