Alma - Chivalry, Tea, and Cake

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Description: Knights and hunters of the Sacred Order gather in Vatican City for serious discussions to come on the future of the faction. For now, though, old friends and new acquaintances enjoy the tranquility of a secret garden. Chivalry, tea, and cake: three great tastes that taste great together.

Alma would never dream of complaining about his duties as host of the Golden Angel Tournament, but he could not deny that a setting such as this is more suited to his temperament. The painter was once considered somewhat reclusive, appearing for gallery openings and otherwise sticking to his psychic studies with Rose. But as he emerged onto the fighting scene, so too did his international travels increase. And in the wake of the King of Fighters 2017, in which Team Balance has made it to the finals, his profile is such that hosting a tournament is little surprise to the public.

Yet the true reasons for Alma's increased visibility are secret save to his friends and allies in the Sacred Order. His travels were due to the work he did as an agent of the Order, investigating supernatural phenomena and resolving conflicts. Somewhat independent from the Order's internal hierarchy, he nevertheless did good work and earned the trust of the Order's leadership. But the events surrounding the King of Fighters, and the global clash they occasioned, upended this double life. Having failed to defeat Urien and prevent the Illuminati's infiltration of the United Nations, Alma feels personally responsible for the fate of the Order -- and its mission of justice -- like he never has before. And even more, he seeks strength. Not strength as a mere consequence of training his mind, but the strength to fight for justice and win.

Such martial thoughts are distant from this tranquil atmosphere. Alma sits at a small table in the gazebo, sipping daintily from a cup of tea, as he takes in the scent of the jasmine mingling with that of the tea and listens to the sound of fish flitting about the pond. In such a solemn and majestic city, there is something sweet and delightful about a garden like this existing. He has taken time off to return to meet with the Order's leadership, all of whom must be seriously considering their next actions given their faction's precarious circumstances--


--and to meet an old friend.

His feminine face lovely with contentment, Alma relaxes back in his chair and smiles, other empty cups before him on the round table, awaiting new arrivals.

Change is as oft delicate as ferocious, creeping on filigree-fine spider's legs across the realms of man. For thousands of years, the world has undergone sweeping alterations - the land itself, certainly, but the mores and hearts of man, twisted and reformed, time and time again. For each observable cycle there is a deadend of social evolution; a religion dead or absorbed into another, a lost city, a fallen kingdom. These are the broader strokes, too. Fractures run through the present, telling each one of these unforgettable tales... and yet how many are forgotten? How many are still left to be told?

Knight Officer Amy Johnson has been all but dormant in the service of her masters, months and years passing without seeming trace. Locked away in some farflung vault, pursuing interests that may be at odds with what the organisation has become, she returns to the Vatican today like a long-lost memory, a gloved hand resting upon the polished hilt of her arming sword, stormy blue eyes scanning the remembered glory of the locale. Her breath swells in her chest as she surveys the deceptive serenity, robes swishing across marble floors, hushed voices, books cradled in unhurried arms. The Order is just as she left it, she thinks... but is it truly? A frown betrays the thought, free hand rising with a furtive, cold-fingered grace to toy with the fronds of raven hair lapping against her neck. She's here on invitation, of course, so why does she feel so threatened?

One pace soon enough follows another, and Amy finds herself proceeding to that small, pretty courtyard. She's been here before, facing the admonishment of a heretofore peer with reservations - to put it mildly - over her actions in failing to retrieve the Grail in Jerusalem. Her mentor thinks of this day as the last gasp of Project Galahad, a failure beyond failures. She just thinks of it as a reason to avoid this place.

She never was one to return to the site of slain demons. Do what thou must, lady knight, and move on. Forget the past. Strive for better things.

But when was a Knight Templar ever allowed to forget the past?

At the garden's edge, Amy Johnson draws one last breath and releases it, slowly pressing her lips together as she stares directly ahead. How long has it been? The answer is always the same: long enough, lady knight.


It's spoken to Alma Towazu but a handful of fleeting moments later, Amy's bootheel setting down with prompt crispness on the gazebo's floor, a single 'clack' where all other footfalls have been silenced. She'll wait for Alma to meet her storm-wreathed gaze before she smiles, warmth striking her cheeks with the blossoming of real emotion in the curve of her lips.

"You've achieved so much, it's hard to believe I once thought of myself as your superior..."

"Hello, Alma."

Vatican City.

Ky Kiske is home, at last. Of course, he had arrived some time before, being transported into the city inside of a concealing cage with the Command Gear Dizzy, but since then, the Knight Captain had been locked in debriefing, buried under paperwork and generally attending to duties as befitting of his station. So, this far, he has not had a moment to breathe and simply enjoy it.

