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@banjoanjo@Yankee@Click This@Medili
“I couldn’t see the gunman, and the gunman missed all six shots,” Jeanne spoke, turning her face towards Bang. “They were low on my list of priorities.”

As the rest of the table fell into discussion, rumination, and interrogation, the Frenchwoman settled back into her seat once more, letting all the white noise wash over her. By nature, a devilbat Egoist of Occidental origins should have been easy to spot during their month-long flight across the known world, and yet, no one recalled any such individual. Being attacked while chasing another appeared to indicate collusion, but most of the bullets didn’t even land anywhere near her. And if the Egoist were an opportunist taking advantage of the scenario that Jeanne had established, what were they hoping to achieve prior to this? It was when Nazca spoke up that the blonde Technologist deigned to speak up again. “Playing at spywork, Miss Whitehall?”

Nothing but a light jab. Nothing but a little prodding from the French to the British. Jeanne moved on just as effortlessly, interlacing her fingers and setting them on the table.

“And as for your question, Bang, it’s simple.” Her fingers tightened, clasping together firmly. “Something stalked me within the mists, and when I attacked, something fled in great bounding leaps. Naturally, I pursued.”

But any Polymath would know that correlation did not imply causation. The case certainly had its share of oddities, of peculiarities.
“For the gunman, it’s a simple task to show you where the shooting occurred.”

Perhaps, of all present, only Nazca would understand what Jeanne was doing as she rolled the right sleeve of her shirt back to reveal a flexible, blackened metal chasis beneath, studded with nodes and circuitry. “Formation Pyre,” she spoke in French, then directed her gaze outside the window.

Against the picturesque sky, it was easy to see.

The trail of black smoke, snaking up to the false heavens.

Jeanne settled back down, her posture perfect and her facade unperturbed.

“One hundred and twenty two meters southwest of that point.”
There was no response to either Lucretia or Bunga.

Sukoro continued to draw, his pencil gliding smoothly over the canvas, rendering the drawing three-dimensional despite the lack of shading. It was a study, a study of the deathly plant. How its petals peeled away to reveal its bud, how its fibers intertwined to form its body, how the spots and bumps upon it created the sense of a slice of pepperoni or salami. Sweat continued to drip, the Japanese Technologist’s robes clinging to his body, his shoulder moving vigorously while his arm was as stiff as the pencil in his hand.

And after what seemed to be an eternity, he stopped, placing his pencil onto his thigh and letting out a long hiss through his teeth, his entire body seeming to sink down into itself.

Expertly rendered, and yet wholly without expression, his study of the plant was as if through the lens of an impartial creator, neither proclaiming the work good nor bad. His eyes, half-closed turned to the two ladies who had been forced to wait, before his head naturally tilted downwards in an expression of apology. “Pardon me,” the young man spoke, his voice scratchy from a combination of thirst and silence, “I was not ignoring you, but rather simply had other matters to handle first. It is a pleasure, Miss Konigsmahne, Miss Kurniawan.”

He stopped speaking, eyes looking at nothing in particular while he recalled their questions, before continuing. “And yes, I would be happy to provide you with a chest inscribed with my Starsteel Formulization, Miss Konigsmahne. In exchange, could you lend me your Black Knight for a few days, so I may study it?”

It was fair, after all. One work for another. Perfectly acceptable...

“And yet another apology, Miss Kurniawan, but considering my own circumstances, I’ve been endeavouring to avoid, rather than socialize with, others. In regards to that particular part of the world, hrm…” He brought one leg up, crossing it over his knee, and leaned his elbow against it while propping his head up with his palm. “…maybe you could ask Mr. Kieu? I heard he was quite the social sort, compared to myself. Honestly, I wouldn’t even be able to name a Nusantaran Polymath off the top-of-my-head, so even if I saw them, I wouldn’t know them.”

It made sense again, of course. Japan was notoriously insular as a nation.
“I’m doing lovely today, thank you! And yes, such a troubling matter to hear of in the morning. I haven’t had the chance to read up on it myself, but, between me and you, I think it’s simply wrong for Mr. Robespierre to defend an arsonist and all. I get that’s what he’s known for but, like, that’s basically a shut-and-closed case, isn’t it?” The lady shook her head. “Makes me troubled, really. Like, I get that you’re all smart and good kids, and the governments that sent you definitely trust you to behave yourselves, but all it takes is one bad Technologist to do something crazy, y’know?”

She blinked, and then her face flushed, her hand moving up to cover her mouth.

“Oh, I’m so sorry for rambling on like that. It’s honestly a terrible habit of mine, but, well, I guess that’s to say that I’ll do whatever’s in my power to help you out with the prosecution!”

