Description: Elisabeth, in search of answers, finds a curious source of knowledge that most should be mindfully wary of. The manipulative god is curious why someone is displaced from the normal timestream, but finds it might be a beneficial encounter for their mutual agendas...
The trip home from Athens honestly felt much longer than the venture back.
When Elisabeth arrived at the Blanctorche estate, she was utterly battered by Europe's stormy weather, her lack of clean clothes, and poor rations. It is rather unusual for her to be so unprepared when she travels, but she had made such haste after seeing the Crimson household burned to the ground that none of those normally important things seemed all that necessary.
Certainly, she won't be making that mistake again. Even she was offended by her unsightly appearance upon her return, although the only item on her person that was the least offensive was the newly acquired pair of boots that had been left for her the morning after Ash's departure from the hotel.
Meeting with her target in Greece awarded her many great curiosities.
In truth, she didn't expect to find the flippant flamewielder in such a faraway place, and had been equally as surprised when he so casually approached her. Their interaction together brought about many embarrassments, most of which were thankfully shrouded by a newsboy cap that served to keep her as anonymous as possible in a strange city. It had been of great concern to Elisabeth that she would be returning to France and her hometown with countless rumours to deal with regarding the whole escapade, but thus far, she's heard nothing whispered in the winds.
There are other things plaguing the noblewoman's mind while she properly scrounges herself and her things together. Specifically, she ponders over the strange deja vu she had experienced over her rather... interesting interaction with Ash.
Honestly, she's spent the majority of her trip home stewing over it, but that's besides the point. It needs no details here.
However, the nature of it remains to be something that stumps her, even into her present day, as she folds her mended uniform into a suitcase alongside only the most necessary of her other belongings.
The heiress has been back in France for a short while now, with no intentions of staying for long. The citizens of the nearby village she oversees are aware of her plans to relocate temporarily to Southtown in search of answers. While she'd love to know why she's having these strange mirages of sorts, there is absolutely some doubt in her ability to track down anyone who could explain it. Not unless she wants to visit an estranged medium of sorts, and that's not really in her interest, to be totally frank.
There also is the question of why she feels drawn to Southtown in particular, but that also remains to be seen by Elisabeth's own eyes. It's just a guttural feeling she is running on here.
She stands at the front steps of her home, adorned in an alternate rider's uniform quite different from her usual attire. A gentle wind brushes against slightly exposed skin at her upper chest, though most of her frame is clothed in a purple and white overcoat, with plum crop pants lining the length of her slender legs that eventually meet with the very same black heeled boots she had been gifted from the Crimson fellow. She just can't let them go, can she?
Elisabeth looks upon the familiar home almost longingly.
It is so easy to step away from this place whenever her motivation follows Ash, but when it concerns her own inability to understand herself? It's admittedly a little daunting. The Frenchwoman is steely however, and goes to turn away from the entrance of the estate and, eventually, the gates themselves.
No more doubts.
Oh, Betty. Why must you do these things to yourself?
Sometimes, a meeting is the result of dense, intricate machinations; when one imagines Yuuki Terumi, that is often at the forefront. A densely manipulative schemer who honed his scripts in countless repeats of reality and a near-eternal voyeurism, it can be easy to forget that, for the most part, this present timeline is new to /him/, too; principally, due to an enraged Rachel inadvertently allowing him to manifest once more. Yet he's not quite so reckless and impulsive as some might think... insinuating, observing, appraising, meticulous when it comes to the success of his potential goals.
Then again, not everything is premeditated. Even beyond the ready reach of a God, humming resonant with Amaterasu deep in the boundary, 'Fate' is ever the bit of spice. Having finished some business within NOL's primary European branch, a tickle thrummed in the back of Terumi's mind. Like a proverbial itch, a speck of wrongness, a fishbone caught in his throat. Wrongness. The Omniscience of the Divine, perhaps. To him, it's a mixture of curious and irritating. Peeling free from an uppity Hazama, the black wisp fades from sight as he houndingly follows the trail.
Eventually, he comes across Elisabeth's solemn retreat from her home. Straddling the Boundary, there's no real manner to know; perhaps the most basic thrum of the soul, of being 'watched', a shiver that some associate with spirits. But the most keen of eye and focused senses confirm there's nothing about, beyond stray cats and distant civilians...
Just a chance encounter.
"What's this?" comes a voice in the air. Curious, male. It seems to echo from all places at once... even if the source remains aggravatingly dissonant. "You..." For a brief second, the overcast light darkens. An iris of shadow that converges into an inky blot, hovering in the air. Then it drops, splattering in complete silence across the top of a trashcan settled just within the narrow alley of more modest homes opposite the estate.
The being can be sensed as the blackness swells, twitching and shifting like some cancerous mass. It gradually takes a roughly humanoid shape, before a single point of green light thrums withint he center, roughly where a heart might be on a mortal being. Veins ripple down oddly-proportioned arms and legs, a crimson slit parting open above the jaw that turns into an unsettling grin. At last, a left eye pops open, a large, perfect circle of luminescent green.
