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Howdy everyone, this is your tank for tonight.
Boston Park Plaza

She had made it back safely. Her chest still ached, her body felt empty and tired no matter what she ate or drank. That was the cost, the wraith had said. Hollowness. The only reward for a struggler. The wraith had taken her gun back, folding the weapon into her torn coat and smiling for the first time as she had broken down. The day was barely a haze remaining in her memories, the clarity of the morning replaced with the fuzziness her sight had taken while a distant battle with nothing to do with her slowly drained away her life. Somehow it had been even more horrifying than the first night. She'd felt more resolve standing face to face with a monster beyond her comprehension than she did knowing that specter was somewhere fighting on her behalf. The car ride home had been silent. They said nothing, they tried not to say much around her. Even their name had to be withheld. Without fail the reason was the war they found themselves in. Impossibly cruel, irredeemably destructive, inconceivably reckless. Those were the words which had described this "Grail War" to her. Assassin's words dripped with venom when they did come. She had never seen a creature possessed of such simple, pure resentment.

"Here, for you."

Assassin's bandaged hand reached out with a sweating glass of ice water. Luna Harsyke accepted, cradling the drink to pale lips. The inside of the hotel was cool even on this summer eve, but her condition had left her feeling feverish. 'I promse it will go away,' was all they had said while she bawled her eyes out. Being threatened in person was one thing, the feeling of dying to a force that couldn't even be seen had been... damaging. 'Take me with you.' All she had asked, flatly refused.

Assassin mounted the stool next to her. Why were they sitting at the token understocked hotel bar? Luna grumbled as she turned over her shoulder, picking out a number of suitable spots in the mostly empty room behind them. The Assassin had recovered swiftly, even her decimated coat returning to form when she had rematerialized. No matter what healed, they still insisted on wrapping their extremities up and donning that eyepatch. The gloves and heavy clothes covered them up in public, made them look sane, but their idea of unwinding meant leaving the tactical gear sitting in the hotel room. Her Servant drank nothing, bowing their chin and listening to the noise of the building as they waited on nothing. "I'm going for a walk. Remember." The wraith clasped her left hand as they left, stinging the sore seal.

Right. Not even the hotel was safe anymore. They had said that plainly, a few minutes after the two returned. Assassin had tensed, relating through their mental link that an opponent had come to share the same lodgings. It wasn't dangerous, they couldn't feel Assassin until they made the first move, right? The Servant left one door, the woman in black disappearing as a smarmy Austrian host she'd met a while ago entered from another door. Did they not card here? She stole a look at the bartender and pondered the immoral. More importantly: The man was a target. Assassin. She called out with her mind, even her mental voice choked with panic. Their answer... made sense, always. She couldn't look away from someone she was supposedly engaged in mortal combat with. How did he act, how did he move? She paid attention to the things she would have never cared about, like the shifts in his expression as he killed off his drinks. Like looking into a mirror, only more dignified and self assured. A man having an internal monologue. Only they both were freaks that could commune with the dead killing machines at their beck and call.

A blink of an eye, a sharp clack on wood. His eyes were locked with hers. That was awkward. Face to face with a problem for once, Luna did not wallow in silence.

Remember who you are.

"Oh my gosh, you're who I think you are, aren't you?" Her voice tweaked as it overcame nervousness. She cradled her glass, facing the hand that needed to hide away from his interrogating stare. "Habsburg, right, right? Ganivet's announcement party? I- what are you doing here? I was just thinking about that party tonight. Loved the last one, you know, my old man said it was just a big lipservice festival but you sure showed him. I don't think anyone will be forgetting the friends Senator Ganivet has when he runs. I hope our gracious host will be joining us again tonight?" She bit back the urge to ask him if he was on the run from the noise or just pregaming. Her pet psychopath had gotten his house blown up a few hours ago. She missed the gun once holstered at her back.
I'd love to see a character sheet for this! I was thinking of going with temperance or tenacity as a Virtue depending on what else we get.
True to her word, the rear guard stamped along at the back of the trio. Her mind fatigued, dragging her lively new body's step. The bestia turned as they walked, drifting through sidesteps and at times following the party backwards as their eyes dutifully trained themselves across the horizon, always drifting back to the geyser of light behind them for what felt like the maximum safe time to witness it. It left a dreary ghost of brightness across her vision every time she swept it, the echo of that terrifying spire painting her surroundings flickering green-red in her eyesight. Between the hills, glimpses of that horizon revealed... Waves. Rolling waves of green, tall grass pierced through with trees radiating from the storm, expanding outward as the fields swelled with life.

