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Meanwhile during Trypano's interview.

"So that brings us to present time." She finished her recollection of the combat. " I note that some of the culprit's were killed before they could be interrogated. If at all possible I would be interested in investigating the corpses to determine the nature of their deaths."

Zihan's eyes narrowed. "It was a classic coverup imposed from above, but with extremists like these, I'd be surprised if they weren't prepared to die for the cause." She gave nothing away about her suspicions of this abnormally tall woman. If she was, indeed, working with the enemy, then it was a queer choice to employ someone who stood out so profoundly - who, by her very nature, was likely to draw undue amounts of suspicion. The Lieutenant shook her head. truth be told, she did not actually trust their own Red Menders, and the Watchful Eyes were known to be secretive. This could be a worthwhile test of loyalty and she could slip someone into the coroner's after hours easily enough. There was one problem.

"Translator," she said in Retanese, "leave us. My Avincian will suffice for this conversation." The mousy-looking woman bowed and removed herself immediately. Zihan lowered her voice, switching to a tongue she seldom used. "I be honest wiss you," she began, "You will get ze attention. I will like to work wiss you, but you need some...." She struggled to recall the word. "Illumion?" No, that wasn't right. "...Illustion?"

"Ah, you mean some form of magical obfuscation so I can move undetected. Yes, that would be useful. Unfortunately none of the other students invited here are particularly skilled illusionists as far as I'm aware, nor do I believe they could execute a stealth mission consistently." It was an honest assessment of their qualities. With this group in particular subtlety was not their strong suit. The very fact that she's detected Yalen liberally using command magic, a closely kept secret of the church, was evidence enough of that truth.

"The only method I have of moving around hidden, more or less, would be this substance I was sold by a vendor in this city." She presented the powder to Zihan. "I know from practice that it is difficult to enact magic upon a subject with high RAS as the manas will contest outside influences. Either the killer struck from the outside, was so much stronger that their inherent protections couldn't resist it or there was something placed inside that detonated from within." She listed each possibility for her consideration. "Given the nature of the ovoid device Yalen discovered It's a possible consideration that something of a similar make could have been used to silence the prisoners."

Zihan took a moment to examine the small jar. She nodded and returned it. "I do not know what you saying. Afince is not to my first language, but zis is guǐ huā - ghost flower. It will to work." She then listened to Trypano's further analysis, unable to make very much sense of it, but she picked up on a handful of key words. It was not necessarily safe to use a translator. "Yes," she more or less guessed, "Zis is ze big problem. Maybe he is too strong. Maybe zere is some ozer way. I not to know. 1:00 late zis night. You come ze station, back door, wiss ze blue light." She put on a big smile and made a show of some quick pleasantries before the separated.

"1:00 past midnight. Understood." Seeing as her words came across largely piecemeal she kept her response brief, bidding her farewell and returning to the central room.

It was a plan. Not terribly sophisticated or airtight but something more than nothing.

Or it was a setup. No gain without risk after all.

It was a small walled compound not particularly far from the palace district. The stones were white, the pillars red, and roof greenish-black. There were two guards by the front gate and two more patrolling about. Trypano was somewhat sure that she could make out a faint blue glow from around the western side of the building, towards the back. That would likely be her entry point. The question was: try to sneak in unannounced, or check in at the gate. Zihan's instructions had not exactly been clear.

Trypano approached the compound in the dark of night. Having used her free time in the wait from the point the plan was made to now she had synthesized some more of the powder, keeping the original blend plentiful for the time so she can study it further back home. On top of that she replicated a hegelan mana potion using samples familiar to her such as the shot she was given and the stoneskin breed she's been cultivating. Just an emergency brew to give her a higher RAS should this all suddenly turn for the worse.

Given that Zihan could not trust even her own translator it was evident that she should keep the number of entities in the know to a minimum. After all, even if she announced her presence she would still be an intruder over in the morgue. With that in mind she had applied the dust before the compound was in view. It.... Worked? Sorta? It was a bit like wearing glitter that bent the light of surfaces it covered. Anyone who looked on at where she was standing would be able to tell something was there simply due to how messed up the image cast around it appeared, not to mention the difficulty in both covering herself completely in it and trying to keep it adhering to her meant that small bits and flecks would inevitably bleed through.

This wasn't meant to completely vanish her. This was a tool that would largely serve to conceal her from the eyes of people not looking for her. All the same she was no stranger to following the lackluster plans of the eager. If she was so foolish as to have complied with Desmonds ill-planned schemes then she had no right to call this one any worse in merit.

Sticking to the darkness and shadows she skirted around the periphery of the compound until the door she sought was in clear view. She kept distant, watching the patrol patterns of the guards around the building, getting a feel for their timing while also scanning for other nearby lifeforms in the facility ahead. No sense playing it safe just to walk in on the occupants.

With her preparation, equipment, and abundance of caution, it proved (perhaps) surprisingly elementary for Trypano to slip into the compound. She found the door beneath the blue lantern unlocked and the hallway beyond empty and white-walled. One of the doors was open, leading down into a basement. It was easy to feel the aura of cold emanating from it. This would be Trypano's final opportunity to rethink her calculated risk.

If she had second thoughts about the operation then it would have been before her trespass. She was in the lions mouth, so to speak, so it was time to poke about. She scanned the halls as she passed them, taking in the compositions of matter in her presence as she approached the open door to the basement. With one of the doors open the risk of there being someone currently inside grew higher. To reduce noise emissions she slipped off her red shoes and tucked them away into her purse. It would suffice for now, though there was more she could do to diminish her presence. There was also the cold to consider. She figured it was unlikely to be a result of enchantment which left either magic use as the source of the cold or the more likely probability of this location storing ice to keep the ambient temperature low for enhanced corpse preservation.

All things considered she quietly pressed on into the basement.

"Wasn't so hard, was?" came Zihan's voice, just above a whisper. She was in the morgue, below ground, kept cold both by its position and by large blocks of ice mixed with sawdust. Her magic was now helping cool those blocks. At signs of Trypano's investigation, she smiled. "You are curious. Yes, I use ze magic make cold again. Some people come do zis sing a few of time each day." She paused, as if sweeping for magical energies, and slid out four of the bodies on the shelves. All were missing their heads. "Now we use zis curious, right? We go to working."

Trypano nodded. She went over to the four bodies and performed an initial sweep, scanning for materials both organic and otherwise present in their forms. Being able to identify unnatural materials present in their bodies might hint at what was used to remotely detonate their heads. "When the bodies were collected, did you have time to review their belongings?" She spoke quietly, just enough to be heard but no louder.

There did not appear to be anything manmade in the four bodies, but there was something odd about their manas. Trypano knew quite a bit about manas, after all. The colonies were starting to die off now - that process usually took a couple of days - but there were signs of agitation beforehand: the sort that usually appeared when they were fighting off invasive manas. All four of the corpses, despite the differences in their colonies' densities and types, showed near-identical signs. The precise nature of the disruption was less familiar to her, however.

"There are foreign manas in the bodies." She commented as she analyzed the dead. "It is possible they were injected with mana that allowed control from the exterior." With that said she cut into the body with binding, forming a perfect, traceless incision from which she extracted a sample of the dying manas, collecting it into a bottle. "I am going to try and revivify the foreign manas and identify their qualities. If we can learn what they are it might be possible to trace the magic they are receiving commands from through them." With that said she began the process of rejuvenating the blood, breaking down the dead cells and using the material to build up the remainder of the colony before necrosis can set in.

It did not take Trypano long to realize that the invasive manas were not normal. They were... yes, it was rather obvious now, but scientific diligence needed to be maintained. They were from a mana slime: an ingested one. She did not recognize the type upon cursory study but, once the rump colony was rebuilt, she was able to use some arcane magnification to observe its qualities: volatility in bonding with other manas, a reddish colour, and... glycerol... nitric acid... She could guess at it or she could ask Zihan, who had been leaning against the arch at the base of the stairs, arms crossed, but had now come up beside Trypano to lean in inquisitively.

It was an interesting specimen. Not a free mana but a mana slime. "This appears to be the remnants of a mana slime, one that appears volatile when bonded with other manas. There are also traces of glycerol and nitric acid, to count a few." She then turned to Zihan. "Are you familiar with mana slimes? Are there varieties local to this region perhaps?" With everything to consider this seemed to strike her as a possible suicide capsule setup. It would depend on the speed of the reaction but hypothetically a slime sealed in a capsule could have been broken free, resulting in the explosive reaction that took place in their head.

Just one of several working theories for her to consider.

As Trypano listed its qualities, Zihan's expression grew increasingly uneasy until she took a handful of steps back. "We have ze name for zis sing," She said cautiously, shaking her head. "红色杀手" She paused. "Like... ze red killer. It is very rare. It is not grow close wiss ze city." She continued to eye the reconstituting slime warily. "I would stop to put it back togezer. I am not ze scientist, but one small change, I sink it will to..." She didn't know the word, so she trailed off and mimicked an explosion with her hands and voice. She furrowed. "Strange..."

"Interesting..." Trypano commented, sealing the marked vial with the partial colony within, containing it for the time being. It would make for a useful sample to replicate back in the breeding chambers. "For the time being any known breeders or distributers of this slime colony should be interrogated to get a glimpse of who they've distributed these to. At least now we know what to look for next time we capture any agent of the traveler so we might be able to disable it before they can kill themselves."

