Relius - Experiment Log #2015 - The Little Bystander

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Description: After breaking Valkenhayn, I finally get an audience with the lady of the house. While I was expecting tea, crumpets, perhaps delightful fireside chats with the one Rachel Alucard as Ignis serves us, it seems that Lady Alucard would rather find all kinds of ways to make me dead. Naturally, it forces me to make a minor breach in protocol, and discuss with her directly. At the very least, I get the answers I need to help keep my mind focused. Now I just need to find Hazama...

How many legends have been passed down through the ages?

The brave hero ventures forth to assault the castle of an evil Vampire Lord to end the bloodrinker's reign of terror on some oppressed, tormented region of the Earth. Within, he or she faces countless traps, long, maze-like passages, and fierce monsters that seem to hold no purpose beyond simply making the way more difficult. The would-be vampire killer battle their way through, step by step, victory by hard earned victory, until at long last, they would face the Prince of Darkness himself, and, as destined, slay the vampire for good.

A simple enough tale, of good verses evil, of man's bravery to rise up against tyrants and depose their blood sucking rule from the land. And it is a story that has echoed in the halls of Castle Alucard for well over a thousand years as it has played out time and time again. Throughout the ages, so-called Monster Hunters have invaded, eager to be the next hero of legendary renown to slay a mighty vampire lord.

The logistics of such an endeavor should be daunting enough to dissuade most sane individuals from ever launching the expedition in the first place. Castle Alucard, infamous home of the most infamous vampire of all time, is nestled deep in the realm of Makai, domain of the demons and dark spirits. Simply entering the plane is to invite death for mere mortals, let alone surviving the journey to the depths of the Ever Night where the impossibly vast stone edifice is to be found.

Fortunately for those eager to battle legends, there are other ways to find one's way into the vampire's domain besides a trek through hell itself. Now and then, entire sections of the castle find their way into the realm of Earth, appearing in the mountains, or in dark forests, or other less developed corners of the world. Nights with a full moon are particularly known for the rumored appearances of the vampire's castle, as it so happens. But there are other ways - dark ways, to find one's way into some forgotten hall, some barely used passage, or collapsing dungeon deep beneath the upper levels of the castle. Passages on Earth, especially deep caves or dark corridors in ancient castles or buildings are known to occasionally form portals to the fortress of the elite vampire, and now and then, a hero, monster hunter, or opportunistic cultist will find their way into the home of one Rachel Alucard, heir to the long legacy of powerful Alucards.

Tonight is no different. More than one Unwelcome One has found their way into the vampiress's castle. Even as Valkenhayn R. Hellsing places his hand on the shoulder of one such Unwelcome, two others are toiling their way through the lower dungeons of the castle. A particularly unpleasant area and not one anyone civilized would venture into, with all the ghouls, zombies, and skeletons milling about as they are wont to do. But sure enough, two esteemed members of the Monster Hunter's Guild have found their way there and are fighting their way through.

All the while, their travails are being watched by the target of their ill-fated venture. Rachel Alucard sits comfortably at a table, ensconced in a lush, well cushioned tall throne, a saucer in one hand, a cup of tea in her other. A bemused expression crosses her lips as she gazes into her cup, seeing not the simmering savory tea but rather an image of the toiling monster hunters who think tonight will be the night they join legends.

"My," she muses out loud to the crimson bat winged creature hovering nearby her throne. "We have a truly lovely pair tonight. That man looks like quite the unbecoming brute, but the magician at his side seems in possession of at least a bit of class. I rate them at least two... two and a half, perhaps? Alright, Gii, it's time to wager. Which floor do you think they'll make it to? If your instincts prove correct, you will be rewarded with one full day without punishment."

"Awh, gee, Princess, I've never gotten it right yet!" the bat-ish familiar whines with his nasally, child-like voice.

"Now, now, Gii, no one likes a quitter." Rachel reprimands softly. "Why, look at them, they've broken at least seven skeletons so far, and that zombie hardly lasted three seconds. Surely, these two are going far, no?"

"Uh... Uhhhhhhh... Uhhhhhhhhhhhh..." Gii procrastinates to the point that Rachel's bemused smile starts to fade. "Second wing, a-ah, third floor. The old butcher's hall!"

The young woman with long, blonde twintails and layers of the finest, most elegant Gothic attire smiles once more. "Oh? You think they will get through Dullahan? I hardly think so. That old malcontent hasn't let anyone past him in decades. Very well, Gii. Perhaps tonight will be your moment. Everyone deserves a moment eventually."

Time passes. In one recently devastated wing, a wolf battles a partially mechanical monster from his past. In another level of the castle, two heroes push forward, emboldened by their early success, delving deeper and deeper into the prison of the damned.

