Description: Woman without a country, Clio St. Jeanne, continues to explore the lands of Illyria and especially the Castle at its heart. She comes across the Telluric Complex, under research by the forces that now control the young country. One of Illyria's leaders, and the man that 'killed' Clio, Leon Whitefang, is there to once more give advice and give of his resources in order to help a refugee.
Illyria. Beneath its sovereign seat. The Telluric Complex. a careful union of massive gears, bridges over impossibly deep ravines, and a mix of stone, metal, and ceramic walls all around. Guardian armors are stationed throughout the countless pillars, acting as grounds and redirecting ground flows up into ceiling flows. Hewn into the composite material are rifts driven into the walls. Within these rifts is the very spiritual energy of the leylines, contained by specially forged metal and intricate runes.
The complex is mercifully inactive. Intact but dry. The leylines dead and inactive. The guardians still. The chi spirits gone. But the place still bustles with life as Sacred Order - turned Illyria scientists and magicians explore the depths of its vast chambers and others of sufficient quality and sound backing have their requests to enter the complex and look into its histories and capabilities likewise approved.
For one Leo Whitefang, in the post Illyria Expedition world, the Telluric Complex holds persistent curiousity as well as possibility. If the magic of the place can be reactivated and harnessed properly, it would prove a desperate resource for the fledgling nation in these tumultuous early days. He's in over his head here. Thrust from the position of paramilitary commander into one of the three leaders of a newborn nation in a hostile world - but to see him you'd never realize it. In fact, there he is! With his Illyria assigned soldiers and bodyguards nearby as he looks over a pillar supported by a mighty carved figure and nearby scientists rattle on and at him with his eyes slightly glazed over at their magical theorizing. Then off they go.
"Soldier..I do believe that magician was attempting to explain something to me of enormous complexity.." Leo comments to a large guardian soldier besides him.
"Yes, King Leo! He was speaking of the complexities of magical chord's from lowest to highest rank as they relate to the intricacies of the binding of elemental spirits into-"
"...Uh, of course they were! I'm not some neophyte in the magical arts!"
"Of course not, King Leo!"
Of additional interest are..Gears?? In some levels, visible in the open halls, strange amphibian-looking and fairy looking Gears make their way here and there, gathering information on behalf of one Dr. Paradigm. These are interesting days.
Illyria. New nation in old world Europe. Carved from the mountains. Built on the bones of a dragon and threads of pure power. Threads of magic, power and potential. Threads that may be, in some ways, dormant, but the potential is there. The potential will always be there. Waiting to come bursting forward from the earth and the spirit of its inhabitants.
A nation of refugees. Of the spirited. Of the hopeful. Gears, the Sacred Order, and hangers on that in the wake of war are seeking to carve out new homes and lives built on the faded memories of yesteryear.
Some are simply dead to the world, and a fugitive if not dead. Clio St. Jeanne, former Lieutenant of the Novus Orbis Librarium, has explored a good deal of the castle itself as more and more of it is returned to its white-gold gothic splendor. She has walked the forests. She has explored the ruins of towns in search of things left behind. She has looked up at the stars and wondered. And she has looked to the arcane.
And now she walks through the ranks of the Sacred Order, and of Dr. Paradigm's Gears. Scientist and magician. Studies of the underground power where the river may be dry, but may yet yield hidden waters. Clio isn't one of them, not really. She's simply a guest and a vagabond despite what has happened. Years ago she declined the invite, and now she's quietly refusing. Uncertain of her capability to truly be one of the Order, or what dangers it might yet invite. Perhaps it's better to be the living dead for yet longer.
She passes the great carved figures. She watches them, looks up at them, and considers them. Magic may not be here, but she knows where it has been, there are sparks and wisps of violent power that yet play at the fingertips poking out from the long sleeves of her top.
Clio looks at the Gears, the obvious ones tied to Dr. Paradigm. She likes them. They make things interesting. And they remind her of good choices. Choices anyone can make, even if they were made the way they are.
It's the voice of Leo Whitefang that ulitmately grabs Clio St. Jeanne's attention. And his bellowing. Clio laughs, but if the big man is down here in the complex, he's worth seeing.
"Reminds me of a guy that I met while with the NOL," Clio speaks up as she looks to the huge guardian. "Some kind of quasi-ambassador slash outreach program. Big guy, a lot of armor, seemed pretty nice." She gestures up toward the guardian. "But I think this guy could've taken him."
"Oh?" remarks Leo without looking, as if assuming it's just another guard speaking despite the familiarity of the voice. It takes him a second to register the words N.O.L. and one can almost see him visibly wince as the even mention of the Librarium is like some sort of needle that pricks him with bad memories and ill feelings.
"You were with NOL, soldier?"