Irene scratched at her eyes, the backs of her gloves falling away to reveal that this was in fact not a complete hallucination brought on by the odd tingling the blue light etched into her skin. Even the grass at her feet seemed to recoil from the storm, tips curling as the lush carpet moved with unreal vigor. That was barely even worthy of recognition, though, because something far more fantastic pulled her mind on her next robotic sweep of the landscape. The way she felt she doubted if she would have noticed something actually approaching across the plains, but there was no missing the conspicuous darkness floating atop the continuous explosion. Was that one of them? Some kind of rock thrown up by the blast? It was floating, maybe even surfing the constant gush of whatever that light was.

"Um," Her voice grumbled, catching her by surprise again after having fallen silent for so long. She definitely need to tell the group about that shape. The interruption was enough to invite a deeper rumble from another voice. Ye mucks? Her head snapped instinctively to Jyu-Ni, wondering if two people with the same accent would get along by default. As her head turned to check her party member her jaw dropped as she saw the stranger. Easily the tallest creature she'd ever stood under, several meters at least. Wearing robes of leather, the scent of tanned flesh striking her senses at once, like he had any business to be acting like just a normal guy at that height. He, at least she assumed by the voice, wasn't running at them, wasn't waving a weapon around. Was this a native? Was this the dominant species of this planet, some kind of shepherd of floating boxes they'd stumbled across? Wooden crates hovered along in his presence. Just like Jyu-Ni! But with boxes instead of threatening mecha arms.

"Uh," She cleared her throat, deepening her tone as she eyed the stranger from the back of the group. Just enough silence for her to speak first. "Got no clue and got no inclination to find out, we've just been walking straight away from... That mess." She hung over her feigned indifference, a fresh pang of remorse lancing through her stomach as she emphasized her words by pointing first in the direction they came from and then openly towards where they were going. The wolfman wavered before continuing. "Erm, good day though. How... do you do?"
The Habsburg Ruin

"No, she didn't say anything, I didn't even hear shouting during the... Fight? Now you mention it, someone had to be shooting back and none of us called it. Fuck." Realization shot up his spine. Maybe that was just one of the scratches from the dust shower he'd gotten. The shock that came with piecing together his fragmented memories was just as painful. The guardsman flinched, the cabinet behind him dinging as he laid his head back against it. "She left the same way she went, but she trashed the only vic she brought. So I guess that woman and Habsburg both have some friends we didn't get to know about. I only know what I heard, I got splashed almost as soon as the shooting started." He briefly indicated the stains up and down his black suit. Aah, at least the gig being over meant they didn't have to dress like henchmen anymore. If he could even find the guys back in town. A bitter frown came over him, his eyes falling to the radio left on the floor as he cursed the incomplete hand he'd been dealt.

"You're what?" His moping was cut short as powerful arms scooped him off the floor. His numbed body still hurt as his wounded, sore leg was jostled but it wasn't as bad as he was expecting. The strength of the silver eyed woman caught him by surprise though. Especially with how familiar it was. The awkward sensation of being hefted around without any resistance. Play along. It felt like the only play to make. He'd... followed the rules they set, right? Were these exceptional folks the cleaners he'd been warned about? A cold sweat boiled the dormant CS particulate on his skin. "Oh, yeah, sounds great. Hey, I know a little about running a kitchen. Be a Marine in peacetime you learn a bunch of dumb shit... Sure sure, stayin' right here."

And then she shut the door on him. No quiet escape. What could he even do, the way he was? The guard laid back and waited. The cold floor of the food truck at least smelled different. His eyes fluttered easily in the comforting aura of something approximating a home. Make it easy on yourself. The voice that commanded him to sleep had a pretty good point. He was a twig in that woman's arms, his handgun was toast and... His hand fumbled on his pantleg. He'd dropped in the shack anyway. "Whatever..."

