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It was a cold morning, the sun was high and the air was still and all that could be seen, stretching beyond the horizon was a thick layer of white from freshly fallen snow, marred by a patchy brown line cutting through it all. It was calm, quiet, the only sound to be heard was the gentle brushing of wind as it lifted snow off the ground like the Saharan sands. Soon though, that cool and calming wind was accompanied by a breezy melody, its source coming from a weathered acoustic guitar, played by a young man. Kiyoshi’s fingers strummed smoothly across the strings, an appreciative bovine audience having found his music soothing, accompanying him. He sat atop the three foot high fence, the separation between the cows and civilization as he played, feet dangling over the edge. Christmas was just around the corner, with the New Year following not too far behind. Family on his Aunt’s side had decided to come for the holidays this year, and while everyone was back at home enjoying the warmth of the fire and festivities, Kiyo had taken it upon himself to wander the countryside and play his guitar. Despite his Aunt’s objections, she knew that once he was set on something, he did it, she only encouraged him to at least wear something warm and while he did wear a dark blue hoodie, she probably would have scolded him for his brisk legwear; at least he was wearing long socks to cover up a little. His hands continued to play the endless tune mindlessly as his head wandered through the melody, lost to the tune of each note. Then...tragedy struck.

His song was cut abruptly short as tires screeched across the ground, ending in a resounding metallic thump and wooden crunch. His audience, clearly startled by the sudden predicament, scattered back into the fields from whence they came, Kiyo’s eyes furiously blinking as he tried to make heads or tails of what happened. Hands resting on his instrument, he slowly turned his head to the sound of an engine revving and tires free spinning, kicking up dirt and snow behind it...someone crashed their car, a relatively nice one as well. The young man’s brows furrowed as he processed the situation, “Geez...you think someone would’ve gotten their winter tires already?” Who the hell drives out into the countryside in a nice car like that after fresh snow, and doesn’t expect to get into an accident..? Sighing rather dejectedly, Kiyo started slinging his guitar across his back, “Well...there goes my Thursday…” Despite the sudden annoyance he couldn’t just leave anyone to their fate, especially since he was the only individual around for a couple of miles, he was pretty much obligated to help out.

Swinging his legs over the side of the fence, he hopped back down to the ground with a deadened thump as his feet plummeted into the snow. Trudging on over to the other side of the road, he leaned down and peered into the window to a rather flustered, if not distressed individual, then again, who wouldn’t be in this kind of situation? With a deadpan stare he rapped his knuckles on the driver side window to get the person’s attention, before waving his hand in greeting and motioning for them to roll down their window. With their attention grasped and window rolled down, he gave them a once over to make sure they were fine, which they certainly seemed fine physically, though also familiar. Dark raven hair, pale skin, wide blue eyes… the Mayor’s daughter? What was she doing out here? Kiyo’s expression was rather puzzled by this enlightenment, he’d never known the girl personally, she was ahead of him a year in school so he’d seen her often enough in and out of class. That being said, like everyone else in this town it wasn’t hard to know who was who unless you tried to make it so; Kiyo was one of those people who was particularly good at not being seen.

“Oh my gosh! My guardian angel!” Lillian turner quickly rolled down the window of her 2014 Mercedes CLA 250; a lovely hand-me-down from her father which stuck out like a sore thumb in the outskirts of the city. “I’m so glad you’re here.” She gave the man at her window a sheepish grin, feeling rather embarrassed about her current situation. “There was black ice and I lost control…” She frowned, glancing back at where she had first felt her tires sliding across the ice.

Slowly, she opened up the driver door and stepped out with her Timberland boots crunching into the snow beneath. Leaving the door open, there was a clear view into the backseat which was practically filled to the brim with wrapped christmas presents. “I almost made it to his house, too…” She sighed as she muttered to herself, walking around the car to view the damage. Luckily it was nothing major, only a cracked right mirror from hitting a tree branch and a few scuffs on the right side from going down into the small ditch.

“Do you happen to have anything that could pull my car out of here?” She turned towards the stranger who came to check on her, grateful that she wasn’t left to figure this out by herself.

The young man cocked his head to the side as the girl droned on. First she mentioned the black ice, “Well yea, it might be a dirt road, but people don’t expect luxury cars out here.” Then there was the mention of ‘his’ house, “Maybe some family member’s place? Nah probably her boyfriend’s or something.” As she inspected the damage, he did one of his own with a light kick to the tire, as though he were some offshore mechanic confirming that, ‘yep, she’s busted alright’; insert chew tobacco spit take. He took a brief interest in the contents of her vehicle, some rather sizable plethora of brightly colored gifts, it certainly gave the impression she was going all out, though it probably wasn’t for something charitable; like orphan children and puppy levels of charitable. As she came back around to ask him if he had a way to help her get out, his head levelled back up as he blinked his eyes to the question. What exactly was she expecting him to do? Hulk out and lift the thing out of this ditch? ...probably not, that’d be too boring anyway.

Rather than giving an obvious answer, Kiyo reached into his hoodie pocket and pulled out his phone to scroll through it. At first glance it probably looked like he was going to call someone, but here in the outskirts, a cell signal was hard to come by. Instead he was looking through his playlist for something he could listen to while travelling, the homestead of Oakley Ranch was probably a half mile or so up the road, they’d probably have a truck with a tow and it’d be a few minutes of walking to get to it. Satisfied with his choice he turned and started walking the direction the car was going in. About eight steps in he realized there was still another person with him and so he gestured for her to follow, inverting the headphones around his neck to act as a mini speaker as he walked. Hands stretched up, clasped around the back of his head, his bare legs bracing the cold as his shorts rustled in the wind; it really was a nice day out.

Lillian raised a brow as the man began to look at his phone without saying a word to her. She waited patiently, wondering if he planned on calling a tow truck service. “I could have done that…” She thought, eyeing him quietly.

As he began to walk away, still no words spoken, Lillian sighed. She’d have to figure this out for herself after all. It wasn’t his problem and she couldn’t really blame him. But didn’t he want to help a damsel in distress?! She groaned, taking one last glance at him just in time to catch him gesturing for her to follow. She grinned, hope was restored! “Oh! Me?” She hurried around to the drivers side door and shoved it closed, making sure to grab her keys and lock it.

As fast as she could without slipping, she ran to catch up with him. Perhaps leaving behind a Mercedes full of gifts and walking off into the countryside with a stranger wasn’t the best idea… but she believed most people to be good. “Maybe he doesn’t want to talk to me…” She pondered, walking quietly beside him as his music played in the background. “Peculiar…” She looked over his headphones before raising her eyes to his. “I’m Lily, by the way. What’s your name?”

He turned his gaze slightly as he eyed her up and down, “Lily, eh…?” He pondered this for a moment, yea he could see that, though he would’ve preferred keeping things impersonal, ‘Mayor’s Daughter’ had a better ring to it. Though since she was taking the effort to introduce herself, he might as well do the same. His hands began to rifle through his shorts and hoodie pockets, he knew there was one in there… ah!

Producing a small business card he stretched his hand out to give it to her, the text on it simply reading, My name is Kiyoshi Itsugaya, I am mute, apologies for the inconvenience. He used to bring a text to speech device with him wherever he went, but ever since the dredges of the outside world started touring Emerald City, plus an inconveniently, unfortunate encounter with a Wild Karen went south, he decided business cards were a more economic investment to introductions. To emphasize his point to her he pointed to his mouth as he opened and closed it, no sound coming out, ending the exchange with a brief shrug as he kept on walking.

Lily took the card and read it, suddenly feeling a bit selfish for thinking it was just her that he didn’t want to talk to. She put the card into her jacket and looked up at him, smiling. “It’s nice to meet you, Kiyoshi.” She looked forward, trying to figure out where he was taking her. “Thank you for doing this… you’re such an angel, seriously.” She stuck her hands in her pockets to hide them from the chill, twirling the business card around in her hand. To be honest, she wasn’t sure what to do when someone couldn’t respond directly to her. She felt the urge to keep talking to fill the silence, but in the back of her mind she knew that no one enjoyed aimless chatter. Typically, people were constantly talking to her, telling her things, asking her things and looking for answers. With that in mind, she decided to stop trying to fill the air with nonsense. The silence was actually nice and the music that Kiyoshi had chosen was charming.


