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Tarantula
S E R A P H I M A D R A K O S
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While Sherry began speaking, Seraphima quit rattling off incoherent ideas to herself -- now playing with her long black hair. She quieted herself, drawing her fingers away from her long strands, and suddenly gently clasped her hands together, "Thank God!" Her smile continued. "... a clue." The sewer made perfect sense and for whatever reason or another made the mission seem much more appropriate. Her hands unclasped and landed in her lap and toyed with her black skirt. She probably looked ridiculous. Who would be so excited for traveling through a sewer? Seraphima continued her hesitant smile. There was really nothing else left for her to do but keep a positive disposition.
Confused

@Gunther, Zoinks! I got confused with the Word Association Game.

Verification
C:\Expanse\Data\User_Data\Suzuki_Takada...

With her lips pressed close together, Suzi stared at Clockmon and Meramon. They both were terrifying looking, but not as terrifying at the virus-like Digimon they had just defeated. Their confusion seemed to make them appear less frightening, though. Her mouth opened a little, as if to speak-up, but before she could say anything, Kudamon spoke up.

"Do you remember what happened before you thought you were dead?" It asked Meramon.

Suzi looked back-and-forth at the two newly appeared or rather saved Digimon and to Kudamon. She wanted to know the answer to Clockmon's question. So, before Meramon could respond Suzi interrupted the conversation, "Where are we, Kudamon?"

Kudamon quickly turned it attention away from Meramon and to its Digital Trainer. “No, Suzuki-chan. I do not know this place.” And just like that, the Digimon’s gold eyes returned to Meramon.

Looking downward and pressing the tips of her toes together, Suzi drew in a breath. She recollected her conversation with Aki-senpai. There were a lot of knew things to learn, and she kept finding herself stuck at the same question. This was like a test she had studied for but also had not studied for.

Its, okay, she told herself before examining the other humans and their oni-like friends. They were all different looking creatures. Some were more humanoid than others. She also noted that she was one of the youngest of the humans, aside from the girl with the red hair and green eyes. They were about the same height.

S E R A P H I M A D R A K O S
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When Louisa began her sauntering, Seraphima stopped counting and lowered her hands. More hypothesis were scribbling all over her guesswork, but she remained quiet, feeling quite scatter brained. She buried her hands in her lap and watched the snow haired frame pilot. Her lips pressed together.

Louisa walked over to where Hoshiko was sitting. She put her hand on the other frame pilot's shoulder. "If - I don't know - the cutest and youngest one here were to take a late night stroll, the monster might throw itself right into our grasp. Right? It comes in expecting an easy... err... dismembering, but instead -- BAM -- it gets dogpiled by three mechframes."

Seraphima made a small smile, mouth slightly opening, "That's a great idea, Louisa," she encouraged innocently. "Have the murders ever occurred in the same place? If not, then we can x-out the locations and try places that have not been scenes, yet." Her brows knit together, as she closed her eyes and made a wider, more hesitant smile. She really did not enjoy this mission, suddenly imagining a Warped being kept as a killer pet by a human. How much different was she to the government organization? Very different.
S E R A P H I M A D R A K O S
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Seraphima hugged herself as she thought of the victims and the disorderliness of the situation. Her lips pressed together, keeping herself quiet. A few ideas crept into her mind, and she contemplated them before speaking. She let out a small breath, Hoshiko was right. They needed to work quickly if they were going to keep the body count from increasing. There was a lot of guess work to do, and now was not the time to play timid novice.

"Okay, they were all alone, during times of the day when people are not out-and-about, which we've already determined," she started. Her eyes looked upward towards the ceiling. She had one hand that was using her fingers for counting her ideas, and the other hand was pointing towards these digit'd ideas. "Perhaps there is more than one killer, and they take turns and also work together in tandem," she let out a breath, feeling insecure with herself.