Zihan blinked and nodded thoughtfully, reaching for the vial expectantly. "Zere is not need for zis," she clarified. "Zis slime is not allowed live in ze city." She shook her head. "If he is sell in ze city, is illegal. Zis slime come from BaiLong Shan or in ze Nors." She furrowed her brow. "We must to ask ze people who lives zere." She twisted and flashed a genuine smile Trypano's way, nodding. "Sank you for zis help. You are very skilled girl."

It seemed they expected to keep the sample. A shame, but alas it wouldn't be good business to get greedy and retain something purely out of scientific interest. She did break down and reassemble the sample already. With it fresh in her mind it wouldn't be impossible to simply recreate it once Zihan left. With that in mind she passed the vial over to her. "I'm happy to have proved our value. Do let me know if you find any more evidence to analyze. In the meantime I'll head back to our lodging and check for temporal disturbances. I suspect the agent of the traveler might be using more than just invisibility to disappear."

Zihan nodded sagely. "I sink you are right. We have some of our people to look for zis sing." She paused and considered. "We would not to refuse anozer. You come back tomorrow and I can to give you ze special..." she paused, trying to remember a word. Then, her eyes lit up. "permission. Like ze badge." Zihan began putting things away and glanced between Trypano and the stairs. "I sink you will to hear ze bell in one or two minute. Leave srough ze same door you come in and you be okay." With that, it was clear that they would part.

Trypano gave an affirmative nod. With the dust still active she only had to wait until the bell was sounded before making her way out. After that it seemed the next step would be to acquire her badge of operation.

With the bell sounded she scanned for bio-signatures before making her way out. Hopefully it would be as simple as that.

And, indeed, it was for once.

Involved - @dragonpiece,@Force and Fury,@YummyYummy,@pantothenic,@McKennaJ71,@Ti.

For something that she was expecting it was surprising how little she accomplished. It was like reliving the battle against Brother Wolf's crew, herself just struggling to even keep even one person alive while people are cut down left and right. All these fatal wounds looked like easy fixes for someone who was on the scene but where was she? A question she herself struggles with.

She had helped keep one person alive, admittedly they stood against an overwhelming opponent but what more she could of done still lingers in the back of her mind.

For someone who was a doctor and a binder by profession she sure was terrible at her job.


After they were finished she was returned to the main room where they waited until everyone had given their testimonies. From there they were told they would be waiting until tomorrow to head down to the constabulary tomorrow to follow up on the investigation.

She simply listened on to what the others had planned. Her task was to keep them alive after all and in order to do that she needed to be aware of where they were in the first place.

Which is why it was super convenient for both Kaurera and Rikard to announce they would be going in separate directions. Great.

Involved - @dragonpiece,@Force and Fury,@YummyYummy,@pantothenic,@McKennaJ71,@Ti.

Meanwhile, the night before on the Metropolis mission...

Pointless... How utterly pointless.

So long they spent on pleasantries and yet nearly no time was spent in pursuit of this supposed agent of the Traveller that they were supposed to assist in catching. It seemed strange enough that a largely reclusive country would invite students to solve an internal dispute with agents of the Traveller. Any country with a self sufficient government would likely have mages of their own to take care of such matters so given how placid the state of matters was this was likely a political arrangement. As such Yalen's news came as no surprise to her.

"I suspect until the traveller's agent forces their hand our 'escort' is unlikely to afford us much freedom to pursue clues."

Such was as much as she had to say on the matter for that night. The food was sufficient. She ate not to taste but to absorb a sufficient amount of nutrients for her body to distribute. Needless to say her meal was terminated far earlier than most of the other students who went about pursuing other matters whilst she returned to her room to wait. It was annoying to feel as useless as she felt here. Without grounding in the culture or even the language she was mostly left to support the efforts of the others, keeping her magic use minimal to avoid exposing too much of her specialties preemptively. She kept to mystical forms of scanning exclusively, waiting for a moment where her skills might be required.

Perhaps there was an eagerness to validate her art, to prove that she can do more good than harm with what she's studied. On the other hand she was quite happy with the night passing without a bloodbath. Having to demonstrate her skills publicly would put her at risk of more scrutiny and she had underwent more than her desired share of that already.

Meanwhile, Metropolis mission, present day...

It was no mystery to her that some of her team members had gone out during the night to engage in extra-judicial activities. She had that particular matter already factored into this investigation plan. What bothered her was that she was unable to keep track of them. Without means of contacting them it would have been all to easy for any one of them to have been killed without any hope of interception from the main group body. Aside from that the main consequence appeared to be that their efforts over the night left them lacking in fervor for the daytime. Rookie behavior really.

Trypano ate little and spoke even less. Small talk was for small people. She had some respect for those who could pick through the broken language of these people and gather small hints of info from it but she had her suspicions that many of her schoolmates were not conversing tactically. Alas, it spared her the time to review the details around them while they were caught up in this theater of words.

The land was much like a wealthy lord's trophy wife, plenty of splendor and glitter. As they say however heavy makeup conceals the bruising. She looked not for all that was good with this land for a land that was good would have no need for their ilk around. Her eyes looked to the people around them. Their guides, their guards, possibly other things concealing themselves magically. Beneath all the gold, silver, silk and armor her attention was on the meat stuffed within. Who was weary, who's pulse was higher than resting, which guards were watching and which were otherwise occupied. As an outsider she studied them as an outsider might, peering at their little lives from above, perhaps literally given her height.

Only the folders on the details of the murders they were meant to be investigating took her attention away from this. She had made a request to see the bodies themselves but it seemed they would need to receive clearance first before they'd be authorized to inspect them. Something told her that they were unlikely to gleam anything useful from the evidence by the time it would be sanitized for their viewing. She'd need to wait for a fresher corpse to inspect, something she was sure would be showing up given these recent spikes in magic activity.

Much rhetoric was spoken by the Exemplar Wu Long as well as the captain in regards to their own land. She listened, but in lieu of response she kept her focus on the states of those around her. Words were plenty and cheap to trade but a bullet or well placed dark bolt could shift the dynamic of this conversation drastically should they be caught unawares. Out of politeness she ate alongside the others but she did not drink and her eating was purposefully slow, taking in little while her mind remained alert. The opportunity to wax philosophically on their culture was better spared for times when other's lives were not at stake.

It seemed an incident was taking place nearby. The guards seemed uneasy but the Exemplar thought it fit to let them spectate this, perhaps as a demonstration of sorts. A flexing of their power or even a subtle warning.

Of course Kaureerah, seemingly unaware of their own situation, exclaimed in righteous shock at this. One of the others would be better fit to de-escalate this situation, she would not weigh in on this matter.

She quietly hoped her team members had a single diplomatic bone in their bodies. Having to help them survive a blood-bath against Retan's many magi would be grueling and an international incident to say the least. All attention she definitely didn't need.

Involved - @dragonpiece,@Force and Fury,@YummyYummy,@pantothenic,@McKennaJ71,@Ti.

So. This was her mission...

To be sent off to yet another foreign place who's language and customs were presently unknown to her. If Zenith Upta had given them a few days to study at least a rudimentary understanding of this locale it would have given them enough to work with. As it stood she was basically dependent on the few among them who actually studied this locale. While the Zenith had sold them on the idea that the country might be seeking to deepen trade relations what this really meant was it would benefit the Academy's relations. Ultimately, securing any kind of trade benefit from this was grim.

Ugh. Here she was absorbed with thoughts of trade and commercial progress again. It all reminded her of those gods-awful family dinners where her father would talk her ear off about the one thing that stayed at the forefront of his mind: Business.

Going through the motions one could mistake her for a statue. She moved as they moved but that was about it. Her eyes maintained a forward focus, leading towards the destinations they were shepherded to and fro, blinking infrequently. If she was breathing it was not overtly evident, virtually no rise or fall to her chest. Her other senses were the ones taking in the information she needed. Her ears searched not for words for there were few she could really use. No, they searched through the noise, picking out each element to add to the model of her surroundings she was mentally constructing. Her manas were the ones doing the real observations however. Taking in the density and geometry of surrounding materials, evaluating their compositions, tallying both in count and in overall mass.

She stood and went through the motions as they introduced what these people probably felt were important individuals. They might of held important social roles but the only measure she was making of them was of their magical potential and equipment. Picking out the magicians of their government would likely prove important in their task in rooting out the agent of the Traveler. The chances of their target hiding in plain sight was not zero.

Still mechanical as ever she moved with stony gravitas, their guide making chatter with the chattier of her group-members. Such was not the case with her however. She was neither interested in what the others were saying nor in the rough Avincian of their guide as they rattled on regarding tertiary matters. The first thing to visibly grab Trypano's attention thus far however was the fact that guards had separated from their group. This seemed to be non-standard behavior. Their guide tried to write it off but in these matters it was better to assume the worst and be wrong than to do otherwise.

Nonetheless she did not act, outside of continuing on the path laid out by their guide. She was the least suitable person to pursue the answer here, both because of how little depth she had in their culture and due to the fact she was a virtual giant in these lands. She was taller than even Ingrid and most of these people barely came up past her bust. If ordinary Revidians were short by comparison to them then these people were tiny.