A few days had passed since the misadventures with Lily ‘The Mayor’s Daughter’ Turner. After their introduction the two passed their walk in a comfortable silence, a mutual understanding between them. When they did make it to the farm they explained the situation to the ranch owner and hence hopped in his truck to pull her vehicle out of the ditch. Once everything was settled the two said their goodbyes and Kiyo, having had enough outdoor entertainment made his way back home to food and family. “Which of course, brings us to now…” As mildly entertaining as a dramatic monologue with comic book heroic undertones was, nothing was quite as amusing as live music and an audience to accompany it. He was back at the same fence post, playing the same guitar, to the same group of cows. Behind him was where a car had planted itself earlier in the week, the skid marks covered in a fresh layer of snow, but the damage to a small tree and another part of the fence was still prevalent. He briefly wondered if something like that would happen twice in the same week, though he was fairly doubtful.

“Ah-ha! Found him!” Lillian thought, pulling off into the shoulder of the road with the same Mercedes that she had gone into a ditch with earlier in the week. She had suspected that Kiyoshi had a daily routine and that she would find him near the same location that she had met him. Lucky for her, she was correct. Before getting out of the car, Lily grabbed the gift she had brought for him; a card accompanied with a medium sized square box wrapped in reindeer wrapping paper.

Excitedly she exited the car and called out, “Kiyo!” Careful with her steps, she crossed the ditch and made her way to the fence where he was sitting. “I brought you something.” She stretched out her arms, presenting the box and the card laying on top to him. “It’s not much but… it’s the least I could do. You’re my guardian angel, after all, and you deserve a reward.” She giggled as he took the gifts from her. “It’s a.. Merry Christmas and thank you gift. I hope you like it.”

Lily? While not exactly as spectacular an opening as earlier in the week, seeing her so soon was unexpected. Curious as to why she was back here again, “Maybe to see her boyfriend again?”, he was surprised when in her hands was a wrapped present and card and that she was offering it to him. Curiouser and curiouser, Kiyo swung his legs around and hopped down the fence again, guitar slung across his chest as he accepted the mysterious packaged, a perplexed look on his face as he stared at her. Clearly she wanted him to open the gift as swiftly as possible, her giddy expression clearly a want for him to see what was inside the box. Gently placing the enveloped card in his mouth he carefully unwrapped the paper, and what revealed inside was… “Holy shit…”

His mouth suddenly gaped open, the card dropping on top of the box, quick to remove it, lest his eyes were playing some kind of illusion on him, he stared in awe at the package. A set of Blue Series, studio quality ’Ella’ Headphones, these things were like $800, how in the hell did she even manage to… Kiyo looked back up to Lily, then back down to the box...this was unreal. They’d only just met and here she was gifting him something like this? Was this… a bribe? No, what the hell he didn’t exactly have much to offer in return and she seemed far too nice for something like that. Confused he looked her in the eyes, trying to find some sinister trace to them, some ulterior motive...but there was nothing, nothing but pure joy that she got him something that his face clearly showed he liked. He couldn’t possibly accept this and yet he was sure she’d insist upon it...he didn’t even have anything for her...what about something that was already on him? His own headphones? No that would just seem like he was giving a hand-me-down. His hoodie? Girls liked those...no he hadn’t washed them in a week, this was literally the same hoodie he met her in. What about… he looked down at his guitar, it was something he bought with his own money, slightly worn, but well loved, something personal. Looking back to her, he wasn’t sure if she’d like it but...what the hell. Placing his new gift gently into the snow, he straightened back up and unslung the guitar from his shoulder, offering it to the young woman, much in a way a blacksmith offered a sword to another. He looked expectantly, hoping that she would take it, cause otherwise, he’d feel like a right jerk that he hadn’t thought of gifting her something in return.

"No, no, no, no!" Lily shook her hands in front of her and then gently pushed the guitar back toward Kiyo's chest. She laughed, "It's a gift, silly. Not a trade!" She gestured to the card, "Plus, you still need to open your card. I love giving gifts, I promise I don't expect anything from it." She moved in closer and quickly planted a kiss on his cheek. "I just wanted to say thank you and I really appreciate your help the other day."

He began to move in protest, his cheeks slightly puffing outward, communication really was a problem for him. Before he had the chance though, her light peck caught him off guard, and he stood frozen in place as his eyes widened, staring in bewilderment. His brain felt like a muddled cog, “Tch- I- dehg… wuh-CRASH


It’s 3 am…
...3 months later
Kiyoshi Itsugaya


Jostled from his sleep, Kiyoshi took in his surroundings. It was dark, he was in motion or rather on something in motion...a bus...right. Sitting up slightly he looked outside, it was dark, the only visible source of light was the moon, a stark contrast from the fluorescent street lamps that dotted the city scape he had come from. How long had he been out for? How long had been travelling? Pulling out his phone he checked the time...3 am… sighing he slumped back into his seat, “What a joke…” Crossing his arms, he turned to look back out the window reflecting on what happened, a divet in the road most likely the cause of his sudden awakening, but more importantly he had that dream again.

Kiyo had been planning on going away for a few weeks, meeting up with his parents as they toured across the states. The travel would have been somewhat hectic, but not unfamiliar, plus he was just happy to see them. It was supposed to be fun, carefree and yet within a week of travelling he heard the news; Lily Turner was missing. It had only been a couple of months since they met and introduced themselves, yet based on their frequent schedule the two had been seeing each other usually every other day...nothing romantic of course, just two ships passing in the night. Even with the brief interlude into their daily routine, it had formed into a kind of constant familiarity that Kiyo had grown accustomed to. To find out that this constant had suddenly gone missing, it hit a certain note in Kiyo’s heart, like the dulcet tones of a sullened melody, an arrow in his chest. Some would mistake this as a romantic inclination, Lily wasn’t that, she was something akin to family and that familiarity is what made the potential reality hit hard and at home. With this in mind, despite his parents concerns, he felt the need to come back home, back to Emerald City, much to the chagrin of his early am bus driver. Kiyo preferred this form of travel though, preferred the quiet, solidarity, and with that his eyes had drifted back, fading away into those dulcet tones.
...
“Hey, wake up.” Kiyo’s eyes slowly shifted open, once again taking in his surroundings, Kiyo was back on the bus...only it was light out...really light out. “C’mon kid, look I know the other guy let you sleep in, but I got a schedule to keep, get up and move it out.” Looking up, this was indeed a different driver, and so begrudgingly Kiyoshi grabbed his bag and exited the bus, his eyes squinting at the exceedingly bright sunshine. Checking his phone again it was… 1:30? Jesus, how long had they been back in town? His surroundings were once again familiar and yet somehow felt different. Maybe it was the undertones involved with the disappearance? His aunt had mentioned something about a meeting that was supposed to be taking place? Perhaps it had something to do with that...or perhaps it had something to do with those plumes of black smoke off in the distance...
Fiona



The first twenty minutes or so of the initial opening was always the busiest, as the once happily and patiently waiting line, suddenly turned into a deluge as the cafe patrons rushed to the front counter. Eager as they were, whether they wanted a pastry sweet, or their morning coffee, Fiona had it more than under control. A veteran of a thousand openings, they simply cracked their knuckles, small sparks flying from their fingers and braced themselves as each order was placed. Like a focused machine, they took the order, packaged the baked goods, poured the morning elixir, and all without breaking a sweat, exuded their positive proclivity as they shouted after the departing guests, "Have a nice day!" Truly, this elemental was in their element. After all the initial excitement though, Fiona had a responsibility to attend to the needs of the remaining patrons. Making their rounds, Fiona made sure to refill drinks, bring extra pastries and generally converse with those around them.

"Another coffee Radiatron~? You still like it black right?"

"Here you go ladies~! Toffee delights, fresh from the oven! Don't worry, they're on the house ;)"

"Honestly Leo...I know you want to see your daughter, but she's busy in the kitchens right now! Don't you have to go back to the school anyway?"

"Was that you singing outside earlier? Ohh~ your voice was absolutely beautiful! I hope you'll consider participating in the talent show, I'm sure you'd draw in a crowd with your pipes!"


Satisfied with their work, Fiona began to attend to her other duties, or rather they would have, but...how long had they been standing there? Standing somewhere between the front door and the counter was a rather tall, hooded and imposing figure, almost statuesque in a way. Had they been standing there the whole time? Fiona wasn't entirely sure, yet something in the back of their mind almost tickled that they had been, yet they weren't actively seeking attention either. Whatever the reason Fiona felt ashamed they hadn't noticed the individual in the first place and were determined to make the situation right. Approaching the hooded figure Fiona started, "I'm so sorry we haven't taken your order yet, please, come with me!" With their best friendly, customer service attitude, Fiona latched themselves onto the arm of the patron began leading them towards an open table before forcibly coaxing them into a seat. "Wait just a moment please, I'll be right back~!" Skipping away behind the counter, Fiona began to gather an assortment of pastries, pasties, ceramics and cutlery onto a tray and carried back the sampled assortment of delights back to the newly greeted guest.

