Andro was ooking around frantically. She knew Carmen could take care of herself but still, that had been pretty crazy, she hoped she was alright.
Of course, as was her lot in life, as soon as that thought popped into her head she ran almost directly into the skylark she was worrying over. Carmen stepped back just in time so Andro could bring herself to a grinding halt.
"Oh, thank goodness," she breathed.
The gorgon laughed a little at Carmen's question "I was mainly worried about you, that was pretty crazy and i wanted to know if you were alright. I found Ryuu after those demons appeared." She examined Carmen as she spoke, looking for any obvious signs of injury and was glad that she seemed to look alright. "Do you have any idea what all of that was?"
Ryuu turned to a familiarly triggering voice as he found Carmen, though he almost clumsily fell in his steps unlike Andro. Skidding into a halt as well, he blinked, staring at the woman.
For a moment, it was clear that Carmen coming out scotch-free was somehow not that surprising. His face soon scrunched up like the Grinch trying to steal Christmas as blurted out, "Yeah, favorite people, alright!
"...Nice to see you anyway."
And it really was.
The entire city could've been leveled at any moment. The fact that the three of them- Andro, Ryuu, and Carmen- stood next to each other was already surprising enough, but the situation itself? He had no words to describe it. He'd seen his fair share of crazy antics... in anime. Not like this! Not in real life!
Taking a deep breath, Ryuu scratched the back of his head out of frustration as he seethed visibly. He lost his stall. And he swore that he had his plane ticket somewhere in his pocket, earlier...
"Okay, but first things first-"
Throwing his head back almost dramatically, he roared, "WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED?!"
By the time he looked back down, his eyes were practically burning in anger and confusion. "Seriously, both you and Andro would probably know more about... odd stuff than me, maybe, but I'm literally completely lost in all of this!"
Despite being visibly angered, Ryuu seemed to have calmed down more with the presence of two people he knew of at the scene. Meeting more people would probably help out, yeah, but in a huge crowd gathered in the barrier? Yeah, no, things were getting a lot harder to concentrate on for someone like him.
Carmen smiled at the gorgon. "You were worried about ME? I'm touched!" she replied with no small amount of enthusiasm. It was the kind of enthusiasm that you weren't sure was genuine or not, but enthusiasm nonetheless. And in Carmen's case, it was in fact genuine. "I'm quite alright, apart from the inexcusable damage to my purse," she added. "Which I won't show you, because it's embarrassing."
She turned to the otaku, who seemed pretty shocked from the whole thing. To be fair, it had been a very interesting past few minutes. "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, you two, but I don't have the slightest idea what that was. Reminded me of our old days fighting demons in Athalia, but at the same time it was...different. And not in a good way, even as far as demons go." The skylark looked around. "I know Edric and a couple of others were here. Have you two seen any of our classmates? We need to know that they made it out as well!"
Andro let out a sympathetic wince at Carmen's comment about her purse. She glanced down at her dress, of which the edges were covered in ash. It was also covered in cuts and tears and she thought she saw a bit of blood near the hem. It might be salvageable but clothing had never really been her thing. As a child she'd had servants and she was still an heiress so she just bought new clothes when she could no longer wear the ones she had. She had a bit of a sentimental attachment to this one but she was probably just going to throw it away anyway.
Andro jumped as Ryuu yelled. Her hand went to her heart for a second, she really didn't need anymore scares today. "Ryuu, please calm down. I'm sure will be able to figure everything out." She put a gentle hand on his arm before looking back at Carmen "It reminded me of school as well but the demons during our school years never tasted like ash and lava" she bit down a gag at the thought, the taste was stil lingering in her mouth a little and her throat still stung slightly.
She looked over at Carmen's question about their classmates and shook her head sadly "No, i haven't seen anyone, but to be honest i'm not sure i was looking very hard. during the battle i was more focused on staying alive and then after taht i was focused on finding you, we could have gone right past them to be honest" she let out a frustrated hum and the snakes on her head mimiced the sound. "We should probably start looking then? see if we can find any of our classmates, or anyone who would know anything about what that could have been"
Ryuu was no leader, so what Andro said was pretty much the only thing he found plausible at the moment. Aside from just standing by idly, that was.
At this point, standing idly doesn't sound all too bad, he admitted to himself. But hell, there had to be more people they knew of- if Carmen and Andro knew, then he doubted they'd be lying when they were serious.
"Got no objections to that," he responded. "If we know some people were here, we better find 'em- and fast. This crowd isn't getting any smaller, from what I could tell."
"I found one for you." The voice of an unfamiliar woman came from behind Ryuu, and just behind her was Edric. "You're welcome," she added, as she and Edric reached the group.