…there definitely seemed to be a misunderstanding here. Whether Franz chose to correct or maintain this misunderstanding though, was a decision that he’d have to make later.

“That being said, I could certainly hotprint Bermuda’s currently-enrolled students for you though. It won’t have anything that isn’t publicly accessible information though, due to privacy concerns, but there’ll be photos without a doubt. Just, you know, nothing specific like their addresses or anything else their countries would like to keep private.” A slightly awkward smile formed over her expression and she looked off to the side. “…and not all students postured themselves correctly during the photography sessions either, so some of them might look a bit off…”

The Swedish lady recovered from that easily enough though, and directed a bright smile towards Franz.

“I could have it delivered through the Postal Service to your residence by this evening though. Or is there another location you’d like to receive this, Mr. Steiner?”

@BrokenPromise@Majoras End@OwO@mantou

So that was their play?

Even as Protector was set aflame and Timekeeper was caught in the splash of it, Klava decided that it was probably still ok. The pyromancers looked only about as motivated as anyone else would when they were threatened with their lives by some spooky monster, after all. Sniper lady and her robot butler was going to be more of a pain though.

But that was fine too.

“Sealing off the pyros,” Klava said, moments before weaving a melody through her fingers and coalescing a large, crystalline snowflake. Throwing it forward, the projectile struck the burning barrel right as it crossed the mid-section of the path. In an instant, a seven-meter tall iceberg burst out, filling up every nook and cranny around it and pushing the barrel back the way it came, before crackling as it set itself in. Fire versus ice wasn’t a particularly bad matchup for ice, and regardless, all they needed was time. Time to deal with one threat while the other was forced to reposition. “Head for the corridor, all! If the robot rushes, we play bowling with a slick and a push!”

Naturally, she followed her own advice, slapping Timekeeper on the shoulder to get him to follow after once his spell neutralized the next explosive barrel.
A plan that was foiled was simply a plan that had to be readjusted, and with his priorities rearranged, Leif shot off upon Arion’s back once more. The Shaman was on the grind, after all, even for a mission like this. No need for pause, no need for rest; his END pumped up his SP in real time so long as he didn’t overdo the sniffing, and even at full health, the scent trail that he decided to track was obvious enough that he could do so with no problem. They were three scents mixed together, a party of individuals in the direction of the mountain range that Ames and Leif had just descended from moments ago. It didn’t, of course, mean that Leif was tracking the wrong target or anything like that; the scent trails he followed weren’t indicative of any actual trail, after all, just the straightest route towards whatever quarry he sought.

And, at nearly three hundred kilometers per hour, hardly any time passed at all before he could spot his quarry. A party of three in a distance, their own gazes all turning towards the sound of Arion’s engine. At a distance of 100 meters, they could all feel time begin to dilate, the regeneration of their HP pausing as the battle neared.

One second elapsed.

Holy sigils lit up over the polished surfaces of Leif’s ritual beads, feeding divine power into his body, while his bestial ancestry roused itself, flesh multiplying into bearish masses of muscle. The Tidewalker’s Net, propelled by the speed of the machine and the might of the man, flung outwards, bodily blocked by a samurai in purple armor. A dozen hooks and barbs bit into the lacquered wood plates, before the rope that connected them drew taut.

Another second elapsed.

A curse erupted from the samurai’s lips as she dropped her stance low, driving her katana deep into the ground. Arcane characters burst out of her body before vibrant auras began to surge out of her armor. Her feet drove deep tracts into the earth as she held her ground, not steadfast against Arion’s thousand-horse engine, but enough so that the Nuclei’s speed had been cut down by more than half. And that meant…

A distance of 50 meters gained on her companions. For two mages, that distance was nothing at all. One drew a battleaxe with cello strings stretching its entire length, while another one placed his hands together, performing swift hand signs to invoke some yet-uncast effect.

A fight, at this point, seemed inevitable.

Prostitutes waved from flowered balconies, dizzying perfume wafting down from luxurious tresses. His gaze lingered upon them, but his gait remained undisturbed. Doubtlessly, such an establishment would have to be visited eventually, but between the many meetings he had in the evening and the knowledge that he needed to gather before his next venture into the depths of Naraheim, Isidore had no allowance for indulgences, no matter the rate at which his heart beat, the rushing of hot blood in his veins. Octavia’s own movements were similar as the demonic hound trotted beside him. A powerful creature, but a troublesome one, frustrated by restraint and forever hungering.

She grew fast. Soon, if her appetite could not be sated or restrained, they would have to cull her or jail her.

Or perhaps the nature of magic meant that Octavia could be taught how to create her own food.