Setting the tray in front of the figure, Fiona immediately bowed in apology, "I sincerely do apologize for the delay and inconvenience, please accept these fine samples from our cafe as compensation." While not mountainous, the display was certainly sizable, including things such as croissants, scones, muffins, other assorted pastries and sweets and a cup and saucer for either coffee or tea, both of which had been accompanied with a small kettle. Raising their head from the bow, Fiona looked at the new guest somewhat closely for the first time, from what they gathered it was a woman, unusually tall, but perhaps they were a half-breed of some kind? Fiona didn't really know, but what they did know was that this person was a new face, and a new face deserved proper greeting. "Are you new in town Miss? Well let me personally welcome you to Foxbridge! My name is Fiona, and I'd be happy to serve you today!"
A collaboration between Ollivander @BeastofDestiny & Vanessa @Aviaire
with mention of Disguised-D @TootsiePop


So she wasn’t a student? Well to each their own. Ollivander wasn’t one to chide someone for their life choices, even if he were, as a ‘molder of minds’ his tools and skills would only go so far on the proverbial ‘unwilling clay’. Still, the historian was surprised when the young woman told him that she didn’t attend university, and while he should have been equally as surprised that she followed him anyway, he couldn’t exactly blame her either given the circumstances. After all he had given her an out based on an assumption, whether that was offensive or not didn’t seem to matter, as he was sure her newfound identity catastrophe was far more concerning than the misjudgements of an aged man. Clearly it was as she started with the obvious question about her likeness in appearance to the missing Lillian or if he knew of her whereabouts.

Sighing wearily he began to answer, “Sadly I do not know of Ms. Turner’s current whereabouts. I imagine if anyone did there would be no point in the formality of a town meeting or of this… fracas over there.” He flung his arm wide at the frantically, flabbergasted frenzy of news cast and crew, panickedly packing their gear. There was plenty of shouting coming from that direction, drowned only by their vehicles horns as they tried to clamber away, like carrion vultures ready to pick apart their next meal. While the morning edition of the paper was likely to display the events taken today, Ollivander had no doubt in his mind that the evening news would flourish an over embellished story of the meeting and subsequent fire.

Turning back to his new acquaintance he continued to answer her question, “Lillian Turner is somewhat of a town celebrity if you will, a treasured presence. If there was an event to be held, regardless of its nature, whether it be political, educational, or purely entertainment she’d find some way to participate in its planning and development. When Ms. Turner went missing, the town went into a bit of a tizzy and those closest to her suddenly became lost. To say that her sudden disappearance is a tragedy would be a gross understatement.” He let that sink in for a moment before continuing, “I suppose that brings us back to you, for upon closer inspection you don’t match her appearance, from a distance anyone could mistake you for her, as you just recently experienced.” Ollivander shrugged slightly before giving a knowing smile, “Colour me curious, I’d simply call it ‘being in the wrong place at the wrong time’, at best you’d most likely just receive looks of bewilderment.” As if on cue, a smartly dressed young man came bolting by, only stopping for the briefest of moments with a look of confusion in his face before spiriting away. Raising his cane up, pointing the butt of it towards the increasing silhouette, Ollivander gave a small chuckle, “If nothing else, I’d call that a rather sterling example.”

Vanessa nodded along as the old man kept on talking, regarding their surroundings with mild interest. More people in one place than she'd ever seen before here. It was good to get reassurance on the fact that she wasn't going to be constantly bombarded with the attention of anyone who even knew Lillian, though at the same time, she wouldn't be too surprised about the odd identity theft inquiry. "Not like short hair and a fringe is the most outlandish haircut," she yawned. "Guess people are gettin' a little desperate, though. If she's really that great... you can see why."

She frowned slightly as some guy did a double take at her. Have I seen that guy before? Maybe just around town. Damn, I know too many people with weird fashion taste to put a name on him. The old man laughed (who was he, anyway?), but Vanessa didn't find much humour in the sudden realisation that this was far from the last time anyone would do that. Instead, she groaned. "Just hope something is found before it gets worse. Can't believe they dragged us out here, at this time of day," Vanessa said, ignoring the fact that the conference was at noon, "and then they didn't even tell us anything! Like, what was the point."

Right after they'd had the conference, a whole new slew of other problems had come up too. Vanessa hadn't even known that that there were that many people in Emerald City. Much less that one had vanished off the face of the earth, that one was an arsonist, and there might even be a murderer sprinkled in.

Oh god, she could be friends with a murderer.

That irritating part of her brain also pointed out that she could be talking to a murderer right now, and she told it to shut up. He seemed nice enough, and Vanessa sincerely doubted his ability to commit any kind of crime. Not when he used the word 'tizzy' with a straight face.

There was some humor to be found in her words, although the old man in him simply wanted to shake his head; honestly, today’s youth and their inability to get a good night’s rest. “I suppose you might have had a point if you were in some kind of Metropolis, you’d practically blend into the crowd with your unassuming locks. In a city of a couple thousand, where most everybody knows everybody else,” He paused briefly, head tilted quizzically to the side as though he were trying to come up with a solution. “Perhaps you need a wide brimmed hat in the interim? Preferably one made of straw...that would certainly fit the ‘farm-to-table’ attitude the city still has.”

All joking aside, she did raise questions that were most appropo, what was the point of the whole damned thing today? The news of Lillian’s disappearance wasn’t exactly new, and anyone who didn’t know was living under a rock. If there was no new information to be had and considering the town was both small enough, and the news recent enough, why would there be a reason to reiterate the point? If this was for some kind of political or financial gain, it’d be disgusting to say the least, but the Turner family was known to rise to the occasion, not milk blood from stone for every bad situation. Maybe the police were looking for a potential guilty party to show up at the meeting? If a potential suspect was involved in Lillian’s disappearance, would they be so bold enough to come?

"A hat, huh? Like, I don't wanna cut my hair, but it would take ages to grow out," Vanessa murmured, as if she were actually considering it. “Still, there's no way they haven't found anything, right?" She faintly remembered the question about the lake, and what was found there. "People don't just disappear. That's like, not how it works."

“True enough, but if anything has been discovered, clearly no one is interested in bringing it to light.” Despite his companion’s attitude coming off as disinterest, she at least had a reason for voicing her concerns, at least on the bias of youthful optimism if nothing else. People don’t just disappear… at least not without cause or reason, but life wasn’t fair like that. The damsel doesn’t always get rescued, the dragon doesn’t always get slain, and mysteries like these don’t get solved by misguided, meddlesome juvenile-adolescents with a snack-crazed bloodhound. “If something good was found I’m sure it would have been told already, meeting or not. If it were something less than ideal, however, then they wouldn’t want to incite any more panic than the city is most likely already feeling.” He paused in place, a hand stroking his beard in thought, “That still doesn’t explain why they put on this ‘show’ for today….”

"Sometimes I just wanna be an important person so that I can know all the stuff going on behind the scenes, y'know? Looks like they just wanted to tell us stuff. Yeah, that's useful, but it's not the most interesting," Vanessa said. "I get that they're like, not telling us everything for reasons, but there's probably something we should know in there somewhere." Her tone was a little irritated but she got the point across. Vanessa really did hate being left out of things, no matter whether it was shopping trips or details on a potential murder case.

"Sucks that someone got to the mayor's house though. Takes a special kinda bastard to do that while things are like this." She grimaced, the disapproval plain on her face. "Makes you wonder if it's related to Lily going missing. Like, if the same people were involved." The whole situation was unusual, even more odd than one would expect someone vanishing without a trace would be. Too many questions, and not nearly enough answers. As a matter of fact, no answers at all.

She wasn't even sure why she was telling this guy so much. There was something that seemed honest in the way he spoke. Perhaps she was just sick of not having anyone to discuss her thoughts with. Either way, she could worry (or regret) about these things later. One thing she didn't mention, however, were her thoughts about Lillian. Vanessa didn't know her too well, but if she was truly loved as much as everyone made it out to be, then something of this sort wouldn't have happened. There had to be something else going on, some kind of secrets hidden somewhere. If there weren't, well, she just wasn't looking well enough. She added that to her ever growing list of things to get done too. She already had enough stuff to do, so a little bit more couldn't hurt.

“Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back,” the phrase elicited another chuckle from the aged man. “For someone who appears so adamantly against formal education, you don’t seem to shy away from seeking answers.” Despite the amusement, there was a certain level of respect in his tone, admiration even. Vanessa flushed a little, though kept her composure. “This town has gone through quite a bit lately, a lot of questions needing to be asked without any answers to follow up on, and as the string of crimes grows longer, all we can hope for is that they’re not related to one another.” Regardless of relation or not, would it even make a difference in a matter of safety or comfort? Probably not, but the Turner family has suffered enough without needing to be the victim over and over again.