"Edric!" exclaimed Carmen. "So glad to see you made it." She turned to the unfamiliar woman. "And to whom do we owe this pleasure?" she asked, extra-cordially even for Carmen.
Vikki laughed. "You're the famous one, not me," she replied.
"Carmen?" He laughed. "Glad to see you're still kicking." He turned his head, and confirmed who the others were.
Oh this is too good. Edric felt Azamore snicker.
Ryuu, an old acquaintance of his from Athalia, and Andromeda. He cleared his throat.
"Andro? I didn't know you were, ah, in town." He cleared his throat again, despite the fact he'd just done it a moment ago. "I'm- uh- Good to see you."
Andro turned around when the unknown woman spoke. she sighed in relief when she saw Edric. Then it registered that it was Edric. A light blush worked it's way onto Andro's cheeks and she suddenly wished she had worn her veil instead of her glasses. The blush deepened a little when he looked at her and she smiled at him.
"Uh hi E-Edric..." She glanced away "I'm glad you're alright..." she coughed lightly and decided to look anywhere but at Edric.
It was at this point that Carmen's mouth went agape with joy as her eyebrows shot up in unison. She quickly (but not too quickly) covered her mouth with both hands and looked around the group as if to say "are you seeing what I'm seeing right now?!" before she had an amusing battle of facial expressions with herself before settling on a more polite expression. She still had a little smirk that conveyed her recent discovery of something wonderful.
Vikki rolled her eyes at this.
Ryuu opened his mouth to say something, only to shut it briefly before he shook his head, waking himself up. What they were seeing? Carmen, I'm not blind, Ryuu spoke in his mind. This is clearly the moment where we're all supposed to say "I'M GLADDDDD" and stuff.
…Of course, he didn't dare say that out loud. It was better to feel good than, well, shit. Also, he was completely wrong, but it's not like he'd notice.
"Well, damn, good to see you around, Edric," Ryuu finally cracked a grin. "I still owe you a marathon over some of the classics I enjoyed when I was younger, yeah?"
It was sort of obvious as to what the otaku meant when the word "classic" came from him.
"I'll hold you to that." Edric smiled back at him. He'd been out of the loop long enough that all of Ryuu's 'classics' were as new to him now as they'd been five or six years ago. "Good to see you, man." It fell silent.
"Shut up." He muttered, under his breath. He shook his head and looked at the people around him. "Ah, not you guys."
Andro glanced up and saw the grin on Carmen's face. 'damn, though i'm not surprised, i'm not exactly subtle' she shuffled her feet for a moment before shifting to put the skylark slightly between her and Edric, in the hopes that would get her insufferable bush to go down. it wasn't exactly easy for Andro to bllush, she was cold-blooded after all, but Edric always managed to make it happen. her snakes were hissing quietly at her so she pulled her hood up once again.
"We uh... we should get moving"
She subconsciously tugged at her sleeves to try and hide her hands. She didn't know why but whenever she was embarrassed she always tried to cover up as much as possible. for once she was wearing an outfit that made this rather simple. but still she tried to tug the sleeves down over her hands.
"Where should we start?"
It wasn't a pretty sight. Really, that's an accomplishment a city like Riesling could not be able to pull off normally.
Barriers formed around the city, the skies were only barely starting to clear up, but even if it did, nobody would probably appreciate any blue for now. It all happened as quickly as it would take for someone to crunch up an empty plastic bottle- instant, almost to the point of being like a B-List action movie plot.
In a sense, however, there were only a few differences from natural disasters to one such as this one. Because nobody could stop natural disasters, and natural disasters simply happened due to nature and how it worked.
Red lightning wasn't a part of normal natural disasters, however. And natural disasters lacked one thing- a perpetrator.
Mark took a short breath. Breathing in a city that just got attacked wasn't exactly a good idea, but it wasn't like the place could get any cleaner any time soon.
Glancing at Mizuki, Mark put his hands in his pockets, a very simple smile etched on his face. "Ya ever see anything like this before?" He broke the ice as he briefly looked around the city. "Stuff ain't pretty, I'll admit. You seemed to handle it pretty well, though."
Mizuki glanced back at Mark, her ears perking up before her head did when he spoke. "Eh, I did alright," she said. "I'm not sure how much longer I would have lasted." She had done pretty well in her opinion, especially for being so out of practice, but she had begun to fade quickly at the end and this didn't please her one bit. "I'm out of practice," she added simply. A much-too-long silence passed before she finally responded to Mark's earlier question. "I've seen plenty of demons before, I guess," she said. "But not these. I guess I could be bothered to wonder where they came from if I wasn't so occupied with being annoyed that they ruined the festival." She sighed.