Drowsy eyes fluttered open as the duo reboarded, bringing with them an intimidating looking box of spoils from the rubble. He shifted on the ground, eyeing it quizzically before the one that almost called EMS approached him. 'Work.' You didn't usually stitch people up if you were going to kill them. He almost managed to crack a smile at her approach until his head began to spin. There was a soft thud as his head reclined against the floor plate, control gone from his body as consciousness suddenly faded away.

Gemstone Ash Collection/Clear
Old State House

The look of idle amusement on the Guide's face sprang into one of moderate shock as the cat underneath her hands revealed itself in short form to not be a cat after all, but a blue haired man. Still, her hand retreated only reluctantly from them as they righted themselves and joined her in bringing the saliva covered hat wearing man to his feet.

"Oh right, the war. You must be Servant and Master then, I had not supposed as much. Unfortunately I am not currently equipped with the faculty to discern much difference between the two." She spoke plainly with a constant sort of enthusiasm, carrying on the even tone that had addressed the tourists outside and anyone who passed close enough to catch a lecture. Finally, though, it was her turn to listen. She nodded, hmming at appropriate times as the two of them related a string of information about their occupation of the State House.

Glasses flashed in the warm lighting as her head came back up. A swift finger adjusted them on her face after they had fallen. "I have never known Magi to be concerned with ethics until they simultaneously seek to advance their own selves by enforcing them, but what you say is indeed heartening news. I have no reason to doubt it from your conduct thus far. However, you are a Caster, then? That would explain the degree of drain I have measured lately, and would certainly indicate that the discrepancy stems from this building and this building alone. The spellcasting capabilities of a Heroic Spirit are of course a plausible explanation."

The Guide began to walk away from the duo, deeper into the building, standing in its looming corridors and casting glances over some of the smaller... Differences that had emerged with the building's new occupation. She ran her fingertips across the wallpaper, peering into the grained texture for a moment before she continued. "Pleased to meet you, Giuseppe and Caster. I am a mere Custodial Ghost Liner, without a name to provide. Like you, I am a familiar of the grail, only without a Class Assignment or corresponding Container."

"I must correct you on one point however, I am not the same as you, though it is certainly flattering to be lumped in with you 'allies of justice' so early on." She turned on her heel, back to facing the dissonantly colored duo. "My purpose in arriving here is to caution you, as participants in the Grail War, that you have every right to claim this leyline and with it the risks involved. As expected of an ambitious Magus and his magically inclined Servant, you have positioned yourselves at the best possible terminal to draw in magical energy for the Holy Grail War. One of them, at least, on this auspicious Trail."

Their eyes flashed over to Caster, focusing on the Servant entirely as they droned on. "As common sense would have it, the same nexus is home to the node feeding the foundation of both of our existences, the spiritual machinery that encapsulates the Holy Grail. A destabilization will not be tolerated, such is the design of our Grail's benevolent sponsor. There's no bother in you using this place, but you should be aware that damage to these grounds will not be taken likely. Do be careful not to make this structure a target. Punishment will likely fall on shoulders other than your own, of course... But any conditions that jeopardize the completion of the Grail will be corrected."

They walked forward, placing themselves in arms reach of the pair and simply attempting to move towards the door. Their peace said, the Liner made no movement of their arms, no shifting of their eyes as they saw fit to extricate themselves from the interaction. But they stopped, turning to look up at Giuseppe. A tiny glimmer for the former persona of Guidance returned to them, a smile cracking on their doll like face as they regarded the detective. "You refer to the serial killings of the North End, they've been bad for my business. I would caution you against the belief that you can do anything about them, but the simple truth of the matter should not be too difficult to find with the presence of a skilled Magus."
The Habsburg Ruin

Don't shoot.

Powerless to even say the words that scorched in his head the decrepit guard could only mouth them, lips cracked and bleeding as his sore jaw forced them to part. Of course it was too good to be true, of course there was no second chance. The reaper had changed their mind, come back to collect, the dark shape in his eyesight kicked the door in like it was made of tin, leveled the silhouette in their hands at him as they swept the room. His tired body lurched in place, remembering the feeling of being shot at as death loomed. How long, how long, how long...