Of course, the adventure of the two monster hunters will end like so many before. The moment they are in over their heads, when mortal peril is about to take them, the young Alucard heiress will teleport them back to Earth. Somewhere unpleasant, no doubt. Like Siberia. Or North Dakota, known for not even being the best Dakota.

Places no one wants to be.

It was a responsibility her father had tasked her with even when he was alive. Let the monster hunters try, but don't let them die. It was all part of the game. Of course, they presented no threat. None had ever conquered the challenges of the castle. Not since a certain Immortal Breaker clawed his way through every obstacle, every trap, every guardian by tooth and nail to make his way all the way to Clavis Alucard himself...

Elsewhere, the Mad Architect summons the golem infused with the soul of his wife to do battle with the stalwart Alucard butler while Rachel leans forward to watch the play taking place in the castle dungeons. The two intruders have done well, but now they face the spectral executioner cursed in ages past to haunt those lower dungeons in retribution for being a tad overzealous in carrying out his duty while among the living.

If Gii had hands, he would be clenching them anxiously. Will the duo make it past? Will he finally win one of Rachel's whimsical wagers? The young looking vampiress smiles, knowing full well they will not. Any moment and now and she will have to intercede lest one or both of them fall to the bloody axe being swung their.

A howl reverberates over the vast castle, echoing in the halls and across the tower rooftops and Rachel looks up, a soft gasp at her lips.


Her crimson eyes shift their focus to beyond the scope of the room, furtively scanning until they find the bloody battle. The throne beneath the girl shifts its form, rising up for a moment to allow her to her feet without the slightest effort on her part, before bulging out sidelong and collapsing from its height to become the ebony form of her other familiar, Nago.

"The audacity of that man!" the girl exclaims.

Quickly, she settles the saucer and teacup on the table at her side.

"Princess, what about our other two trespassers?" asks the crimson eyed feline that sits just over three feet all when on his haunches.

"Tch." the vampire hostess replies. If she goes to Valkenhayn first, the duo will without question die. "It irks me to attend to the needs of vermin first, but we have no choice." Her father would never forgive her otherwise. The vampire's right hand lifts, bringing with it an invisible cloak of shadow that enshrouds the trio, then collapses a moment later, leaving the small parlor empty.


So much can happen in the course of sixty seconds. While one savage encounter reaches its brutal, bloody conclusion, elsewhere two mortals are spared the executioner's axe and sent on their way, in the fine tradition of mercy established by the castle's previous lord.

In the hall now painted with the blood of old rivals, shadows begin to shift, rushing out from beneath the debris or from the unlit corners where moonlight cannot illuminate. Energy fills the air and one such as Relius would recognize the formula at work in an instant - teleportation magic. Being able to teleport oneself at will is already one of the rarest spells in existence. To be able to enact such arcane influence on others, remotely at that, is truly the mark of one of the universe's most powerful magic users.

In ideal circumstances, with his vigor at full, and given a moment to prepare, one such as Relius might be able to mount a defense against such a spell. But he stands in the domain of the spellweaver herself. Even if he were so inclined, there would be no defense here.

The shadows surge, becoming viscous, liquid seithr that ripples over the reality of where Relius, his 'wife', and the defeated werewolf are, and for a moment, the world to their eyes would become null.

The darkness recedes, leaving one's eyes to grow accustomed to a large, dimly lit chamber elsewhere within the castle. A crimson luminescence bathes room in a soft light that is easy to adjust to. The floor is smooth obsidian, polished to a reflective mirrored surface. Scarlet drapes hang over much of the walls, and between them, large paintings of previous lords of Castle Alucard can be observed.

The new arrivals are in good company - hundreds of glowing Jack-o-Lanterns of sizes ranging from a baseball all the way up to being as big around as a man is tall are situated all around the room. Some on tables, others resting in cushioned chairs, others piled into a bed of rose petals or along the twin spiraling stairs at one end of the room. And each of the swarm of glowing, grinning pumpkins seems particularly interested in Relius himself, each angled to stare at him with golden eyes that add to the light in the room.

The stairs at the head of the room ascend roughly ten feet before culminating into a pedestal atop which sits a throne of black. Behind the throne, a wall of crimson stained glass through which the full moon of the Ever Night can be seen large against the horizon. And sitting up straight on the throne itself, the young vampire ready to hold court with a jury of pumpkins, sits Rachel Alucard herself, arms resting on the armrests of the small throne. At her right a large, pudgy looking black cat sits on his haunches. At her left, a crimson hued bean with tiny bat wings hover.

"Relius Clover," the girl declares, leaning forward. Her jaw is set, lips drawn back in a slight snarl to reveal tiny fangs, and her own eyes glimmer with the color of blood independently from the stained light of the moon.