He also has not had time to see if Dizzy has been acclimating to her new surroundings well. Or to catch up with those who had fought alongside him in Japan. Or to... so many things to do. So very little time. He was, of course, going to be called forth before tribunal, possibly even headed by the Pope, to call into question his actions regarding apprehending the Command Gear, and essentially forcing an end of the alignment of the Sacred Order with the United Nations and the IPF. But for now, he finally is released to have a moment to just... breathe.

Ky breathes. He inhales deeply of the fresh scent of the garden as he exits into the courtyard. His lungs fill with the air, cool, and crisp, but not cold in the southern climes of the Mediterranean. A far cry from the war torn landscape of Japan he had just left, and even further from the icy winds of the seas he had sailed to arrive here. He loved Rome. He loved the smell of it, and the peace he could feel within these cloistered walls. It is good to be home, even if for but a moment. Even if that home may taken away fro--No. He will not think of such things. Not now. Deal with it in its time. This is the time of peace. The calm before the storm that lay just beyond the horizon.

That is a truth that Ky Kiske is as of yet still unaware. The storm is coming.

One hand, a hand so fine and delicate that it might seem made of fragile porcelain rather than meat and bone, and yet, still calloused from years of living by the sword, rises to brush wisps of spun gold away from his face. That countenance is sunkissed, yet fair, with fine features of youthful comeliness that seem perpetually trapped somewhere between the twilight of adolesence and the onset of maturity. Cerulean eyes lift to the Heavens above as Ky gives a silent prayer of thanks to the Lord for this sanctuary, and this moment of comfort among the turmoil of a life of war. Cupid's Bow lips draw their string, curling their corners into a smile that dimples his cheeks and creates the faintest hint of crinkles at the edges of his eyes. A sign of age and wisdom beyond his physical years. The subtle scars born of one who has lived too fast, seen too much in too short a time. But he bears these burdens with pride and grace. He welcomes the life he's led. Is thankful for it.

A sigh escapes him, and Ky lowers his face, unruly locks of spun gold falling back over one eye. As for Ky's attire? Let the rest of the Knights wander around in full uniform if they so wish. He is here to relax and unwind. And so, gone is that trademark overcoat. Discarded is his iconic blue cross shaped tabard. Instead, Ky Kiske is clad in the simpler vestments of his station. Boots of white with blue adorn his feet, with a pair of slim fitting slacks, with a crease so sharp you could slice yourself on it down each pant leg. A combination of two leather belts surrounds his narrow waist, bucked under a silver shield that bears the etchings of the one word that exemplifies his true nature: Hope. Above that, a sleeve shirt clings to his svelte form like a second skin, with black piping along the zip up front, and another black strap of leather bound across his chest and around his arms, creating the not so subtle suggestion of a crucifix across his body. His shoulders are left bare, though his arms are lost in loosely flowing sleeves of white that spill down from the leather belt, with thin cuffs that are clasped tightly to his wrists.

Ky approaches the gazebo, with those vibrant blue eyes falling upon the pair of figures that have already taken up residence there. As his boot creates a sharp clack of hard soles on hard wood, he clear his throat. His voice issues forth from his lips, almost lyrical by dint of the French accept that defines his voice and twists his syllables. It is soft, warm, and inviting. "Ah... Salut!"

A pause and Ky continues, "Apologies. I hope I am not interrupting."

Cracking his neck, the blue-skinned bruiser stepped out into the courtyard while shielding his eyes from the sun. His white coat was draped over his left arm like a matador's cape, leaving him in simpl a black short-sleeved shirt and a pair of army pants that matched the shade of his longcoat. With his coat off, it was easier to see the belt he wore, filled with stuffed pouches, and with boxes of things hanging down. In fact, one rather large box seemed to be hanging off the back of his belt by a chain, next to his moving tail.

From the look on his face and the 'roughness' of his clothing, it was easy to tell that he'd come back from some hard work, and from his right hand hung a six-pack of booze. Of course, one of the cans was missing, and in his left hand. He looked around at the crowd, nodding and raising that can in greeting.

"Hey kids, long time no see. Anyone thirsty?"

If there's one thing about having joined the Sacred Order that Biyu is uncomplicatedly happy about--well, other than having the specter of being randomly attacked by paramilitary groups wearing black tactical clothing and bearing guns, stun clubs, and the like--okay, if there's TWO things Biyu is uncomplicatedly happy about--

Let me start over.