He turns and sees Clio, blinks a few times, completely caught off guard and then he actually gasps in some delight - or at Leo's version of a gasp of delight which sounds more like a 'hruumping' gust of wind if one can imagine such a thing.
"Clio! Welcome! I wasn't sure if we would ever see you in Illyria again, let alone so soon!"
Leo turns to face her now and he makes a not so subtle gesture to the guards who seem to catch on and back off, giving them more conversation room to have less somethings be said best not for their ears. She is essentially a 'Walking Dead' right now as far as NOL is concerned.
"What do you think? Who could have forseen things turn out this way? Elise, may have, I suppose. To think, I suggested to Ky we be prepared to use Illyria as refuge in case the UN or Vatican threw us under the bus. I never thought it'd turn out quite like this though!"
Clio's there, smiling to herself, amused and very happy with this sight of Leo Whitefang compared to the last time they've spoken. Civilian dressed, still without a chain, clothes she rifled from the camp before anyone caught on. She is the same Clio St. Jeanne that was fighting in the ruins, but she is different in subtle ways.
"I never really left," she admits, walking up to Leo and looking up at him from close. "Spent some time looking at your country. Talking with your people. So, question, Ky Kiske. Dizzy real close to him?" she asks candidly, stepping around Leo to get a better look at the guardian.
"I'm not a politician. I just liked being a knight. Liked being that bit of fire in the darkness. Now I'm one of those refugees."
She turns to face Leo, hands in the front pocket of her hoodie. "Hell of a thing you have here. Giving all these people a place, a home. I know you got the old countries pissing and moaning, but they weren't using any of these ruins."
"Precisely.." says Leo in response to the last part of Clio's statement. He retains his good humor and mood but looks away to examine the open room of the complex as the conversation drifts to more political issues.
"Illyria didn't even exist as far as they knew. The land was hidden by magic after all. Now that it has appeared it is an unknown element in an uncertain world. Still, there were..some concessions that had to be made and the lack of consolidated power out there due to past events is giving us some extra leeway and time to get things together to be a proper international power. Until then, there is little any of them can do. Of course, should someone decide to get aggressive with us, the rest of the world has no obligation to step in and help either so....all the more reason we need to get a strong grip on our resources now."
Leo inclines his head and allows a slight smile to cross his features now, "And you are welcome here, Clio. This can be your home or you can freely visit as you see fit. Whatever you decide, you have earned your right to do as you see fit as far as I'm concerned."
Leo then pauses and the smile becomes a knowing smirk, finally noting: "As for Ky and Dizzy..hah.. well.. he certainly has a strong perspective regarding her rights and she's very attached to him."
An evasive answer if there ever was one. "Did you encounter them during your time exploring the country?"
"Want to do things for yourself, you better be able to fight for it or have friends that'll back you up. Seems like countries and politics are a whole lot like Metro City sometimes," Clio judges with a shrug. "In the last year I've walked through two invasions. If a third comes, just my luck."
Clio turns back to the guardian and holds up a hand. She writes a circle in the air and for a moment a ring of iridescent light bursts into a pattern of sigils and formulae. "This place must've been something before it washed away. Can you feel it? You can wash out the leyline, but liminality is a thing you can't really get rid of so easily." She talks with a smile on her face, one growing wider.
With a snap of her fingers, the circle burns in violent flame before wisping away. "Thanks, and my decision is I do want to stick around here a little longer. I think there's something here for me. Something I can learn. This is old magic around here. Something I can learn from and add to what the Military Academy taught me. Maybe, when I apply it to my chain, I can do something with a bit more oomph to it."
"Because, yeah, I think I met Dizzy up on the walls. Called herself Edith. Cute girl, blue hair, kind of a princess vibe. Gushed about laying her head in Ky Kiske's lap. She gave of crazy power. Like, something I haven't seen since Jubei fought his wife in front of me."
Clio smiles, approval in her eyes as she looks toward some of the Gears. "She was looking out for her people. Wanted something nice. I like her. She's good people."
"Well that is excellent! I'm glad you met Miss Dizzy. Yes ..she is..obviously quite enamoured with Ky which flusters the bambino to no end, and I quite love that." chortles Leo with a big wide grin. He then grows more serious, if only by a touch, "But you speak the truth! She is..a Command Gear after all. You know well what that means. And yet despite all that power, all she wants is what's best for her kind and for others and she feels nothing but good will towards another who is a human and quite beneath her in power level, as strong as Ky may be. -That- is part of why we needed to do what we did..right?" Leo grows slightly melancholy for a brief second. "..They are more then just machines.. They need to have their free will protected.."
Leo straightens back up and then says with a mild look of amusement once again, "The NOL thinks I killed you, you know. I am supposed to be contacted soon about reperations for your living family?" He seems not at all upset by this but -incredibly- amused as if he were helping fate itself right this punchline. "And I have a bounty on my head, just in case life needs to be made more interesting for me when I travel abroad."