"Forever have I graciously withheld any interference in your wretched experimentation."

The air in here is unexpectedly cold and the temperature seems to be dropping by the second. The air is thick with the scent of roses - pleasing to some, no doubt cloying to others.

"And yet, after all my years of leniency, here you are." She stands then, taking a step forward to the edge of the elevated dais.

"Invading my house. Assaulting my loyal butler and trusted advisor."

Several of the Jack-O-Lanterns slowly move their mouths as if to weigh in on the accusations, all eyes on Relius. But if they are saying anything, it is spoken along a wavelength audible only to them.

"Such reckless arrogance unlike any I have ever seen. Need I remind you.... while the rules of the game do constrain my reach, they say nothing at all concerning the matter of defending my own domain?"

The air begins to fill with power, a static charge that could come from none other than the tiny stormweaver standing above him.

"Do you have any last words, Relius Clover?"

The ebony cat gets to his feet, and on thick, plump legs, saunters up to his mistress's side, a certain bloodthirsty eagerness in his eyes as he looks down upon Relius while Rachel continues.

"Or shall we dispense with such frivolities and move directly on to your punishment?"

There would not be far to find his destiny.

As Valkenhayn is prepared to look his best before the master, Relius adjusts his jaw. The magic was already surging around him, pinpointing down at him. As Ignis carries the subdued butler in her arms, Relius carefully calculates the outcomes. None seemed favorable. Decisions were made, on limited resources. There was only one outcome that could be most suitable. As the coiling seithr binds him into the shadows, the engineer resets his jaw. In oblivion, for what is between an eternity or a second, he gradually finds himself amongst the glowering lights of the pumpkins. Releasing his jaw, he looks up at the portraits, casting his eyes along them... until he rests it on the owner of the castle, the mansion, the realm.

"Lady Alucard."

Relius gives a smirk, bemused at his untimely arrival. In the domain of the Bystander, he was a mere puppet, pulled along on the whims and strings. A hundred possibilities, with merely 80 leading to his swift and untimely demise. In his normal state, he was hardly suited to battle her in the best of circumstances. Now? How many outcomes would lead to merely an imprisoned shell of himself. Relius steps forward, gesturing at the court, as Ignis continues to hold the muzzled werewolf. But, perhaps, Rachel makes a single mistake.

She allows Relius his last words.

"It is a pleasure to finally meet you" He says with melodramatic flourish, giving a bow. "And yet, I must say, that... is not quite correct, Lady Alucard." The scientist begins, lifting his eyes up to the vampire. "Multiple points of incorrectness, but I will approach them as I see fit. The first, and primary: Forever have I graciously withheld any interference in your wretched experimentation. I must object to this statement. Yes, you could be correct, but only on the faintest of technicalities. Per definition, forever. Primary definition; for all future time; for always. Secondary definition? Continually, lasting, or permanence. Up to this point, it could be argued that you have never interfered with my... experiments. I certainly have no recollection of it happening in the last 30-something years!" Relius's grimace intensifies, into the faintest of a sneer.

"But I recall something else, Lady Alucard."

"I recall that the fruits of my experiments not only transformed the face of this planet, but left me 90 years into the future, my mind twisted into a sea of memories without mind, thoughts without context, and timeless wonder into a singularly. An infinity of timelines, poured into a single mind. A remarkable outcome, in the wasteland of time, the brave new world which bore from the fruits of my experiments."

"Fruits that have not existed now, Lady Alucard."

Relius's tone grows more terse, the accusing tone heightening. "I also recall my old friend, Valkenhayn, serving me with me... and to my surprise, so does he. At no time, in the last 30 years, have I done anything he had said, such as disappear! And yet, he considers that I was hurled into the future as well. Imagine that, Lady Alucard, two contradictory existences! Two memories worth of timelines, irreconcilable. A lesser mind could suffer impossibly at the sheer contradiction of two timelines worth of memories. But why? Why would such a situation occur?" And Relius aims squarely for the center of mass, with the dripping venom of his accusation.

"It is almost as if the event of my scientific genius was... interfered with."

"Remarkable, how the phrase 'forever' collapses when dealing outside the context of time." Relius pauses, seemingly ready to organize his thoughts... but after all, he couldn't give the impression that he has run out of last words. "It's almost like you are dealing with me dishonestly, even as the little cockroaches come scurrying through your castle. I do not blame you, or my... old friend, however. These are trying times; countless barriers and borders have been collapsing. Sequestered timelines have fallen away, and sealed away abominations have been bursting from their prisons. And all seem to be coming for you, Lady Alucard." A sinister edge, nearly a threat.

"But, I have to answer for my trespassing and assault!"

