Phoenix Compound, The Red Seminary, Magnagrad
Hassan had noticed her scar... Of course somebody had, Viveca hadn't done much to hide it, but considering the scars of her comrades, she didn't think any of them would take much interest. He had looked right at it though, and he had asked - Ragnar was her saving grace, pressing on for details about the story. She let them tell their tale, it was amazing... They went out and had a real day of Inquisitorial work. Envy welled inside her momentarily, but she just lightly smiled at them. The topic wasn't brought back to light.
So, they'd managed to accidentally fall head-first into the investigation on Father Dara, and she had... scoured an archive for days only to narrowly escape death at the last minute... Alone and cold beside the rotten corpses of a family to only come back with a single tome that she was terrified to open. There was some small talk after Hassan left, but Viveca did not stay long. She finished her hot drink and took her leave; talking to her warsiblings was more draining than expected and she wanted to walk the halls one final time before they took their leave on the morrow.
Phoenix Warband had lived in a compound nearly identical to her own, the memories were harsh, yet surprisingly pleasant. The nostalgia washed over her, giving her a brief reprieve from the thoughts that had been plaguing her mind all day. That was when she came upon the residential hall and there, at the end, was Hassan. She furrowed her brow - his room wasn't that far down, but whose was it? She watched as he unlocked the door and stepped inside. As she approached, the familiar blue moon and star on the door told her what she needed to know: it was Father Ilya's room. She sneered - what could Hassan have to be doing in there? She peered through the door that Hassan left ajar and tilted her head as he rummaged through the man's belongings and moved along, not taking anything.
What does he think he's doing? Ilya would have nothing they could want, certainly... She thought. Something scampered past her feet and she jumped away from the door as a small wolf pup ran awkwardly inside. Son of a bitch, She cursed silently, ducking around a corner just in time for Hassan to step out of the room with the pup in his arms. Bewildered, but still of sound mind, Viveca returned to her room and locked the door behind her. She abhored Ilya, sure, but Hassan's invasion of his privacy seemed unprovoked.
The Plains of T'sarae, Train to Cero
The train rumbled along the tracks, almost entirely unaffected by the weather outside. The station to board had been nearly empty in the hour they had left and there were few passengers. Viveca absently wondered whether the train would have even made the trip were it not for the four Inquisitors boarding. As most of them were, the model was a little older, but it would get the job done. They were warm, safe, and comfortable for the most part. That morning, she had donned her coat and packed the remainder of her gear, keeping a satchel at her side for the book and other odds-and-ends.
The first leg of the ride was easy enough, mostly silent. There was some discussion about when they would arrive and the events of the night before, but it wasn't long before Viveca excused herself and found an empty compartment a short distance up the passageway. She locked the door behind her and pulled the book from her bag once more, taking a deep breath.
It's safer here, if something happens, somebody will find you quickly... I can't just carry it around if I'm not going to do anything with it... She thought, steeling herself against the hesitation as she pulled back the cover and began flipping through pages once more. When she found the azure circle once more, her eyes moved right passed it and she turned another page. More archaic Omestrian... Gods, what was this? The book was a phenomenon in and of itself - did it have its own storage of ether? Was it bestowed power from an ancient art? She'd never seen or heard of anything like it - at least not in the way it acted... She felt a presence in the pages.
Page after page of runes and symbols, artistry that she didn't recognize or couldn't call to mind. That is, until she found a page that contained one large illustration - not a single word. A brilliant white sphere hovered, as though suspended or falling, over a massive city. The architecture was vibrant and beautiful, but this was no photograph; details and uniquities were missing, it felt like any cityscape, really. However... If this was an Omestrian book, it had to be Iddin-Mar, the Ruined City and former capital of her homeland. Furrowing her brow, Viveca readjusted her seating and looked more closely.
That sphere... Was it a star? It looked vaguely familiar, buffeted by a brilliant azure dome as it attempted to crush the city under its weight. Omestris had another ruin, Syddon-Mar, far to the north of the city. It was a sphere, allegedly, buried halfway into the snow. They were too far apart - this couldn't possibly be a drawing of Syddon-Mar clashing with Iddin-Mar, could it? Not to mention, she'd never heard of any protective shield around Iddin-Mar, keeping disasters and the cold at bay.
She spent what felt like hours, though probably only minutes, studying every detail of the drawing when she heard a click. Snapping back to reality, Viveca looked up and slammed the book shut, trying to nonchalantly return it to her satchel.
"Oh, Hassan, it's just you. Everything okay?" She asked quizzically, leaning back in her seat as she watched him enter. Did he really unlock the door and come in without any kind of greeting? Why was he like this?
"Yeah... What are you reading?" He shot back, leaning against the doorframe of the compartment.
"Something I found in the archives - it has some old script in it. Looked Omestrian, I didn't want to leave it behind and never find it again. But seriously, can I help you? What are you doing here?"
He sighed and shook his head, "Look, I noticed yesterday that you had some scarring on your neck. It's still there - did you get into any trouble back at the Seminary? Anything we should be worried about?"