Needless to say there wasn't a single thing she'd be doing that would go unnoticed in this city. Better to let the others get involved and standby to aid them when necessary.

Involved - @dragonpiece,@Force and Fury,@YummyYummy,@pantothenic,@McKennaJ71,@Ti.

Returning to her domicile she moved to her seat and simply sat down. The last several weeks had been a blur of activity, not even considering the events of The Trials themselves. Having only narrowly achieved her aim of accessing the tower seemed so minor after getting flung into the distant future only to witness what she could only assume was this world's demise, exposed to a wealth of different races as she was judged by a sort of time regulation service, returned to her own time, entering the tower and managing to summon forth three of the Pentad, deities in the flesh. She was made aware of a great number of truths about the world, that their world was embroiled in a sort of shadowy conflict with a race of cephalopods and a being older than even the gods. She studied much, taking that many more steps towards her breakthrough.

Sitting forward at her desk she crossed her fingers, dwelling on her plans for the coming days. Hugo's death highlighted a definite imminent pressure on her timeline. If even the most eminent mages of their time wasn't safe then no-one was. For all the time she could have spent in the tower the amount of time she was given felt as though mere seconds comparatively. Alas, it would have to suffice. In the meanwhile she needed to set herself up a lab, somewhere outside the tower that would let her practice her more advanced work in peace. Ingrid had mentioned a suitable location in the catacombs.

Reaching into the stone wall behind her desk, the wall's solid surface giving as though it were loose mud as she altered it's structure, she produced another vial of Yulia's blood. The time authorities had robbed her of her sample before she had the opportunity to utilize it, leaving her to believe all the more that it held significant potential. The woman had to expose some of her secrets before the gods during their meeting as well, giving more illumination regarding what it could hold.

Trypano poured a portion of the blood sample into a spare vial, marking it with another preservation mark and replenishing both samples with simple binding before returning the original sample back into it's earthen vault. She then returned the bricks to their prior state, sliding the new vial into her purse. It was foolhardy to keep the original blood samples on her person. What if she got hit by a spell and was sent to the ground, her belongings clashing with the surroundings? That would be disastrous were she so foolish as to not keep spares.

Producing a block of stone she got to work shaping a model of her workshop, a design which will see use in the near future over in her underground lair. After all, she really needed a place to keep her new mana slime acquisitions, the grounds-keeping definitely didn't appreciate having something of a mobile high-yield explosive up on campus grounds.

"Just the general knowledge regarding him. Goes by Brother Lamb, blonde hair, subject to rumor of supernatural events surrounding him, things likely involving free-casting." Trypano answered back to Desmond. While he was fishing out the drawn portrait of their target Trypano delicately fished the vial they would be using out from the satchel. Her eyes had been trained on the sigil printed on the side of the vial since the moment it was seen. Now, leaning back against a lantern post she studied it with keen interest.

It was going to be a puzzle indeed, devising a way of separating this target from a sample without accruing suspicion and perhaps even resistance.

"I wonder what his personal feelings regarding Varrene's mood towards Revidia is. It has potential to inform our approach." She idly inquired, brain storming with her fellow agents, all of whom she was already acquainted with in one way or another. Given how well his last plan went she was hoping for Carmillia or Silas to take up more of the backbone in regards to forming a strategy. In the dim light she casually awaited their input, studying this lovely example of a container all the while.

Directly Involved: @Animus, @Tackytaff, @Th3King0fChaos.

It was not an easy competition. There were scarce few with the magical skill necessary to oppose her and fewer still with any semblance of competence. That still meant that there were some that had both, a troublesome event it was.

Their pick for this leg of the race was largely irrelevant. Thankfully they were no obstacle for her, largely cooperating for the most part instead of trying to act of their own free will and inviting more trouble. She went alone for there was no need for any security in numbers. She would never have held onto a melon of any importance for any length of time in which other mages could interfere significantly.

Early on she secured the fire melon. From there she continued to hunt, her path eventually intersecting with the blind one and the timewalker. She gave them a scare, her real purpose being to secretly mark their melon for extraction later while they were distracted by her attempt at theft. With that done she left after their escape, returning to base.

During that time the supreme melon had been triggered. With Jocasta's aid she dropped down through a portal to aid Carmillia in her escape. In the chaos the melon exchanged many hands before ending up back in hers wherein then she was portalled out with surgical timing.

With that she remained at base, shoring up their melon defenses for the final hour. As anticipated others began to arrive and make attempts to breach their base, all rebuffed. Jocasta's influence seemed to wane a bit which resulted in Trypano taking on a bit of the workload but when the attackers were puppets it was off little concern. Even peasants with clubs would pose more danger to her than these lifeless husks, her magic bending their matter with little more than a whim.

Then a visitor showed up.

Climbing up the stairs she already knew who had turned up in their reading room. It was The Ice King, the enigmatic figure who brought the temperature down across the whole building. His presence weighed heavy, the sheer amount of magic emanating from him strong enough to make lesser mages ill. She was strong but it still weighed upon her no less.

She was a professional however. If it brought her any discomfort it was not shown as she approached and... Set up some chairs.

There was no sense in beating her head against a wall of RAS that large. Better to reason with him she figured than to strike up aggression right away.

"Ah, The Ice King, I see you've decided to come and visit. Would this be in regards to this game of fruit or perhaps a simple invitation to chat?" With that she offered him a seat.

The Ice King took a seat across from Trypano, flipping the chair around backwards and settling onto it. He did not take his eyes off of her even as Benedetto came streaking inn through the window, brimming with force and fury. In fact, he waited a full second before turning his head ever so slightly and nodding at the new arrival.
"Where are you little Jojo!" the Revidian hollered. "You can't run!" he taunted. "Haha! Literally. Time for your beating!" He stood on the spot, roiling with atomic energy and a pugnacious attitude. He narrowed his eyes in the Ice King's direction and scowled.

Trypano, seated nearby, broke the burgeoning silence. "Oh, hello Benedetto." She gave a small wave to yet another intruder. "Ice King, this is Benedetto. Benedetto, this here is Ice King. I hear he comes from very far south."

It was then that Jocasta appeared among them, out of thin air, chin resting just above her chest. She raised her head. "Ciano," she acknowledged, nodding in Benedetto's direction. "Ice King. How nice of you both to visit." She began drawing, and it was a truly massive amount of energy.

"You won't think so once I'm done with you," Benedetto replied with real venom. "I'm gonna break your legs."

As Jocasta manifested Trypano offered a courteous bowing of the head. "Ah, Jocasta. I've been entertaining some new guests." She greeted her.

"I suppose we don't have coffee brewing?" She then turned to the Ice King "I gather you'd probably want yours with ice shavings?"

With that, a triangle was formed, with Trypano seated in the center. "Trypano, my good friend," said Jocasta, "perhaps you should go see to the coffee for our guests. I have a feeling that our friend Benedict might be quite worn out by the end of our proceedings today."

The late afternoon sun blazed through the broken window, sharpened shards of glass glimmering about the floor.

For an immense moment, the four of them stood or sat there, eyes and sixth senses alike darting from one to the other.

"Of course." She gives another courteous bow to Jocasta as she stands. As she leaves the room she gives Benedetto a light pat of encouragement on the shoulder. "Don't tire yourself out now~" She winks, heading downstairs. Little does he realize (She hopes) she placed her experimental Curse of The Serpent on him, one that would grow longer the more energy gets drawn. The receiver? None other than Jocasta.

Then, all at once, Benedetto launched himself at Jocasta like a thunderbolt, closing the distance in a fraction of a second.

She saw it coming, drawing ever more from, slowing him, and effortlessly floating to the side. All that he cause was her trailing skirts. "Seems a lot like use of deadly force, Benedict," she observed. But that energy of his went to good use. If he wouldn't hold back, then neither would she.

Her Chemical attack slammed into his brain, but Benedetto was already anticipating it, countering its effects. She was predictable. He was not.

The Ice King sat on his chair, gaze darting back and forth between the combatants. His tongue flicked out for a moment, wetting his lips, but the only thing that moved was his eyes.

Benedetto brushed off Jocasta's attack and attempted to grab her ankles in a kinetic grasp and slam her into the floor.

Trypano moves back over to the Ice King. "Seems like somebody can't keep their cool."

Jocasta saw it coming. Of course he would go for her legs. Her disability was always cruel sport for his taunts. Why would it be any different for his attacks? Instead, she tried something sneaky.

Seizing the fabric of spacetime, she rushed up and grabbed him, and both of them disappeared.

With both of them disappeared she simply accepted that with her boon Jocasta probably had this in the bag so she went downstairs to put some coffee on.

The Ice King rose in one smooth motion. While Trypano had attempted to make conversation with him, he had been statuelike the entire time. Now he stood and stretched. He yawned and rolled his neck, going from automaton to human, and walked down the stairs.

"Your melons," he said simply. "Hand them over."

Having entered the building during the confusion Zarina heard that, just looked around, recognized any potential threats and went about her intended business. "Well, you heard the man, Melon time." she clapped her hands together and shot a grin toward Yuliya, "Does the little shit sniff anything particularly yummy?"