Perching on the trashcan, which clearly does not react to his weight as if the /thing/ had any mass, one leg dangles as the other rests atop. Nub of a hand forming a finger to tap-tap-tap on a chin as it grins at Elisabeth.
A void; that is what this entity feels like. Not so much felt, as clearly determined by the lack of anything else. The very chi and mana in the air melts away, leaving a cold spot in all transient senses. "What are you doing here?" The voice sounds almost annoyed. Accusing, even... as if that statement might make any sense to the girl.
A solemn retreat it is, yes, but hardly does she expect to have it interrupted. Certainly not by anything ominous.
The day is sunny so there shouldn't be a chill in the air, but there is a prickle on her skin while she traverses through the village. It pokes at her senses, suddenly making the heiress cognizant of something nearby. Something /watching./ The feeling she gets is not akin to the awareness of one of the townsfolk peering in on her, but rather...
It almost feels supernatural in nature. Ghostly, even.
And then, it speaks.
Immediately, Elisabeth skids to a halt.
Uncertain as to whether this thing is talking to her specifically, midnight irises glance about as she attempts to find the source of this mysterious voice, but it seems to act like a sound-surround. Echoing off the walls, evading her keen gaze, until quite suddenly, a blotch in the sky begins to form.
The dark space of the alleyway swells unnaturally, serving to force up noblewoman's guard. Watching as this sickly being starts to form before her very eyes, her right hand snaps back to hover over the crop that sits at her hip, ready to be drawn forth should it be required. It sits on the trashcan, distorted limbs dangling about, and that deep crimson eye seems to pierce through her.
As if it is seeing something she cannot.
Talking as if it knows her, the Frenchwoman suspends a reaction to the stranger's familiarity for a moment while she considers her response. There are a number of people who are privy to her namesake, so it isn't so surprising to be known (at least by last name), even among unearthly beings such as this. A thin brow twitches regardless. Her stance deepens, as though she is expecting a frontal assault of sorts, while she sweeps her dark irises over the being that sits so casually before her.
"Who are you?" she demands to know. Ignoring the fact that this creature seems perturbed she is in her hometown, as if she is to be someplace else, the heiress presses on to add, "What is your business with me?"
That lone green eye seems to almost squint, gleefully, at the defensive pose that Elisabeth holds. "Heeheehee... don't bother!! You can't touch me unless I FEEL like it!" A black limb shifts sideways, and just... passes through the corner of the building adjacent. This does not answer any questions there might be, but does imply the creature's intangibility could be genuine. "Although I'm not above playing with you, I'm genuinely curious at the moment..."
Then the ghostly form begins to giggle, before breaking into a laugh, that red gash of a mouth spreading even wider. Fingers dig into the sides of it's head, ripping in, black ink spilling out and misting away. "Ah... Ah...!! This is so deliciously rare. Me?! CURIOUS?! HAHAHAHAHA!! Is this what it's like to not see a show with the ineffable boredom of knowing all the spoilers right off the bat?!"
With a last little giggle, attention shifts back towards Elisabeth. "Girl..." he murmurs. Girl? Does he not know her name? Or at least, not care to? "Answer my question, already... what are you DOING here? People found religions for less then a being like me appearing! Show me a little respect!!"
Curious about /what?/
Just where does this ephemeral creature come off here?
It is not something Elisabeth recalls ever seeing before, which - again. It is not a strange occurrence for someone to know who she is but not the reverse. There is something malicious at work though, and she can't trust any movement this thing partakes in, even if it is just to show her that he is unbound by anything but natural causes.
And really, she has no clue what this maniacal thing is bursting with laughter about. If anything, it sets her on edge, even raises the baby hairs at the back of her neck. Kinda creepy, actually.
Yet, she stands firm, rooted in her position like a tree trunk, hand remaining steady above her weapon.
Truthfully, she doesn't believe in any way that she owes this menacing beast an explanation of her journey, or what has brought her back to France in the first place. Even why she is leaving at all. And, of course, the noblewoman says so!
"I hardly think that knowing my agenda is any of your business. Tell me what curiosities have brought you here, creature. If your presence endangers the citizens of this town, I demand you take leave immediately."
Above all else, she is their fierce protector. If any harm should fall upon them, it is her responsibility to keep them safe. If that is this thing's intention, then so be it. It would rue the day it decides to rain hell upon the faithful people here.
The response from the creature is... ridiculously irreverent. Tilting it's head to the left far too much, then the right. As she's in the midst of demanding him to take his leave, Terumi interrupts with a loud yawn. One finger poking deep into where an ear might be, on some non-spectral creature. "Ehhhh... you're not willing to talk...? I just wanted to know what you're doing here... but, fine. You're being pretty clear..."