Viveca pinched the bridge of her nose and shook her head, giving a small chuckle to brush him off. "With the state you guys were in, I'm surprised it was even worth noting. I'm fine. In fact, I couldn't help but notice you leaving Father Ilya's room... Care to... elaborate?" She requested carefully, deciding not to show her whole hand at once.
He blinked, a bit confused at first before just shrugging. "Curiosity, mostly. It was quiet, peaceful in there... Just one last walkabout for nostalgia's sake." He was so quick to answer and confident that at first Viveca almost let him go.
"No, Hassan. You were trespassing; it's no secret I... don't take kindly... to Father Ilya, but unless you have reason to believe he's doing something wrong, you shouldn't be rifling through his things," She scolded.
"And you shouldn't be stealing books from the archive and not telling us when you get into a spot of trouble," He spat back, pulling himself from the wall. "I guess we all have our secrets, don't we, Sister?"
As he closed the compartment door and walked away, Viveca let out a sigh... Tensions were high, that's all. It was just nerves, she reminded herself, everyone was going to calm down once they were underway. Besides, she was relieved that he left without much more digging. Taking a few more minutes to peruse the book, she packed it away again and returned to the group's compartment. Ragnar was jabbering away about his excitement for T'sarae and Hassan seemed to pretend nothing had happened, mostly trying to deflect or keep Ragnar from going off the rails.
Viveca decided her best course of action was going to be a nap - the night before had held less sleep than she had hoped. However, being able to open and close the book without the same experience was decidedly calming. She closed her eyes and her warsiblings drifted away from her mind, soon to be replaced by Azure circles and whispers of Ashe-rahn... The most her siblings would get from her would be similar mutterings and a loose shake of her head, but nothing panicked or frightened.
As the four Inquisitors disembarked the train, Ragnar's excitement was rekindled. Viveca felt rather rejuvinated.
"Hey, could you guys keep an eye out for Father Oren and Mother Tatiana? I have something to talk to them about, for Mother Indira. Just, if you see them or anything - I'm going to the Karamzina to get settled in," The woman asked quickly, before apologizing to Ragnar for separating. Mother Indira, what have you got us into..?
Cero was a more beautiful city than she could have ever imagined. Walking through the streets, she marveled at the gorgeous architecture - something of a niche fascination for her - and the seemingly artificial foliage that dotted the wide streets. Men and women of all ages walked with their eyes forward, so intent on reaching their destination that sometimes one might think they couldn't see anything else. The sight of massive hailstones striking an unwavering dome was cathartic in its own right. Something about the idea of the Varyan winter being kept so easily at bay was amusing to her.
She stopped in her tracks and looked back up at the dome once more... Wait... and azure dome? Large, white stones falling atop it... Viveca's stomach fell and she shook her head - this book was ancient. She hadn't found an omen of Cero's demise, hopefully, but she may have found an explanation for the azure shield in the book. If the illustration was the once-great Iddin-Mar, then perhaps it once had protection for its capital just as Cero does. The legend said that the T'sarae itself had crafted this beautiful dome in the first place, who's to say that Omestris hadn't done so as well? Regardless, she needed to speak to Oren and Tatiana. Oren had been in Omestris this week, if she wasn't mistaken; maybe he'd learned something. Not to mention, they needed to hear Mother Indira's story.
Viveca decided not to make any more stops, apart from snagging a quick bite to eat from some non-descript restaurant before boarding the Karamzina. She was greeted with exceptionally polite professionalism and even an escort to her room. They explained some of the parts of the vessel while they went. Walking by one room, the man stopped, as did Viveca, while somebody else called out.
"Oi, sir!" A mechanic, covered in splotches of grey and black poked his head out, "Don't mean t'bother ya, but uhh... Well, seems we're missing some tools, y'aven't seen nothin', 'ave ya?" He asked, his accently thick and rustic.
"No, 'fraid not... You guys misplaced them?" The escort asked with a small laugh, ribbing a curious Viveca as though sharing some kind of inside joke. It didn't really register until she realized that he probably wanted her to join him in chuckling about the Engineering Corps.
"No, no, nothin' like that... We put 'em right back, but when I went t'get summin' off the table, I noticed a few were missin' is all. Somebody probably nicked 'em and took 'em to another department. We'll hunt 'em down, thanks!" The engineer replied cheerily, tipping his head to Viveca before disappearing into the room once more.
After what seemed like an impossible number of twists and turns, Viveca had arrived to her state-room. To be honest, she was absolutely floored with how comfortable it looked. Considering the kind of deployment this was, she had assumed even the higher ranking SA officers would be left with little space, but... She was wrong. There were ammenities to spare; it was better than her old room at the Seminary. Maybe not the one she got as a senior student and Inquisitor, but certainly nicer than when they had to live in the barracks for most of their 'studies.' SHe could get used to this - Tatiana and Oren would probably be around soon enough, she'd go looking once she'd unpacked what little she had brought.