"I, myself, am merely a victim of my own genius." Relius filibusters. "Your dear... butler merely misunderstood my presence as something sinister. I had to defend myself; as you well know, he is a highly capable warrior, a paragon of martial excellent, a spirited competitor, and an excellent dresser..." Relius looks to his wife, and his old friend, delicately running his fingers through the mane of his hair. "I cannot the tedium I have to be forced to fight my friend. As for the trespassing... well, I have come merely as the results of my last experiment, an outcome I hardly expected. To be frank and sincere, I expected to come in the back door, with a significantly more difficult time reaching you... but with a bit more luck. Trespassing, yes, but through the normal channels per custom. To skip to the very end... well, perhaps you can give some insight on that. I have so many questions, yes, yes, but I find it so -fascinating- I've ended up here. If you will, Lady Alucard...

"Does the name X-X!V''Q mean anything to you?"

Unfortunately, it would appear he does indeed have last words. And the young Alucard, ever the respecter of old traditions, endures them. At first, her expression harbors nothing but anger hardly concealed. She was offended, scarlet eyes flicking toward the carried Valkenhayn, evidence of the battle between the two erstwhile allies on plain display.

At the greetings and bow, she replies, her voice controlled, eyes back on Relius, "Undoubtedly." But then he makes clear his intentions to correct a perceived inaccuracy in how she initially established their relationship prior to this point.

He declares his intention to object and she closes her mouth, fangs once more hidden, lips curled into a faint frown. "Do be quick about it," she murmurs with nothing in the way of patience for the excuses she must be imagining she is about to hear.

At first, nothing the Mad Architect has to say is any news to her. For over thirty years, he has been operating as one of the key influencers within the increasingly powerful Novus Orbis Librarium. Surely, she must have seen what he was doing. The experiments, the vessels, even opening the door for the likes of the true reaper to step foot on Earth for the first time in the world's entire existence. And yet, she appeared to do nothing, abiding by the restrictions of the role of a Bystander.

But then he says something that she didn't expect. He speaks of the world changing experiments conducted by men of science consumed by the thrill of discovery and no small amount of hubris. An experiment he should, in no way, remember. It was he that set the world on a swiftly careening path toward utter destruction, a course so catastrophic the watchers between the planes saw fit to wipe Earth free of its most dangerous element - mankind.

And in his monologue, he touches upon the greatest cover-up that has ever transpired.

Rachel blinks once. Not a day goes by that she doesn't reflect on The Sequestration. The Elder Gods had made up their mind. Only the extinction of man could restore stability to the cosmos. But the right to entreat the all powerful beings was the primary purpose of the lonely title of Bystander. For weeks she had argued the case unceasingly before her fellow Immortals - spare mankind, and instead, help her use the Time-Protecting Tsukuyomi to fork off all elements of Earth's time line that would lead to the creation of the Black Beast. Such calamitous events would be sequestered away in their own forgotten time line, never to threaten the Prime Thread ever again.

The task had fallen to The Bystander to formulate the details, the Elder Gods could only provide the energy and Tsukuyomi the means. The burden of success or failure rested on Rachel's shoulders. And she had done such an exacting job of it. Almost all the world was oblivious to the great deception that saved mankind.

Almost. It would take an analysis on the quantum scale to find the discrepancies, the subtle clues, the tiniest of errors. And of course, Kokonoe had found them, that infernal woman. Too smart for her own good, the enigma of the 'Missing Decades' could not be kept from her.

But now Relius Clover, madman and brilliant beyond maybe even Kokonoe herself, speaks of two memories? And he speaks the truth. The entirety of his scientific abominations from decades past had been erased from this world, branched off into another thread of possibility. But he shouldn't have the memories from that time!

The young Countess stands straight, shoulders squared, her arms at her sides, held out sightly out of necessity due to the curve of her elegant ebony gown. Slowly, her hands close into small fists though she appears otherwise the same as the shotgun accusation is fired her way.

"Do not toy with me, Relius Clover." There's her fangs again, lips drawn back, sacrificing a degree of elegant composure in favor of a reminder that there are more monsters in this castle than the werewolf butler.

But then he explains his presence within Castle Alucard in the first place. Why, he was simply doing what so many others had done before, following in the footsteps of legends and generations of hopeful, intrepid souls that invaded the vampire's lair over a millennium. It isn't his fault he ended up somewhere else, somewhere well within the heart of the castle, as opposed to having to trudge through dungeons, crypts, sewers, and cobweb laden passageways.

"You... dare..." Rachel replies, eyes burning with a seething light of their own.

In light of his explanation, the man, this soulless devil, is no worse an offender than the two hapless monster hunters she teleported off to safety before pulling him here. Is he not, then, entitled to the same mercies? The Jack-o-Lanterns shift in their seats and among the bed of rose petals to look toward each other, their mouths moving to conduct an impossible, unheard discourse; a pumpkin jury divided!

