Crunch approached Aki, Wisp, and Aer just as the foreigners were being taken away. ”As you likely already know, I'm Captain Crunch. I oversee a fair portion of the king's naval fleet and am currently stationed here to make sure the waters remain bandit free.”
She folded her arms. ”I’d like to know your names and what you you saw today.”
Her eyes shifted to Mono. ”You can also put down Wisp now. I don't think there's any need to intimidate him further.” ”Against my better judgment, I will comply.”
Mono lowered Wisp onto the ground, but not before handcuffing their arms together. ”Don't even think about squirming away.”
As quickly as Wisp was on the ground, and his handcuffs were firmly secured, he broke towards Aki, and wrapped his bound arms around her. ”Thankyouthankyouthankyou!”
He exclaimed rapidly, barely breaking for breath as he continued, ”I dunno who you are or where you came from but Meanie Mono tried to make me go somewhere I didn’t want to, so thank you! Also, I’m Wisp. Nice to meet you~!”
Aki had managed to keep Wisp safe for the entirety of the journey to the hero district by walking in between Mono and Wisp hanging from Mono’s hand. This Mono person had not yet spoken to her, he only appeared visibly annoyed by the looks of it. She did not pay heed to it however, her one and only concern was getting the cat girl out of this situation. Aki turned her attention to this Crunch person. Aki did not understand the origin of her name very well, was she known for crunching much while eating? Or did it perhaps have other meaning, further investigation would be needed. Aki got somewhat less defensive as wisp was now down on the ground, she gave her a sweet smile knowing she was happy as well. Wisp was still somewhat stuck by the handcuffs but at least she did not seem as hurt as before. Wisp hugged Aki close with her bound arms leaving Aki somewhat puzzled at first but she soon followed up to her wrapping her arms around the girl as well. She answered back with a bright nod.
”Hmm! You are alright now! It is nice to meet you Wisp, my name is Aki!”
Aer glanced at the cat boy and street performer only momentarily before looking at Crunch. ”My name is Aer Pacifica, I'm a licensed adventurer. I was looking for a missing person near the docs when I stumbled across the forieners. They offered to help with my search, but I knew they would be of little assistance as they were not familiar with the area. I found their attire of interest, so I questioned them. Like you, I was concerned that they might be bandits or cultists. In hindsight though, I suppose I was letting the rumors about the bandits being controlled by a witch cult influence my reasoning. “
She looked at Wisp. ”He came along shortly afterwards. He spotted one of the boy's meteors. Ashton was it? I think he wanted it.”
She looked back to Crunch. ”He offered to help them escape, but they chose to remain by my side, even if there was a chance you might execute them. I did not believe they could possibly be cultists or bandits after that.”
Mono yanked on the handcuffs, causing Wisp to fly backwards into his captor. ”Well? The entire reason you're with us is to tell us about the meteor. Did you notice anything interesting about it?”
Aki gasped in surprise as Wisp was janked backwards by the handcuffs. In astounding manner she looked up at mono. Her hand slowly rose up as she spoke up to the general mister.
”Stop! You are hurting her!”
Aki almost began crying after yelling so loudly and aggressively, she didn’t want people to get hurt. Aki aimed upwards at Mono his hand as she spoke out clearly. It might have not been powerful but maybe that would learn him to keep his hands off of little girls!
”Fur-..” ”Whatever you think you’re doing, stop it.”
Wisp called out. He could accept being dragged around, especially when Mono was involved. But there was a limit to what he could and couldn’t accept - Aki (close to) crying, and raising her hand in an offensive manner, crossed that line. Before she even spoke, he pushed his way out of Mono’s reach, and placed himself between them both. The moment she started speaking, he called out, intent on disrupting whatever magical word she was prepared to speak. ”Eeheheh, no need for violence! Everything’s okay here!”
While he spoke equally as cheerily as before, his eyes remained in contact with Aki’s, silently commanding her to hold her actions for the moment.
When Aki tried to hurt Mono with her magic the catgirl called out to her and held eye contact as she slowly held Aki off to attack the general. Aki softly drooped her hand down a tad as she concerningly gazed into Wisp her eyes.