The sound of hammers against steel brought him out of his contemplation as the dark-haired youth stepped into the smithery. Raelzeth, of course, was pissed and struggling, a teenager rebelling against the need to work for the family business. Classic.

“Neither,” was Isidore’s crisp response. “Here to learn some things about weapon maintenance and forging. Know anything? Or is your old man the smarter one?”

That last taunt was likely unnecessary, in retrospect.
Ohohoho. Sounds like you’ll have to make them fight for it, Rune.

@BrokenPromise@Majoras End@OwO@mantou

An enclosed space filled with flammable materials and a trio of pyromancers conveniently chilling wasn’t Klava’s idea of a fun time, so she slipped her hand into one of her sleeves and peeled off a sticker. Just a simple ‘My Name is ____’, red on white. Then, in that same motion, she slapped it on Apollo’s dime-bouncing ass, a melody surging through her palm and into the sticker, leaving a glowing snowflake now pulsating over his right buttcheek.

A Blink Mark. If shit went down, she’d want to make sure that the healer had back up, at least. Or maybe she wanted an ambulance straight to the healer, going by her own track record.

Still, it looked like a simple enough set up. Enemies on all sides, but the unguarded front was the area that they actually wanted to be in. It was an escort mission, so they couldn’t abandon Billy and Blink away immediately, but just needing to hold off enemies was easier to do than to kill them, especially in the presence of a chonky boyo like that robotic butler. While the Timekeeper tried to do something cute, Klava settled into speaking of strategy instead, her voice low and cold as she addressed her allies.

“If we just need to get to the end in one piece, there’s only two things to worry about: them going suicidal mode and setting the whole place on fire, or the robot butler slamjamming us in melee. Nothing else can stop us as a group. So, things to think about.” She began to raise her fingers up one by one. “I’m good with elemental constructions. I’ll definitely seal off the entrance once we pass it, but I can do it for either right or left as well. Just gonna be taxing so I'd rather not. A Slick and a Push Melody could yeet the golem away pretty far too, and that’s the only real dangerous one there. Protector, you good for blocking sniper shots? Rifles with paint jobs are either magical or bullshit. Timekid, you’re the fastest, so scout ahead to see if there’s more bullshit in front of us, if you’re done flirting with that grandma.”

A pause. Her brain whirring, trying to recall the Maverick Esper’s name…naw, Klava’ll ask it later.

“Anyways, don’t really need to do any murdering, so let’s get our cardio in before the pizza party, freelancers!”

This felt like death.

This felt like baptism.

Holy water seeped past the scabs of his burns, into the rent flesh and open veins beneath, as soul-effacing miracles were performed by the holy woman who drowned him. The ebb and flow of cold waters sheared away the irregularities of his body, leaving naught but smooth surfaces in the wake of the tranquil tide. As if he had slept for three days and three nights. As if he hadn’t just delved into the bowels of earth and challenged an archdemon to a fist fight.

Footprints in sand, erased with the lull of the ocean.

Isidore wiped the water off his face, stepping out of the pool with tender steps. It was simply a difference of the absence of pain and fatigue, but he felt once more that the body given to him was too strong, too energetic. Breathing life to the furnace within his body once more, he dried himself off before pulling up his pants once more. His shirt, mere rags at this point, beggared no value and were still crusted with his blood anyhow. He gazed briefly towards the pool, then towards Folzerrie, before stuffing it around his belt. It was Gloomhaven. The dress of the people weren’t so far removed from simply being half-naked.

“Good work, Folzerrie,” Isidore spoke, as he began to strap on the rest of his gear once more. “Your skill justifies your cost.” He would return though, if he found himself in such a state again. “But a chair could help.”

Isidore received the jar of consecrated water from her with a small nod, before exiting the temple. The Storyteller’s presence was everywhere, and as for himself…he remained undecided as to whether or not her continual influence, indirect as it was, came from divine clemency or unfathomable schemes. More to the list of things he needed to accomplish then. The way to self-sufficiency remained far off still.

But for now, he had a blacksmith to visit.

Never gonna let Richard Horthy in eh? Hahaha.

But sure thing. Good luck on your other projects thennnn.
Wild that life just keeps shitting on you wew.

My original vibes for my character’s basically gone now, but I can still post so why not. Dunno where most others are though.