The madman voices a question, and utters an impossible sound in the lingering reprieve his fearless lunacy has purchased.

"Don't you speak to me of fate." the girl replies. "Until you unhand my steward and remove those offensive restraints, you will continue to be an aspiring hunter. Which means..." From the curve of her dress, two crimson wings of fabric unfold out to her sides. Slowly, the young stormcaller raises her right hand up over her head, "I can defend myself."

Alas, nothing.

Relius considers pressing the question later. He had so many questions for the Bystander, and so little... well, technically he had all the time in the world. The resource he was lacking in now, however, was -patience-. Not his own, but of his host. His composure was not showing it, but he was very well aware that a prison could be waiting for him on the outskirts of reality. A bystander like Rachel was quite dangerous to trifle with. A carefully constructed approach would need to come; a carefully built approach. And why would it not be carefully constructed? Everything had fallen to place so far. It was no reason to let down your guard, however.

His luck was already running thin.

"Of course, my lady~" He says with the highest air. "I only restrained him for his own safety, of course..." The most miserable lies he could utter were the most toxic truths. Snapping his fingers, he gives the command. Carefully, Ignis begins to snip the wires, the puppet strings. A delicate, intricate process, that was just so slow. "My apologies for my tone, Lady Alucard. I just can't help but find it a bit amusing that you would act so deceptively around a man like myself." Relius smiles a little toothy grin, not losing his composure before the vampire. "Confidence comes with success; hardly you can't say you've been successful in your little experiment so far?" A compliment? Or a complaint? "Of course, times have changed, haven't they? You are learning why there are rules in place... Ah, I am sorry, I am sounding threatening again, how disrespectful. Yes, yes, you can defend yourself."

"And you have been, haven't you?"

A mysterious glint in his eyes. "I have seen a mere piece of the damage to this place. You've been dealing with invaders. Powerful ones, if my friend is so... on edge." The strings were cut away, leaving only the muzzle. "It must be so frustrating, to have your realm crawling with the little cockroaches, the little invaders. And as the pressure builds, why, what happens when someone of your incredible responsibility makes a mistake? When the catastrophies of the world build up more and more? One little blink, one little stray thought..."

"You might accidentally acknowledge someone that you shouldn't."

He couldn't know, could he? How could he not know, having moved the pieces into action. Relius's smile was not ceasing. "Yes... yes, your job is quite difficult, is it not, Lady Alucard? So many impossible things, so many things risking the very unmaking of this timeline. And it's become so easy to simply wipe away the little mistakes in reality and paint over them. It's too much, I can understand. Thus, the need for help~"

And Ignis removes the muzzle, letting Valkenhayn drop roughly to the floor.

Though the dangerous madman holds the majority of her focus, there is no escaping the occasional shift of the vampiress's crimson eyes toward the painstakingly slow process of unbinding her guardian from the wiring. The progress, however slow, is monitored, even if the vexing man requires so much of her attention with his unceasing speaking. The act of compliance, however slowly paced, has resulted in her lowering her arm, suggesting an immediate attack is no longer forthcoming. Is it tradition that stays her hand, or, in spite herself, curiosity at why the Architect has taken such a gamble placing himself at her mercy?

Instead, Rachel lifts her right arm, resting her fingers lightly against the side of her immaculately brushed golden hair, just above her right ear, eyes becoming half-lidded as she stares down at Relius Clover from her elevated platform.

The man's acumen for assessing is among the greatest encountered among mortals. It was his keen attention to detail that opened the devil's door into The Boundary after all, and set in motion a world-ending calamity. And now he knows of the greatest conspiracy in the planet's entire history, the interference with not just his work, but with every single individual involved in the devastating release of the Black Beast.

He references invaders then and Rachel's eyes narrow. The occasional overwhelmed monster hunter is hardly more than a game to her, but they are not the trespasser to whom he refers. And when he speaks of the most dangerous unintended acknowledgement of her long, long life, Rachel flicks her eyes toward her muzzled steward then closes her eyes, her thin, right blonde eyebrow twitching slightly, her mouth forming a faint frown.

Still, throughout it all, she says nothing, staying on her perch, enduring the unending harangue without further complaint. It is only when the elderly butler falls to the floor with an unceremonious thud that the small vampire finally acts. Her right arm lowers, sweeping out in front of her, a cloak of opaque shadow folding over her body and her two familiars as she does so. At the same time, a similar blanket of black washes over Valkenhayn's form on the floor.