It's better to get all the guess work out instead of holding it in while doing the research. Seraphima preferred research, but usually she knew where to begin. This mysterious stuff was way different than what she had studied while on the monastery. Everything was much more straightforward, which was part of the reason she enjoyed it so much. Of course, she had to admit the Divine Mystery had a good hold on her; it did not involve so much blood, unless she was going to count the martyrs, and... Ugh! Seraphima looked back at the group. Her face went flat. I really focus much better in my suit.

"There could also be a similarity in location of body and how they were murdered," she offered quietly, while pointing to a third finger. Seraphima offered an uneasy smile as she looked at the other two pilots. She made a small shrug. She was secretly creeped out by this particular mission. She wanted to believe that the Warped were mindlessly killing civilians, but in reality, this mission made them see to have more will than she previously had believed.


L A D Y T H E A & P R I N C E F E L I X


L O C A T I O N : C A E S O N I A C A S T L E B A L L R O O M I N S O R I A N
M E N T I O N S : @Aerandir , @baraquiel





Unlike the music, their names did not even sound decent together. In fact, Prince Felix thought they did not even look halfway decent together. First, her attire was an entire scandal by itself. Second, her footing was not precise enough for his own step. He had more reasons, but he paused (momentarily) at two. There were better, more dutiful things to transcribe in his thoughts.

“It is always refreshing to dance with you,” he said in a low voice. His hand was at her side, ready to command her body whichever way around the dance floor.

In truth, Thea was only half heartedly in this dance. She was dancing with him out of obligation, not out of desire. So there she was, allowing for lazy steps as opposed to her more precise steps when she danced with Verrick. I swear to God, if he tries to move me like I'm a doll again I might break his nose. She thought bitterly to herself as she was hyper aware of his hand at her side. She knew he needed to lead the dance, but she was still frustrated from earlier. She was positive he hadn't let loose and had true fun since he was a child.

Refreshing? My word, there's no passion in this engagement whatsoever. It's like he rehearses his lines before seeing me. She thought to herself, but instead offered up a smile to him. "Oh yes, quite refreshing indeed. Everything your Highness does is so perfectly practiced." She said sweetly to him, though secretly being a bit passive aggressive.

Felix smiled down at her, enjoying her words, at least for the moment. He appreciated that she was playing nice. It was refreshing. Although, he still pictured her in something more classical, like his sister Beatrice dawned. His mind wandered over his sister’s presence and how she was fairing during her dance (with Verrick). The prince had been able to watch her during the first dance, but he had kept his attention on Lady Thea and Verrick more so.

There was a hinge of jealousy that tightened his grip on the Lady. Verrick and Lady Thea had danced eloquently together. There was a rhythm that he was having a hard time attuning and replicating with his partner. Of course, he preferred a different tune, a better tune.

“I’m going to spin you,” he warned her almost brutly, green eyes dazzling at her. He had not the patience for her to miss his step.

Well at least he warned her what he was gonna go was all the positive Thea could think of for the moment. He'd tightened his grip, however, and she wasn't quite sure what that was about. "I thank you for the warning, I'll try not to disappoint." Her words were still sweet sounding, but this time there was just a hint of a bite at the end of the sentence. There was a small part of her that did wish to disappoint him, but she ignored it. She could be absolutely awful to him constantly, but then she'd have to hear about it from her mother. No, she needed to keep a balance and play this as if it were a game of chess.

She didn't miss a beat as he spun her, steps actually surprisingly graceful, at least until the very end. A dancing couple who clearly weren't skilled nor aware of their surroundings, stepped back right into Thea's space. Her foot caught the man's foot and she gasped as she stumbled right towards Felix, her body now pressed up against his.

When her body pressed into his, Felix took a step backward as his eyes darted towards the clumsy couple. He made no comment against them, but instead, pursued a smile of some sort of endearment towards Thea. Her dress exposed her, and he badly wished to frown at her. He could not imagine Beatrice in such a position…

“Is your footing better?” He held her tightly, as before, but this time, it was out of genuine concern, rather than a deliberate need to control her. He tried to concentrate on her eyes, as odd as they were. She was an attractive woman, but he had his reserves. Even now, he felt the moment could have been intimate.