The cold intensified, spreading to every room available and out onto the street with crackling veins of ice. The Ice King's smile grew along with it, taking in the people on the lower floor. Justice. It echoed through his mind, such as it was. "You heard the woman.... Unless you would like to fight for them." His head tilted to one side. His teeth seemed, for a moment, far too many and impossibly small and sharp.

"Ah, still sour over that one melon you tried to steal from Carmillia?" Trypano commented, waiting for the coffee to finish brewing.
"If you want that one, go ahead. The one we got away with wasn't really the supreme melon."

Yuli smiled back as she felt the cold roll in and the ice kings voice boom through the house. Oh, how sweet it was. The darkness of the home, the familiar cold of her country, and the supreme melon within reach. Through the suffering of the day, she was finally able to kick loose.

"Go, Kalyna. Sniff it out." She spoke softly to the fat raspberry in her bag, before setting her down and turning to the rest of the people in the home. Oh, how she was itching for them to refuse..

"Sour? Nah, the score's been settled." she paid close attention to Kalyna's reactions and movements, "Although it was interesting to see that your friend didn't activate the beacon when touching it!" she exclaimed with light enthusiasm, "How did she do that?"

"Actually." Trypano was putting the finishing touches on the coffee, using binding to create marshmallows sweetened with spratz instead of sugar.
"It did go off. When they found the melon they destroyed it. The melons you were all chasing were fakes." She came out into the main room with a plate, several cups of coffee with spratzmallows floating in them. "It doesn't take high RAS to outwit someone." With that she handed a cup over to Yalen and a couple of her Weggosi teammates, bringing one over to the Ice King. "Care for a cup?"

While Trypano was delivering a most excellent hero/villain monologue, the energetic little dragons had been hard at work. They showed some interest in the floor, but once again seemed indecisive, as they had back in the Cathedral District a couple of hours earlier. The dragons were inconsistent, confused. They pointed upstairs for a moment. They pointed towards the back of the house or behind it where any number of other melons could've been. They pointed at the floorboards as well. The Ice King looked at them for a moment and disassembled those. The dragons were, in general, anxious and not doing particularly well Beneath the floorboards were a couple of melon grenades, some tens, a couple of hundreds, and three terramelons. Perhaps a minute remained.

"I know where the Firemelon is if you want that one." Trypano, remarked, pulling some grapes out of the drawer Carmillia left them in.
"It's just a ways out of town. If you rush you might just be able to get back with it. Just" She took a sip of coffee. Refreshing.

"Uh-huh." Zarina absently responds, her full attention on the melons and the Ice King.

Yuli, seeing the smug satisfied look on the face of the woman who had fucked her over ever so slightly in the chase for the supreme, now attempting to distract her dragons from the search, felt her blood rush. She immediately leapt across the room in an attempt to deck the tall woman in the jaw.

Trypano simply lets the punch go through. Sinching her jaw, the pain was so mild she didn't even wince.
"... Are you done?" She sets the grapes down next to the dragon this woman nearly tripped over. "If it would please you you're free to hit me to your hearts content. It won't win you this competition however." Her expression was as cool as ever. A face no less icy than the frost on the windows.

The Ice King lifted the three terramelons into the air with kinetic magic, a triumphant look upon his face, but something odd took place: not a single one glowed, not in the slightest.

"Did I lie?" Trypano turns to the Ice King as he observed the lack of Supreme Melons in his grasp. He turns toward her and nods, a small smile creasing his lips.

Zarina, paying close attention to the red dragon, immediately marched toward the indicated route whilst the Ice King came to the sad realization that Justice wouldn't be found under the floorboards, "Here." she called out, turning back to the King and eyeing Yuliya.

Yuli breathed, the rage being only slightly softened by the frost that was now creeping in. The nerve of this cocky bitch.. how dare she? No, she didn't care about the rules at this point. A small penalty wouldn't matter if they had the supreme, and that still needed to be resolved. But with the little time she had left, she would teach her a lesson. Turning her own hearing off with her sensemaster abilities, and smiling a most vile fashion, she amplified her kinetic for just a second as she snapped her fingers in the hand she still had close to the woman's head, seeking to knock her out with the sheer force of the sound, or cause as much pain as possible. . It's a move she'd tried in the chase for the watermelon, and she felt confident in it now.

Trypano only realized shortly before it happened what the woman was trying to do. In defense she drew apart her own eardrums, letting the force rattle her head to some extent before reforming the tissue back in place.


Trypano used chemistry to apply morphine to the area impacted, a formula soothing the growing headache as she prepared to counter this crazy person's next attack.

Yuli was not satisfied with that response. No, she wanted to see this woman groveling on the floor. So, she'd make it happen. Drawing up to capacity, she would attempt to shove Trypano to the floor with her kinetic magic at full force.

Instead, Trypano ends up sliding on her feet, landing softly against a bed of spongy Gift of The Frog conjured behind her.
"I hope after the tournament is over you'll stop before the Zeno's come by for inspection."

Meanwhile, Zarina was rushing for the back door, the Ice King teleporting before her. Her dragons strained at their leashes. "Justice" he growled.

Carmillia stepped onto the lawn, along with Dante. The former held a single terramelon in her hands, smiling beatifically. Then, the Ice King was there. He placed his hands around the melon. "Justice," he said

In the distance was Silas. "It's her!" he shouted. "She has the supreme!"

Zarina, panicked, dashed toward the voice that called out, "Justice!" she huffed!

The Tall, frosty figure looked Silas' way. He nodded. He looked Zarina's way, meeting her eyes. He nodded. "Strength alone does not win this game." He took the melon from her hands. There was nothing that she could realistically do. He stood there as the bells began to chime.

Zarina simply nodded. She understood. "If that is what you see as just." she approached the King and then flashed a wink at Carmillia, "Good game." Then, she struck a quick, dramatic pose, "Justice!"

Yuliya breathed once more. She wanted more.. but a moment of clarity struck her as the bells begun to chime. She realized she was in front of others. She returned her hearing, and let out an awkward but obviously bitter laugh, attempting to brush off the previously violent interaction. She shouted in response to Zazzy from the lawn.


Trypano walks out onto the lawn, small bruise on her cheek and a cup of coffee in her hands. "Care to stay for a cup?" She wore the rare small smile.

Was her smile out of genuine appreciation for them to be able to have a civil and honest tournament amidst all this skullduggery? Perhaps.

Or perhaps it was simply due to her being impressed with Carmillia's proactiveness, going out and retrieving the ultimate herself instead of waiting on Jocasta to portal it home. Speaking of Jocasta, it was quite odd that she hadn't returned before the bell's chime.

Had she been too confident in her ability to outplay Benedetto?

- Directly involved: @Force and Fury,@YummyYummy,@Suicharte,@Tackytaff.

Her eyes scanned across the letter that had been delivered to her. A request to meet from Augusto, a noble from Torragon. It seemed to not include any listed reason for this meet which was irritating. Even an allusion to whatever purpose this meeting could serve would of been better than nothing which was all this invitation held for her. It didn't really matter. Noble or not her time was precious so he could wait or approach her himself if it was really so important.

Looking up from the letter she noticed motion within the Zeno's halls. Having been passing through after receiving her letter she spotted Jocasta passing through. While they had run into one another a few times by now, the last time being during that hunt to secure the surge of aberrations that had started cropping up across the city, they hadn't properly spoken yet. Given the events that only the two of them are even aware of it seemed like something big enough to warrant some form of discussion. More than that however was the fact that Trypano now knew that Jocasta understood time travel. This meant she could potentially be of help to her in developing a theory of hers, a design which could hypothetically alleviate the effects of tethering by means of a time stasis chamber and, of course, their blood.

She scanned the area with her binding senses, getting a read on the existing material nearby to determine just how many living humanoids were within the vicinity. It seemed the two of them were alone for the time being, everyone else likely being busy out with club preparations for the upcoming festival. Still, caution was warranted given the sensitive nature of the material they'd be discussing.

"Ah, Jocasta. If you have a moment available I would like to discuss certain matters. They might include sensitive information regarding certain individuals and/or topics so I've checked to make sure no prying ears are listening but you're free to sense out the surroundings yourself for further privacy." 'Twas a bit of a wordy greeting but such was Trypano, thorough if nothing else.

Jocasta's greeting was the formation of a sonic bubble, dampening the sound of their conversation to all the outside world. "I don't," she teased. "Sorry, gotta go!"

Trypano quirked an eyebrow and cradled her chin with her thumb and index finger inquisitively. "If that's so then why the sound dampening sphere?"

"More of a hemisphere, wouldn't you say?" teased Jocasta, but then she relented. "Anyways, yes, sure. I've got a few minutes. Is it... about... you know..." She trailed off, a nervous conspirator.

"To some extent, yes. I do recall the events which transpired wherein we were forced to alter events. Though no expert on the subject of time alteration I would not rest easy given we still don't know the full capacity of what Ismette called forward nor whether the realm it was conjured from obeys time in the same way ours does."

In a small gesture she took her hand away from her face, flicking her index finger out. "My purpose for seeking you out's only tangentially related to that event however. Now that I'm aware of your understanding of time manipulation I was hoping to get your opinion on a theory I've been working on since we returned." She gave pause to allow opportunity for Jocasta to speak her mind so she doesn't end up like one of those people who corners someone and just talks their ear off.