"Honestly? I'm glad I did too. I won't lie, part of me really wanted to know just who she was. Hoping I didn't make a massive mistake in all this." Clio closes her eyes and pinches the bridge of her nose. For a moment, she looks tired. Simply tired. Running off interest and curiosity more than most things these days. "If her, or even a Gear like Jack-O, gets the chance to do something good or even just look to have a quiet life, they don't need to be worth something to get to live, then it's worth it. Maybe they need some light in the darkness too. And I know I harp on that, but that line was day in and day out at the Academy. It sticks."
Clio looks back to Whitefang. She half shrugs, a weak gesture of supplication to the man. "I knew they were going to. It's why I had you break my chain. I needed to look more than AWOL. And I knew you were strong enough to carry that trouble. Stronger than I am." She drops her hand and lowers her head. "My mother is all the family I have. Marie St. Jeanne. She's French. Moved to America. She's a biologist with ties to the NOL. It's how I got into the academy. She's also been a big supporter of me going out and hitting people with weapons since I was a little girl."
"If I'm honest, I wouldn't be surprised if she ultimately had Relius Clover as a superior somewhere in that hierarchy. He knows her name, at least. Just want you to know, so they don't try to pull one over on you."
"It's fine." says Leo, "You don't have to explain. It was the Imperator herself who issued this request of me. There were..things that needed to be said and negotiated to bring this to an end in a way that would have most of the Sacred Order former members free to do what they needed to do here and abroad without open warfare with The NOL."
Leo shakes his head and looks away, "As much as I would have been willing under the right circumstnace an for the right cause..we were in no position to do so and it would have been unfair to both SO and NOL members to push matters. Izanami knew this, despite being willing. This and the other compromises were worth it.."
Leo smirks mildly and then adds, "But we do have our Damocles sword, in case The NOL decides to toe the line.. A little recording of a certain Relius Clover saying things he shouldn't have said. Anyway.." Leo turns fully to look at Clio, "You're not going to be able to stay dead forever and as soon as the NOL sees you went AWOL you'll have a bounty on your head as well. Is that alright with you? I have to warn you..that NOL 'ambassadors' will still occasionally drop by just to see what's happening. They have no right to do anything and the NOL can't do anything to us while we're in our own borders..but that doesn't mean they may not be crafty, just as you've implied."
Clio is simply quiet for a time. The Imperator. Cooler heads. Doubts? Only the most technical level. It didn't matter anyways. She made her decision. She has much to look toward. And much of what Leo tells her are the very things she has considered.
An NOL that remained at distance, if anything, was the outcome she didn't expect. Her hands twitch. Her fingers tap chains that aren't there. They jingle and jostle comfortable metal that doesn't exist. Small motes of shadow and light dance at Clio's twitching fingertips. Arcane power that would, in other cases, flood through the etchings and formulae carved into metal forms. Rampant, undirected energy built from chi and a slice of Boundary energy. Simple as habit for Clio to twitch into being.
"I know they'll be around. I needed to buy time. You're buying it for me. Your whole order is. And time is something I need, but I might need more," Clio tells Whitefang. "I'm going to need get myself somewhere where I can stand on my own. You can't be a country without other nations to say you are, or without the ability to fight for it yourself. Well, looks like I can't be at all without those same things." She rubs the back of her neck, looking away. "So I'm going to ask you, and a few other people I know, I might need someone beating my ass every so often to pick my game up. You know, training."
"Whatever you request. You shall have it." says Leo, firmly as if there is no need to explain or negotiate. "If it is training you require, I and any other who you feel may be of help to you..will give it. Our training facilities don't look like much yet, but, in time they will. For now, an old fashioned training yard should do the trick."
He notes the absent chains. The twitching of the fingers and the small sparks and motes of dancing magic..but says nothing to it, though the gesture and twitchiness doesn't escape him.
"...Jubei..I have met. He's expressed an interest in the Sacred Order. I haven't seen him since the conflicted ended but he asked about us and seemed interested in helping us out. Perhaps he can assist you as well? You say you met him and his wife? He mentioned someone called The Phantom to me. Does that sound familiar? He is far from an ally of the NOL it seems. His talk with me prepared me for when I met The Imperator."
"I promise not to take terrible advantage of your freely given generosity, sir," Clio says with a hungry little grin. She starts to pace, it stops the twitching, as does looking into the guardian. "I do want access to this place. I want to see things here. There's a lot I can learn. I promise to give you any insight I can. But by the looks of it, you got the real arcanologists here. I'm just a fighter that likes looking at things."
Clio crosses her arms and turns away from Whitefang, taking a long breath, and considering. "I've met the Phantom. She tapped into my head. And, well, she's one of the reasons I left. Necromancy's not something I truck in. I don't like it, and I don't like what they did to her."