”B-but..” ”It’s nice to meet you, Cap’n! I’ve heard lots about you, and might I say it’s reassuring to have someone as capable as you commanding part of the navy! I was just looking around is all, but I saw some people being crowded around and thought I’d say hi. They even gave me their Meteor.”
with the word Meteor, he looked back towards Mono, and cautiously took it out of his pouch, ”I didn’t get to test it but… I think it’s a Spatiotemporal Storage Meteor. From what I saw, it captures a point in the world, and replicates it to be displayed later. At least… I think. I was gonna, eheh, experiment with it a bit later~” ”Really now? They handed it to you?”
Crunch raised an eyebrow. ”You don't think it's a trap or anything do you? I can't understand why anyone would part with something so valuable. I'd like to see a demonstration.”
Mono hadn't taken his eyes off of the young street performer since she spoke. Before Wisp could respond to Crunch's questions, Mono raised his hand. ”Do it.”
He placed a hand over the hand cuffs on his arm, and it popped open. Mono then gently pulled Wisp off to the side and cuffed him to Crunch's arm. ”I want you to finish casting that spell.”
Crunch looked at her arm and then at Mono. ”What are you doing?”
Mono took two big steps forward, so that he was standing directly between Aki and Wisp. He tipped his head down so that he was looking at the pint sized street performer. ”Do it. Now.”
Aki sadly gazed towards the ground just before Mono spoke up to her. Do it… in shock she looked up into Mono his eyes. Was he serious? This was scary, why would he want that. Mono stepped in front of Aki startling her somewhat. She moved her hand backwards somewhat as he was really close now. He could easily outdo her probably. Aki her confidence grew weaker but her will to protect Wisp was still the same. If this man was gone they could get out of here right, no more hurting. Do it… Now.
Aer clenched her teeth together and groaned. ”Aki, right?“
She stepped around to the side of Mono. ”How about you just explain what your roll is in all of this?“
But regardless of what Aer said, Mono didn't move.
Aki just had to tell them what her involvement was in the group. Nervously she gazed to both Wisp and Aer. Did she have anything to do with them?
”I-I don't k-know. I just wanted t-to help Wisp.” ”Alright then.“
Aer stepped away from the group, letting out a small sigh. ”If that's all you need us for, I have a missing person to find. I'll take Aki with me.“
she extended her hand towards the performer.
As soon as Aer tried to take Aki her hand she moved it away from the elf girl while giving her a confused and scared look. She wouldn't just go with a stranger, her mother had learned her that at least!
”N-no, I d-don't know you! Wisp will still be here!”
Aki bit her lip impatiently and seeing how nothing did help in this situation she did as Mono told her to do.
Aki didn't step away from mono, or otherwise move into a defensive position. She simply thrust her palm folward, creating a slicing vacuum of air. The blade of wind struck mono's chest and created a small tear in his tunic. Other than that, he did not move. ”Again.”
Aki hesitated, but managed to fire a second one off. This time it cut into his arm, but he didn't budge. He leaned in closer to Aki and growled. ”Again!”
Sensing that her end was near, she put both of her hands in front of herself and fired as many wind blades as she could at Mono. Out of fear that he might attack her, she stepped backwards while firing, yelling “fura” over and over again. But every time mono got hit, he would simply move closer to her and shout at her, over and over. ”Again-again-again-again-again!”
Eventually Aki lost her footing and stumbled onto her back. But as soon as her shoulders hit the pavement behind her, Mono was standing over her. Despite how many attacks she hurled at him, nothing seemed to have truly damaged him. His tunic was in tatters, but the hardened armor under his clothing was unscathed. He knelled beside her and pointed his hand at Aki. ”Alhuma.”
Aer slid her hand onto her weapon, but it was clear she had no idea what was going on. She waited to make sure nothing serious was going to happen. ”What are you doing?” ”She's dead.”
Mono said simply. ”Or at least, she could have been, if I was actually casting a spell.”
Mono opened his hand and offered it to Aki. He was going to help her up. ”It is admirable that you would like to fight me to protect that demi-human, but you should work to understand a situation before you decide to take sides in it. Especially if you're going to bring violence into the mix.”
Mono looked to Wisp. ”Isn't that right?”
For the entire duration of the engagement, Wisp was useless. Any attempts he made to get closer, to stop whatever Mono was inciting, was met with resistance from Crunch, forcing him to watch idly from the sidelines while he intimidated a friend into violence. No matter the situation, he couldn’t expect to attack an officer of Mono’s rank and avoid repercussions. There was nothing he had that could help. ”Of course.”
was his simple reply, as he attempted to move forward to check on Aki, his lax attitude suitable enough for Crunch to let him advance. With Mono offering to help her up, he didn’t feel the need to say anything to her - simply being between them was enough.