The two were closing in on his vehicle and Ollivander couldn’t help but give a sidelong glance to the young woman beside him. She was a rather inquisitive soul and he could understand the level of frustration she was feeling, after all, no one liked to be left in the dark, not even him, still… “Even with my own personal investment in Ms. Turner’s disappearance I’m far too old to be diving headlong into mysteries and adventures, and am more than content to let the authorities handle these sort of things themselves.” He stepped off the sidewalk and rounded the front of the old Ford, popping over the driver side door, but not getting in, not just yet. “Eventually the answers we’re looking for will come to light and I’m sure if someone curious dug deep enough, they’d find those answers sooner than others.” He traced his fingers along the roof of the car, “Though for me to suggest something like that to just anyone would be rather bold if not...what was the word you used? Outlandish?” Ollivander gave a small, knowing smile to his companion, “I thank you for joining me in our walk and talk, and greatly appreciated your company, miss…?” Ollivander realized they never properly introduced themselves to one another, rather rude and embarrassing of him, though he was more than likely caught up in the conversation.

”Oh, uh, Evans. Vanessa Evans, that is. Yeah, it was nice to chat. Thanks for getting me out of the Community Centre, like, unharmed.” She gave a slight smile to the old man, with just a hint of mischievousness. ”Right, and your name is?”
“It was truly my pleasure, Ms. Evans,” Ollivander bowed his head slightly in respect, well aware of the lightheartedness in her tone. “As for my name, I am--” As if she had remembered something all of a sudden. Vanessa checked the time on her phone, and cursed softly. She really had to get home soon. She had to go to work in a few hours and god knows that she needed to make the most out of every minute before then (meaning she would be doing a lot of nothing and still somehow being late). ”God, I really gotta get going. See you ‘round? As in, definitely not doing anything related to what we’ve just been talking about.” She waved at him, taking a step back. ”Bye, then.

Before he could get another word in edgewise, the young woman darted off, leaving Ollivander’s mind in a rather awkward end point. All he could do was muster the willpower to focus, gently stroking his beard, before thinking, “What a rather peculiar girl…” She was right though, the time was getting late and Silas would have his head if Ollivander kept the dean waiting any longer than necessary. With a shrug, the elder lowered himself into his car seat and, starting the Crown Vic, began to drive away towards the campus. Noting the smoke in the distance from the recently announced blaze, he made mental detours of which routes to take to avoid the emergency services. All the while his mind wandered to his most recent acquaintance and of Lillian Turner. Considering their near doppelganger appearance, Ollivander hoped that Vanessa wouldn’t be mistaken for the other, lest a literal ‘copycat crime’ were to be committed. In that regard, Ollivander certainly hoped that the next time he saw the young woman, she’d be wearing that hat he’d recommended.

Mentions: Elizabeth @The Muse, Elliot @Allycat, & Vanessa @Aviaire


So much activity, in such a short amount of time. Arm in arm with Elizabeth, walking down the aisle to the front row, only for her to dash away and mistake someone else for Lillian. He could see the embarrassment, the anxiety, the general lack of concern from surrounding eyewitnesses as they stared and murmured. Ollivander’s heart felt like it was in a vice grip as he watched his pupil… his friend; she didn’t need to go through this, not again.

He watched Elizabeth as she made her way to a seat next to a young man, one who Ollivander easily recognized as the third of the trio of Elizabeth’s friend group. Elliot might not have been as tied to the hip as Ellizabeth and Lillian, but he was certainly around for a large majority of their childhood. Feeling somewhat more at ease knowing Elizabeth had a close friend nearby, Ollivander made his way towards the front as well just as her father and brothers made it to their seats. He stopped by their seats to greet them, the boys first, who greeted Ollivander back in kind, then there was, “Hello John,” the older man smiled softly, greeting the Senior Baker. Despite how disheveled the young man looked, he certainly looked better than...on that day…

Johnathan Baker stood up to greet the older gentleman, “Hello Ollie,” his smile was almost as weak as he extended his hand out. Ollivander closed his eyes briefly before reaching his own hand out to firmly shake his friend’s, “Thank you for coming, our family really appreciates it.” He briefly examined John’s face, light stubble had begun to form, whereas on most days the man was clean shaven, and his eyes were puffy and red, tears shed from the tragedy that struck the Baker family. “Of course John, it was the least I could do, after all we’ve known each other for how many years now?” Ollivander was trying to make light of the situation as he gripped his friend’s hand, but given the circumstances now really wasn’t the time. Reaffirming himself, Ollivander took his other hand and placed it on top of John’s, “I am truly sorry for your loss my friend… she was a good woman.” John nodded in affirmation, unable to speak lest he choke up again.

Ollivander’s eyes wandered over to the rest of her family, distraught faces weary with exhaustion from all the emotional turmoil they had endured. Even though he was familiar with the deaths of friends and family, given the circumstances, he couldn’t even begin to fathom what everyone was going through. His eyes finally rest on the closed casket, due to the collision, everyone thought it best to keep it shut, best so that they remembered who for what she was and not how she looked now. Ollie excused himself from John so that he might pay his respects. Making his way over, he leaned his cane up against the bench and shakily knelt down in front of the casket, staring at the picture of Mary Baker, ever so carefully placed atop it. Ollie had known the Baker family for a long time and Mary almost as long as he had attended their wedding, the birth of their children, family and neighborhood gatherings and now...her funeral… To say that this moment was surreal would be an understatement. Now that he was here, what was he to say? Ollie knew of many gods, and while this was a Christian funeral he wanted to allow Mary the safest passage he could...so he prayed to all of them.


“The harvest has ended, and the fields are bare.
The earth has grown cold, and the land is empty.
The gods of death are lingering over us,
keeping a watchful eye upon the living.
They wait, patiently, for eternity is theirs.”


The cold air whipped around them as the priest gave his last rites of passage for Mary, a prayer to the Lord above. It was April, overcast, a bitter chill in the air as winter had barely given way to spring, the bite of the air only more pronounced because of the occasion. The sky had barely opened to give way to rain, and though it was a light drizzle it only added to the rawness that surrounded them all. As the priest spoke, Mary’s casket was carried by a handful of men, one of them being Johnathan himself, barely able to keep his own composure as he carried his dead wife to her final resting place.


“Hail to you, Anubis! O jackal headed one,
guardian of the realm of the dead.
As her time has come, I hope
you may deem her worthy.

Hail to you, Demeter! O mother of darkness,
May your grief be abated
when your daughter returns once more.”


As the men set the casket down unto the device that would lower her down, Ollie felt a grip tightening around his arm. He looked down to find the form of Elizabeth clinging to him, tears flowing freely as she and many others cried openly at the loss of this wonderful woman. Even Ollie had a hard time keeping his composure as tears silently streamed down his face, but he remained in his resolve to finish his prayer.


“Hail to you, Hecate! O keeper of the gate,
between this world and the underworld.
I ask that when she crosses over,
you may guide her with wisdom.

Hail to you, Freya! O mistress of Folkvangr,
guardian of those who fall in battle.
Keep the souls of her ancestors with you.”


Opening his eyes as he tried to look beyond his own tears, he saw the casket sinking below the earth as the priest finished his prayer as asked the flock before him to ‘Go in peace, in the arms of the Lord’. Some stayed behind as others began to walk away towards their waiting vehicles, Ollivander was one who stayed, his prayer not yet done. The church bell tolled in the distance, a fitting finalization to this event and the epoch of Mary’s life.


“Hail to you, O gods and goddesses,
those of you who guard the underworld
and guide the dead on their final journey.
At this time of cold and dark,
I honor you, and ask that you watch over Mary,
and protect her as her day has arrived
As she now takes her final journey.”


Closing his eyes one last time, Ollivander suddenly snapped to attention as a small commotion broke out. Gazing around it seemed that the mayor was in a panic as the police chief moved him towards the back. In the background of the commotion he heard someone shout that the mayor’s mansion was on fire; how much time had actually passed? In reality it must have only been a ten to fifteen minutes at most, but to Ollivander, it might as well have been a lifetime as he relived that moment in time not so long ago. Turning towards Elizabeth he tried to gauge her reaction, not really having heard what went on during the meeting, that was the plan until he felt a slight buzzing in his pocket. Reaching in his coat pocket, he pulled out a phone, something the school had given him to keep in contact and inform him of any updates. It wasn’t anything fancy, just a simple flip phone with texting capabilities, anything beyond that was far too advanced and he was fine with that; let him live in the past and the youth could live in their future. Opening the device he put on his spectacles to read the message he received.