Slowly the strange shape shifts to stand up, pressing arms into hips as if wearing pockets. The little gash of a grin spreading wider. "After all... it's true. My presence is the worst danger these pieces of trash will ever know!!" Suddenly the blackness composing Terumi's form contracts. It seems as if a /proper/ body is underneath it all. The green veins rippling across him start to whirl towards his green eye, the odd, heart-shaped growth pounding heavily. An almost sickening presence starts to fill the air. Rips are visible upon Terumi's ghost-like body, before breaking away -- the darkness whirls, as if liquid going down a drain, into his green eye. Beneath, is actual flesh; a lean, almost gaunt figure of six feet. Rippling out is a yellow hooded trencoat, lined in black patterns; sleeves rolled up, a dres shirt and vest beneath wrapped in a few makeshift black gauzes, similar formal pants leading to loafers beneath.
Yet his left eye still seems to burn, pulsing green, blackness tainting his flesh still. "Wait... wait, wait, WAIT. I knew you were familiar!!" Stepping off the trashcan, it... rattles and falls over. "You're HER...!!" A slow draw of his tongue across his lips, hands thrusting back into his pant pockets deeply. Leaning forward, hood rippling around his lean features, green hair visible beneath.
"You're that mortal girl who was with Ash Crimson, aren't you...?! Heheheheh!! This is more interesting then I expected!! Now I get it... why you're here..." The back of a foot scratches at Terumi's calf. "Well... you seem the sort who needs put in their place... you wanna play? Maybe if I have fun, I'll answer a question or two... but..."
His eyes dart to the left, distracted. "Manifesting is a lot of energy... it makes me *antsy*..." Then he darts to the right, and freezes. A glance would show an elderly couple in the distance, who seem to suddenly go still as they see the pair in front of the estate. "If you'll pass... I'll just help myself to a bit of..." His hand lifts up, a whirl of steel before he grips a balisong knife in reverse... Beginning to shift his weight, as if to walk towards the frightened pair next.
Normally, the Frenchwoman would be considerably offended if someone interrupts her with some nonsensical dribble. However, a rather sickening display begins which easily distracts her away from her usual reaction.
Elisabeth is no stranger to obscure and strange things, but this is certainly a sight to behold. The dark mass contracts and swirls into what seems like a verident abyss, sucked up until a more earthly form emerges.
To be precise, a man.
With a face she does not recognize.
There is definitely a darkness to this person's entire aura. It is ominous, thick and heavy like a blanket through the entire vicinity of which he occupies space. It is deranged. Disturbing. The noblewoman stays where she has planted herself, unwavering in her determination to sway the once-creature into leaving the town.
Except, he says something she doesn't entirely expect, and it has her momentarily frozen in place. Mentioning Ash of all people is one way to make her take pause, especially if it comes from a person she has no familiarity with. Just who did the flamewielder have the supposed pleasure of meeting when he encountered this estranged fellow?
Before she can even speak though, to press into him about how exactly he knows her Crimson companion, he's turning. Midnight eyes dart to where he is now focusing on, finding a lonesome elderly couple that could potentially serve as collateral damage should she not cooperate.
No doubt this man is /dangerous/ and most definitely intends to harm innocents in order to get his way.
Jaw clenching tight, the heiress takes off from where she stands, her heels clacking on the cobblestone until she stands between herself and the targeted couple. "Wait!" she shouts, hand raising, as if that would stop the assailant. Desperately, she hopes the seniors behind her take leave of this area before they get hurt, but she can't turn to tell them this.
Who knows what would happen should her gaze leave him?
"If a fight is what you want, then I can certainly indulge you," Elisabeth states. "But first, tell me - how is it that you know Ash? Or me? You speak as if we have met before, but not once have I ever seen a creature like you!"
Indeed, this is not someone Elisabeth has ever seen. Not even the deepest, most distant vestiges of her memory would stir in the slightest. An absolute stranger...? And one of no small power. Were she to take even the most positively conservative of estimates, it's nearly suicidal to challenge this odd being. Given the way he moves, the way he smiles, Terumi is similarly quite aware of that fact.
"Ah...? Of course that name would give you such an expression! You've quite the history with Mr. Crimson!! Again and again, you could say!" A distant expression, almost dreamy, as Terumi's free hand scratches across the face beneath his still inhuman left eye. "I've never had the pleasure of meeting that person, now or even /then/, but... I watched closely until the very end."
One step is taken by Terumi, before the request is made. A boot slowly clacks down, turning to stare with his upper body twisted casually sideways. "Mmm? Mmm? You finally wanna chat?! Well. I don't care about a fight... really... it's hard to get a proper thrill from weaklings. Although you... there might be some merit in making a happy exception..."