Biyu found, almost immediately, a bonus benefit to joining the Sacred Order, one that she might never had access to in a more normal life, or at least, not without some serious strings-pulling and a series of requests and research proposals and many of the other kinds of things that, frankly, bored her to tears about academica. She has access to a lot of ancient and near-ancient texts that she might never have had access to before. Being an archaeologist... she's been devouring them up.

Case in point, she's lugging along a cardboard box literally full of the things, placed carefully and precisely to make the box as full as possible. Now, so far she hasn't found anything _earthshaking_, but just handling the books, reading them, even the ones that end up being little more than ancient recipe books... it's that tantalizing thought that something really cool _could be next_. (Plus, there was a really good recipe for fruitcake that she passed on to the nuns that help maintain the compound. One of those is helping balance out the box, too.)

Were it not for her 'action scientist' garb, including the saber, held in a strange scabbard rig that has it, for now, aligned vertically with the grip pointed downward, or the strange arm floating along behind her and to her left, looking like a robotic arm out of some animated feature, thick, bulky, armed with three fingers and a thumb, all tipped with wickedly-sharp looking claws... she might look like a regular nerd.

No glasses to push up onto her nose, but she pauses as she sees people gathering in the gazebo--including Ky Kiske, He of the Lap(tm), according to Dizzy, and she adjusts her route to head towards the gazebo, not bothering to be particularly silent about it.

Haruna Abe feels critically, crushingly under dressed the exact moment she steps into the courtyard. This is because she is wearing a dark blue T-shirt and a pair of athletic training shorts, ankle-length socks and some battered but well-loved Adidas whose purpose is to let her go for an energetic cleanse of a run, and also work in some cardio.

She has, in fact, BEEN jogging - making a lap around the seminary as if she were a priest being sentenced to robust calesthenic penance - and is thus sweaty, and is now catching sight of at least two people, possibly three, far more elegant and elaborately clad than her.

On reflex, Haruna attempts to make herself invisible.

This does not actually work because she is unable to render that particular trick. She jobs the rest of the way nonetheless, approaching the gazebo from the far side because there is no clear way to avoid it beyond turning around and possibly slamming into a monk coming ar ound the corner, which would be an awkward moment for everybody concerned.

Maybe she's gonna snag the tea. Though her eyes cut to Blue, not least due to his Big, when he solicits for those of thirst. Am I thirsty? Haruna thinks, with no clear answer in her soul.

Alma's tranquil smile turns glowing as his gaze turns toward a friend long lost but never forgotten. He lowers his cup and rises.

"Hello, Amy."

Without hesitation, he steps forward and embraces her warmly, eyes closing and smile broadening. "None of what I've accomplished would have been possible without you, my friend," he says softly, before at last pulling back, hands still resting upon her upper arms. "And there is still so much more to do." The lady knight's premonitions are proven true by the serious glint she surely perceives in the depths of Alma's eyes. There is trouble afoot, a threat looming over them, belying the peace of this garden of delights.

It's in this moment that their handsome visitor arrives, Alma and Amy caught in by all appearances a momentary tryst. Alma shows no embarrassment, but he does release his friend and direct his smile toward Ky. "Greetings, Captain. I am glad to see you safe." He has heard the tale of Ky's heroics in Southtown, but still knows too little of the details, as so much of what has occurred is under wraps except for the Order's leadership. Even the details of Alma's own journey, presumed death and temporary MIA status and all, may not be available to everyone. "Please, join us. Would you like some tea, or--"

It's then that Jigokunokishi saunters in, bearing an ... alternative beverage. The hunters of the Order tend to face looser restrictions, including Alma himself. "Hello, Blue," the psychic says, his smile broadening into a grin as he looks toward the straightforward brawler. They've met on a few occasions as fellow operators outside the usual rigorous hierarchy. "Returning from a mission? Have you met Amy Johnson?"

He gazes back into the stormy eye of his old friend and erstwhile recruiter. "I'd hoped to gather as many of us here as I could," he murmurs. "I think, for the struggles to come, we will need as many swords brandished in the name of justice as our hands may wield."

It's then that he looks back to Ky. "Captain, if I may be so bold," he continues softly, "have you spoken with the Commander regarding our strategy? I think all understand that the situation is ... precarious."

Calm and peaceful though the garden may seem.

"Ah! Biyu!" Alma calls to their resident arcanist. "May I help you with that?" He's careful to avoid saying 'give you a hand.' He remembers what happened the last time Tran made a gauntlet joke. But as he moves to step down from the gazebo, he pauses, blinking.

"I sense a familiar aura," he murmurs, glancing in Haruna's general direction. where she is currently obscured from view by the structure of the gazebo. "And a new aroma ... sweat?"