Another long silence passed. She wasn't really in the mood for talking to Mark, but she didn't have much of an alternative. And he was one of the most tolerable people she had run across in a while. "What about you? Have YOU ever seen anything like this before?"
"Me? Pshhhhh, me?"
Mark laughed lightly, but it trailed off pretty quickly as he awkwardly thought of what else to follow it up with. He then ended up turning to Mizuki with a somewhat sheepish smile as he answered, "Sort of, I guess?"
Taking his hands out of his pocket, he stretched his arms in front of him as he continued, "I've seen a good handful, now that you mention it! Nothin' as crazy as the stuff today, but it's kind of my thing, really. An adventurer's bound to see some things others don't often see, anyway."
He did agree with one thing for certain. The festival had been ruined, the whole city had been literally lit in red, and nobody was happy with this. Probably except for the thing that caused all of this. And it also ruined that umbrella of his...
"Yeaaah, so much for a party. I had a gut feeling something bad was gonna happen when I saw those skies, but it looks like I'm gonna get busy soon. Stuff like this usually don't have any intentions to just act once, you know?"
As he put his hands back in his pockets, Mark wondered if he should pry into more of who she was. Curious he may be, however, he usually minded the privacy of others. "Usually" being the key term here.
So, he instead talked about a little more about himself. "I actually used to live in a town near here. Made a few friends, but I was pretty average at makin' friends. Ever since I started movin', though? Sheesh, feels like the whole world's my home at this point!"
Mizuki was learning more and more about Mark, whether she wanted to or not. His bit about being an adventurer and the cheesy quote about the whole world being his home seemed like vague cop-outs, but then again she wouldn't blame him for wanting to keep his personal details private. Still, he had yet to give an answer she was satisfied with, but she also didn't care much. She did have to admit he had a point, however. "Yeah, I kind of get the feeling my civilian life is pretty much over after today for a while," she replied. She was honestly kind of happy about that. It would be good to fight again. "I say bring it. Today I got a grudge that needs to be resolved."
"Of course, how are you gonna ruin my festival and NOT get a grudge from me?"
The man grinned again, though this one seemed a lot lighter in context. "Point taken."
He put up a thoughtful look. Even though it's presence was known to some degree, most people weren't capable of using abilities like what Mizuki had used. Or at least, up to the extent of her abilities. And he didn't really have much to offer her, so he might as well offer something reasonably possible.
"Well, if you're that interested in turning that heat up against those demons more, I could probably offer you a front row reservation for that. I'm gonna be meeting up with someone who might know what's going on, actually."
Mizuki finally perked up in an actually interested way. "Count me in," she said without hesitation. She enjoyed her peaceful life, but her nogitsune side had been sadly neglected. Fighting the demons had been thrilling, and she would have wanted more even if she didn't have a grudge. "I've got nothing better to do," she added, and she was telling the truth.
Huh, he thought. That was about a hundred times faster than I thought this would've gone.
Well, it wasn't like he'd beg for her to be slow about it. As for what she commonly did, he would perhaps ask later, now that he knew she'd be willing to join him. "Then that's that," he said simply. "Just leave it to me- an extra person won't be a problem and would definitely be appreciated! I usually don't meet people who can fight like you too often, so that's a massive bonus."
Looking in front of him, Mark perked up as his grin grew cheekier. "Well, it looks like we're here."
As the two walked up to the barrier, several ARK Soldiers turned to their direction, noticing their presence getting closer.
Suddenly, the soldiers froze as they stopped what they were doing to salute at their direction. One of the soldiers, fully armored, approached Mark as both he and Mizuki phased through the barrier.
"Sir!" The soldier spoke with a booming voice, though he appeared to have his weapons holstered. "We have gone through some of the forensics. Lieutenant Montgomery has issued a full-scale investigation on identifying any residue that can trace towards proper analysis."
Blinking, Mark scratched his cheek as he unsurely asked, "Soooooo how long does he plan on having this place quarantined, then?"
"About another day, sir."
"Another DAY? Geez, I can probably write up a resume in that time," Mark muttered, both flabbergasted and in awe. To his knowledge, Kora military quarantine procedures weren't common, but they were extremely quick with carrying them out usually. And judging by the soldier's tone, they weren't going to be finding any sort of identity in just tracing things with magic forensics.
"Well, good to know. Thanks for that, I guess."
"Yessir! Lieutenant Montgomery said he will be waiting for you at tent A8, sir!"
"Yeah, again. Thanks."
