Description: Clio, Jubei, and Brandon gather at the Metro City park to devise a plan of action to deal with the desolation of the park post Majigen series. There is a struggle to come up with a solution before it has to be tabled for another time.
The private investigator finds himself in Metro City park once more, shuffling his deck. It was part nervous tick, part metho of charging his deck and prepping it in case something bad happens. Which considering Clio's commentary on where her teacher is on the bounty boards of the NOL, there was a very, very real possibility of things going wrong.
He whistles a tune as he waits for Clio and who he would assume was Jubei considering he was adding two and two from what Clio had told him. Cat and top of the NOL bounty board. Yeah. Not many creatures that could be.
He also wanted to make sure he had the cloaking ritual at the ready in case he either needed to make a hasty retreat or he needed to hide his identity for plausible deniability.
Thankfully Metro City isn't without its own degree of weirdness. It helps camouflage some of the stranger people walking along the city streets. One of which is fugitive witch Clio St. Jeanne. Though she is hardly discreet today; she is in full 'Kaka Clan' disguise at the moment. Leather-eared hoodie and grinning mask hiding her, she walks with impunity along the cracked and crumbling paths of the poisoned park.
Her chain clinks with each step, hanging as it is from the oversized collar about her neck, wrapping around her waist like a garish fashion object. Her hands are hidden in the long sleeves. Her step is bouncing, confident. She knows the dangers of what she does, but she's long since come to terms with the nature of the beast.
Besides, compared to the fears of the NOL, Clio's concern for the park and the potential dangers it may hold for the future are far more pressing. And besides, she knows she fights with Jubei, and that always does something for security.
Her approach on finding the private investigator is direct. She's not even trying to play coy. "Already weapons drawn?" she questions, amusement in her voice enhanced by the sharp toothed grin painted on her mask, "We having fun off the bat?"
Jubei's used to evading capture. Despite being brazen enough to walk around town in a bright orange jacket, he's also, well, a -cat-, and well-versed at tiptoeing through the shadows when need be. That, and he's also, well, a -cat-, and fond of sleeping for considerably greater portions of the day than his human companions.
And yet, he knows what a schedule is. It just so happened that he was perched on a nice, sunny rooftop across the way, and he's never been a fan of being the -first- to show up in a given area. Once he'd spotted Clio walking, the feline samurai had made a point of leaping down from the roof to a neighboring tree branch, and from there tip-tapping his way down to ground level. Once there, he had hastened his pace by bounding about on all fours.
Still not in a -rush- mind you. And by the time he pokes his head into view, he's already slowed down to a leisurely walk. Only when he gets within speaking distance does the orange-frocked cat stand up on his hind legs again.
"Is that what's goin' on here? Silly me, I just thought he was about to deal us in."
The private investigator claps his hands making the deck disappear through sleight of hand upon being approached by Clio. With a smile.
His voice contains a bit of faux innocence as he says, "Weapons? What weapons?" He then wiggles his fingers as he holds up his hands showing that those hands are now empty.
Brandon glances around making sure no unwanted company before he turns back to Clio.
"While I wouldn't mind a rematch, I was shuffling my cards because I still want to be ready. I've had a guy who goes by Crock attack me here because he didn't want to see the park restored and viewed the park and everything man-made in it as a blight on the planet."
And that's when the final member of this get-together arrives. He nods to the cat person running this way. "I would but those were tarot cards and it's hard to find people know games that can be played with them."
He turns towards Jubei with his hand extended if he wants to shake hand/paw but he doesn't seem overly offended if the offered hand is declined.
"Nice to meet you. How much has Clio told you about me and I'm hoping to achieve here?"
Clio's just a little happy she can hide her smile at the quick close up magic behind the fake smile of her mask. She had considered looking into appropriate formulae to allow the mask some sort of illusory emoting, but she couldn't get it to work as well as she had hoped. Thus, the mask remains inert in its expression. But underneath it is a quiet amusement.