In a swift exchange, both shrouds of ebony collapse into clouds of swirling mist that writhes with innumerable small, screeching black bats. There is a rush as the two pools of black switch places, rushing over the floor with a chill that seems to suck a significant portion of heat out of the room. A moment later, and the mist becomes opaque shadow again, then melts away, leaving Valkenhayn lying on his back in a far more composed position atop the elevated platform where Rachel had stood, and the Bystander down below, between Ignis and Relius. Rather than being towered over by the tall scientist, the petite noble of Makai is hovering a few feet off the ground, just enough to place her eyes half a foot above the over six foot tall man, roughly a meter from him, eyes open once more. Just below the level of her head, to the left, flits the crimson bat-like creature, while at her right, once more resting on his haunches, the rotund giant cat sits, his tail sweeping over the floor periodically behind his back.

"Your genuine concern regarding the difficulty of my task is not necessary, Relius Clover." Her clothing and hair are rustled, as if brushed lightly by a localized breeze in tight circulation about her tiny frame, a byproduct of whatever spell is keeping her aloft, perhaps.

"I am not unaware of the role you had to play in events as of late. Indeed, the case may be made that editing out your part earlier would have been my preferred course of action were it an option. Why, I can only imagine ..." Her frown gives way to a hint of a smile that suggests she is definitely imagining something pleasant to her mind, "The travesties that could have been averted if you had simply gone missing from the script all together."

The smile fades then, faint frown returning, "Did you truly endeavor to enter my castle and risk annihilation at my hand to trade badinage regarding acts that have already run their course? I hardly think so."

Her brow furrows, her arms against her sides.

"Why are you wasting my time?"

Relius never gambled.

Well, not in the classic sense. He sometimes did not care for the outcomes of 'bets,' but he always has a token on one place or another. For him, by expecting and anticipating every outcome, the game was always rigged into his favor. Every player plays their role, every doll acts on their strings. Rachel was one such doll, playing exactly to her schemes. Why make the risk here?

To make sure the strings on her were still tight.

Impossible, of course; how could Relius have any influence or control on Rachel, within her own castle? And yet, as Rachel reacts, he could see her, batted on her strings, swaying back and forth. As Valkenhayn is released, though, her sudden movement gives rise to Ignis. The construct lifts her arms up, ready to defend her husband. Relius looks past the levitating Rachel, a grimace on his lips.

He shakes his head at Ignis, waving his hand.

His darling wife lowers her arms, as she goes inert. Shifting his eyes from her to the round little cat, and then the flapping bat, the smirk gradually returns. Rachel levels her threats; but Relius seems hardly intimidated. Certainly, she was correct. But the arrogance of the scientist continues to endure. And once again, Rachel asks a question. Relius inhales.

And responds.

"Again, the mention of time, a resource quite meaningless and unlimited in your realm, your greatest wealth, your most coveted treasure." Relius rolls his hand, as he expands. "Certainly, though, if I wished to speak with you, I would simply do all this. I might have even enjoyed one of your tea parties..." He says with a glimmer of heartfelt longing. "Alas, we've moved past such things. You've developed a sense of judgement with your observations. Which, as a matter of importance, I've I've come to warn you about." And Relius's tone deepers, as he gives the ultimatum. He leans forward uncomfortably close, looking up at the vampire.

"Do not meddle in this world's fate, Lady Alucard."

Relius pauses for effect. "Perhaps you are unaware of how much damage you've already committed by your meddling, your... inexperience and experimental approach to mortals. A Bystander that has broken her impartial nature to fork a timeline so recklessly is one mistake. I have heard the rumors, Lady Alucard. Now, I will not hang the escape on your head, there is no evidence of such. But a prisoner like that can only be broken by observation, and the power of observation strong enough is a limited pool. You have already done this once, Lady Alucard, and while the so called 'gods' may be forgiving, I am not so."

Relius snaps his fingers, as Ignis comes to his side.

"I know how tempting the power can be. It is so easy to simply snip apart the parts of reality that you are not comfortable with, to flip the binary switch to 'is' into 'is not.' Make unpleasant people simply not exist anymore. I'm well aware of what you desire, Lady Alucard. And I know with those desires, I could simply cease to be; a mere exclusion in time. Of course, that would have certain interferes with your father perhaps, but what could the consequence be, when you can simply snip those away. Snip, snip, snip." He gestures the cutting motion with his fingers. "And why stop at me? So many little pests, that could disappear.

"And then you could have your little paradise, just like here."

"A world of Jack O Lanterns, of vampire princesses, and their loyal dogs. A world of your playroom, where you play dolls with your invaders, letting them fight with your toys. Observe apart your pieces, observe yourself into the perfect little world, free of the petty little annoyances. Just daddy's darling princess, with her games of pretend into reality. They have names for people like that, even in this timeline. And games of cowboys and armadillos hardly become you. I am not the only one who sees the path you are set on."

"And your competency is already in question now, Lady Alucard."