The shadow lowered their weapon. Eyes nearly swollen shut struggled to watch as they took a step forward and knelt down. A cool hand swept his residue matted hair from his sight, pulled down the darkness over their face to reveal a soft color. Even though it was dim, color was all that he could remember. It was the green that had terrified him, the void he felt in himself while staring into something without a soul. Two eyes. Two eyes of gallant silver stared at him, a noble color, wisdom, warmth... The regal shape of her face swam in his burnt-away vision but he was looking at someone he didn't know, and that was the most comforting feeling he'd had in years.

He could hear just fine. Perhaps a weak pulse made the world sound far away and dreamlike, perhaps they were words his mind was not set to receive, but he could hear and not answer. Hands covered in blood shook as they reached up to the teacup, gingerly accepting the out of place vessel without wondering why someone would carry such a thing. It stung his lips as he turned it up, trying to drink as much as he could without spilling any. He felt every drop he did, the rivulet running down his chin reawakening the diminishing sting of the chemical agent lingering on his skin.

"Thank you, thank you... Thank you." His voice came on weak, croaking through the phlegm and inflammation until he finally came to resemble a human, hoarse but alive. "Somebody shot the place up, just drove through the gate and... Got me pretty good. Are you guys robbing the place? I won't say shit, I won't say shit..."

The guard felt compelled to go on speaking for the voice. A series of blinks cleared his eyes. The grim reaper was kind of a looker, actually. And there were two. A different girl had crept into the scene, wrought in brighter colors, but the two wore the same kind of accessories. A burglar team? Fuck it, he'd happily empty his wallet for a glass of water delivered with such aplomb. The second one was holding out a flask. He'd heard of smelling salts, there was some ammonia in the response kit under the desk. Why hadn't he thought of that? Before he could even worry about the horrible smell his mind felt sharper, the pain in his leg rescinding into a dull nervous throb. They stood up, leaving him to the questions of the silver woman.

"I don't know what happened next. The woman just got out of her car and started shooting. I couldn't see much, there was gas everywhere, and then... Fuck I dunno, everything was exploding and I was getting thrown around like a baseball. By the time the smoke cleared the building was leveled, nobody was on the radio anymore, and I heard Principal Detail's truck, uh, the guys who are supposed to watch Hapsburg, driving out from the garden. I guess he's alright, fuck him he'll just cut us loose after this, I just hope the guys made it out with him." He lingered, glancing up at the window and the absence of the estate's front face. His hands twitched emphatically in his lap, his arms feeling too numbed to do it themselves. Talking took his mind off the aches. "They, the, uh, her... The shooter came back around, missing an eye, really cut up, still carried me around like a kid. Threw me in here, bound up my leg and told me the pain would keep me awake. They told me to run for the country when I could-"

"Hey are you calling the cops?" He bolted upright at the sight of a phone, staring up at Naoko with the widest eyes he'd managed yet. "Hold- hold on. They said if I went to the hospital or the cops there'd be people trying to kill me. Please, don't, don't."
The Habsburg Rental

End this madness. A single command governed their body as she sprang from wall to wall down twisting corridors, hounding the sound of panicked voices and rapid footfalls. Her boot came down on the floor, rubber sole skidding across the luxurious hardwood. The Servant slid to stop, turning a single eye on the group down the hall from them. A single green eye, alight with the fire of violence, fell on Otto von Habsburg. Already she moved to draw their weapon from their side, black steel appearing from under her coat. A red circle jumped to Otto's chest, a crimson hologram dancing between still beating life and the all consuming tempest of the marksman's eye.

Just in time, the roof shattered above them. The splintering of the upper stories offered only an instant of warning before the hallway was filled with azure lights, the sound of hammering artillery falling to the earth. Explosion after explosion, a hail of awe inspiring firepower. Noise was done away with, replaced with a simple concussive feeling in her skull as she flickered backwards. Arrowheads pierced the Assassin's weapon, wrenching it from their hands as she chose survival over taking their shot. Debris filled the air, dust muffling the blinding lights and hiding the whistling shapes of lethal fragmentation. Shock from the repeated blasts tossed them backwards, the Servant's form flung through drywall as if it were rice paper, and trailing blood where she landed.