“All Faculty and Staff are to return to the University at the end of the press conference to discuss changes in this year’s curriculum in light of recent events.”
Office of the Dean, Silas Nugent


Ollivander’s eyebrows furrowed as he read the message, “Damn you Silas, did you even bother to attend the press conference?” A rhetorical question at best, Silas was more concerned about keeping the school open with hundreds of students, willing to spend thousands of dollars than actual community politics. That being said, with the disappearance of Lillian Turner, he had been acting more nervous than usual and micromanaging every aspect of all professors curriculum. Initially he had even opposed letting Elizabeth skip classes just because “her little friend ran away”, fortunately the other professors weren’t idiots and backed Ollivander up, leaving Silas to begrudgingly allow this decision.

Sighing in frustration Ollie stood up and put his phone back in his pocket giving a glance over to Elizabeth. At least she was with someone she could, at the very least subconsciously communicate on a more personal level, but he didn’t want to leave without letting her know he was. Making his way over he stood in front of the two students, “I’m sorry to be leaving on such short notice Elizabeth, I’m needed back at the university to attend to some business.” He looked slightly somber, though he perked up when his eyes fell over to Elliot, “Though I trust Mr. Herring is more than willing to keep you company in the meantime,” He gave a lighthearted wink to the young man before returning to Elizabeth, “We’ll get through this my dear,” he placed a gentle hand on her shoulder, “A day at a time.” He gave a small comforting smile before releasing his grip, “You know where to find me if you need me, take care now.” Without another word he began walking off towards the entrance, a lot on his mind as he tried to recount just what had happened during that meeting, but failing to gain any ground, his mind truly having wandered away.

As he approached the entrance he noticed the young woman that Elizabeth had ran towards and… at first he understood why she had run towards her, but now that he was close as he was, the similarities between her and Lillian were coming further into focus. If she was sitting at the back though then perhaps she didn’t want to either see Elizabeth or let Elizabeth see her. Ollivander wasn’t one to pry into other people’s business when it didn't concern him, however in the case of Elizabeth, he might be able to help the two of them at the same time. “Excuse me, miss?” Ollivander began to approach her, keeping a respectful distance away. He didn’t recognize her, but she seemed old enough to be a student, perhaps she was new to the town and university? “I don’t suppose you’re one of the students at the university? I’m one of the professors there and was just on my way back if you were as well.” Looking over his shoulder, he was relieved that Elizabeth and Elliot hadn’t left their seating yet, “If nothing else, it may give you a reason to blend into the crowd while there’s still a crowd left.” He nodded politely and began walking towards the door again, he wasn’t sure if the young woman would follow or not, if she did then she was welcome in his company and hopefully would help her avoid any other awkward confrontations.


Morning Star Cafe - close to open
Mentions → Radiatron @ScreenAcneUnknown Presence @DocRockTehlarissa @AdmrlStalfos19Leo @ShwiggityShwah
Interacting with → Jagger @AllycatRiley @Fabricant451Artaide @Metatrooper


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All was quiet in the cafe still, naught but the crackling of embers in the fireplace and the even softer, crackling glow emitted from Fiona, quietly wiping down the same glass for the third time in a row. The sun was rising higher at this point and was ever so slowly creeping into the confines of the small restaurant. Fiona was tempted to open the shades, to let the light cascade in and give life to her place of occupation, however the owner hadn’t come downstairs yet, it wouldn’t feel right to open without him at least. Truth be told Fiona didn’t mind, there was a calm in the air as the sun continued to rise over the horizon, bathing the town in its radiant glow, and you could just barely see the moon, a transparent sphere off in the twilight sky. The town was slowly waking up, it’s denizens shuffling through the streets, embracing the cool morning breeze that swayed the trees and waved through the grass; there was both peace and content being alone with their thoughts.

Already Fiona heard Radiatron, the curious robot that it was, clanking it’s way over before settling in it’s usual spot next to the building. Fiona didn’t think it ate anything and yet, like clockwork it came to the cafe not too long before it opened; quite the curiosity it was indeed. Before long, an unusual feeling washed over them, something familiar yet not, something like a long lost kin, yet totally alien in nature. Before able to contemplate any further though, Fiona could hear singing in the distance, their voice a familiarity. Tehlarissa, by far the most unusual being to enter the cafe, yet not the most unwelcome, she usually came to cafe just for Riley’s sweets, then again who wouldn’t? Her voice was rather beautiful, the song echoing along the streets and buildings. There was a slight tinge to the lyrics though, not in a bad way, it gave the song not just a body, but a soul. Before long Fiona was humming along to the lyrics, and as the song grew louder as it drew closer, Fiona’s own melody increased in crescendo, unti-.

“Fiona ~"

Letting out a yelp, Fiona nearly dropped the glass she’d been absentmindedly polishing in her hands, turning quickly to her boss she stammered, “M- M- Mr. Abott! Good morning!” The fire elemental wasn’t exactly good at showing off facial emotions, considering it was a constant conflagration that relied heavily upon vocal tones and inflections to convey their emotions. In this case however, the bright blue and white that dotted upon either ‘cheek’ of their face, clearly expressed embarrassment at having been caught standing about idly humming a tune in the dark. It wasn’t as though Jagger was particularly loud, the pixie’s constant default was over-exuberance, but standing quietly in the dark, the voice was ten times as loud as normal, though he didn’t seem to particularly care as he went straight for the coffee. "Oh and you already started coffee, it's like you read my mind. I have such reliable workers" Quickly regaining composure Fiona replied, “Of course! Anything for you Mr. Abott,” sighing a collective sigh of relief as her boss sipped at his fair trade, organic coffee, the door opened to greet them with the spry, almost-equally fiery red-headed niece to the elemental.

“Mornin’, Auntie Fiona.” She greeted, trotting her way over to the kitchen. Fiona waved back calling out, “Good morning, my little ember! Hope you had enough to eat before coming in!” Knowing her father, Riley probably had enough to feed a small army, though ‘Auntie Fiona’ couldn’t help but dote on their favorite niece. When Leo first told them about adopting the infant human, Flint/Fiona weren’t entirely sure it would be a good idea to bring a tiny human into a town full of monsters. As soon as they met Riley though, the elemental was sold and vowed to help aid in the raising of their multi-tentacled friend’s child. Snapped from the thought of baby’s first steps and children’s birthday parties, the sound of heavy metal steps trudged on by as they walked through the entrance, "Mornin, Fiona." Artaide? When did he-? Did he sleep on the kitchen floor again? Fiona put a hand up to their forehead and pinched the bridge of their nose. He knows he shouldn’t be doing that, and yet he does...Flint/Fiona had briefly considered letting them stay at their place for a while, even willing to buy an armor stand for him to sleep in...would that be even more uncomfortable than the floor? Either way, the elemental wasn’t exactly sure what their gaseous compound was and while they hadn’t blown up the cafe, they really didn’t want to take a chance at blowing up the apartment. Stone walls meant it was at least fireproof, not explosive proof.

Turning back towards the entrance, Fiona noticed that Jagger was turning the sign from closed to open, before gazing towards the clock. Remembering that they had a drink that ‘Flint’ wanted to show Jagger later, Fiona realized it was one of those now or never moments as they made their way to the shades nearest her boss. “Excuse me, Mr. Abott?” She started to ask while pulling the blinds up, allowing light to flood the room, “My brother, Flint, had an idea for a summer theme drink he wanted to show you.” They continued moving from one shade to the next as they asked the question. “He was hoping to show it to you before the evening shift, even asked me to pick up some decorative glasses from the consignment shop.” The glasses in question being pineapple shaped cocktail glass. Turning towards the entrance, patrons were beginning to file in, “Anyway, let me know later, I think you’ll find it to be really special.” Speaking of which, the armored Artaide had returned from his stint outdoors and began making his way back to the kitchen, “Hey Artaide! Don’t forget to tell me what your’s and Riley’s specials are! I still need to write them on the black board!”

All said and done, Fiona returned to their original post behind the bar and flipped open their notepad. Inflecting as much positive energy as they could, Fiona asked their first customer, “Welcome to The Morning Star Cafe! What can I serve for you today?”


xxxxxxxxxx


This morning’s announcement had been a rather interesting one, and upon his brief request to Dmitri, it was more than apparent that this morning’s news had been absolute. How could Alaric benefit from this however? The thought had been in his mind all morning since Dmitri spoke at the gathering. Suddenly there were new players thrust unto the board, players who undoubtedly had zero experience or knowledge in what they were doing. They were lords, yes, but lords that had been skirting through life on the shoulders of giants, and now they were cast aside, specifically Dmitri’s son. There was some advantage to this, but until he had a clear cut idea, Alaric needed to gain some intel, do some reconnaissance so to speak. Might as well start from the top down, he’d already spoken with Dmitri on his decision on what to do with his son’s money, which was a rather terse….