"What she engaged with, I've heard precious little about," Jocasta replied, lowering her voice despite the dampening, perhaps out of habit. "Too little," she concluded. As for your idea... I have a question for you first, perhaps fittingly only tangentally related." There was ever so slight an incline to this floor and it was annoying her to no end by trying to make her drift into Trypano's shins: a fiigurative bowling ball to the much taller woman's pin. "If you could travel freely through space and time," the tethered inquired, "where and when would you go?"

An interesting question she was posed. "Where and when would I travel, hm?" She crossed her arms in careful consideration. "Freely through time and space would imply that I wouldn't be damaging the fabric of space and time such as when that aberration emerged after our return to prevent the summoning. Provided I had a means of traveling without such risk to our current timeline however I suppose I would first travel to each point in time, documenting all that occurs within this timeline. That way I would have a point of reference whenever I alter something and can follow the resulting effects of each decision all the way into the future and see what results occurred compared to if such alteration had never transpired."

She had been looking up as she thought up her answer but now returned her gaze back to meet Jocasta's own. "My concerns presently are less regarding time travel and more regarding time stasis however."

"That will be... useful for many things," Jocasta admitted, "but difficult to achieve." She did not bother craning her neck to meet Trypano's eyes. Her unusually tall classmate struck her mostly as the type to subscribe to social convetions only out of obligation anyhow. "There is something, when you pause the flow of time, that we Temporal users call 'Time pressure.'" She glanced upward anyhow before continuing. "An inelegant term, but it decribes the phenomenon where one's separation from the timestream causes mounting side effects. Most compare them to a building pressure in your head, like when you overdraw and, like that, all of the way to unconsciousness." She glided alongn the tiled floor, still annoyed by its tiny slope. "I haven't pushed the limit and have no desire to, but you'd best tread lightly." She paused. "Besides, and not to be rude, but since when have you dabbled in Temporal?"

Noticing that Jocasta seemed to find difficulty in keeping her wheelchair from rolling from time to time Trypano took a moment to test her progress in free-casting, extending a hand downward using a finger as her focus as she applied her binding to the tiles below, subtly molding their form so as to help keep her from rolling in that same direction so easily. Jocasta's response was to flash a quick, knowing smile of thanks.

"Interesting." The binder took a moment, considering what she had been told. "Since we can both count on one another to keep what is spoken here strictly between one another I can confide that during our mission from Hugo on Isla d'Amato we were ambushed inside the coastal caverns by a race of sapient reptiles. They held a significant degree of knowledge regarding both material science and temporal magic, enough so that even Benedetto was unable to oppose them." It was a risk confiding their existing to her but trust was a mutual contract. She had to trust her in order for her to trust back.

"We eventually managed to negotiate our way free which is how we were able to reach the Dune Sea over in Torragon. With that encounter however I've been made aware of Temporal magic and have been considering it's applications, specifically a medical application I could hypothetically employ that would generate minimal chronological disturbance." Trypano took a pause to let Jocasta air any questions or concerns that may have arisen from her explanation.

"Was it the Sirrahi?" she asked, but she knew that she would be right. "I've been told of them but never seen one." She glanced down at the subtle shifting tiles. "Keep doing youru freecasting practice, by the way." She flashed an encouraging smile. "Do it until you don't een have to think about it." She was falling slightly behind and gave her wheels an extra hard push to catch up. Like almost any scientific type, Trypano seemed to suconsciiously pick up the pace when she was talking about something that interested or excited her. "As for your idea, what wouldl it be? Preventing a bbleed-out at a crucial moment during surgery? Pausing the effects of trauma before they can worsen?" She tilted her head to the side wonderingly, thinking, herself, of all of the potential applications. "Oooh: preserving recently-deceased tissues to prevent decay?"

"Ah, so you've heard of them?" She answered her first inquiry. It made her happy to receive encouragement regarding her free-casting practice, especially given how recently she had picked it up. "They are a fair bit taller than most humans. Primarily carnivorous with a penchant for research and interspecies relations as Ingrid may attest."

She listened as Jocasta listed the number of uses such magic might have. All valid but ultimately circumstantial and none answering existing on-going issues save one.

"All good guesses, the last one fairly close." She clasped her hands together before getting into the meat of her explanation. "As you may be aware binding for the purposes of restoring the body primarily relies on using a mana's built-in framework of its owner's form to guide the process. It serves as the baseline for a majority of methods used to heal others using this art."

"Now, and do stop me if you find the topic uncomfortable, you may be well aware that the Tethering results from the mana's paralytic effects on the nervous system, gradually rendering its users' limbs and eventually body inert until user death. I've been considering for some time on how to alter the nature of mana for the purposes of changing this so Tethered mana no longer kills its users but it occurred to me that its rate of paralysis is related to the age of the mana itself." Unclasping her hands she softly hammered her left fist into her right palm.

"If I were able to create a pocket space similar to those used by Hugo and enchant the item containing that space, altering its chronological process to halt or otherwise greatly diminish the time that passes within compared to the exterior world then I could take a sample of blood from someone diagnosed with Tethering before it's symptoms have grown severe and place it in containment. That way by the time they start experiencing more dire symptoms I could remove their existing mana and replace it with new mana generated from a sample that hasn't aged since it was taken after which I could use binding to rebuild their body according to their mana's template which would restore them to a younger, healthier state. This would allow the tethered to regularly receive treatments that could prolong-"

Jocasta appreciated everything that Trypano was saying. If someone truly could cure the tethering it would be... everything to her and many other people. Her classmate, was also wrong, however: a master within her discipline, perhaps, bbut there was precious little on the tethering because, truth be told, nobody really cared about the cripples and the bastards and the broken things. She held a hand up to interject. "I'm going to stop you there," she began, "because I think you're really onto something, but you also don't have all the information you need and I'd hate for you to start from an incorrect baseline." She came to a stop, bidding Trypano to do the same. They were not so completely on their own anymore. "So, you remember Hugo's study, but this is where my mana type gies me an advantage. I could sense a much greater area around us." She nodded as much to herself as to her classmate. "And we were not in a pocket dimension. He'd teleported us all: automatically, somehow. We were some five miles from a coast and not so far from a city of... Sirrahi. There were things I could sense the energies of but not see and I could not even begin to comprehend them."

She shook her head. "That was one thing. The other is the nature of tethered manas. I can tell you from experience that an individual mana won't live that long. The... turnover rate among them is very high: a year from birth to death at most as soon as the colony gets large enough and starts bonding with the nerves. I think the notion of manipulating time to stave it off is a fundamentally good one, though. One I'll be happy to lend any help needed with."

Trypano nodded along, taking in what information Jocasta had to share on the matter. "So he used a teleportation spell, possibly in conjunction with binding to leave an enchanted item with a function imprinted upon it. The fact that his study is located near a Sirrahi settlement is a fascinating one however."

"I think you're spot on," Jocasa agreed, nodding for Trypano to continue.

"As for the nature of mana's short lifespan I do understand the quick turnover rate. They do subsist and replicate within the bloodstream however so perhaps creating an environment for them to subsist, at least temporarily, could provide enough of a lifespan for the manas gathered to survive going into a temporal storage and occasionally coming out. Depending on what dependencies the mana may require I could, from a sample, create several stages of environments up to and including an inert body modeled from the sample's memory. Testing will no doubt be required to determine what is needed for prolonged storage of the mana. The most important part however will be fusing binding with temporal magic to generate a vault with an enclosed space, removed from universal space or not, that is temporally slow enough to preserve mana over the course of a human lifespan or longer." Standing there with her arms crossed she looked back down to Jocasta. "Your thoughts on this?"

Jocasta blinked. "It'll be a lot of work to get to that point, and I mean a LOT. It's a stretch." She paused, raising a finger to her lower lip. "That said, not theoretically impossible. You're a bloody mad scientist, you know that?" she half-joked. There were now other figures in the distance. "You're also not the first to approach me with some interest in learning Temporal magic. If the school refuses to teach it and people are determined to learn it..." She trailed off for a second. "At least do so under my auspices. I sense, as I imagine you do, that our world is headed for a violent clash of ideals and worse soon. It's something we should equip ourselves to be independent actors within." She shrugged, eyes drifting over to the approaching figures. "If you're amenable, I'll speak with the others and we can set something up. You should join," she added invitingly, but there may have been something just a tiny bit firmer underlying her tone.

Trypano chuckled as Jocasta referred to her as a mad scientist. "You're not to first to accuse me." They were approaching the public so it seemed their conversation would need to approach a close soon.

"Caution in the field of time and space manipulation is wise. Even still, bogarting of knowledge stymies growth in academic fields, slows the process of discovery. And as for the world approaching a new time of conflict it's unfortunate but not surprising. With as many actors in the current political scene this era of peace is a tenuous one." She gave a sage nod. "Nonetheless I will respect your wishes and study under your supervision when involving Temporal magic. The sirrahi were kind enough to provide a manual as well."

As they approached the exit to the building Trypano held the door for Jocasta so she may exit easier whilst hearing out her invitation. "Just give me an address and I'll be sure to attend. Nothing like a meeting of minds after all~" She gave a humorous spin at the tip of her response, nothing overly cutesy or sarcastic but just a dash for levity. If Jocasta had faith in these other unspoken individuals then surely they wouldn't be too dull-minded, right?