Thea had found herself glancing up at Felix, face flushing as she realized how close they were. Normally she would have said some sort of flirtatious comment to a man if she found herself in a situation like this, but to Felix? She wasn’t even sure how he’d respond to such a thing. She did, however, strangely find some small comfort as he held her tightly.

”I…um…y-yes.” She stuttered out and then managed a small smile at him. ”I apologize for that. They moved towards me so quickly I had little time to react.” She apologized, some of the old Thea shining through as she tried to take the blame from the couple.

Her attention was briefly caught by Verrick and Beatrice as they beautifully waltz past them. She stared at them longingly, a small smile on her face as she felt happy for Verrick. She was completely oblivious to the fact that it likely looked like she was interested in Verrick. After a moment she finally looked back at Felix. “So how has the night been treating you so far?” She asked, trying to make some small talk.

Felix’s cool demeanor braced him as he quickly ciphered through which response he wished to give her. There were several that stood out more than others, and the one, which he wished was far less prevalent than it was, involved mentioning something about Verrick. However, the man guarded his sister with his life, and the Prince knew much better.

“There is no need to apologize. It was not your fault.” His hands grasped Thea’s more gently, now, setting a less guarded tone, “This evening has been honorary. I have made my acquaintance with many people, I have not spoken to for a while,” his eyes darted towards Beatrice and Verrick, and flickered back to Thea. He wished to compliment her attire, but he could not bring himself to do such a thing.

The way the dress glittered under the ballroom lights and dazzled around her milky skin. It made him feel a nervousness for more than one reason. One of the reasons was that she looked delightful in the dress, and he wished to have known such delight only in private. Another reason was that other men, such as Verrick, could see the delights of her, he wished to keep for himself.

“How has the evening been for you, my lady?” There was a concealed hesitation when the prince asked, even with it being an automatic response to her seeming sincerity. He found himself more entertained by the prospects of her answer than he preferred himself to be.

Stressful…irritating…nerve wracking… These were all words that ran through her head as Thea pondered how she should respond to Felix. Surely he wouldn’t appreciate any of those answers as they were all negative. She needed to think of something positive to say. ”It’s been pleasant. I’ve been enjoying the dancing and the food has been delightful. There are also so many new faces here this year, it’s been nice to speak to some of them.” She finally said as she smiled up at him, finding that it didn’t feel as forced this time.

”Oh I also have plans with Princess Anastasia after the ball. We haven’t seen each other in a while so her and I were going to spend some time catching up and playing cards in my room afterwards.” She explained happily, though that wasn’t entirely the truth. They were going to spend time in her room catching up, but they’d also sneak out later to attend a secret party. She had a masked figure provide her with an invitation before she found Felix for their dance and she had quickly tucked it away. She didn’t wish for Felix to know that part, however, so she decided to tell him they’d be playing cards. Then a thought crossed her mind.

”U-unless you would like to spend time together after the ball? I could come join you in your rooms…we could spend time getting to know each other better.” The words left her mouth before she could really think about how they might sound. She truly meant it innocently, as they really hadn’t spent much time alone together just talking, but after she said it she realized it may come across that she meant it another way. Her cheeks heated a bit again, but she didn’t dare say anymore in case she made it worse. Instead, she just waited to see how he’d reply.

Prince Felix studied Lady Thea. Her odd eyes were looking at him, and her cheeks were tinted. The rhythm of their conversation was flowing much differently than their written correspondence, and mixed with her initial response of negativity, a small, dark stint beat through him. The darkness contained a whole void of thoughts. They circled around together, going down one rabbit hole to the next as he danced with the Lady.

Finally, the thoughts came to a halt. They stopped at the exposure of her dress and the way Verrick had had his way with her during the evening. And, promptly, as they danced, he tilted her backwards, and while he leaned over her, he finally spoke, “Princess Anastasia and my beautiful lady have already made some friendly arrangements. There is no need to resign the schedule to satisfy me,” he kept himself focused on her eyes. Although, he wished to continue a descent of his gaze.