At this point, Mark almost seemed like he wanted to escape from what could become an extremely long chain of information dumps for his soul.
And with that, he and Mizuki passed by the soldiers. It had been a long day, and Mark himself wanted to get things done quickly. The slower they acted, well, they weren't earning anything out of being slow at the moment. As he headed towards the tent's direction in particular, his eyes met a certain pair that were hidden behind sunglasses.
"Wait a second," Ryuu muttered for a moment as he eyed the blond man. "I feel like I've seen you before."
"You did?" Mark asked, blinking as he looked around with a blank smile. "Out of all the short-haired blond people here?"
"Yeeeeeeeeah. I can't just help but get the feeling- ah, hell, I dunno."
Ryuu glanced at the woman next to Mark. Now her, on the other hand, he definitely saw before. And judging by the sudden excitement at the sight of fox ears he gained, this definitely wasn't going to go well if he let his emotions run wild.
Yeah, he had to control his emotions. But...
The e a r s.
It lingered in his head, almost annoyingly so. What was her name again?? If everyone else next to him knew her, then the probability of him having at least seen her once would increase quite a bit.
"Who are you again?" Ryuu asked, eying Mizuki like she was some kind of alien blessing the world with her ears alone.
Mizuki sighed at the man who obviously was pleased to see her, or at least part of her. She vaguely remembered him but she wasn't sure from where. Worse still, as she looked around she looked through a sea of unfamiliar faces - except two, the unmistakable gorgon she had met in Athalia, and a celebrity??? By the time she turned back to the man who was ogling her she was more than a little confused. "...I'm Mizuki," she finally said, no small hint of annoyance in her voice. She gave a small nod to Andromeda before turning back to Mark. "Who are these fools?" she asked.
Andro was surprised for a second as yet more people seemed to run directly into them just as they were about to look for them. What a coincidence, like fate was guiding them all together or something. Funny how things like that happen. She smiled a little at Mizuki's nod and nodded in return. She reached over a nudged Ryuu a little and whispered "you're staring" before looking back at the newest to join their group.
She didn't recognize the man with her and was a tad surprised, Mizuki hadn't exactly made friends when at Athalia and she hadn't exactly expected that to change after they left school, but perhaps.
“Wait, what?” Ryuu returned to reality as he blinked at Andro. “I did what now-?”
“I have no idea,” Mark told Mizuki honestly, though he did remember each of their faces when the fair wasn’t being trashed on. He also remembered throwing one of them into the skies like a boomerang.
Though, there was also the fact that he’d seen them surviving the bombardment of lightning unlike a whole lot of unfortunate people. That was a good start. Before he thought about asking them if they had some free time in their hands, a voice called out to him.
Ah. Turning to the voice, Mark found the very man in charge of most of the quick decisions made by the military on the spot. He stood tall, taller than Mark himself, clad in a white uniform contrasting to the rough tent he just left.
“Sup, Mont,” Mark grinned.
“Lieutenant sounds much better, Mark Noxus.”
There wasn’t much Mark could give aside from a single shrug. “Well, whatever you say,” he said. “Was on my way here and picked up some people- well, just one person to be exact- who could help me out with this whole ordeal.”
The lieutenant glanced between Mark and Mizuki, though he did eye the group next to them. “And them?”
Mark turned to the larger group nearby before turning back to the man. “I’m not one to judge, but I think these guys, or at least some, would know her-“ He quickly pointed at Mizuki as he spoke, “-than me. I think I saw them bust down some of those ash things, though.”
His expression remained idle, though he seemed to want to discuss something as time continued to tick. A moment later, however, one of the soldiers nearby rushed over to the lieutenant and whispered something to him.
A quick nod was given to the soldier.
“Mark, I think you know what we need to talk about,” Montgomery stated. “Though, are you certain the person with you wishes to help?”
“I mean, I’m getting all the help I could get, and I’m not just bringing people for eye candy,” Mark admitted. “This is awkward for me too, you know. Give me juuuuuust a moment and I’ll be ready, yeah?”
As the man turned back to the tent and headed back in, Mark scratched the back of his head after holding his breath for a bit. As much as it was better to have at least one person helping him out, gathering a few more people he witnessed
Well, this was awkward.
Glancing at the group next to him, he gave them a polite smile. “So, fellow strangers,” he said, a small smile entering his face as he clapped his hands together. “I’m Mark Noxus, nice to meet you. Soo, y’all good at fighting, maybe? Figured I should ask since I saw you kinda kicking some butt back there.”
Despite how roundabout it was, it was an honest to God question if he could ever put it that way. And despite the confident smile, his face almost pleaded with the hope of them not just leaving on him at his sudden question.