Grudgingly he twists back upright. That couple, wisely, has made a 180 and begun a hasty retreat. Terumi watches, almost pining, but gives no indication he's about to do anything. "I didn't come here to do anything in *particular*... like I said. I was curious. So confrontational! Oh, but once I might be useful, you return my good graces? Hah! I know a good deal about Ash Crimson, sure!! Where he's from!! How he got here!! Who he's *tied* to!! And what of it? YOU'RE the one I'm here to think. You boring, mundane girl... tch! You're actually 'special', in the way millions wish they were, and it's like this?! I can count on one hand people in your situation in this world..." He lifts a paw to waggle the fingers of a half-gloved hand.
"And we've never met, as I said... but. Even you've been caught in the current of my kind?" His free hand suddenly snaps out, rippling down the open air. A series of intricate runes flash into being, a sinister pulsing green. A rush of charged chi and mana, as a murmuring phrase seeps out of the wicked being.
Then Elisabeth would suddenly feel an overwhelming sense of deja vue; herself, and... another? Facing some raw force of nature. A man with two proud prongs of hair, rippling with lightning. "Ah, that was a delightfully chaotic time. And I didn't know how it would all end, despite my front seat view! You were there. Well... part of you, perhaps...?"
This man speaks in cryptics. Elisabeth truly knows not what it is he is rambling on about this "again and again" business he seems to be referring to, regarding her history with Ash. It is quite puzzling, really, but it appears that he's a chatty guy.
Maybe some sense will be made from whatever nonsense he spits out.
So, if he doesn't want a fight, and he's not here to actually do anything in particular, then... what purpose does he serve?
The heiress wonders. Considers, even, what it is that this mysterious being is doing by indulging her in her request. Perhaps it is selfishly driven? However, she finds it challenging to multitask between what her brain is trying to make sense of and what the stranger is spouting. He speaks to a metaphorical roadmap of sorts that Elisabeth herself is not privy to. Seriously, this sounds like the rubbish ramblings of a madman.
"Your kind?" she dares to inquire, but words do not provide the answer. Instead, she watches as the air is expanded next to where he stands, like he somehow tears a hole into reality itself. The sensation hits her before she fully realises what is happening before her eyes. The mindscape belonging to that of the Blanctorche noblewoman is sucked into a tremendous void of deja vu so strong, it feels as though she is standing before an elusive figure so well-known to her.
Is this... a battle? Who ARE these people?
Yet... she does know them. Somewhere, deep within the realm of her subconscious, not able to bubble to the surface of her recollection... And, as quickly as she had been thrown into this mind-void, she flies far away from it. Back to the real world, where the soft breeze of the midday brushes over the soft skin of her collarbone.
"What... madness is this?" A heeled boot staggers back as a tirade of emotions floods her gut. They are all so familiar, yet... none of these feelings belong to her. Or... do they? Honestly, Elisabeth is even more befuddled than she had been in the moments that the ephemeral creature had first appeared on top the trashbin nearby. Just what is going on?!
"What ARE you?" Startled irises turn onto the stranger as he speaks. "I have never been in a battle like this, yet you claim a part of me was there? What are you even saying? And what does any of this have to do with Ash?"
Confusion; Anarchy; sowing seeds that may ripple long after. Ah, when Ash finds out about this...! Elisabeth has no idea that he's already doing precisely what he hopes to achieve! Yet that little memory acts as the focal point for Terumi's shiv. For despite his discordant manner of speaking, the riddles, the information with no context, not a single bit of it would ring as anything but the truth. Especially when Elisabeth dips into her own memories... memories she most certainly should not have.
"Oh? You don't remember fighting the great Heihachi Mishima in his prime? It definitely happened..." Hands fold behind Terumi's head, as he gives a lazy kick to a small pebble nearby, sending it skipping away. "For you, at least. As for what it has to do with Ash? More and more, I think! I do have business with them, at the moment. And you... well. He's chosen you as an important person in his life, hasn't he?"
For the first time, a ripple of menace surges from Terumi, thick and heavy, as if an oils taints the air. The way he turns to look at her. The wildness in those eyes. How each tooth seems to nearly creak in a too-broad rictus grin. "You... someone so vulnerable... he's not strong enough to protect you. Maybe he knows that. Maybe that's why you chase shadows and whispers vainly. Always seeing his back in the distance." A couple lazy steps forward are done towards Elisabeth, then.
"Heehee... but worse then my blade or spells, the truth could cut deeper. You'd take it, wouldn't you? The answers you seek. Even from some strange being like me...? I offer this because I am absolutely CERTAIN he does not want you to know! But the decisions of mortals, their delicious irrationality, is one of my few joys in life! You can guess what I am by now, girl. I imagine it would be correct. Now... tell me. Are you curious, or not?"
If there ever was a moment for doubt, it has long passed into memory.
Here, the answers sway before her in the form of a menacing creature, seemingly hell-bent on some distant goal she can barely fathom. The sheer magnitude of the world in which this man speaks is on a level beyond what she can fully comprehend, even now. It's almost as if he is talking about some faraway land wherein a place exists to contain memories of all living beings, and somehow, the strangely familiar emotions colliding within her stem from it?
Is that even real?