Later in that evening Ingrid approached Trypano's dorm.

The deal with Zarra’s family had gone well all things considered. Sadly they wanted to also make the sails but that was not too big of an issue. The biggest damn issue is those cannons. They are the second most expensive thing and the shipping cost for them is outrageous. To top all that off, with the war on the way many cannon makers are swamped with orders. I could buy the metal for nothing and I still wouldn’t be able to get even 3! What do I do? Ingrid was blessed by a memory of something that felt all so long ago. Trypano! She made that cool cannon from blood magic! She could do it! Ingrid is only thinking of the Magus and nothing that she is about to ask a blood mage to do something.

Ingrid set up a meeting before the trials, meeting In Trypano’s room to be less of an inconvenience for Ingrid’s cash co- I mean best friend. Bringing nothing but some cool plants that have mouths. Kinda trippy. But hey it might impress her enough. And with that Ingrid give Trypano’s door a good knock

In the light of the lantern she sat, metal tools sat in a low rimmed silver bowl on the desk. In her hand was her own eye, still attached through the nerves, looking back at her as she focused on it with her other eye still in it’s socket. The coloration of the iris slowly began to shift, only stopping when she noticed a blood vessel spill out below one of the outer membranes. It was a good time to stop anyhow as a guest was now at her door. Oh how the time flies.

Carefully, with gentle precision she slides the eye back into place, giving her eyelids a few awkward blinks as she calibrates it. Leaving such experiment for later she quickly cleaned her hands of blood, partly with water and partly through drawing, before heading to the door to greet her visitor.

“Ah, hello Ingrid. Step inside, I’m happy to talk.” She greeted her, moving aside to allow Ingrid entry as she gestured for her to enter.

“Afternoon, Trypano, I saw this unique plant and thought of you,” Ingrid offered the plant only then noticing the lantern. Ingrid giggled a little, “Been having some good progress with your private research, I hope,” Ingrid said as she alluded to her using the artifact of Shune as a mere lantern.

“I wish” She answered back, taking Ingrid’s plant present and setting it on a free space on her desk. “I swear with studies and all the research that needs to be done I’d only have enough free time in the year if I cloned myself.”

With that said she sat back down and offered a guest seat to Ingrid. “In any case I am curious as to the purpose of your visit.”

Ingrid laughed lightly at Trypano cloning herself, it could either be a joke or something she may do after all. “Well, if you do end up cloning yourself, can I get a clone of me?” Ingrid sat down, “I know you are ever busy so I won’t hold you up. I saw you create the cannon on our mission and I was wondering if you could create some cannons for me as well.” Ingrid had Trypano figured as ‘let's get to the point of this’ so there was no need to do any acrobatics in our conversation yet.

Trypano nodded. “Hm. While that should be easy work I will need to make sure to find a location where I can construct this without spectators lest I come under scrutiny from the increased guard presence in town. After all, with fervor for the Traveler’s arrest on the rise the forces rooting through his cult’s activities may be paranoid enough to mistake an honest binder’s work for blood magic and accuse me of any number of wrongdoings thereafter.” She lightly rapped her finger tips across the top of her desk in contemplation, considering the details of the work Ingrid requested of her.

“After I can secure a location where I can work without interruption reliably I will create a series of standard cannons for you. I will not request financial compensation but as a favor from myself I may ask for lab assistance later on. Surely you’d be inclined to return my favor at such times?”

Trypano was right, with the increase in Traveller related incidents and the Centuries being present, asking her to do this was risky. They would have more than enough fake reason to put an 8.3 bloodchild head on a spike. Meaning the price is going to be steep, Ingrid thought and thought correctly. Favors were a dangerous thing but what could Ingrid provide as lab assistance? “Trypano, may I inquire what you mean by lab assistance,” Ingrid inquired. Ingrid was certain the place to do so would be much less of an issue.

Trypano leaned back, steepling her fingers as Ingrid inquired about her offer.
“To put it simply, magic involving the human body works far better when that body isn’t dead or a wooden practice dummy. Now, I can assure you I’ll avoid any procedures that’ll pose any significant risk to your health and you’ll be free to opt out of anything you deem too risky to be performed on yourself. That being said, having someone that will consent to these experiments is valuable as it is risky for myself to even ask this of my fellow binders since folks tend to get squeamish when I start speaking of medicine and their own bodies.”

“So, with that in mind do you accept my terms for the transaction?” She cocked her head mildly to the side, hair swaying gently with the motion as she awaited her response.

In a completely unfiltered response, “Trypano that is kinda weird. But not bad weird. Just different. Let me ask you 2 questions. The first is this. Were you able to save me and Desmond because of these studies?” Ingrid felt a strong urge to be closed minded about this but she is keeping it forcibly open for the money and because she wanted to make herself uncomfortable to grow.

Trypano gently sighed, closing her eyes but for a moment. It was natural for Ingrid to be reticent towards her craft. It was expected. Still, it was hard for her to not long for simpler days.
“I’ve been studying humanoid health and medical practice since I was old enough to read. When I was twelve I began work as a nurse for the Revidian naval forces when they had hired my master’s services during a brief skirmish. At fourteen I was put in charge of diagnosing injuries and at fifteen I was a surgical assistant. Come sixteen I’ve performed operations on soldiers gravely injured in duty. All of this while further incorporating my master’s teachings through the scalpel itself. Everything I do stands upon all that I’ve been taught, that knowledge passed down from master to student all the way back to the days of Avincia where wizards of old would study the wounds of soldiers injured in combat to give us all that we know of the human body today.” Parting her hands she set her left back down on the desk. “So yes, these studies are responsible for the medical aid I’ve rendered unto you and Desmond.”

Trypano took an extra long time explaining this and Ingrid appreciated it. It made it seem less culty and more like legitimate science. “Okay. Now then for the second question, do you have some procedure you can do on me now? That way I can roughly know what to expect” Ingrid leaned back, relaxing now. “I know that might be a bit sudden but I would want to know so I’ll give you one procedure for free.”

She stroked her chin, considering what she might have as a suitable demonstrative experiment available to her currently.

“Well, a simple one to start would be a specific Mark I’ve been developing in my head for some time. Think of it like a Binding enchantment but for the flesh.” She picked up a free sheet of paper she had set on her table, loose amidst a sea of arcane notes all pushed aside away from the medical equipment so there’s no cross-contamination. Using what she had learned of her free casting lessons recently she brushed her fingers along the surface and across it a picture manifested upon it. It depicted a simple image of a crimson serpent with an eye set in its back.

“This Mark has two effects. The first effect is that it will pull energy away from your drawing process, slowing it down and sending the energy it subtracts from you directly to me instead. The second effect is that it will propagate itself, growing by drawing from the surrounding air and converting it into itself. This will accelerate the rate at which it pulls energy out of your drawing process in proportion to its length.” With her explanation given she sets her picture down before looking back over to Ingrid directly.

“With your permission I’ll place one on you and see if it carries out its intended functions by having you draw. Once results are documented I’ll remove the Mark and this procedure will be concluded.”

Scary Ingrid thought but she still said yes as she nodded that as well. “I’m good to go Trypano.” Ingrid looked back at her to confirm one last time as it was getting scarier and scarier just thinking about it.

Trypano nodded, keeping a professional air about her as she reached over and took Ingrid’s hand in her own. Gently setting her index finger upon the top her hand the image of a crimson serpent painlessly formed upon her hand, colored on not unlike a tattoo.

“Now I will need you to draw.” Trypano instructed whilst generating a shaft of wood in her off-hand, material pulled from the desk itself resulting in it getting a little shorter. With a low level chemical spell she ignited the end of the wooden prop.

“Draw from the heat of this flame. I will observe the results and let you know when to stop.”

Ingrid nodded and honestly thought the little snake was cute. Ingrid began to focus on drawing from the flame in a very controlled manner to try and give her an accurate experiment. She slowly drew from it, enough to make the flame shrink but not stop. Hopefully, this is what Trypano wanted.

Ingrid would feel a pulling sensation begin to manifest as the energy she drew would start leeching away from herself over into Trypano. The crimson tattoo would start to grow in length, forming along the wavy pattern of an ever-elongating snake. New eyes formed along the pattern, each set right in the middle as the pattern continued to repeat itself as it continued up along her arm. Despite its growing length, however, the pulling sensation did not intensify.

“Tell me, how do you feel? Is there a sensation? If so, is it getting stronger with time?”

“I feel a tugging feeling. It feels pretty consistent in location but doesn’t seem to go past that starting sensation. How do you feel?” Ingrid was curious.

Trypano lifted a hand and, after triangulating a position between two primary fingers and her thumb to set her focus at, cast a basic light spell using energy she was taking from Ingrid.

“I’d liken the influx of energy to the same feeling one gets when drawing, only lacking the conscious act of focusing on it.”

With that said she leaned in, taking a closer look at the eyes proceeding the initial one. While the first eye had noticeably darkened as it continued to transmit its stolen energy the remaining eyes remained a solid crimson red.