“Leonidas will keep his position within the family, Valarian will be playing along but mostly giving him a chance to find a suitable partner to marry. For the other two, freeze the accounts they have linked back to ours, they have wanted to be free from the Tepes name and so they shall have a taste of that freedom. If you’ve found some spare time call up our partners and let them know any business made with Kasania or Niklaus will result in ceasing our investments and ending our partnership. I cannot have my dear children getting off easy through the power of affluence.”

Just as calculated and cunning as ever, Dmitri had thought his plan rather thoroughly to avoid any unnecessary loopholes the children could exploit. Within a matter of minutes he’d already gone ahead and frozen their accounts, effectively slamming the vault door in the faces of Kasania and Niklaus. Within the hour, anything involving business, financial, legal or political, in the light of the public or amongst the shadows had been informed of the latest information. Should they try to request any favors from these individuals they’d be denied, or if they had done so before Alaric made the call, would be cancelled. Should either try to even breach these barriers, they would be warned by lawyers with at best a cease and desist, at worst, court dates. Though this rather effective lock and key had been Dmitri’s first step to tell his children to grow up, it had also been Alaric’s first step in his own efforts to attempt this coup; for if his children could not use any affluence, they would be won over by Alaric’s influence.

Now that the first step had been done the next best option was to speak with Dmitri’s
brothers, Viktor first, he’d already heard some interesting info from Sebastian not too long ago. Rather conveniently if anyone were to ask Alaric, best to keep an eye on that one, more so than usual. Viktor’s ‘office’ wasn’t too far from Alaric’s, he had taken up the space almost immediately after arriving upon the island, as had the other Lords and Ladies to their own respective ‘offices/rooms’. Once arriving at the door, Alaric rapped his knuckles on the door thrice, before turning the handle and entering the room. Inside the room was a lone desk with a computer, a multitude of books placed carefully along the shelves on the wall, two chairs, a fireplace and Viktor standing in front of it. The man appeared to be ‘brooding’, but Alaric made his presence known either way. “Greetings Lord Viktor,” entering the room and quickly closing the door, he took stock of what was in front of him.

In addition to the furniture and decorative art pieces/sculptures, to his left was a small bar, stocked with liquor of many a variety. Ideally there was an impressive bottle of blood infused cabernet, Alaric himself generally stayed away from the harder spirits, as he felt they diminished the quality of the blood within them from the alcohol proofing. “Your brother certainly knows how to put down the proverbial hammer,” Pulling the wine from the cooler and uncorking it, Alaric began to fill up two glasses of the red liquid, “I can only imagine how your nephew is handling this.” Turning from the table, a glass in each hand he made his way over to the Tepes sibling and offered him a glass, “Personally I was curious about your opinion of the matter, but I do understand if I’ve come at a bad time.”

There was no sign of feeling behind Viktor’s hardened expression. The moment he heard footsteps approaching the door, he shifted his emotions and made sure every fiber of his being was utter nonchalance. Detached. The clock on the mantel silently ticked. Respectfully, the centuries old Tepes advisor clutched his fingers on the stem of the wine glass, not looking away from the fire. Instead, he made room for Alaric beside him to stare at the blaze and get lost in the messages it may convey. Viktor did have his quirks, as all Elders do.

“As they say, in life, bad times will often lead to great things.” The man with tousled dark brown hair lifted his glass, briefly giving a glance to his brother’s accountant, before gingerly taking a sip. Such a delicacy this drink was. “My other brother, Sebastian, has always been one for dramatics. He believes there is a war coming.” Such was the error in the flamboyant vampire’s ways. “Do I believe that?” He shook his head, heavily sighing, “No. We’ve always been at war with other races. What I do believe is there are monsters in this world that have sold their soul for peace but found hell instead and our children, what we deem as our legacies, have no idea what monsters lurk in the shadows. What monsters are capable of. Do I think throwing them to the wolves was a wise decision on Dmitri’s part?” He would be considered a heretic if he talked in complete truths.

Taking a purposeful pause, Viktor took another deep sip of the blood liquid, before peering down at the substance in his glass, “Does that require an answer you don’t already know?” With a sharp glare, he brought his attention back to the only other soul in his chambers. In truth, Viktor believed children needed to be under the tutelage of a mentor. Someone wiser than them. Someone smarter than them. Someone that has lived to see the hardships and growing pains of being a vampire.

New threats will emerge, whether it be in the form of a hunter, a werewolf, or their own kind (witches as far as he was concerned was a neutral party), and those that were pampered would fall beneath the cracks. This contest, so to speak, was a game changer. It gave those that hungered for the spotlight an opportunity to take it away from those given it by birthright. Those that had less were far more prepared than those given everything. That doesn’t mean he did not believe in the Tepes legacies. He simply was a realist. This was their time to prove the old folk wrong, while their trials and tribulations either made them, or broke them.

“Now, where does this put you?” Viktor turned his body to face the other man. A man whose beginnings he was well aware of. A servant to Dmitri. Just like he was, but worse. A man who lost his kingdom. The house he called his own. A man whose worth was limited to what the King deemed fit. If he strayed too far from the prison bars, how much trouble would that cause for his dear brother? Plenty. The Elder was not one to beat around the bush and wanted to know exactly why Alphaeus felt it was necessary to breach his solitude. What was his motive? Surely not because he actually cared about his opinion on this trivial pursuit of building a house from the ground up. He wanted more. Something underneath the surface, but what exactly?

Invited over to the fire by his silent benefactor Alpheus moved to the Elder’s side and stared into the flames alongside him, their light dancing and flickering in his eyes. He listened intently, swirling his wine and allowing it to mull around his tongue just as he let Viktor’s words mull about in his mind. Though the words he spoke were cryptic, they were deliberate and they spoke well enough on the Elder’s mind that Alaric could understand where he was coming from. Inside he silently mused on the thought of Sebastian’s dramatics, though these were true in their own right, Viktor was just as much the drama queen as his brother. After all if Sebastian was the mask of comedy, then Viktor was the mask of drama; he took things a little too seriously. Then, came the big question, and Alpheus couldn’t help but chuckle, “Straight to the point, eh? Alright then, I’ll alleviate your concerns

Placing the glass atop the fireplace mantle, Alpheus turned to face Viktor, his jade eyes flickering in the light of the hearth ever so softly. “You know as well as I do, that I’ve lived a very long time, as have you. We’ve seen war, sickness, death, the timeless march of progress.” In a sense the vampiric race, especially the ancient generations have practically seen it all, and yet there’s always new surprises around the corner. “It’s difficult work, raising and maintaining an empire, you know this,” Alaric’s head dropped slightly as well, “It’s even harder to watch it crumble at your feet…” The day that the Tepes name condemned his empire, was not forgotten to the elder and his gloved hand crinkled ever so slightly as he gripped his fist tighter. “I have no desire to start from the bottom up again, I’m done trying to be at the top of the food chain, that flame has long been extinguished.” Looking to Viktor, a small sense of sadness in his eyes, “To quote a poem I once read, ‘Many a flower grow in these gardens, each wanting to grow the tallest, or bloom the brightest; sooner or later, they all get plucked. I desire neither, for I only wish to remain in the garden, until my time has come to return to the dirt.’

Allowing the other man to contemplate his words, Alaric quickly grabbed his glass and downed the rest of the red liquid, turning his back to Viktor he returned to the bottle to pour himself another glass. “We cannot question our Lord’s decision on the matter though, what is done is done for Dmitri’s word is law.”‘Long live the King’“I’ve already been ordered to freeze their assets, anyone who has ever been rumoured the name ‘Tepes’ now knows if they even breathe in Niklaus or Kasania’s direction, that their lives are forfeit.” Finishing his pour he returned the bottle to its proper place, “If you were to ask me, I’d believe they were being set up for failure, living in their royal lifestyle, a true prince to pauper story; how could anyone possibly survive?” Turning back he approached the Elder once more, “So...what do we do about it?” Viktor was an Elder vampire and had a name to maintain, this was for certain, but he was not as harsh as Dmitri, and not as vile and wicked as Sebastian. No he had a softer side, a more comforting parental approach and if the rumours he heard from Seb were true, then Alaric could potentially play these gentle hands of his upon the fiddle of fate. If not, Al always had an Ace up his sleeve to play.