The noblewoman considers what the madman says in momentary silence. It has never escaped her that Crimson has tried to keep her at arm's length. Always telling her to stay home, or to keep her nose out of affairs that did not belong to her. This has never changed. Not once has she thought herself to be in need of protecting, yet Terumi mentions this great desire the flamewielder has for doing just that. How does he know such things? Nosey and unrelenting, Elisabeth has persisted, searching for the answers to her questions, and not once has she gotten them from the source.
This great being standing before her now exists as a barrier between what she knows and what she seeks. All this time, whatever dreams she has been following in Ash's wake has yielded her nothing by a faint glimmer of understanding.
Now though? By some demented twist of fate, it seems the answers have come to her.
But... at what cost?
Righting herself, her full weight presses into the soles of the boots the very subject of their discussion gifted her. The heiress meets the maniacal verident gaze with midnight orbs narrowed just slightly as she comes back to reality. "What is your price?"
Terumi just watches. And grins. Waiting, patiently. He knows the kind of person Elisabeth is. For all the deep complexities of her soul, the unique and countless aspects that drive her, for all that... at the core, it's predictable. Mortal attachments have always been an achille's heel. Even the Gods themselves can be yanked down and destroyed by them... as a certain impotent Grim Reaper remains living proof.
"Ooh? Well. Aren't you smart. Negotiating, are you...? How's about this. As an act of good faith, I'll answer one question for you now." He extends a finger, waggling it for emphasis. "If you find this satisfactory, or sufficiently intriguing... you'll simply do a task for me. One that will not end in your death, or any direct harm to Mr. Crimson. After that... two more." A second finger lifts up, now.
"Of course. Only if you keep this to yourself. I would prefer to keep this little meeting private." There are places even he cannot tread; powerful, dangerous wards. Ones that a girl like Elisabeth would be completely unaffected by... sometimes, the most simple of favors can be the most dangerous.
"Now, come, come. Give me a question." And with it, he'll determine just how clever Elisabeth really is...
In comes the flood of questions that have been barraging poor Elisabeth's head for what feels like years.
In truth, as she reflects on some of them, the realisation that she actually has lost all sensation and awareness of Saiki. Her mission as a Blanctorche noble is grand and imbued with importance, yet... It has been some time since she has felt the presence of the God of Time. That alone is extremely concerning.
There is also the matter of Ash himself.
Her memories of the flippant Frenchman defy what her latest interactions with him have been, in that he is the same, yet entirely different. The heiress recalls him being a freshly vibrant 18-year-old in the banks of her memories, but as of late? Ash is much less a boy and more of a man. The whole of his demeanour and appearance is changed from what she remembers, almost as if he resembles maturity and a closeness in age to that of herself.
That is, and should be, completely impossible by the hands of a normal person.
What does Elisabeth want to know? So much, but with only room to focus on one single choice... it is so incredibly difficult. Time and current events have done her no favours.
The noblewoman is stressed in her decision, but when she settles upon it, her expression shifts into something more serious. The gravity of the situation sits heavy on her shoulders as she considers what this one inquiry will cost her. Sure, it may not be her life or Ash's, but it could be a hefty price.
"Who is Ash?"
One that, unfortunately, Elisabeth is willing to pay, if it means getting what she wants.
Terumi can be patient, in the right situations. Insidiously so; grinning towards Elisabeth, hands stuffed deep into his pockets once more. This is a difficult test, of course. She could easily waste it... either by requesting something too simple, or too complex. Terumi, after all, is a veritable monkey's paw; and this is not an unknown. He's after a favor, not being helpful.
Brows lift expectantly. And there's just a hint of surprise at what leaves Elisabeth's mouth. "Heheh... heheheh... that's interesting. Interesting, indeed." He brushes back his hood, exposing the green point of light where his left eye should be. Gripping the charred skin near it. "But I'll be nice... the Ash you know is in there. But the Ash you know has also changed. ...I'll even be extra helpful, just so you'll sure to come back for more..."
Ripping into his face, black lines suddenly ripple throughout him. His trench coat and clothing crumbles away as if ash, and in the span of a couple seconds, the strange and unsettling ghost stands with newly elongated proportions before Elisabeth.
"Saiki." A powerful name for the pair, perhaps, if one that means little to most. "He is Ash. And Ash is Saiki. But they cannot both exist forever... and right now, your precious Mr. Crimson is marching into that battlefield yet again. Trust me... I know intimately well. The interplay between a 'seed' and a 'tree'. That's all you get from me today, Ms. Blanctorche...! I'll get back to you with your little task, in short order!!"
Then, the black creature suddenly collapses into a perfect orb once more, hovering in the air; casting no shadows. A green eye and face briefly manifest on the front. "I'll be watching..." And then -- it's gone. No pop, no frills. She finally feels alone, yet again...!
Elisabeth is... really going on a whim here.