She makes a quiet hum when Jubei shows himself, and she looks down to her mentor and gives an understanding little nod to the cat that's gotten her through this part of her life. "You could probably stack them up in a tower," she suggests to Brandon.
". . .But then this one'd just bat them down," she waves a sleeve toward Jubei. "If that counts as a game."
She doesn't want to step on what Jubei knows, so she drops to a quiet contemplation on the information given by Brandon; Crock, someone with concerns over man-made things and reclamation? Violent? Potential threat to be catalogued for later. The soldier is still that, despite her allegiances. At least the fight was here, and it seemed from given information that 'Crock' wasn't causing more problems.
"Crock," repeats Jubei, stroking a comically oversized paw against his chin. The name certainly doesn't sound like any he's encountered before -- though, that could just as easily be the nom de plume of a street thug as anyone else.
"Tarot, huh. Fate's not somethin' I fancy playin' games with, so I can understand where yer comin' from, kid."
The one-eyed cat favors Clio and her suggestion with a smirk, shaking his head. "An' why shouldn't I? The whole purpose of towers is for them to get knocked down."
He extends an oversized mechanical paw to Brandon. It's hollow -- but quite a bit heavier than it looks. "'Brandon', right? Call me Jubei." He flashes a friendly look up at Brandon, shaking his head slowly. "She told me a lot, to be honest, but magic formulas and such are just one of those things this ol' cat's just gonna have to settle for noddin' his head to. Ol' Jubei is good at two things, hitting things with swords, and sleepin' in ten hour stretches."
He smiles affably, baring his razor-sharp teeth. The cat knows how to wield seithr in its rawest and purest form -- but only to certain ends, with certain means. "Kiddin' aside, I can shift flows of seithr. But starting or stopping it... and -harnessing- it?" He inverts his paw, gesturing to Clio and Brandon. "That's all you two."
He nods his head at that as he retracts his hand and considers what the cat was saying. Shifting seithr flows could be useful. In fact it allowed Brandon to look at the problem from another angle. He begins to work out the problems out loud since he figured that at the very least he can use Clio as a sounding board since her magic education came from a different source and Jubei while not quite understanding magic from a formulaic standpoint could provide an outsider's insight which may prove useful still.
"So as it stands, our problem is that the seithr here has saturated the ground in a contained location and has stagnated. We have a visual indication of how wide the saturation is but we don't know how deep it is... yet."
He pauses as he looks towards the other two letting those words soak in before continuing.
"Once we have that our goal will be to get the seithr moving while keeping a lid on how much and how quickly it moves so we don't accidentally scar other locations in the process of the clean up. Then we need to figure out where we are going to move this seithr once we've manage to get it to flow out of the ground. And judging based on how wide the contamination is, we're going to need more arcane might than just us."
Behind her mask, Clio has a look of skepticism for Jubei. She knows who he was married to, and she's heard tales of his kid. Someone isn't that close to advanced formulae without picking up a thing or two about how it all works. Even if it was instinctual manipulation rather than formal education, she suspects that cat of always being more aware than he himself might know.
And as he eyes track toward Jubei's swords, she knows just how important that intuitive control is.
Clio reaches to run her fingertips along the heavy links of her chain when Brandon talks about containment and control. She nods along, and violet sparks of chi flicker like embers to light the etched equations of the formulae that flow along the chain links. "You have a plan to ID the depths?" she asks, dropping into NOL Infantry patter, low toned and sleepy. "Is it the subway? There's always neat shit buried under cities if you know where to look."
She draws her hand from the chain and the light fades from the etchings. "Containment spells I can do. I picked some up back in Illyria to contain some of the artifacts there. Won't help for everything, but with others I could put together a larger scale circle."
She looks down and kicks the nails sticking from her boot against the ground. "We're going to need something or someone big for this." A thought goes to a small bag she has, a token from a succubus met on the subway.