The building shook beneath them. The sounds of collapse played around her, the familiar noises of a building bombed into submission. Plaster dust fell from the ceiling. The lights flickered. This amount of collateral damage... before they were even out of the building. Just what kind of resolve did the Master have, commanding an attack so close to himself? She rolled backwards over their shoulders, rising to hands and knees from under a falling ceiling panel. The mansion's lifespan was best measured in seconds after such a thorough carpet bombing. What had they been targeting, to strike nearly every part of the building? The idea of an intentionally controlled demolition sprang to mind.

Wars were won by those willing to lose the most. Otto von Habsburg had the mind to sacrifice even his trump card, this atelier in the countryside. He needed to die.

The wraith stood straight as the world around them came crashing down. The building breathed its last: a caustic cloud of eddying gray and black pouring from its many openings as the top floor plummeted one layer after another down to the basement. Windows exploded outwards as the internal shockwaves compounded. The skeleton of supporting beams not severed by the Archer shed its body, holding up tiny fragments of the building while the rest simply sloughed away into a ruined pile.

A single soldier still walked the barren ground. Rubble settled with a gravelly rumble as a slab of flooring was pushed over. A slender specter rose from the ashes, a long black coat frayed to pieces and flapping around them in the swirling air currents. A hollow stared out at the world from one eye socket, empty and dark and bereft of its cover. Beside it the light still shined, verdant spite glowing from their working sight. She stood over the gardens on what was assuredly a burial mound, staring into the duo of Master and Servant as they carefully navigated their way to safety at the other end of the expansive compound. Magical energy still flowed from the dismantled building, currents of siphoned power escaping back into the environment as the dying structure took with it many of the mystic codes lying around such a workshop.

"I can't give you any more, I'm sorry, I'm sorry..."

Words rang in their head as they reached for a weapon that never came. The tether snapped, the shared pain that came with it easing away. The wraith turned away, casting their good eye over their shoulder for a final glance at opportunity slipping away, and strode back into the ruins.

Discordant Starting Bell/Clear

The Habsburg Ruin
June 29th, 2021
Gemstone Ash Collection

The Winter Palace could truly cruise once it was free of the Boston interior, guided by the skilled hands of a Rider Servant into the somber New England countryside. Even after the lunch rush, the sun hung up in the summer sky, bearing a sultry sort of coastal heat down on the land. Haze rose from the roads, creatures sheltered in the shade, and once you were past the tourists creeping back to hotels it was a world of normal suburbs. The estate identified by the newspaper ad was a scant few hours and a map search away, a distance and time perhaps reduced by just how much determination and purpose the food truck was imbued with.

Little changed besides the slight shifting of the sun as they rode on. A rest stop passed by. A man quietly walked his Labrador, stretching tired legs for the final stretch of a journey from the west coast. Two girls sat in the back of an opened up gray van, one staring across the road and holding the second while she wept. A trucker watched the food truck pass idly, nursing an iced tea in the sweltering cockpit of his ride. The last picket before richfolk land, it too faded into the urban haze of Boston behind them.

Woods surrounded the estate, barring sight of the compound from the highway. Even as the food truck mounted the hillside roads, the truth of the estate's state would remain a mystery until they pulled free of the forest, to the final open stretch to the estate's ruined front gates.

The smoked out remains of a gray van stood where an entrance once was, wrapped in the wrought iron corpse of the gate. The fence on both sides had been eviscerated, broad holes punched in the spikes and survivors leaning where heat stress had deformed the trestles. The cabin of the van still flickered with flames, the scent of a gasoline fire on the breeze as the upholstery was sanitized. Behind it only half of the building's front face remained, holes punched in the massive glass windows overlooking the driveway. The rest had simply crumbled away into a nondescript gray heap, splashes of color in the form of hardwoods and tapestries peaking out to hint at the luxury the building once contained. The lack of a gas fire was as good a sign as any, and no hint remained of any electric life in the perimeter lights.

A closer approach would reveal the shells of the front doors, frames still standing even when the doors themselves had been stripped from their hinges. The hollowed out lobby, tables coated in dust or toppled entirely, promised nothing beyond. A trail of blood stretched from beside the car, droplets flung out over the lawn to a deeper crimson smudge, and an obvious drag path back to the charitably untouched gatehouse.

Old State House

For what little it was worth, the congregation was also taken by surprise as someone actually opened the door. Some of the remaining tourists scratched their head at the attire of their would-be host, someone passing an idle remark about a detective before smartly deciding to walk away from the scene.