To expect something concrete would be ludicrous, given that this being is so elusive with his cryptic language and languid speech. He is a walking mystery, but not one that she necessarily needs to be concerned with entirely, if only because her worries lay elsewhere. Being the type to stick her nose in where it doesn't belong - or, in this case, where Ash doesn't want it - she cannot stand by and just... let the answers walk away from her.
If such disclosure can lend to her ability to complete her mission, while simultaneously aid in her understanding of what is going on with the evasive flamewielder, then... well, she might as well do a deal with the devil at this point.
And so she does. Oddly enough, Terumi continues to remain amused by whatever reasons that compel him to be so.
The heiress listens to the response, quiet. Analysing the words over and over again, she tries to make sense of the somewhat vague answer. The Ash she knows, yet he is different. What is that supposed to mean? Could he be any more ambiguous? Just what is it about Crimson that has changed to cause such a wildly impossible transformation?
Now, Elisabeth isn't dumb by any means. When a person is grasping at straws, it really could take anyone a number of time to sort out the pieces. It is only when the ghostly form of Terumi speaks of Saiki that she is able to start cohesively putting things together, bit by bit, albeit a little slowly.
Saiki is Ash...
Ash Crimson... is Saiki?
The God of Time. Elisabeth's greatest mission. The calamity she seeks... is also the one person she can never stop chasing?
Realisation dawns on her beautiful features. The noblewoman is struck square in the chest with the heaviness that comes with acknowledging the potential reasoning for why the Frenchman continues to insist against her prying. Over the course of her lifetime, she had come to believe that Saiki existed as his own separate entity. It never crossed her mind that such a destructive force could actually /live/ inside Ash, like he is some sort of hostbody to an invasive species. Had they always been this way?
If that is the case, is it possible for Saiki to obtain his own body?
So many questions are bombarding her like a rapid flashing speed of light. Desperately, Elisabeth wants to ask another, but when she comes back to reality, Terumi is but a round ephemeral being once more. A half step forward and she is reaching out, "Hold on!" ... but she is much too late. He is gone long before she even gets the words out.
Left to the warm midday light and the soft blowing breeze, she stands amid the street, alone once more. Midnight irises hold themselves to the clear blue sky. The day should be a normal one, but... for some reason or another, rain suddenly feels much more appropriate for her solemn mood. Even though she is quite used to carrying heavy burdens, this revelation feels equivalent to that of a boulder that sits solely on her heart. Chest constricted, but with a determined expression fixated on her features and a general lack of concern for the future task she would be assigned, she turns aboutface.
Once again, the Blanctorche woman sets off, but this time, she exists with a greater motivation than any she has ever experienced before.
The run-in with Terumi saw fit to disturb Elisabeth during her travels from the immaculate Blanctorche Estate. Thoughts of Ash being Saiki, or the mere implication that such a notion is interchangeable is enough to dismantle all the beliefs she has had through the entirety of her lifetime. Mostly ones surrounding the concept of Saiki having a body of his own, not a vessel.
And so, her arrival to Paris is not a joyful one. In fact, she feels downright disheartened and confused, though the indication of such does not shine through her face. Instead, her expression is steeled with fierce determination, and quite honestly? She is sporting some serious case of resting bitch face. Therefore, her journey has remained mostly unbothered by strangers or anything wishing to gather her attention.
There is always a mission with Elisabeth. This is just another one on the list of extremely important tasks to accomplish.
Being the Lady that she is, finding a suitable hotel best fitting to her needs has been unchallenging, at best. A massive chain fit for royalty is what she settles on, renting out a room that is much less a room and more like a small apartment. There is a wide living room space with a kitchenette that Elisabeth most certainly will not use, for she cannot cook worth for shit. Complete with a full bath and bedroom, there is nothing more comfortable for her tastes.
It is here she takes refuge while she plots out her next move. Terumi has not made an appearance since that day, and any other leads she could have followed ran dry some time ago. A map lays spread out over the table adjacent to the kitchen space, left abandoned in favour of a newly arrived bottle of wine.
The noblewoman stands near the window, which shows an awe inspiring view of Paris' wonders, while she pours herself a glass of Chateau Latour. Nearby is a plate of various snack items, mostly bread and a handful of different fruits. Her feet pad along the surface of the carpet as she circles the map, puzzling over its contents another moment or two. She draws the silk housecoat over her form, concealing a comfortable pair of cotton pyjamas.
There is no reason to adorn herself in a way that makes her feel safe.
And so, she leans over the map, analysing it. Taking stock of where Ash has been, as far as her general knowledge takes her. Maybe then, she'd be able to start figuring out /something/ regarding the fey flamewielder...
Promises are always things to be kept, however.
Upon the ceiling, a single black spot slowly begins to spread. Ichor drips, silently, landing upon the platter of refined snacks. There is no scent to it, nothing for ears to pick up; just the sudden, perhaps shockingly unexpected realization when she eventually turns towards it, that all of the food has been... corrupted.