Jubei may not be able to see through the mask -- but he has still been around Clio enough to know when she's silently judging him. And yet, when he speaks of his skills, he... considers his words to be close to the truth. For if he -had- been wiser at reading the flow of seithr, perhaps he could have stopped it. And perhaps his daughter would still have a relatively sane mother.
He turns his eye to Brandon, and to Clio, nodding slowly as each speaks in turn. "-Something- big, yeah -- with this much corruption, I think there ight be too much for a circle to hold. So the first would be finding some vessel to contain this purged seithr." The feline swordsman scratches his belly with a claw -- a menacing weapon unfurled from his oversized paw as casually as if it were a normal cat's claw.
"But as for -someone- big... well, the trick is findin' someone who won't just use this tainted seithr for their own foul ends."
Jubei frowns, as another thought occurs to him. "... And with that much energy in one place, it could just as soon explode, if we ain't careful."
Brandon nods his head in the affirmative to Clio in response to IDing the depths.
"I'm a fairly decent hand at divination. I could probably repurpose a scrying spell to scan specifically for seithr saturation and modify the range."
There's a moment of contemplation to figure out how he could pull off a seithr scanning ritual before Clio then brings up handling containment. He nods to Clio once more and says, "Okay. I guess that would put me on the duty of initiating the flow of seithr and the locomotion if Jubei would be handling shifting and redirecting the flow. Clio's the hose, I turn on the water, Jubei aims the hose. Question is where do we aim it?"
Brandon looks up into the sky for a moment before a lightbulb turns on in his head.
"As for the vessel, only thing keeping me signing off on this completely is the fact that it would require ridiculous aiming skills to pull off. It's often said that what goes into a black hole doesn't come out, right?"
"Really? Nice. I suck at divining," Clio says with a little nod of her head out of respect. She turns from the other two, her attention heading to her surroundings. She walks a few feet away and crouches down. Pulling her sleeve back, she pokes at the fetid dirt.
"Hose ain't a bad way of putting it," she says, her native Metro accent coming to her as she looks at the ground. "Circle just keeps things in places, and a hose is just a lot of circle. If it's contained in a way to suggest it goes somewhere else, we can do that. I can do that." Her mask stays grinning while she focuses on the air in front of her, she brings to being a light that takes the form of a circle of complex equations. "Yeah yeah yeah, this, this can work."
She snaps to clear the air, literally, and comes back from her moment of being aside. "What about black holes? You got something that'll suck in this kinda power?"
Jubei's twin swords jangle within their scabbard, as he starts pacing his way around the park, while the two 'youngsters' discuss the plans for purification. And despite his apparent calm, his twin tails flit about as active participants of the silent discussion taking place in his head. He understands what they're going at, but by and large, he has found himself at an impasse as to how he can help speed this along any further. Or to... provide any tangible solutions to the two who seem like they know the topic in greater depth than he'd ever learned. He does seem... buoyed upward by Clio's insistence that she's found a solution.
"It might take me two times missin' to get a bead on, but aiming shouldn't be a huge problem if we can, uh, -pinch- the hose, so to speak."
The black-and-white cat does, however, seem concerned with the idea of stashing trouble for later. "It's -said-, but it could also be -said- that the Backyard is the remains of folks from a past version of reality havin' done that with all the crap they didn't want, too. It ain't like they named it 'Happy Go Lucky Joy-opolis' or somethin' with a more upliftin' image."
His frock rustles slightly. And a moment later, a small smoking pipe works its way out of a buttonhole in the center of the frock, which his embiggened right paw takes hold of. "But don't mind this ol' grump. Tell us more about this black hole plan o' yours, kid."
He looks back and forth between Jubei and Clio seeming almost sheepish about putting forth this idea. He knows it is ridiculous and the more he's going over this idea in his head more absurd it sounds in his head. He can only imagine how it will sound once he voices it.