The tour guide, of course, was undeterred. An uncertain smile flashed at Giuseppe underneath impish, mischievous eyes. Something sinister indeed flashed beneath those bifocals. As her lips curved they prepared to speak, readying the honeyed words that would see her group inside at any cost-

"Is that a fucking cougar?" Someone else spoke first.

The light inside the building was dim. All their widening eyes saw in the dark was a giant cat taking the noire looking fellow who answered the door in its enormous paws and flooring him. That was sort of enough, and the tourists turned and ran without ever really crossing the threshold into the building. A few shrieking people going loudly into central Boston was an abnormality... but not the strangest thing that could be happening in the midday. The jaguar released the doorman and lunged towards the door, straight for her.

The guide took a swift step forward, shoulders dropping to one side as they cocked a hand back and thrust her gloved palm up at the creature's jaw. White silk sunk into the flesh, fingers hooked in... and scratched affectionately at the enormous cat. She turned, redirecting the creature and tossing the cat playfully to the floor. The door quietly closed behind the guide as she knelt down, drumming on the docile predator's belly with an open palm. It rolled and thrashed in place, tail swinging noisily from one wall to the other in the narrow entranceway. Slowly the tour guide looked up, past Giuseppe for the first time to the interior of the building. A brief flicker from left to right left them sighing with relief, contented that the building was still mostly in one piece.

"I agree wholeheartedly. It's a dark thing to forget one's history, and darker yet to be led astray by it... I suppose it's for the best that my guests have left early." They stood up from the jaguar's side, shuffling awkwardly as claws held onto their sock to offer a hand down to the dapper man previously 'mauled' by the predatory cat. "Because I also suppose that you are exactly the person I need to speak to. The enterprising fellow leading history astray. Putting it to work for you, so to speak. Closing a public building to siphon a leyline, to put it another way."

Blue eyes burned behind their lenses, striking with a non sequitur innocence to their bladed words.
The Habsburg Rental

True to the Archer's keen aim, his first arrow pierced the grenade in mid flight. Like the first, the less-lethal munition had only teargas particulate to dispense. As its casing split down the middle its powder sprayed out, the pulverized granules instantly transformed into an aerosol by the energy exerted on them. A great cloud of white gas erupted across the courtyard, a swirling tunnel pierced through it by the roiling aftershock of Archer's strike. Eyes met eye for the first time there, the Assassin already recoiling from the interception. She reached up to her face, pulling up her heavy scarf across her mouth as pieces of crystallized CS began to fall from the cloud of agitated tear gas. The moment passed, the tear gas surrounded Archer. His arrow hit the ground, the shock of the impact causing the asphalt to explode like a hand grenade. Out of the kill box. They threw their grenade launcher at the bowman, forgetting it. The wraith sunk to one side and dived, arms outstretched at an unlikely target.

Shot, bruised, covered in tear gas, the gate guard was having an awful day. Mucus poured from his face, his eyes screwed shut as the irritant set in. Powerful arms scooped his bleeding form from the ground, the limber Assassin sheltering him from the aftershock of Archer's attack as the wraith rolled into the smoke. Chips of concrete tore strips off of her jacket. Grenades fell from Assassin's coat, wooden sticks topped with metal canisters. White lines decorated their rim, the stenciled letter "N" marking them. As they hit the ground they exploded, the smoke grenades instantly blanketing the courtyard even more densely in obscuring fog. Assassin disappeared from sight, the screaming guard left safely on the ground as faint footfalls on the grass, easily audible to a fellow Servant, signaled the path the Assassin took away from Archer.

Arrows shrieked into the smoke, Archer's volley unleashed upon the wraith. Beyond line of sight dirt and grass exploded into the air. The iron fence around the estate wailed as Archer's arrows snapped metal spikes in half, reducing spots struck directly to molten slag when the azure tips passed through. His aim honed in, instinct sharpening his shots, cutting off routes of escape... But Archer had no need to predict. Assassin stood still within the fog, her position revealed by the glow of gunfire. True to the image of an agonizingly slow marksman Archer had assigned her, the Assassin class had to stop to line up a shot without vision. The muzzle flash of a machinegun turned the smoke and clouds into a thunderstorm. Bullets rippled out, spraying indiscriminate death at the Archer while his own lethal attacks peppered the shooter. The hail of hundreds of arrows met with a deluge of bullets. Whatever effect their desperate attack could have had on Archer... the Assassin could not have survived such a barrage. Three victory shots cracked from the bowman's weapon. Throat, calf, arm, the Assassin's carcass was surely destroyed as the shots sailed home, their gunfire pitching up into to the sky as they fell in defeat, corpse's finger wrapped around the trigger in pathetic defiance.