Ink-like stains cover the assort fruits, shriveling it away down to ash. The bread has erupted into dark, grey mold. A puddle sits in the center of the table proper, having eaten away at it almost half an inch; simmering miasma wafting up.
The moment Elisabeth visually observes it, an acrid, unpleasant smells seems to appear, fitting her expectations for such a sight. And when she would glance towards the source, a spread pool almost two meters wide that makes the ceiling subtly sag, a green gash ripples down it with an oddly organic sound. Warm black substance spatters in all directions as a massive green eye squints, blinking a couple times before widening, bulging out to stare towards Elisabeth.
The nearby wall begins to ripple and shake as if caught in a localized earthquake. A painting falls up, as wallpaper curls and pulls away. Wood boils and hisses, revealing an ashen-textured line of pitted drywall. A great crack forms down it horizontally along the middle, nearly ten feet. Then each edge curls up, as if a... grinning mouth.
Slowly, offputtingly, a large pair of almost comical red lips bubbles upon the forming mouth. Full, plump, looking like a caricature from a cartoon.
"HELLO, ELISABETH BLANCTORCHE!!"
The voice is identical to the odd spirit which harried her a few days earlier. Even if most might not think a bulbous ceiling eyeball and a massive pair of wall-lips to be the most common manner of greeting.
"I HAVE COME TO COMPLETE OUR ACCORD...! HAVE YOU BEEN WELL?" An oblong purple tongue, bigger then Elisabeth herself, lolls out and knocks over the table holding up the platter, spilling tainted food across the ground.
The standards of the room should be in pristine condition, for Elisabeth would have nothing less. Yet, there is a raven-coloured marking splattered on the table, a spot she didn't notice until this moment. It is blotchy, splayed like ink splatter, and as she nears that particular end of the table to inspect it, the last thing she expects to come across is spoiled food.
I should say... beyond spoiled. They're outright reduced to ash.
And the smell? Absolutely putrid.
With a wrinkled nose, the heiress discovers the source, and nearly drops her wine glass. Not much startles her, but a gaping widespread split in the ceiling as it bows and sags to form some sort of gouging, leering eyeball? Yeah, she certainly doesn't expect an entrance like that in the privacy of her hotel room.
Not only that, but positioned against the far wall is a corresponding mouth so massive, she wonders if it could swallow this entire room!
Steely, midnight pools flicker to where her crop lay propped against a side table by one of the sofa chairs. It is not a necessary aid, but should she need it, the sprint to get to it is a far leap. And, truthfully, she doesn't know if her ankle can take the impact, despite it being pretty well healed since her trip to Athens.
And then, the thing speaks her name.
Or, rather, it kind of shouts it, in which a grotesque tongue lobs out and takes out the contents of her once-snack to give to the floor.
Did I mention gross? If not... Gross!
However, the invasive wall-lips have a familiar inflection in them, and it takes no shortage of time for the heiress to place who that voice belongs to. The elusive stranger dangling about in ephemeral form back in her hometown The one with the answers to her questions. The one who told her Saiki is Ash. The worst possible nightmare.
So the intent for Terumi's arrival is to provide closure to their accord, which is all well. However, could it not have waited until she is more appropriately dressed for the occasion? As it stands right now, she is less of a threat in her pyjamas, housecoat, and makeup-less face. Even her crop provides some sort of imposing nature about here, versus a glass of wine.
Her piercing gaze is cold, unapproachable, her body unmoving as though she is frozen in place. Not out of terror. Rather, she affirms her position here against these weird anatomical apparatuses, despite all instincts telling her this has got to be one of the strangest things she has ever seen. However, the fact remains that it is quite rude to go into a lady's room when you are not invited. This has her quite perturbed, regardless of all appearances. "I take it you have something for me."
The wall-face merely grins, the unblinking eyeball staring with an intensity that would be unnerving, waiting for the girl beneath to respond. It gives no sense that it's disappointed or happy with her reaction to it's... unnatural manifestation. One would think, with all this noise, chaos, and yells, that someone else might come; but the hotel remains sedate and quiet, despite it all...
"OH, YES. I HAVE PREPARED THE NECCESARY ITEM FOR YOUR QUEST."
Then, the tongue withdraws. After a few moments of it seeming to shift-shift about, each end bulging briefly in a few dull cracks and pops that send dark fragments of ruined wallpaper to the floor, it suddenly goes 'blehhh', and the long tongue ripples out to full length.
The end of it comes within arm's reach of Elisabeth. Dripping, moist, an off-color purple covered in countless tiny pea-sized lumps with engorged veins of darker color running along beneath. Atop is a neat, formal-looking letter, currently closed. Something stiff is inside, and must be what it... wants her to take.
"TAKE THIS. YOU WILL NEED IT." It manages to talk pretty well around the uncanny tongue, which holds stock-still as the glossy, wet item stays elevated...
Just what else is this man capable of, if he has the ability to morph his form in such grotesque ways?