"Black holes are locations in space of such heavy gravitational pull that not even light can escape it. By targeting the black hole, if the energy gets close enough to the event horizon, it won't be able to escape it and anyone attempting to use it would get pulled in as well and crushed. However, in order to make the shot you would pretty much to make the greatest sniper shot ever."
Each point is counted off on his hands. "You'd have to bet on which star is going to collapse on itself by the time the seithr gets there, keep an extremely steady hand once things get going since a minor movement is enough to send it off course once we're dealing with insane distances. It's almost like asking an archer hit a target from ten blocks away before the target even exists. Honestly, it's a ridiculous ask of you. Forget I made the Black hole suggestion."
Clio doesn't have ears to twitch, despite the look of her hood, but they verymuch would have been doing so when Jubei starts to bring up the topic of the Backyard. From behind her grinning mask she frowns. So it would seem that now Jubei does that thing where he reveals the depth of his associate knowledge. "That's something to remember. . .," she says, trailing off.
She wraps the loose part of her chain at her wrist and begins to clink them together. A steady rhythm, keeping time as she has to think on the matter. And then the reality of what Brandon meant gets clarified.
Clio slips her mask off and looks at Brandon.
"You're being literal?" she asks, blinking. "What? What!?" She exhales and looks between Jubei and Brandon before looking up to space. "I thought you were just thinking of something /like/ a black hole." In disbelief, she looks down and away, just staring with her lips parted in a half spoken unthought.
She sighs and shrugs, dropping the length of her chain. "I mean, we ain't got any better ideas."
"Well, I got me a way to make that calculation. And, not to brag, but I've got the skill to pull it off." Jubei's twin tails flick around languidly behind him as he thinks. "But for all the other reasons you just rattled off, it just sounds like it's making our problem some other problem in space, and that's only a -smidge- better than just launching it off in some random direction.
The feline samurai flops over onto the ground, scratching the back of his neck with a hind leg for a moment. Grunting, he shakes his head back to Clio. "This land's sat here corrupt for years, Clio, I'm sure it can wait until we come up with some others."
Springing back to his full height, he holds out a paw. "So black hole -- yeah, the longest of shots. But walk with me here a moment -- now that we're all here, what's the difference between this corrupt seithr, and just... regular old seithr? Is there any way we can just purify it? Or possibly separate the corruption out and seal -that?- Seems like that'd be a more compact package, and maybe we just pick a bigger, local target to slam it into." He holds up his paw, jerking his head upward. "Like, the sun or somethin'...?"
"In earlier study, I thought it was it plain seithr contamination. Or rather there being such a high concentration of seithr that nothing could grow there. Good soil goes inert, leaves turn to dust, twigs become brittle and then crumble. All things it does now. If that in particular were the case. We could strip the seithr from the ground, send it to the Boundary or Backyard from which the energy originates. Granted, that would be beyond my capability by myself but with some help from others in a multiperson ritual it might be closer to managable."
He then glances back at the scarred ground still fenced off before turning back.
"What we have here is slightly corrupted and even marks the ground that it's contacted. It did all of those things that a normal seithr contamination does but a little bit faster. It was why I didn't notice it at first. Even when you move the soil away it still made soil from other sources go inert. Which makes it odd that the contamination still remained restricted to the location where it happened. It doesn't make sense but far be it from me to look a gift horse in the mouth."
He pauses taking a moment to rub his chin in thought before looking towards Jubei.
"So pulling the corrupted seithr out could still be on the table but then filtering out the corruption might be difficult. I'm not that great at purification magic beyond using light on an ultraviolet wavelength to kill bacteria."
He shrugs with a sheepish look on his face.
"Just cause it can wait, don't mean we can." Clio kicks at the toxified soil, digging with one of the nails protruding from the toe of her boot. Mask off, she is more visibly concerned and tired looking. Her half-lidded eyes and small frown drawn on her, marking her cold and distant as she shrugs.