Something wasn't right.

Footsteps surrounded Archer, and a sensation followed. Not the presence of Assassin, but of flowing prana, the tether of a Servant passing by, its far trail leading out into the countryside, to a Master far away. The near side pointed to the door. A wire stretched through the smoke in front of Archer's face. The tumult of projectiles flying back and forth finally dispersed the chaotic gray clouds, leaving the scene on the courtyard clear for all to see.

Assassin had sped past, obscured. The wraith appeared at the doors, visible only for a fleeting instant. A black cord stretched from their hand to the "Assassin" that Archer had fired upon. A tripod sat on the lawn, destroyed by his attacks. An empty machinegun was fastened to it with the solenoid trigger pinned down by the Assassin's device. They dropped the wire to the decoy and disappeared into the entranceway. Another smoke bomb fell down in their wake, the undulant cloud spilling with the fleeing Assassin into the foyer. They had a head start, and swift feet when they needed to.

The chase was on. The blackened wraith leaped onto the banister of the lavish hall's serpentine stairs, sprinting up to the second story. Just as their own magical path could be felt in proximity, the empowering flow of Od into the impressive Servant outside had pointed like a compass to her target. A brilliant star, shamed only by burning too bright. The entourage of guards moving ahead of him probably wouldn't hurt her chances either.

Somewhere Downtown/Old State House
June 29th, 2021
Slipshod Custodian March

The Boston morning had been chaos. Moreso in the proper city part, somewhat removed from the tourist trails where real people with real lives worked real jobs. People dressed for the summer heat marched back and forth at the tail end of their commute, carrying food, carrying phones, carrying the hopes of another day of American business. Some of them marched out of cafes, some of them posted up by food trucks. Even in the heart of the Walking City, however, it was impossible to escape every facet of the tourist industry. After all, a place so compact, so filled with history made it inevitable that cutting through downtown was a proper course for some tours.

It was the end of the lunch rush. A small group of what had to be tourists, for they were lead by a bespectacled lady in a foppish looking black and blue uniform, passed by the respectable if tuna-scented establishment a sidecast eye identified as The Winter Palace. The occupants appeared to be up to something else however. No need to tour for those who knew where they were going. The lady in charge threw her hands to the firmament, loudly extolling the virtues of the ornate moulding along the buildings they passed. Her voice rose and fell with the eras, eager to inform her passenger hostages of the sheer amount of meaning and history contained in the tiny differences in artistry that the ages had brought. For their part... Some of them were wandering away.

So went that brutal march of attrition into the downtown until the last survivors stood before the looming (but dwarfed by its surroundings) shadow of the State House they weren't using anymore. Gigantic 'closed for renovation' stickers and signs dotted the territory, an eerie silence pervading over the building as if it had been set away from the whole of humanity.

"Now hold on a second, I know a thing or two about this kinda thing. In America, this!" She held her hand up to the closed sign, running her palm under the words as if they needed hand modeling. The white glove sailed up to the corner, thumbing out a tack and taking hold of the bulletin. Her fist clenched. The plastic and paper ripped, and contented with outright destruction of property they nudged the now blank standing sign to the ground.
"Is more like a suggestion. Don't give me that look, no one's forcing you to be here."

Trouble turned its silver-haired head, glasses glinting in the rising sun as they stared at the door. Seemingly unaware of the bounded field they treaded over, they strode up to the black, street facing double door of the Old State House and crashed the back of their fist against the door. The force of the blow rang through the inside of the abandoned structure like a drum, the triumphant sound of an actual lunatic demanding entrance from a structure that should be fully empty. With all the determination in the world they took a step back, crossed their arms, and waited for the masters of the House to step forward.
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