Time to resub ey.
@banjoanjo@Yankee@Click This@Medili
But for all of Ryuuko’s hopes, perhaps it was simply fate that Nazca, who took the lead in finding a restaurant to dine in, lead them into an ostensibly Oriental facility. Perhaps the chimeric Egoist’s claim to fame hadn’t reached the aristocrats of the Royal Society after all, or perhaps this was a direct attack on her after all. Regardless, between the cold and aloof Jeanne, the now-just-slightly-displeased Ryuuko, the inscrutable Lady Whitehall, the disappeared Franz (another good call from Vienna’s Universal Genius, dodging this incendiary setup), and the airheaded Inti, the burden of getting a table and ordering from the group ended up hoisted upon Bang’s shoulders.

Which was tragic too, because the traditional restaurant that was Katsubochi naturally did not have any menu that looked to be suited for brunch.

In a brightly lit part of the restaurant on the second floor, the group of five convened on a raised platform, sitting on cushions beside a low-lying pillow. The tatami mats were comfortable but firm, while the sight outside of the sliding windows offered a good view of the Clocktower and the sliver of ocean water beyond it. Before each of them laid a tray of the usual suspects of a Japanese breakfast: miso soup, natto on rice, grilled mackerel, seaweed salad, and tamagoyaki. Chopsticks were provided, as well as sets of silverware.

Jeanne stared at what was laid before her, nose curling at the stench of fermented soybeans. She took a sip of the soup with a spoon, picked at the seaweed, then settled for eating the mackerel in a few efficient bites. Undoubtedly, this was the behavior of someone wholly unimpressed by the choice, but if Whitehall deigned to play as warden, then so be it.

“I will begin.”

She set down her silverware, leaning against the opening of the window. A balmy breeze brushed against her hair, her eyes gazing outwards briefly before turning to her guards.

“There are two individuals worth speaking of here. If the course of events are truly vexing, then it will be three.”

Click-clack. Jeanne placed the spoon away from the others. “The first. When curfew began and the fog rolled in, I sought to return, but heard footsteps behind me, approaching before then overtaking. The superhuman leaps of an Egoist, upon retrospection. I pursued.”

Click-clack. The knife was placed with the spoon. “As I pursued, I reached an intersection in the roads. Six bullets from a steampistol were fired in my direction. They missed, but someone had shot them. I ignored the gunman. My own chase led me to the Inner Circle.”

Click-clack. The fork was joined the others, a trinity of silverware now on the left side of the tray. “I saw my quarry enter the library from the ceiling. I entered as well. We exchanged words, briefly, but words soon proved meaningless. The library burned well, and it was only when I left did they attack.”

Jeanne pulled down the collar of her shirt, exposing the pinprick in her otherwise pale flesh.

“A stinger, attached to a whip-like tail. Wings like a bat, with extremities covered in coarse, black fur. A head like a double-sided battleaxe. To put it simply, an Egoist with the appearance of a devil. They held a camera in their hands and called themselves an…”

Her lips flattened once more, so close yet so far from a smile.

While Bunga herself may not have been all that enthused about it, her newfound companion certainly possessed enough tenacity and drive to keep at it. On and on they walked, the Egoist’s ears pricking at every morsel of information she could snag while Lucretia was quickly gaining a new reputation for herself as she bounced from one bystander to another, asking them questions without preamble before abruptly leaving when their answers weren’t progressing in a satisfactory manner. Still, despite being an island city, Bermuda was understandably a small place.

“Huh, heard he was at the library.”
“Wasn’t he negotiating for an atelier?”
“Sukoro? Down by the docks, for sure.”
“Yeah, in one of those Abya Yalan restaurants.”
“…at the beach, maybe? The western one.”

Disparate locations and no vehicular access meant that Lucretia’s legs were shot long before they were done. Was it a disinformation campaign that had them chasing false leads? Were they just unlucky to have missed that Japanese Technologist so many times in a row? Or were they falling victim to non-Oriental people simply being unable to tell the Orientals apart? Still, there were more places to check, and if physical exhaustion alone was enough to curtail the Iron Princess, she would be both shaming herself and her house.

A final tip drew the unlikely pair to a bubble-domed greenhouse, from which large and exotic plants blossomed perpetually. Birds flitted around inside, while the sweet aroma of flower and fruit mixed together. Compared to the organized, if eclectic design of Bermuda’s cityscape, the Elyisum Conservatory portrayed a more natural, chaotic tranquility. Here, the smell of damp earth seeped into the nose. Here, the weight of humid air pressed into the lungs. Here, one could rest, enclosed away from society.

In a pocket of the jungle-like biome, a young man of Japanese descent sat before a canvas, sketching out the vegetation before him with his pencil gripped tightly in his fist. His hair, like the rest of his countrymen, was long and silky but tied back into a neat bun that showed the shapeliness of his skull, while his clothing were loose robes covered by an old apron. Sweat ran down the side of his temple, but his focus remained unperturbed, a serene expression on his features as he drew a cross-section of a rafflesia.