Clio tucks low in a crouch, far enough her chain hangs low and toucheds the ground. "Seithr on its own could do this, but yeah, I think it'd either spread or stop, not be selective." Her head tilts, quizzical, thinking for a long moment. "Could there still be active spellwork controlling it? This might still be a live wire."
Clio takes a rather cattish skipping bounce away from the tainted earth. "More people might be better. I, uh, don't think many of my old circle can just rock up here and cast, so the social contacts might be on you two." Clio laughs, trailing off at the thought of her separated friends from the NOL. It still cuts.
She finds what might be an out in a moment of pedantry. "Bacteria's living. Killing it with light isn't purifying, it's destruction with energy manipulation. That's like purifying a mugger with fire, only teeny tiny."
The one-eyed cat laughs at Clio's need to do something, -anything- to make progress on this conundrum. Her concern is understood, and in some measure, echoed by the samurai. And yet, Jubei wouldn't have made it as long as he has if he acted sheerly on impulse.
The cat turns to Brandon as an explanation is given. It makes sense to the old samurai, who takes a long drag from the pipe in his sleeve. Expelling a small fog from his nostrils, he nods sedately: "Huh, okay. Thanks for explainin' that." He nods slowly, adding, "Sorry, not tryin' to put anyone on the spot. Just an old geezer askin' old geezer questions."
He turns back to Clio, nodding a bit more slowly. "Do we have any way to -know- if any magic is active? Other than the obvious, well... -infection-."
His tails flicker about as Clio puts a new spin on purification -- one which has obvious ramifications, which raises a frown from Jubei. "Well, I don't mean to split hairs, but it's either immolating the little muggers, or plucking them out wholesale and hurling them into a black hole." He pauses, nostrils flaring. "But I see yer point. It's tough for me to really get a useful handle on this."
"I got one contact that can help. A person I can trust to speak on this matter -- though she's often busy." He adds, after a beat, "I don't figure we need more people to cut things on a molecular level, but I got two contacts for that too, if it helps."
"Well," he says as looks towards Clio. "You're not wrong." That's all he has to say in reference to her moment of pedantry. It was still the closest thing he had to purification magic the moment.
"As to whether there's an active working on the area, I can't detect it but if there is one, they did a really good job hiding it."
The Arcane Investigator paces back and forth, every now and then glancing at the scarred land. He went over in his head the various connections he would have.
"I could think of a few people who could help but most likely any help I can get will be from either me cashing in favors or through friend of a friend. I would still have to do some vetting though."
"Sometimes," Clio says, "People's habits show up in their spellcraft. Look at fighter's chi. People don't usually switch up what they do, it's clearly theirs. Magic works similarly in that way. We all have our own ways of doing things."
She shrugs, adding, "But it don't help us unless we know who did and can just rock up and ask them to stop." She exhales, somewhere between sigh and frustrated grousing. Her fingertips going back to the chain, tugging on the oversized collar that hangs about her neck and shoulders. "Think we're gonna need you guys' contacts. Circle or not, this is real big and I may be good at it, but I'm only one witch."
Jubei grimaces -- lots of questions, no great answers. "I know you are all both masters of your specific realms, but this is the work of a demon lord who's been around the block for a few millennia. And it sounds like we're hitting a wall, so yeah."
The cat takes a good, long toke on his pipe. Remaining silent for a few seconds -- and then exhales, a blossom of smoke slipping from his nostrils.
Finally, he speaks. "... Either of you ever run into a girl, maybe bit taller than me, named Rachel Alucard?" Turning to Clio, he notes, "I don't know anyone who's more knowledgeable about the Backyard than she is."
He turns to Brandon. "Favors are good. But doin' the right thing usually pays off more on a long enough timescale."