"Valkenhayn has a lot to say on duty... I did not want him to know how flexible duty was for his master. If you wish to Observe, then Observe. Give yourself over to the temptation. Put up your laurels as a Bystander, and let another take up the duty. Then you can truly appreciate the true freedom of turning reality into your little dollhouse." There is a gleam in his mask eyes, as that all too friendly smile flashes.

"There can always be another Bystander"

%Positioning herself between Relius and his construct without paying any heed to the expressionless doll... why, it's almost as if Rachel is asking to be attacked. Or perhaps she has come to realize that is not the aim of this man's incursion and will not feign to concern herself with possibilities that simply aren't. The vampiress listens as Relius speaks of time and, with a wistful tone, suggests this dialog could have been something far more amiable between them.

He speaks of a warning, leaning in, and Lady Alucard doesn't recoil an iota as the cloaked messenger delivers an imperative - to back off and abide by the particular constraints and obligations of the lofty station she inherited. Her eyes narrow slightly but she does not interrupt during the dramatic pause, either for loss of words or expecting more to come from him. In fact, she seems to endure it all, with nothing more than a slightly annoyed expression to answer for it, until he declares himself to not be forgiving.

The idea that his forgiveness has any bearing here seems to draw immediate umbrage as young Alucard's upper lip draws back on the right side, her tiny fang visible once more, her hands tightening at her sides.

And then the Masked Devil speaks of the temptation such power must inflict on one such as her. With the knowledge her position grants her, with the time she's had to study, learn, and scheme, with her tremendous arcane mastery and possession of an artifact of absolute defense, is there any limit to what she could do if she finally decided to hell with the consequences? Cropping away the parts of the world that bothered her, or that she deemed offensive, or too dangerous to be permitted to exist... The power of a god in a tiny, pig-tailed form.

Of course, she can't possibly do all that and remain a Bystander, a point the man so eloquently points out with observations laced with condescension. As he speaks, her focus never leaves him, though her eyes narrow further. The idea must be appealing... and not far fetched.

Even before Clavis Alucard passed away, condemned by his own inability to stop interfering in the events of the world, his sole offspring was already an incredible sorceress and Observer. Already had she mastered the ability to spy across time, to weave powerful spells, to even teleport herself and groups through reality. And that was before she inherited Tsukuyomi and become Earth's advocate to the Elder Gods, obtaining all the power and privilege such a position affords. It is difficult to fathom what she could do were she not so tethered.

There could always be someone else stuck with this duty, the leash of the Bystander, forced to endure lengthy meetings with the insufferable Elder Gods in the planes beyond this planet, fated to watch the universe go by, with all its billions of small lives, yet never being ablke to interfere with its course in any meaningful way. To hold in one's hand such power yet be forbidden to put it to use...

The doll-like immortal is perfectly still as she seems to process the message. She need not breath in air to live so there is no visible hint that she's even alive to contemplate it but for the fire in her eyes as her lips slide closed over sharp fangs.

Finally, those blood red eyes close, and the hovering girl drift back away from Relius to land on the stairs that lead up to the throne at a height that puts her at eye level with the tall man.


She speaks, her voice oozing with disappointment, right hand lifting to rest her fingers against the side of her head just above her right ear. Though her eyes remain close, her right eyebrow twitches slightly in a visible tick of annoyance. The the unseen breeze that had stirred about her diminishes then seems to end all together. Finally, her eyes open narrowly to look upon the world's most dangerous scientist.

"Is that all. For a moment, I had erringly considered you might have something truly novel to share. But then again, I always was an optimist."

Nago pushes to his feet, padding without hurry over to the stairs to sit at her side, while Gii flutters after, coming to rest on the large cat's head.

"I will make no apology or excuse for any actions I have taken to steer this world away from its ultimate denouement. I'm afraid, as repetitive as the pageant may be, it is, as the saying goes, the only show in town. I am rather invested in seeing it not come to an end quite yet."

She breathes in deeply then releases a long, soft sigh - an unnecessary embellishment, of course, in light of how optional breathing is for her when not drawing in air with which to speak. Her eyes shift to the side, no longer focused on Relius at all.

"No... I simply must continue to bear this burden with the enduring equanimity I have demonstrated thus far, even if it means carrying on without your forgiveness, Relius Clover."

A faint smile forms at her lips, eyes drifting back to focus on her guest.

"Upon consideration, I have yet to ever see a single soul who could possibly conduct themselves better than I have... And as you so articulately expressed, even I am questionably competent at it."

There was a cruel sadism that Relius kept even face to face.

Relius was twisting the Bystander on her strings. Poking her, prodding her, looking to draw out a pretty little snarl on the little doll's face. Oh, Relius would always admit to the scientific curiousities of making young girls twitch and squirm. Lady Alucard lacked the charming personality that Ada demonstrated, and her eyes were red, not blue; but she had almost the same beautiful blond hair. Certainly, with enough of a father's touch, she might even become agreeable to Relius... and finally show that potential that Relius was always curious in exploring.