“Hm. I think I know the issue here. Nonetheless you’re free to stop drawing now.” Leaning back away from Ingrid she turned and produced the pen from her ink pot, jotting down observations from the procedure.

That wasn’t that bad, Ingrid thought. Ingrid stopped drawing and sat there, waiting to see if she needed her subjective observations again, until Ingrid had to make a joke, “I don’t think anything is wrong with your spells, I just thing snakes love to hit on me.” referring only one eye changing and what happened in those caves.

“Ah yes, that reminds me.” Trypano leaned up from her papers and set her hand back on Ingrid’s new tattoo. With a slow sweep up the arm the tattoo vanished as her hand passed over it, the hand gently brushing along the skin until the final stretches of the tattoo were gone.

“I have all the data necessary for now. I’ll be revising this later but for the time being you’re clear for this session. As for the cannons, provided you’re still on board with the given terms I’ll be sure to create them as soon as I’m granted a location away from unwanted attention for such work.”

“Oh, that was it?” Ingrid thought it would be more intense like dozens of tests like she is doing with Zarra. Maybe I am a little unethical having him draw so close to his limit hundreds of times… well whatever. This is okay for me, Ingrid guiltily thought then ignored. She rolled down her sleeve and said, “Do you want me to help secure the place to make the cannons? I have a few ideas.”

Trypano nodded. “If you would assist me with that it would certainly be welcome. I have many projects throughout the day after all so any opportunity to delegate work is a welcome one.”

“Alright, I’ll let you know when I can act on it to not waste your time. Though don’t feel worried to ask me for more help. After how you described it I would love to help. You're a friend after all.” With that Ingrid makes her way out.

“Of course. I look forward to working with you in the future.” She bid Ingrid farewell, making sure the door was shut as she left before returning to her desk.
“Oh right, I’ll need to heighten this.” She recalls drawing from it, taking whatever material was left from the singed shaft and reincorporating it back into the desk legs. After that she took a mirror out from her drawer and looked over her eye.

“Hm. A simple fix.”

- Directly involved: @Force and Fury,@dragonpiece.

Gently patting a small pile of dirt behind a stall she buried yet another of the fetishes she had created, slinking back out from out of sight into the general paths leading up to the prisons. Nettle could feel it weigh heavily in the air, the wrongness that stifled her more mystical senses. Was this how the man-beasts felt under the curses we left for them back in the swamp? she silently wondered. Peeking through a grate she witnessed the creature within. It struck her that perhaps it was the source of the curse that hung over this place. The corrupt hearts that trapped such a thing here for no clear reason must have provoked a mystery into cursing this place.

In her pondering as she looked over the great structure that barred the waters of the bay from spilling out into the sea proper she failed to notice Asier’s approach, not really recognizing him quite as readily as he might have recognized her.

Asier has been scouting around the prison though with no success. He doesn’t even have much of a plan at this point either, kind of this point just going rogue and causing what mayhem he can to keep the Eskand upon their toes. The fact the prison seems to have some natural defenses towards the use of the gift is making any chance of a stealthy approach obsolete. It wasn’t too long as he notices a strange creature peering through a grate towards an animal. Though on a closer inspection, it seems to be the girl from the Drudgunzean detachment. “Vel, hva har vi her? - well what do we have here? Asier couldn’t resist approaching in a manner that had a resemblance of a prison guard, if a guard looked like a hobo with a stolen axe, speaking pigeon-Eskand. He probably looks frightening, but thankfully the gift is repressed as he grabs upon the girl and gives her a hug… a choice he quickly regrets. “You smell as bad as this one.” He gives a big beaming smile, as he pushes her away arm distance, “Another survivor, did you escape your captors too? Glad not to be the only one.”

When a strange voice announced itself near her she whipped around to see a figure that looked like a guard approaching. She attempted to turn and scurry off but suddenly found herself wrapped in arms. Though her arms were bound she managed to slip her hand into her satchel and was already producing her dagger when she noticed the figure wasn’t speaking like the man-beasts here but more like the ones back at that other beach.

Pushed away she still clutched her dagger but was not on the attack, not yet at least. Being devoid of gift had spared this one an immediate retaliation. Instead of speaking back to the large one who spoke to her in words she was not familiar with she instead turned her attention over to the captain.

”Hhhey! Hnothheer Fhrend!“

Asier looks up to see that Nettle was not alone and with another, waving towards him. “Well, looks like we might have had the same idea. Didn’t see you both on the prisoner ship, did you manage to escape from another?”

The captain shakes his head, “No, we followed up right behind you. We have come as a raiding party for some payback”. Asier nods, “How does Parrence fair? Did the King survive? All that was said is that we lost.”. The captain laughed, “Not that easily! The Eskandr are on the run, flooding the fields with fire. Pyrrhic victory but we are far from over.”

The captain indicates to Nettle, pointing towards Aiser. “Friend. Now to free other friends”, pointing towards the grate.

Asier went about carrying his part of the plan, leaving Nettle to play with her new friend. He grabbed the axe as he used it to pry the grate from the wall. “Let’s do our parts, you deal with that thing, then its rescue time.”

She did not understand what he meant but the metal bars were pried loose, the opening to the waters now available for entry. She climbed inside, slipping out of sight.

Asier continues to move threw the dank corridors, given the set-up here, it seems there is little need for guards with the thick walls, thick bars, and thicker heads at the entrances. Coming through the grate was a good catch, as it allowed him to evade easily into the stink pit as rats go cell to cell to eat the scraps of stale bread offered as nourishment to the prisoners. There is nothing he could actually do at this point with the locks bolted shut, encrusted with rust due to being so close to the sea. There are some disturbing sights as there are those far past malnourishment, let to literally rot in the unsanitary conditions, as others deemed worth to be kept alive forced to endure endless misery.

He moves his axe against the bars of the cell, trying to gather what life is here to stir, and is surprised by the weariness and lack of enthusiasm. “We are working to free you. Make sure to gather anything of worth as you make your escape out of here. Bring any brother and sister who still breathes.”, there is light stirring but many do stay where they lie, appearing to be others from perhaps even Eskandr lands. “flytt, flytt!”, more started to stir now. One of the Parrench prisoners clarified, ”Converts. They be Rounding ‘em up too.” drawing his thumb across the neck. It seems even their own people are not spared from the barbaric treatment. ”So wot is the plan? How be gettin’ out?” as he turns his eyes to Asier. It does take a moment to parse the speech, perhaps this one is a peasant farmer caught up in fields far larger than the ones by his farmstead, “Got a girl on the inside dealing with our gift problem, once she has dealt with it, we will use the opportunity to strike out of here. We got to be ready.”

All at once they could feel the gift slowly return to them.

Asier uses the gift to draw upon the metal, causing the bars to bend suddenly to create a path for them to escape. The others start to come out, others with the gift making a wider pathway and supporting others who were less able in getting out. The alarm went up almost instantly, the Eskandr shouting furiously. Fengselet!. He covers the rear as he pulls all the bars inwards to obstruct the way as he follows them out. “Up ahead and to the right, go for the grate. If you see a lost looking girl, she is on our side.”. The Eskandr continue to be hot on their heels as Asier draws upon the force, then applies with the axe, the support beam snapping and collapsing, as he moves to the next, and the next, as the roof starts to collapse behind the path. He thanks the heavens that the Nashorn isn’t here, or this wouldn’t have slowed him down in the slightest. That would provide them with enough opportunity to escape, reuniting with nettle to find out their next destination.

Those involved: @Ti.

Upon returning to the academy life resumed as usual. Just like that it was almost like that awful couple of days were little more than a distant nightmare. While she did not experience the loss and grief others might of felt her failure to protect nearly half of their team did not sit well with her. One was cut in half with an atomic-powered laser, the other kidnapped not once but twice and one more straight up vanished with little more than a note of leave. That last one admittedly was not her fault but it sucked nonetheless.

While the time they had spent with the reptilian humanoids was insightful and yielded perhaps the second most valuable find to be had this venture she couldn't help but wonder how it might of ended were her peers more competent. Was it for better or for worse that one of this remarkable species own researchers was so easily won over with sweet honeyed words and flirtatious behavior? Nonetheless it yielded insight, insight she now carried with her moving forward into a world with a larger scope than what was previously known.

More than that even was when they were dropped into the desert without prompt wherein Ismette invoked a fatal disaster that would have swallowed all of them had she and Jocasta taken any other action. As a result she returns now not only armed with knowledge that Ismette has dabbled in previously unknown magic
but also that some thing was made aware of their world, or perhaps had been aware prior given it took the shape of the god of death itself. They had traveled back in time to undo it's summoning in the first place but did time work the same for something clearly not from this world? Given how powerful it was she wondered still if it was not aware of what they did to thwart it's arrival.

She couldn't help but speculate as she returned to her dorm, mind heavy with many new thoughts to occupy an already laden mind.

She stepped back into the shared dorm of her Zeno group, the hold under Zander Mozaru. It was a humble space, spartan in decor. Aside from a couple art pieces it was largely designed for practical use over aesthetic or even comfort for the most part. She could appreciate the intent behind its design, her own room largely looking like what one would expect from a medical student, especially a binder from this academy.