“As far as Dmitri is concerned, we maintain a neutral stance.” Walking away from the accountant, Viktor placed his glass on the desk. After leaning against the mahogany table, he crossed his arms and reflected. His stern gaze never wavering from the intrigue that Alaric presented. Viktor was aware of the assets being frozen, even prior to this meeting. Whatever Dmitri decides, more often than not, he was the first to know. Yet, Viktor Tepes’ fascination was not on the information of his dear niece and nephew. He knew one way or another, they would come out alive. Damaged, but still alive. One more so than the other.

That was neither here nor there. What he cared about and latched onto was the notion of survival. This gave him an understanding of whatever the other man wanted, he was aiming to grab the heart the Elder had for those children. If not for those children and the Tepes name, which Alaric so strongly believed Viktor supported because of his seemingly obvious loyalty, then for the future of their race. And if not for that, then for what he loved. Viktor was brought back to Molly and her desperate pursuit for perfection. A utopia. A world where survival of the fittest, a dog eat dog world, was no longer a concern. Molly’s face turned into Pandora’s. Although he wanted to smile, he kept his mask on, as he always did.

He knew where his priorities lie, did Alpheus?

Running his hand through his long hair, Viktor claimed, “There are no morals in politics and once they realize that, they will have an advantage. All I can do is hope whoever succeeds Dmitri, that they will be in the service of the people. That they do not lose sight of civility. In spite of the fact that... ” He paused, cracking his knuckles in the process, before admitting, “... I’d be damned if I die and leave this world the way it is.” In absolute disarray. A world that Pandora couldn’t thrive in because someone would want to use her as a weapon or worse, kill her because they fear what she may become. Turning his sigil ring around his finger, just like Sebastian does, he countered Alaric’s question, “I suppose a better question you should be asking is will you control the chaos or embrace it?”

If his priorities weren’t in the Tepes name, then… the rumours were true… Unlike Viktor’s steely gaze, Alaric couldn’t help but lose his own visage, his face contorting into one of pure amusement as he let out a rather hefty cackle. “Please...do forgive me my Lord,” he said in bursts of laughter. It was time to save a bit of face, while also letting on to his ploy, “You ask me to either embrace the chaos, or attempt to control it…” he rubbed his hands together, head staring at the ground as he paced silently before looking back up at Viktor, a subtle glow in his eyes, “Is it truly too much to ask for both? To embrace the chaos in an attempt to control it?”

Supping from his drink, Alaric’s demeanor returned to a rather reasonable sanity, calming himself from a mood that could only be matched by Sebastian. “It would seem though...you’re not as concerned about your niece and nephew as much as you should be, given your statements to your brother’s decision. Maybe...it’s because you’re ‘more’ concerned about the well-being of someone else...someone who’s...not of your own kin, or rather…” Alaric stared Viktor dead in the eyes, “Your adopted kin ...” Upon that notion, he let it sink in as Alaric began to circle the Tepes brother, “We all had been wondering why she hadn’t been turned to one of us yet. How could she still remain human? How could she continue to interact with us? Does she know what you are? Does she know what ‘she’ is? How would your brother feel if her identity were to be revealed? Quite frankly...how truly ‘inhuman’ she was?”

A small chuckle elicited from his lips as he stood in front of Viktor, “What a shame if she were to be burnt at the stake…”

Calmly, Viktor made his way to the door and opened it, “Leave.” was all he said in response. The Elder will no longer indulge the accountant’s fantasies. He was a fool to think he knew all the answers and there were only two people who could’ve told him. Alexander or Sebastian. But to agree or disagree would only make Alaric believe what he knew was the truth. He knew nothing and for his age, he was dumb to believe that he was told this information without intent.

Alaric closed his eyes to the lord’s request, and complied, “As you wish, Lord Viktor…” Straightening out his gloves, Al made his way to the entrance, but not before placing his hand, claws ripping through the leather and unto Viktor’s shoulder. “You should listen to your brother better, my lord...war is coming, but not the kind you will expect or be prepared for.” With a subtle smirk and ripping his claws from Viktor’s coat, Alpheus disappeared to his own quarters, awaiting the next step in his plan.

While the man vanished, Viktor closed the door and went back to the fireplace. On the mantle, there resided that ticking, antique dual chime clock. He opened the glass of it and with his long nails, he peeled off the number two, revealing a hidden cam bug.

Even old men have tricks up their sleeves.


Downtown - 5:30am
Mentions → Jagger @AllycatQuentin @Tootsiepop

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It was still quite dark in the town of Foxbridge, the sun just barely kissing the horizon as it began to rise in the east. Despite the night sky that was about to give way to the day, there was another glowing light to be seen in the small town. It’s light reflecting off every surface as it tried to maintain a minimal glow, so as not to disturb the peaceful residents of the quaint village. Wrapped up in a coat, umbrella in hand, Fiona strode along the usual course to the Morningstar Cafe, along their familiar path; a walk performed many a time since they found this small town.

Reflecting on the night before, both Flint and Fiona had argued who was going to open the cafe, normally ‘he’ would be the one to do it, but ‘she’ really wanted to be the one to do it since it had been so long. Obviously Fiona won in this case, the final nail in the coffin being that their boss wanted to do a ‘beach theme’ for the evening and ‘he’ could showcase the cocktails better than ‘her’; Flint couldn’t argue with that. With the deed done, they spent an evening nestled in the stone fireplace, ‘burning off’ the energy from the previous day, waking up and immediately enjoying a hot oil bath before dressing, and going off to work. Some would call such a bath detrimental, to them though, the blistering bubbles were rather soothing on the several millennia old being, plus it wasn’t like they were going to burn down their own apartment, they had better control than that.

Approaching the cafe’s entrance they began to remove their coat and set it on top of their umbrella, carefully leaned against the side of the entrance. Once done, Fiona merged their form into a more liquidos fire and slid underneath the crack of the doorframe, reforming their humanoid shape once inside. They quickly unlocked the door and retrieved their belongings, bringing them out back to store in the employee area. Looking around the cafe, Fiona’s soft glow igniting the shadows, they were unsure if the cooks had even arrived yet, but even so, no matter as they liked to be the first to arrive either way. Both Flint and Fiona had a passion for the cafe, a loyalty to their bosses, almost akin to what some might consider a ‘teacher’s pet’, except their proverbial apple was to just get everything ready for the day ahead. Jagger seemed to audibly praise the elemental, and Q...he was quiet, but at least he seemed appreciative...mysterious, thoughtful, and quiet, but appreciative.

Shaking the albino’s image from their mind before burning a hole in the floor, Fiona went to work on getting everything ready. Tablecloths were placed precisely, ceramic, glass and silverware were uniformly placed before each seat at each tabletop. The windows were wiped clean of any imperfections and fingerprints, the countertop and bar shone its glossy veneer, and the fireplace roared as Fiona ignited it; it was more of an aesthetic than to warm the soul, they made sure of that after all.

Fiona could really see the sun shining through the shades now, it had only been a little more than 45 minutes, but everything was more or less picturesque for the cafe. All they had to do now was wait until the bosses arrived, maybe say hi as the other servers/cooks arrived. What to do until then though? “...Guess I’ll brew some coffee and polish glass until we open….”


A collaboration between Ollivander@BeastofDestiny & Elizabeth@The Muse


Still perched for the hour plus amount of time he’d stayed on that bench, Ollivander had witnessed the progress of time unfold around him. Initially there was peace, then suddenly the press had encroached upon the location he had so dearly held unto his heart as a safe haven. Undoubtedly the news stations of not just this town, but from cities far away. Cities that had never once held an ounce of delight to the seclusive town tucked neatly away from the ‘juicy stories’ that they sought after. No, today was just another day of newscasters ready for the next harvest of social curriculum. In the eyes of Ollivander they were nothing more than 3rd graders seeking attention, willing to go outside the norm to be seen by the peers around them.

Ollivander sighed, his hands gently caressing the etchings upon his cane. Had he ever been so cynical? Was it simply his old age, or was it the news of recent events? The possibility was that it was a bit of both, the anchor teams gathering around the community center certainly weren’t helping the old man’s opinion either. Despite everything that was happening to the small town he grew up in and loved, he was a scholar first and a bigot second, and everyone had a history. What may have brought one from point A to point B is their story and their reason for being there. As much as he could judge as the human he was, he had to take some form of logic into account and think rationally. Before he could continue his thought process however, a voice pulled him back into reality.

"Doing okay, Mr. Clarke?"