Aki lied with her back on the ground, hair scattered over the floor around her as she blinked a few times in unbelieve. Was she still alive after firing that much with her magic at a person. Mono didn't look dead either. With her mouth agape tears rolled down her cheeks. She had nothing more to say. She softly took Mono his hand her body shaking as she stood upright again. She brushed her tears away and gave a quiet nod with her eyes to the ground. She felt dead beat. ”A-anyway, enough fighting!”
he announced, raising the smartphone to show everyone, ”You wanted to see what this does, right~?”
Crunch looked between Mono and Aki with disapproval before looking at Wisp. ”Yes, I think that would be in everyone's best interest.”
Aer only groaned before releasing the hold on her weapon. She didn't say anything and just scuffed off without saying anything.
With the situation simmering down, Wisp began to smile again. He pressed the button on the device, and then swiped across on the screen, much like Ashton had done before. What came up on the screen appeared to be some kind of visual mimicry of whatever the back of the Meteor was faced to, being Mono’s visored face. But from there, he had no idea what to do. He tapped the screen a few more times, expecting something to happen, but nothing did. A few more tries later, he finally, and accidentally, hit the button to take a picture, which he watched slide off to the bottom left corner with childish excitement. With a press he brought it up, being greeted with a digital representation of the guard. ”This thing’s super cool!”
he exclaimed as he turned it to face Mono and Crunch, showing them a somewhat blurry, poorly taken, but still identifiable picture of Mono’s head, helmet, and a small portion of his torso,”What’d’ya think~? I dunno how it works yet, but… replication and storage device seems like a good bet?”
Crunch placed a hand on one of her his. ”I mostly wanted to confirm it was real. There does not seem to be anything wrong with it.”
She pointed over her shoulder. ”Let me talk to the others real quick and we'll see how it goes.”
And with that, Crunch popped the shackle off of her arm clipped wisp to a metal railing. She then walked off to the offices. There would be few words spoke in her absence.
It did not take long for Crunch to return. ”A moment, Mono.” ”Do not attempt to escape Wisp. I will not be as forgiving as your handler.”
The two walked down an alleyway just out of earshot to begin a conversation. Shortly afterwards, the entered the offices. Chieko, Ashton, Flame, and Yuuki had been gathered in one room. ”Alright.”
Crunch nodded. ”We have determined that your stories check out, and you are telling the truth. You will be given visitor passes, which will enable you to to freely move about the city.”
She turned to face Yuuki. ”Unfortunately this does not extend to you. We believe that you may unknowingly be under the effects of cultist magic, if not some other witch related phenomenon. We will need to keep a close eye on you, and cannot have you moving around the city. For this reason, we will transport you to a yet to be decided location in the near future.”
Crunch placed the visitor passes for Chieko, Ashton, and Flame on a nearby desk before folding her arms.
Donovan chuckled. ”You're a piece of work Mie. Between Fritzi and you, I ain't so sure if it's that everything is boring, or the two of ya are just that exciting in comparison.”
Mie may have known about Fritzi, but Donovan had a tendency to just name drop whoever he was thinking about, regardless if there was a connection there or not. ”Bandit attacks are getting' worse. Of course the ain't attackin folks like you and me, but it's giving rise to even more hate.”
He balled the rag up in his hand and moved it behind his back. There was a little bit of blood on it, but nothing most people hadn't seen before. ”Folks are distrusting demi-humans more and more each day. It's not just rich folks who are getting hurt. Lotta lower class ladies getting' cut up today. Watch yourself Mie. The Bandits may have started this, but there are other folks out there who are lookin' to end it.”
After a brief serious look, he smiled a bit. ”I could always use supplies, but I think right now I could use a stiff drink. Something fruity that won't make me too drunk. I'll have to use these hands again before long.” ”Excuse me.“
A young girl with a mature voice approached the group. She held up a picture of Lady Vertti and pointed at it. ”Have either of you seen this woman?“ ”Lady Vertti huh?”
Donovan placed a hand on his chin. ”I wanna say I saw her a few days ago.”
The woman's eyes shot open beifly before relaxing. ”She's been missing for a while, where did you see her?“ ”It was...”
Donovan turned around just in time to see Mirt and Aayon approach. ”Hmmm, seems that drink is going to have to wait.”