Once she had placed her belongings back in the chest over in her room she set out to find her Zeno. She had seen uses of free-casting performed back during her mission such as with Ismette. It had proven invaluable and its use could not be argued. Ordinarily, if he was not out performing one of his other duties he could be found around here, hence why she started here on her search for him.

Zander Mozaru was to be found in the inner courtyard of his home, a satchel of nails hanging from his belt and beams of wood whisking about this way and that. While he was physically occupied with hammering one nail into what looked like a new awning, a half-dozen other hammers were in action nailing other beams into place. Somehow, though, there was no hint of sound. When Trypano stepped outside, he did not look her way, but his voice was friendly enough. "Ah, good timing," he began. "Would you mind just holding up the far end of that long beam there? Then, maybe we can speak if you've got any questions."

Trypano gave a simple nod before moving across the inner courtyard over to the beam as requested. It seemed Mozaru, on top of being skilled with kinetics, also had some talent in multitasking apparently. Regardless, she hoisted up the beam he indicated and awaited further command.

Such a think was not forthcoming. Instead, it was an invitation, as a hammer floated over and noiselessly pounded a nail into the wall close to Trypano's fingers. "So," remarked the Zeno, twisting on the ladder to regard her, "How can I help you?"

She was not put off by the pounding of the hammer nearby her fingers as she was confident in both the Zeno's measure of control and her own capacity for pain. Rough times learning to control her drawing had taught her well what pains to heed and which are little more than distractions.

"Recently since my arrival I've seen instances of other casters who eschew components of the spellcasting procedure. I am curious to learn such methods."

He was busy hammering again as she spoke, but he paused for a moment and tilted his head. "You mean like this?" he gestured at his work.

Trypano gave a short affirmative nod. "Much the same."

"Hmm yes," he replied. "We can work on those." One hand dug into the satchel at his belt and plucked out a nail. "Here," he offered, handing it to her. "Now, use this to cast a Kinetic spell." He grinned slightly. "Focus your drawn energy at its tip, like you're used to, first."

With her left hand she received the nail, her suspicion being that she'd be using it as a makeshift wand of sorts. As instructed she aimed the nail at a loose board, drawing from the motion of the air and attempting to move it in however small degree it may.

The nail wobbled and fell. Zeno Mozaru smiled ruefully. "You got ahead of yourself. Pick it up, and then focus like it's a wand. Don't do anything with the magic at first."

Her expression as stoically focused as usual she gave a simple nod, taking note of this correction. This was nothing new, the process of learning under a teacher one she was well accustomed to. Picking up the nail she focused then on the steps of the procedure as laid out, bringing focus to the end of the nail and drawing back again the kinetic energy, holding this energy steady at the focus point of the nail.

"Good," said the Zeno, not wasting any words or motion. "That's a process you know. You've done it a thousand times. Now, use the nail as a focus. Anything can be a focus, right? Raise that hammer from the ground and put it in my hand."

As per his command she then focused the kinetic energy into the hammer. Admittedly kinetic was not her strongest field but giving a small object motion was still basic enough for her to manage. With the tip of the nail directing the energy into the hammer she lifted it slowly. It wobbled unsteadily but maintained a tenuous float as she attempted to move it over to her Zeno's grasp.

"And you were able to do this in one of your weaker schools," remarked the Zeno approvingly, as he took the hammer. "Now, we've established that anything can be a focus. Hold that nail right up to the wood, almost touching. Bring your other pointer up behind it, about an inch away."

With little pause she approached the wood and placed both the nail and her other pointer into position.

"Now the space between the tip of your pointer and that nail is your focus. Build up your kinetic there and push it out in the direction of the nail in one quick burst."

Her brow narrowed with focus, concentrating as she drew in the energy and channeling it into a point removed from the end of her faux-wand. With a mental push she gave the kinetic energy a vector in the direction of the nail. The point pf origin still erred towards the nail itself, a noticeable fault in this her first attempt at the method.

The nail skewed to the side and stuck messily in at an angle, bringing up some splinters and the Zeno pursed his lips slightly. "It's second nature, now, to view the object in your hand as the focus, isn't it?" he tossed her another nail. "Line it up. Try again. If it helps, view the back of the nail as your focus: just behind the back of it. Like an extension of your finger, you're going to use that energy to push it in."

Like an extension of my finger. She considered the advice given. This time the aim was to insert the nail into the board, bridging the point of focus somewhere between her finger and the end of the nail. With deep concentration she slowly and carefully directed the energy, not a surge but a slow, heavy push. With this advice at mind she seemed more successful in keeping the point of focus nearer to her finger. A more tactile approach seemed to suit her.

The nail sunk into the wood virtually - if not completely - straight and stuck fast. "Much better. That approach suits you." Zeno Mozaru smiled. "Of course, there's a great deal more to learn, but you've used both a part of your body and your actual target as foci. That's the essential first step."

"I see." She reflected on the techniques demonstrated as well as the state of her mind and focus while performing them.

Under his instruction she continued her practice until time came for her to attend other obligations. Some progress was made but it would be some time still before she could move away not only from the process of motion and tools but from rooting her magic so close to herself.

There sat the lantern, a veritable artifact of the gods itself, on a humble table in the library. It was a large place, silent and easy to get lost in. It seemed a decent place to converse in relative privacy as many different faces go too and from this place. She was well aware Hugo as well as a select few others were aware that she was in possession of it but the overall administrative body would likely crack down on their unannounced seizure of a country's holy relic for their own use.

She had sent a letter to her good acquaintance Ingrid notifying her of the location of where they'd speak. Desmond being present was optional given how his involvement would still net them minimal potential for this task.

Her fingers steepled, a textbook on organ rejection open to the page she was last one, she eyed her environment whilst scanning for other living souls present in the area. She wanted to remain inconspicuous but the need for some secrecy regarding the topic remained as she waited.

Ingrid had come to the library as Trypano had asked. She took some time to find a book of interest though, One about different oil burn rates and temperature output.

She spent some time finding Trypano as even with a letter to help find her, it was a large library. Maybe after 10 minutes of wandering Ingrid found her. Ingrid gave a smile and a wave as she took a seat next to her. "Afternoon Trypano, what are you reading?"

"Ah, Ingrid. I am currently reading a text on prior records regarding a binder's difficulties with organ rejection in the human body." She set her eyes on Ingrid's approach, calmly sliding a velvety red cloth bookmark into the book and setting it shut.

"I gather Desmond was busy either tinkering with one of his many new weapons or training for the Kinetic class's project no doubt. Regardless, since you're both on the same team for the upcoming trials event his involvement is of only mild concern."

She gestured to the lantern before continuing. "As you're aware our attempts to elicit a functional response out of this item prior was rushed and yielded only modest results. While I do believe that with some research into it's history we could discern it's mechanism what truly interests me is the potential of a secondary use when it is to be paired with it's historical set-piece: The Record Book of Ahn-Shune. Now, as you're aware one of the offered rewards is access to The Forked Tower where said book is currently kept."

She turns her gaze over to the lantern itself. "While confidentiality regarding what occurs in the tower is required there is no doubt that discovering the true functions of the lantern itself should be done for documentation purposes. The church would do nothing aside from keeping this artifact polished anyhow. My proposal is that between the two of us if only one our groups enters the top 5 groups selected in the trials then the one who makes it should accept the invitation to the tower and will thus for that period become the owner of the lantern for that period of time."

She turned her eyes back to Ingrid. "Your thoughts?"

Ingrid listened and honestly thought that was the plan already. So there wasn't much to say, "Sounds fine to me Trypano. Though I don't know the odds of my group winning at the moment but let's hope for the best."

Trypano nodded in response. "Indeed. We'll both try our best and that way it should at least double our odds of putting this mystery to rest." She then offered a hand to shake. "My thanks on your cooperation."

Ingrid remembered another thing right as they were shaking hands. "Oh! I found something on my person when we were in Torragan." Ingrid pulls out the small note that carries a 10 digit code and what looks like a snakey smiley face. "I think she placed it on me. Any thoughts"

Trypano cradled her chin in thought as she considered what Ingrid mentioned. "It could be spatial coordinates or perhaps a coded message. Outside of that I'm unsure of what they pertain to without additional context to help make more sense of it. I did notice a section of those manuals awarded to us were sealed however so perhaps you may want to see if there's correlation in that."

Ingrid just gives a thumbs up before leaving now hearing Trypano's thought's.

With business settled Trypano resumed her study for the remainder of her free time, more thoughts brewing in the back of her mind as she digested this info.

The handy thing about having a lantern as a rare artifact was that it was also circumstantially useful as a light source. Sitting at her desk she poured over notes on the various symptoms that follow when foreign organs are implemented into the body. While not fatal in the short term it was simply not viable as a long term replacement as subjects would then suffer numerous conditions as a result, their health deteriorating over time. Why? She wondered. She knew that should the body accrue a splinter it would, in time, be pushed out from the flesh as it grows back in anew. Were anything that wasn't it's own flesh just a splinter in the eye of sightless meat? Even the very mana they called upon seemed to reject any form but the one that was decided for them.

Just... Why? How does something with no mind of it's own decide what will and will not be?

In the flickering candlelight she studied well into the night, conceding to rest only as exhaustion clawed it's way upon her. So much to do, so little time.

- Directly involved: @Force and Fury,@dragonpiece.
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