Master? Brandon would consider himself a journeyman at best. He's not going to verbalize that part though. He does wait for Clio and Jubei to speak their minds before he finally responds. "Until, my fight against Aaron Fang during the Rising tournament, I would say that was true. As Clio knows, having fought me before, my magic is mostly light based. In that fight against Aaron, I found myself occasionally using lightning without calling for it and he himself was saying his energy was taking on a more edged aspect than it would normally take. And there have been a few fighters who have had similar things happen to them in their fights as well. But that might be a topic for another time."
He then turns to Jubei, his mind running at a mile a minute thinking of an envelope received earlier that morning.
"Rachel Alucard sent an invite to a Springtide Rosalia this morning. Before that, I hadn't even heard of the name. Do you think she could help? Hmmm. It might be more of a reason to attend."
The cat's trying to flatter again. Clio's been around, owes enough to, and knows Jubei enough to give him a skeptical side eye when he starts talking about masters. "I'm working off talent and not falling asleep in the officer's academy. Hardly a master. I've met your wife."
She tilts her head skyward, lips thinning, at the description of the girl and even more at the follow up from Brandon. She stops playing with the chain at her neck and crosses her arms, a simple defensive posture. "Talk later on that, Brandon," she says quickly, not wanting to ignore the subject of leyline instability, but having more pertinent information to give. "Rachel Alucard is a known vampire. She's got a bounty on her head from the NOL. S-class. 'you-level', Jubei," she explains.
The news is clearly discouraging as the woman rocks on her heels and sags to a slouch. "I've stayed under the radar for so far. Whatever this girl is doing with invitations is going to attract the NOL. I don't think I'll be able to stick my neck out into it. But it might be enough of a distraction I can look into other things."
Jubei nods slowly, drawing in his breath as he listens to Brandon. It is true -- in both Brandon's and Clio's cases -- that there may still be room left to grow in other specialties. Rather than split hairs, he offers a genial smile -- he'd rather focus on the positive.
That, and it's easier to smile through it, than linger on the topic of his lost wife. He'd rather not let -those- tragedies impede his thinking.
Though, as he listens to Brandon's tale, his tails begin to flick about side-to-side. "Lightning..." he comments. And -other- talents as well? "... This does bear looking into," he agrees -- though he nods with Clio that it would best be left for another time.
"... As the event takes place under the patronage of Rachel Alucard, you can rest assured that you have allies there, Clio. Valkenhayn, an old friend of mine, would be more than happy to keep the more overzealous of the Librarium at bay."
He takes a short draw off his pipe, exhaling. "That said, both staying and going have their pros and cons. I can't get in touch with Rachel much through other means, so it's a no-brainer in my case." He nods -- then adds, "You havin' an invite does make things a ton easier, Brandon. So let's just plan on that -- and we three can bump heads together again after the Rosalia. That sound good?"
With all three agreeing to table the energy instability discussion for another time, Brandon says nothing more on that particular topic but at the very least, it could give them a heads up if they find it happening to them in future fights.
"Valkenhayn is a name that is more familiar to me since he took part in the World Warrior qualifiers."
The arcane investigator rubs his chin. At the very least, Brandon reasoned, he showed himself to be a strong presence and as long as the NOL weren't bringing a fullon invasion force, things should be reasonably well taken care of.
"In addition to that, I wouldn't be surprised if any of my team mates from the King of Fighters were in attendance which might make for excellent back up as well. Also the Rosalia may give me an opportunity to vet potential allies to help with the required rituals as well. But yes. Let's agree to meet after the Rosalia."
Clio nods, hearing Jubei, but remaining doubtful. "Sure he might, and getting to see the others on the NOL's shit list might put some things into perspective, but I'm not sure about getting involved. I don't get invites to things."
She pulls the Kaka clan mask down again, affixing her hood back on. "Not as though I make myself open to them," she appends. "But whatever you two find out, good for me. I'll take the time to look elsewhere. It's been a while since I've been in Illyria."
The smiling mask nods once more to the other two. "After this Rosalia thing. We'll fix this damn park."
Log created on 10:38:55 04/30/2021 by Brandon, and last modified on 08:43:50 05/05/2021.