As he lifted her, he continued his part of the conversation. She smelled lovely as he guided her around the dance floor, and he thought of Verrick having had the same experience. He found jealousy to be an unattractive trait and refused to be contemptuous, especially for someone like Verrick. “You should enjoy spending time with a dear friend, especially one you have not seen for a while. You and I already have a lot of time to get to know each other.”

He wished to tell her that she had shown enough of herself to him already and that he preferred his woman to be more conscientious when attiring herself. Instead, he merely pulled her close to him, and looked down at her lips, studying the color. They corresponded with her revealing dress and played pleasantly with the paleness of her skin. Quickly, with the same momentum, his eyes met hers, again, “I would not want a good friend of yours to think I am controlling,” he loosened each other’s positions, parting their bodies as they took careful steps through the dancing crowd, “Will you accept my deepest apology from earlier, my lady? I never wish to anger you.” He kept his sternness, still trying to understand and trust her.

”Oh…” There was a slight hint of disappointment in her voice and it even caught Thea off guard. Why did she feel disappointed? Had she actually been hoping he’d agree to her proposal? Her goal in asking that was to eliminate any suspicion and allow for her to escape easier, wasn’t it? She stared up into his green eyes and then studied his face for a moment. He was exactly what a storybook prince charming would look like. She could even argue that he acted like a fairytale prince. He was exactly what she would have wished for in a person before everything happened in her life. Now, though? No…she didn’t deserve him. He deserved someone better than her. It was this thought that banished that disappointment and allowed her to regain her composure. ”I suppose you are right. Perhaps we can plan for another night then.” She smiled sweetly up at him as he pulled her in close again.

Her heart skipped a beat as she realized his gaze moved to her lips and for a brief second she wondered if he was about to kiss her. A strange mixture of panic and excitement ran through her, but it was quickly dashed as their bodies parted once more. His next words hit her like a knife to the gut as she realized her feelings from earlier hadn’t been lost on him. In her mind she had thought him to be controlling and he recognized this. She felt a pang of guilt run through her as he apologized and she had to avert her gaze for a moment. ”I…” She started, trying to find the right words for the situation. ”Of course I forgive you, my prince. I admit that I may have overreacted a bit. I was overwhelmed and I snapped at you, for that I apologize.” She said softly to him, for once being completely genuine.

“Another night sounds more than abundant,” he said smoothly and lowly, as if to conserve some energy for something else, “You’re much more genuine and enjoyable in person,” he smiled at her, studying her uniqueness. She had been suffering, and upon his agreement to undertake Lady Thea as his fiancé, he would help carry her burden. The commitment had caught him off-guard (which he was unwilling to find himself to be, again) and made his mind contemplate through many difficult scenarios he had not quite imagined previous to the arrangement. There was a deep fear, he could not quite name or begin to conquer that caused an unpleasant feeling to well up inside of him.

This feeling caused an unwanted ambivalence towards the engagement, and with the flights of Lady Thea’s unpredictable behaviors, persuaded him to keep a tight leash on her, if not for his own visage but for hers, as well. For these reasons, Prince Felix found himself more up-tight and pensive. Nonetheless, after her brash reaction, speaking with Lord Leo, and holding her in such a dear manner, Felix thought, perhaps, the ambivalence could enjoy itself for the time being. He knew it was reckless to think this way, but under the ballroom lights, as the Lady sparkled and radiated, she seemed to be delighting the party (despite her previous drunken display) and finding some relaxation amongst the guests and merriment.

Thea’s brows furrowed in slight confusion at his words, desperately trying to discern what he meant by them. In person? Haven’t we always spoken in person? I know it hasn’t been often, but what does he mean? She thought to herself, desperately trying to remember all the times they’d interacted. Had she sent a letter to him at some point while she was drunk and simply didn’t remember it? If so, what in the world had she even said to him? So many questions plagued her, but thankfully her questions were soon to be answered.