The smell of rot undercut the pleasant air of the conservatory.

This was Sukoro Jinga, the Godhand.
While deep waters were tranquil, the chaos of his environment jumbled up his ability to perceive his own echoes. It would take Shou some more time, perhaps some extra adaptations, before his clicks and whirrs could paint as clear of an image of his surroundings as his eyes did…and even then, sound could not capture such fascinating text as what was before him on the pages of the Bermuda Triangle.

Other than Jeanne’s rampage and the possibility of immediate expulsion, there was also the news of the Ottoman Empire’s collapse into civil war, with all the nations around it now sharpening their knives in anticipation for carving up the empire’s carcass. Polymaths hailing from that part of the world are more than welcome to take a leave of absence to travel back to their country for political or familial reasons, and some have already done so. It appeared, then, that while students were invited to Bermuda, there was nothing that actually prevented them from leaving or re-entering either. So long as they could prove their identity, they could return.

Something worth remembering if Shou ever had to report in-person to the mainland.

Outside of those two major events, however, there was news about Sukoro Jinga’s involvement in Bermuda’s curfew system, and a private party had announced a competition to see who could crack it the fastest. Any prospective contestants were to send in their name and suite phone number to the Bermuda Triangle, and the competition itself would be occurring next week. Irrelevant news, of course, to an Egoist blind to the world beyond their eyes. Fraternities, sororities, and all sorts of clubs were formulating as well, the month-long trip on the Queen Titania and the grand social function on the first night in Bermuda doing much to inspire collaboration between peers. The Golden Dawn, Sigma Alpha Beta, Sixth Sea Sailors, and so many more populated the pages of the newspaper. Apparently, in absence of any actual news this early on, the Bermuda Triangle served as a portable advertisement board.

…and of course there were ads already asking for nude models.
With a cute little clockwork sparrow stuffed into his pocket, Franz beat a hasty retreat before he could get caught in any unfortunate crossfire between the people who liked Jeanne and the people who clearly didn’t, setting his sights instead towards any sort of administrative building within the Inner Circle. Maximilien, after all, had been appointed by the administration, so it goes without saying that there had to be a building to represent them somewhere.

It wasn’t hard to find in the end, even if it wasn’t within the Inner Circle.

Dour but expansive, the multi-storied City Administrative Center sat west of the Inner Circle, an unattractive, Brutalist building that looked like a collection of massive concrete blocks fused together without heed for symmetry at all. Mirror-like windows formed orderly lines on every floor of the building, while down at the front entrance, there was an orderly line of students as well, some chatting while others waited patiently. Club proposals and room changes looked to be the most common reason for students to be there.

It would be a bit of a wait, if Franz was willing to wait. If he had designs of skipping the queue, that too was possible. Regardless, the Universal Genius would find himself standing in front of a mahogany counter, where a ditzy-looking 30-something with Occidental features sat. “Good morning~” she beamed, her Latin tinged with a Swedish accent, “How may I be of help today, Mr. Steiner?”
By the time Kalil reached the Inner Circle, whatever hubbub surrounding Jeanne’s examination had died off, leaving only the cooling ashes of the Central Monument Library to kick around in. City workers were at the scene by now, the area cordoned off with metal fences while brass machinery and steam engines puttered away quietly. The progress was swift, owing perhaps due to how little actually remained to be moved. The Fire Witch’s work was certainly impressive, but the library itself must have been highly familiar too. All wood, paper, and carpeting. Fuel for blue flame.

There were others, of course, that remained standing. The flames had burned bright enough that they had not spread, and outside of some soot marks, even the adjacent buildings were untouched. The damage done was, in some ways irreversible, but in other ways wholly replaceable. The world of knowledge, at least, was still his oyster.

Now, where would he like to visit?
Before any Formulization could be done, however, Kiran heard the tell-tale rasp of a bolt sliding away, and felt the door push against him. Soon, it creaked open, and an Abya Yalan man in his late 50s, dressed in a smart but rugged suit with native patterns adorning his loosened tie, poked his head out. His dark hair was braided into a ponytail that exposed the deep wrinkles in his forehead, and his expressive eyes warmed upon seeing the one who had knocked.

“Ah, a young one. What’s the occasion here?”

Past him, Kiran could see a brightly lit, but sparse, room. A wicker basket with dried fruits, bread, and a canteen shared space on a small metal table with a flat wooden board, where dozens of lines crisscrossed each other. Black and white stones were placed upon where lines intersected, but the logic of it didn’t form any patterns he could glimpse at a glance.

There were no further doors to see from this angle, however. Just this little room and this old, alone man.
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