"I am sorry to hear that you had to endure that." says Leo, frown growing deep now. "..It seems that Jubei has personal reasons to have a grievance with The NOL then. This is adding some things up. I will have to reach out to him to find out if he is still interested in joining us here to build something unique..."
Leo turns and looks over the complex once again, taking note of the humans and gears. They aren't exactly working -together- yet but they aren't fighting or jostling for space nor do the humans seem uncomfortable in their presence.
"There's a long ways to go but Illyria -will- become a place of refugee and it will impact the world in a positive way. As you said, we have arcanist and scientists alike here with some interest in the mysteries of Illyria but the Gears themselves are an amazing force for their own future as well as ours."
Leo gestures, pointing the Gear surveyours out. "These are the ones who work with Dr. Paradigm. A Gear of considerable arcane power and knowoledge. I freed him and his fellows from the prison where Dizzy was being kept though he insists he was just moments away from freeing himself.."
Leo grins mildly, "He's a little..ah..confident in his abilities. But perhaps I can arrange a meeting if you are interested in furthering your arcane potential.."
The endurance is only a sliver of what she has imagined Jubei's wife has gone through, and moreover what sort of things were planned for Dizzy and any other Gears. Clio hadn't thought that the darkstalkers she's had to kill were possibly granted more mercy than the ones left alive. She hides the painful thoughts, keeps them swallowed, Was it better or worse to find another reason to enjoy a fight?
"I hope you and Dizzy's dream comes true," Clio says, looking back to Leo, "At the least having the Gears around makes things more interesting to look at. And if anyone gives them trouble, I'll be there. So long as I'm in Illyria."
She nods. "Yeah, I'd like that, compare notes. Learning how to do things better will help." As she thinks and watches the Gears and humans alike, she has a little laugh that grows louder.
She quells the laugh with a snort and a wave of her hand. "Sorry, way overtired," she admits, "Was thinking about Japan. How suspicious everyone was back then. Beat up some Japanese Defense Soldiers when I was securing information on a house. I said back then that I'd protect people even if they hated me for it. That was part of being a knight. It's a lot fucking easier when they like you, though."
"it is a mark of character to be willing to be that knight when the world turns against you, as it often will, when doing the right thing and they are wrapped up in fear and status quo.."
Leo shrugs his shoulders, "I have no answers I can give outside of personal experiences. Loss is part of the lot handed to people like us.. But when we gain we gain big and the suffering becomes worth it when you see what lies on the other side of trouble. If you're strong enough to get across that line.
Leo looks solemn and then grins, "So find some joy in the middle of your troubles, eh? And the occasional venting does help. It's good to use the training yards to occasionally do at least that much.."
Leo shrugs mildly and looks away, "As to our dreams? Well..dreams are dreams and Illyria is a reality. Even Dizzy will have to face some realities of her own soon enough...but you know..she's been the shown the back of humanities hands and -still- is the way she is. Surely that counts for some sort of inspiration to keep pushing forward. Dizzy was strapped to a table and being reprogrammed by Relius Clover. Before that, her entire village was destroyed.. And she still hasn't turned against us.. I think that's something worth holding on to..."
"You always know how to sound like a hero," Clio says with a sardonic little grin. "I find what I find. For now I like it. Even if it's going to hurt like hell." She starts to walk again, a little away, drawn toward the farther areas of the complex and its myriad secrets.
Dreams, horrors, reality, a strange new world lay out before Clio St. Jeanne, but one with a dark mirror of the past to it as well. For all she talks about being the flame in the darkness. For all she speaks on knights and heroes. She knows what it means in the end. People will hurt. People will probably die. It was a lot easier when it was going to school, being with friends, fighting monsters. So much easier.
And then, Clio looks back over her shoulder. Still in thought, still distracted by her own head. She looks at Leo. She looks past him to the Gears and the humans. She thinks about Edith, or Dizzy. Jubei. Those still a part of the NOL that she trusts with her life.
"I'm kind of an idiot sometimes," Clio deadpans, shaking her head in self-amused half belief. "Things haven't really changed."
A stretch, a yawn and Clio St. Jeanne looks back up to the guardian. "Hey, I'm going to give climbing this thing a shot. Then I'll probably take a nap," she tells Leo. "If you hear something bumping around in the night, it's not me, you won't hear me."
"Hmm.." Leo nods his head and then glances towards one of the nearby soldiers as he turns away and begins to move to another part of the complex himself, "She was never here." he says to the soldier.
"Who was never here, Sir Leo??" responds the knight with fervor and aplomb.
"She was!" responds Leo, clearly not getting it.
"Who is she, Sir Leo??"
"The one who was never here!"
"...Yes, Sir Leo!"
And on the evening continues.
Log created on 21:31:05 06/23/2018 by Clio, and last modified on 01:47:39 06/24/2018.