Startled from the sudden comment, Ollie turned towards his most recent companion. Blinking a couple of times, his mind wondering how she had snuck up on him, only to realize he knew the answer to that. He simply smiled and chortled out. “My dear Elizabeth! That’s my line, don’t you know?” He laughed out in as much earnest as he could produce before that earnest gave way to half-heartedness. His chuckle fading, his sad eyes setting back in he sighed, “Forgive me my child, I tend to forget that those who are my students are sometimes… adults as well” Resting his chin heavily on his cane he pondered, “No...I suppose I’m not doing ‘okay’ Elizabeth… Ever since I heard the news from you, I’ve mostly just been...in deep thought.”

He still remembered the tears and emotion he felt from his young pupil, how he handled the situation rather quickly amongst the other staff and the dean of office. It wasn’t until he returned to his manor that the full gravity of the situation set in and he broke down himself. He shook his head in earnest, voiding the demons from his mind and the glassiness from his eyes. He’d recommended the young girl to be out of school per his request and formal submittance, but he hadn’t seen her since. Placing an aged hand on her shoulder he smiled softly, noting the tear stained, puffy eyes of one who deeply cared for the loss of her friend, only dreading the news to soon be announced. “As I said my darling, this is a question for me to ask...how are you doing?” She certainly wasn’t a dumb or arrogant girl, and more than likely she knew just how bad he was feeling. That being said, as her elder, he couldn’t help but be concerned for her and only hoped for the best, most likely knowing the truth of the situation; She was devastated.

Immediately, Elizabeth’s green eyes welled with tears. She was not okay and for some reason saying it out loud would have made it worse. She shook her head, unable to speak lest the water works begin all over again. Taking in a deep breath, she looked out over the calm river and patted her eyes with the sleeves of Lily’s hoodie. The care expressed on Ollivander’s face and in the tone of his voice was too much right now. She needed it, but the love felt like it was begging her to crack. She was on the verge of a mental break down and fighting so hard not to completely lose it.

”Not… very good…” She sniffled and returned his gaze, finally finding her voice once again. ”I’m sure you can tell by my…” She gestured to her face and let out a small chuckle, knowing how bad she must appear. Hopefully the media cameras didn’t intend to film the crowd members…

Sighing, she relaxed into the bench and anxiously rolled one of the hoodie strings between her fingers. ”What do you think they’ll tell us?” She was fighting tears again, feeling the frog in her throat trying to steal her voice once more. ”N-...no news is good news….. right?”

Instinct was to reach into his vest pocket and produce a handkerchief for the young woman, but she already had her own in the form of the sweater she wore. It looked awfully familiar, he’d seen Lillian come into class wearing it now that he was recalling? Was it perhaps a gift? Maybe just left over from a night of slumber partying? Either way Ollivander had no reason to question why Elizabeth had it, after all the two girls were practically tied at the hip since the first day they met one another. He looked at the young woman as she attempted to regain her composure, the sweater was probably a necessary item at the moment. The bright orange article of clothing, a reminder of someone lost, the amount of nostalgia that it held was more than likely insurmountable, and the weight on Elizabeth’s shoulders… he couldn’t even begin to fathom.

Her next question, however, gave him pause; “No news is good news…”. He looked at her in earnest before turning his head to the reporters, given the pomp and circumstance that was being pulled off...the likelihood of the speech to be of a positive volition… was rather bleak. Everyone wanted the fairy tale ending, the prince kisses the princess, they live happily ever after; Hansel and Gretel make it back home after baking the witch in her own oven. To this girl, however, her happily ever after would be after she reunited with her best friend and he didn’t have the heart to tell her that not only was her friend just missing, but was more than likely gone from her mortal coil. Turning back to face her, a soft smile on his face, he tried to reassure her, “That’s always the hope my dear,” but despite the evasive answer he did want to prepare her in some way, “Whatever happens today though, we must try to be brave, ‘keep a stiff upper lip’ as my father would say. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with the way you feel right now, and no matter what happens I’m here for you, as I’ve always been for you and your family.” His mind had wandered back to her mother’s funeral, a poor unfortunate soul whose life had been cut off far too early from this world. It changed her father, and though Elizabeth wasn’t always as cheerful as she used to be, she still carried on. Ollivander respected her for that, that strength as she carried all the weight of the world on her shoulders. He couldn’t even imagine what would happen to her if Lillian never returned, was never found, or even killed. To have something like that happen, it’d break the young woman’s heart.

Elizabeth nodded in agreement, though his notion of “whatever happens today” made it feel like something was constricting around her heart. It was getting harder to breathe the longer this day went on. The longer her life went on, truly. “Cursed…” the word crossed her mind again; one of those intrusive thoughts you don’t mean to have but they slither out of the darkness and torment you for the rest of the day anyway.

“You have always been there for my family…” she echoed in confirmation, remembering how her father had crumbled at her mother’s funeral. Ollivander had been there to support them and to remind their father that he still had a family to care for despite the circumstances. He had to stay strong and be present. If not for Ollivander, she wasn’t sure how her father would have pulled through. It had been four years since the accident, and her father had never been the same, but Ollivander had always been there; checking in on them from time to time, making sure her and the boys were doing well and that her father was taking care of himself too.

Once, on a night that Lily had been out of town and the twins had gone to a sleepover, Elizbeth’s father chose to get belligerent drunk. He became abrasive, saying words he would normally never utter to her. He had been so angry at her, at the world. She had supposed it was his way of dealing with pain, but it was not something she signed up for… so she left. With no best friend to turn to, Elizabeth’s next best option had been her dear family friend Ollivander Clarke. He only lived a couple blocks away and she figured that he would take her in… she had hoped. When she arrived, of course, his door had been locked. It was 2am afterall. Refusing to be rude and wake him, she had resigned herself to spending the night on his porch. At least it was warm outside, considering it was the middle of summer. It wasn’t the ideal sleeping situation, but it was better than being verbally abused inside her own home. However, clumsy as she was, she had tripped over the plant stand outside his door and knocked over a broom. A few of the planters had loudly clinked together and the broom bounced several times against the concrete. Just as she had picked up the broom, the front door flung open.

“YOU RAPSCALLIONS! I'LL SLICE THE LOT OF YOU, I'LL BUTCHER YOUR SONS! I'LL.... Blinking a couple of times at his supposed intruder, he mouthed, “Elizabeth?”

She yelped and jumped backwards, away from the Afghan cane sword he was swinging around at the assumed intruder. After a few moments of awkwardness, he had invited her inside and brewed some tea to discuss why she was at his house at 2 in the morning. Emotional and trusting, she had told him everything about what her father had been up to and why she had to get away. Shortly after, he allowed her to sleep in his spare room for the night. Not even a full week later, Ollivander had presented her with a key to his house and told her that she was welcome any time; day or night, dusk or dawn. They were truly bonded after that. The man was a saint and her guardian angel - that’s what Elizabeth had called Ollivander in her journal entries. He still lived up to the name, even if he didn’t know it.

Breaking from her thoughts, Elizabeth sat upright, turned to him and stoutly wrapped him in a tight embrace. “Thank you… I don’t know what we’d do without you.” She lingered there for a moment before pulling away. Hearing a familiar truck, she looked towards the community center and spotted an old beat up Ford F150 from 1990. “My dad and the boys are here.” She felt a sinking feeling in her chest, knowing how close it must be to noon if they were arriving. “I’m going to go meet them so we can sit together. Want to join us?”

Perhaps he had said the wrong words? She had grown quiet, only to mutter the same words he had just used. He let Elizabeth process them, wondering if maybe he had gone too far with his speech, the last thing he wanted to do during this rather dire moment was- … then it stopped, her lithe form making contact with his body in a light, yet endearing embrace. Her words of thanks only floored him as his eyes suddenly moistened to the gratefulness this young woman had expressed. His own hands had wrapped around her body to return the favor, “You’re welcome my dear...Truly” He felt tears streaming down his face as she let go of him, now it was time to finally retrieve that handkerchief he’d meant for her, dabbing at his own face before returning his gaze to hers.

Noticing where she was looking though, he himself turned to look in that direction only to look at his watch and confirm that the time was nigh. Sighing once again, he pocketed the watch and listened to her simple, yet thoughtful request. Though he wasn’t nearly as worn as his student, his aged face was showing their tell-tale signs of sadness and despondence, yet he wasn’t about to reject such a request from a longtime friend. “But of course,” he readied himself to stand up, mostly using the cane for support so he could right himself. “Shall we go then, my dear Elizabeth?” Ollivander then extended his arm, because having been born English, he was a gentleman first, and a scholar second.

I volunteer to be a father who adopted a human!

It might even play into my fluffy cuthulu mythos. Kid was a sacrifice unto me and I was like. "Oh hey little guy. Ill take you home."


Instantly thought of this



Edit: skip to about 1:35
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