But instead, she plays the role she was meant to.

Relius's grin fades. Oh, there was a hint of a grin, only just concealed. Relius would not be satistified. Jaw tightening, he gives pause to rub it, a grimace on his lips. No matter. Everything was going exactly to a plan. And yet, Relius could barely contain his disappointed. You could almost hear the contempt in his voice, as Relius is left with only the most thankfully brief of answers.

"Nobody still alive, Rachel."

And Relius sweeps his cape, turning his back to Rachel. snaps his fingers impatiently. "I have made my warning. And if you choose to ignore it... well, I think it would be a fascinating study, to be honest. No matter how old you get, you will still be a child. Ripe for knowledge, wisdom... and understanding. Come Ignis. I think it is time for us to leave." Ignis snaps to life, shifting in a blink of an eye to Relius side. Relius begins to stride forward in... that... direction... before taking pause.

"Before I forget Lady Alucard... something novel to share."

Relius makes the most subtle of gestures, a sleight of the wrist. And from it, reappears the very paperback book he was reading when he first came to the castle. Looking over his shoulder, he holds it up high. "I have been working on this lovely book, and it's absolutely riveting. But, as I have the hardcover, I would be happy to part with it to the current Bystander." Relius releases the paperback, tossing it towards the vampire. The Lightest of Light Thrown Objects. Relius's tone is almost condescending. "You should take up reading. You can open up whole new worlds." Relius then continues his stride with Ignis floating besides him. Where he would go? Well, he didn't quite know it, per say. The possibilities were, in fact, endless. But the book, as it would find it's landing, whether in hand or by floor, would simply be, with a plain cover, and nearly incomprehensable ramblings within. And yet, it's title could very well tell it all.

"The Ikaruga Civil War: By Relius Clover"


In spite herself, the scientist's initial four words provoke a soft gasp, bitten off by clenched teeth. If there was one creature in all existence the relatively young immortal would compare herself to, it would of course be the prior Lord Alucard of the vast castle. Long had she clung to the hem of his robes, watching from behind as he conducted his obligations as Bystander... then, with no concern for his own wellbeing, went far beyond those obligations to interfere.

What had been the final transgression to seal his fate, she had often wondered. Was it teaching mankind how to create the Sealed Armament Izayoi, giving them a fighting chance in the Prime Field Wars almost no one Earth has any idea existed? Or did he a play a greater hand in the resolution of the Dark War than she was allowed to know? Or maybe it wasn't any one single, defining moment that sealed the old vampire's fate. Perhaps it was simply the result of many small interventions, abusing his knowledge as Bystander, to steer events little by little until the accumulation of change finally took its toll?

Every time she interferes, each time she finds herself inexorably following in his footsteps in spite knowing full well the risk, Earth's newest Bystander finds herself wondering... what is too far? Even delivering the Sekigan to the samurai cat in this timeline had cost her her health as of late, and she had considered that moderately safe Phenomena Intervention.

"Unfortunately, Relius Clover... the moment I go too far... when I begin to reap the consequences you have benevolently warned me of... that's the very moment I no longer have any reason to hold back." The right corner of her mouth flicks upward slightly, eyes shifting to the side to gaze toward where she had gently placed Valkenhayn minutes before, "When that time comes, it will be... difficult for you to observe anything at all."

The threat leveled, the Alucard heiress notices him turning to go, her mouth opening to add something else only to pause as he does, eyes snapping back to regard the book he holds aloft. She doesn't move a hand to catch it, but rather the light thrown object settles onto a cushion of air before her, manipulated with ease as to turn its cover toward her.

Slowly, her right hand lowers from the side of her head, frown returning.

"Goodness, I must admit I am intrigued at that man's sense of fashion yet everything else about him is quite deplorable," the ebony large cat at her side comments as the Mad Architect and his 'wife' leave the throne room to brave the halls of Castle Alucard. As large as a city and decidedly harder to navigate, it is difficult to predict where he might wander off to. But seeing the 'guest' to the door is not high on the Bystander's priorities for now.

"What's that book, Princess?" Gii asks, hovering over to the levitated book.

"If you don't understand its significance at a glance, it hardly behooves me to explain it. Bring it." Rachel drifts up to the platform of the throne while Gii clamps down on the book with his small legs. With a gesture, Rachel draws a blanket of shadow over the quartet, and a moment later the throne room is left empty but for the conclave of silently chattering Jack-O-Lanterns.

Log created on 01:17:55 01/09/2018 by Relius, and last modified on 00:05:36 01/17/2018.