“That’s not to say I do not enjoy your writing,” and again, he was speaking with his rehearsed precision, “I merely prefer,” he paused, studying her with glass eyes. He wanted his words to have more meaning than they did, but unintentionally, he found himself looking not at her but through her, as if she were a crystal lace for admiring. He felt the deep fear as his eyes traced the delicate features of her face. “the closeness of our conversations when we are together, in person.” His hand released hers and slowly brought itself to her cheek, “It’s much more intimate.”

Mother! Anger filled Thea briefly as she came to realize what must have been happening. Her mother must have been meddling, trying to ensure that this engagement went according to plan. Had she been reading Felix letters to her and determined that her daughter would not respond? So she took it upon herself to respond behind Thea’s back? How dare she! She wanted to scream at her mother. She wanted to tell Felix he’d been deceived by the treacherous witch. She felt herself about to break, but was quickly grounded as she felt Felix hand caress her cheek. She came back to the present and found herself staring at the prince, emotions running through her that confused and frightened her. Her heart pounded in her chest and she hated that she felt a growing desire for him. Was he merely acting out of duty or did he truly care for her? Would he be the one that could heal her, piece back together the broken parts of her? Could he love her?

Lady Thea’s skin was soft. He thought of rose petals as his hand gently cupped her face. He touched her as if she would fall apart any second. She was much more fragile than she allowed herself to appear, and he lacked the desire to hurt her. He leaned into her small frame, carefully pulling her forward and to kiss her gently on the lips. The gesture filled him with a strong sense of void, like a place with no furnishings, no decorations, no windows. It was a dark mystery, he had no desire to explore “I would ask to kiss my love, but she may have been enjoying the wine a little too much.”

The prince was solemn sounding, and as he pulled away, he wished he had kissed her as some vain attempt to prove she was his. To prove no matter where she went, she would be marked by his presence. He did not appreciate the idea of anyone taking his duty away from him.

However, it was probably for the better. There was no use in nursing jealousy. He had already concluded this. Now, he drew his hand back down from her cheek, admiring her soft arms and continuing the dance. Alas, he concluded it would be a waste of time to spend time with her after the banquet. At least, she would gather something adequate with Princess Anastasia.

Everything came crashing down around her as his words felt like a punch to the gut. She felt a pain in her chest as she realized he was merely performing his duty and she cursed herself for allowing even the smallest bit of hope to enter her. She wanted to hate him, but she found she couldn’t because truly he’d done nothing wrong. He had been doing exactly as he should. Thea, on the other hand, was the problem and she could only blame herself. She fought back so many emotions as she longed for the dance to end now.

The music slowed and she found herself taking a step back from him before it came to a complete stop. She quickly dipped into a curtsy, ignoring the urge to run and disappear from all this. ”Thank you for the wonderful dance, Your Grace. I enjoyed myself and I do hope you did as well. Now if you’ll please excuse me.” She forced the words out, trying to keep an even tone, but she couldn’t meet his gaze. She needed to leave, to calm herself, and so she waited a moment longer before departing. She walked swiftly, but resisted the urge to run as she headed for one of the balconies.

As her hand slipped from his and the shadows of her lashes would not open to look at him, Prince Felix felt as a child having a broken doll taken from him. He made a bow to her and gave her his regards, still studying her as she pulled away. He watched as she fluttered towards the balcony, golden threads waving behind her, the only thing about them that seemed to match.

Slowly, the prince eased his mind from her. She was a mystery to him, and he did not have the time to solve her at this moment. He had the rest of his life for such a challenge. He considered her drunken regards not worth noting. He took from her and continued with his actions mingling with the rest of the guests. He was not finished making his appearance.

The balcony Lady Thea chose was thankfully empty, and as soon as she closed the door behind her collapsed, tears finally bursting forth as she couldn’t contain her emotions any longer. I am a fool. A complete and utter fool who is damaged beyond repair and I have no one to blame but myself. Why would he love me when I’ve done nothing to deserve it? No, I do not deserve love and he deserves so much better than me. She thought to herself as she pulled her knees to her chest and sobbed.

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