Elisabeth coldly watches the engorged anatomical parts move about, engaging her through conversation, and even preparing to deposit something here for her. How that is possible, she isn't so sure, but unfortunately, she finds out rather quickly and in a way she would rather prefer not to be witness to.
But, there she stands, quaint in the middle of the room, as the oblong purple mass rolls out some short feet from her. The revealed letter is not something she wants to touch, considering its disgusting dampness, but there are certainly worse things in this world she could be doing for the information she is trying to obtain.
Oh, the things she does for Ash. Or, really, for her own self-satisfaction.
The heiress sets aside her wine to dip down and pluck the letter off the muscle with the tips of her forefinger and thumb. The wet fold of the paper is gently pried open, however, she hesitates on withdrawing and reading the contents for the moment in favour of holding the slightly weighted envelope and the object inside. Dark pools of blue flicker up to the wall-mouth suspiciously.
"And what am I to do with this?" she inquires, her tone absolutely haughty.
Within the envelope is a small piece of paper; hand-written in some scratchy red font, possibly with blood. Inviting to Castle Alucard on the night of the Blood Moon; an empty thumb-print upon it seeming to be how one enters. A second piece of paper has a fairly simple diagram, showing the basic outline of a castle; a certain area far to the north is circled in a pen.
"YOUR TASK IS TO TAKE THIS ARTIFACT TO THE INDICATED AREA." A place that's well-defended, and well-warded. "WHEN IT STARTS TO VIBRATE, YOU HAVE ONLY ONE SHOT. BY ALL MEANS, GET IT TO THAT AREA. ...WORRY NOT! AS AN INTRUDER, YOU WILL NOT BE KILLED... EVEN IF YOU FIGHT BACK!! HEHEHEHE. IF YOU FAIL, OUR DEAL IS OFF!! YOU WILL GET *NOTHING.*"
A fairly simple task. Take the strange orb held in that cloth, runed sack that seems to conceal it to a particular point? "IT WILL BE NEAR THE END OF HER DUMB VAMPIRE FESTIVITIES, AT THE APEX OF THE MOON... CAN YOU HANDLE THIS?!" The giant eyeball on the ceiling narrows darkly, wall-mouth curling in a judgmental sort of frown as it stares upon the girl.
The paper is unfolded as Elisabeth poses her question to the wall-lips, in which she will lightly read the contents within. Her brow twitches in recognition of the invitation. For whatever purpose this event may serve, she doesn't care to know.
Only the details of her mission matter, including the carefully detailed map scribbled on a separate piece of paper for her viewing.
So. She is to be a messenger of sorts; to deliver a package to a vaguely designated area in an unfamiliar castle that is likely quite well guarded. That is her task? Truly, it cannot be that simple!
Yet, the wall-lips are speaking, and her instructions really are just as easy as that.
However... there has to be a catch.
Likely to be found in this Castle Alucard, no doubt. The heiress will have to be on her toes when navigating this foreign place. There is no guarantee that she will come out the other side unscathed, and so she must prepare to bring anything that may assist her in completing the job.
"Don't insult me," Elisabeth quips. Delicate fingers close the paper and neatly tuck it away inside the envelope where she may peer at the object she is to deliver. She notes it is small enough to keep tucked away on her person, inconspicuous and unsuspicious. No one would be the wiser. As deep blue irises gaze up to the scrutinising eye, in which it stares right back at her with lips frowning not too far away, she says, "I am more than capable of accomplishing this mission. Consider it done."
Oh, yes; a super tiny, very convenient thing. Within the envelope was a small fabric sack, covered in runes; some kind of pea-sized orb held within. Of course, no sooner is it tugged out and inspected, then it expands rapidly in size... until Elisabeth would be holding a less then subtle large cloth bag, with the odd item within now the size of a baseball. It seems sealed shut, intentionally; probably not a good idea to try and take it out.
"IT IS A SIMPLE TASK. BUT SO IS ANSWERING TWO QUESTIONS... BUT REMEMBER. RELINQUISHING THIS ITEM, OR NOT GETTING IT TO THE INDICATED PLACE... AND ALL OUR DEALS ARE OFF!!" The mouth then gradually begins to close. The huge, broken gash sealing up; before even the wallpaper starts to 'heal', the torn and broken pieces coalescing and running up the wall again. The eye upon the ceiling burbles, and retracts... black stain beginning to recede, slowly but surely.
"GOOD LUCK~" is the last thing the odd manifestation makes. Before all signs of the surreal encounter are gone... nothing is out of place, beyond the table that was knocked over, and her spilled snacks -- but even the 'rot' upon them is gone, and they look hale and pure once more, if slightly disheveled.
Was any of that real...? SOME of it? She has the map, artifact, and odd invitation still... at least her task is fairly straightforward -- even if the conditions for failure are absolute!!
Log created on 17:33:40 05/01/2021 by Terumi, and last modified on 17:36:55 06/07/2021.