Shhh, Alma.


Amy blinks mildly as she's seized in that embrace, but her hesitation is barely fleeting - she returns it with a soft peal of laughter, rising as a breath and then bubbling like a brook from the back of her throat. She won't admit as much, but it's the first such sound she's made in a long time. "There--" she replies to his pronouncement swiftly, then allows it to sink in more deeply, leaning back from the embrace with a subtle, serious nod. "There always is." The devout can never rest, can they? Never pause to... she shakes her head, and turns - shameless, herself, because what has she to be ashamed of? - to take in the encroachment of a hero, a legend in his lifetime. Too far? Regardless--

There's... an aura to Sir Ky Kiske, one that the junior Officer has found magnetic since her early days with the Order. It's deeper than the set of his shoulders, the fine toning of well-practiced limb and that desperately attractive visage; it goes beyond Ky himself, even, into the connection he holds with the very Earth. Amy recalls being granted a small, fleeting demonstration of that, the hairs upon the back of her neck bristling and a gentle ache running the length of her spine as she suppresses an accompany shudder. Power. Are any of them not drawn to it, in their own way?

Power. Ky has it. Is it. And yet, his manner, his mien, he belies that earth-quaking resonance with a gentility that's frankly compelling.

"It's been a long time, milord," murmurs the Templar, her gaze lidding with the tease - they've discussed the need, or rather otherwise, for formalities with one another, and she's clearly over-egging the countermanded issue. "I'd pressure you for that fencing match, but I wouldn't want to disturb the serenity of this place," a beat, and she renews her smile with a gentle toss of her head, glancing between Ky and Alma, "Or the quiet comfort that the exceptional company brings me..."

That sounds like a mischief, too, but it certainly isn't. It's been too long since she felt... calm.

Trailing off, yielding a sigh that's more of an unrestrained breath, Amy moves to take a seat upon the gazebo as Alma takes a position she did not desire - greeting all and sundry. She's left to settle herself, doing so with a firm grace and a sweeping of knightly skirts to perch beside one of the very inviting teacups. And the so-promising pot, of course. While her hands busy themselves with a housewife's work, a keen flutter of stormy eyes takes in the others approaching rapidly, one at a time. She's counting, and more-- *accounting*. So many new faces, and shapes.

In answer to the cerulean giant's booming query, she's already pouring a cup for him, reasoning that the largest must be the most thirsty. It's slid across with the inclination of her head, and a meeting of the gaze. "A pleasure. You know, there was a time I'd have thought to slay you."

Er. Really, Amy? A wicked grin flashes onto her lips, freckled cheeks dimpling.

"Now I shall have to slay you with my legendary hospitality. Bottoms up."

She raises her own cup and takes a sip, setting it down briskly before pouring out the others.

If Ky had interrupted a tryst, it would appear that he was only the first among many. Which, in some small way, provides a sense of comfort to the Captain. His shoulders, so straight and rigid, slowly lower as he eases. Alma and Amy. Familiar faces among a sea of the unfamiliar. When did faces within the Order start to become unrecognizable? Is that the curse of being a commanding officer? From being outside of the war, while even in the thick of it? Men and women die. Some bravely, some nobly, and some in a manner that would never be reported to their families. New faces arrive. And somewhere along the way, Ky now realizes, he may have lost a step in being able to relate to them.

This thought causes Ky's brow to crash down, casting those brilliant blue eyes in brooding shadows, as he looks over the impending arrivals. That gaze is of the storm brewing, as intense as the thunder and lightning that he so deftly commands. And yet there is sorrow there, rather than anger.

"Huh?" Ky asks, drawing himself out of his silent pondering when Alma addresses him directly. "I have not yet had a chance to confer with my mentor. As it stands, there is no reason for alarm. We are still deciding what we will do with Diz--... with the Command Gear. The Order is in no real jeopardy. Please, do not trouble yourself over such things, oui?"

Ky puts on his best smile, and turns his attention to the Templar Amy. Her addressal of him as milord only elicits a faint curl at one corner of his lips, and the ticking skyward of one thin, arched brow. "A long time, indeed. Long enough that you have, seemingly, forgotten how to properly address me. Perhaps we will need to have that fencing match, after all. To remind you, of course, that I am not a lord above you, but a man among you."

He has more opportunities to show that, now with the others having arrived. Biyu and Blue and Haruna. Each are given the regard of those soulful eyes of summer skies as he pushes the clouds of his thoughts away once again. Ky contents himself with passivity, taking a step back to rest his bottom on the railing that surrounds the gazebo, and curling his willowy digits around the ledge of it. He muses on the nature and wonders of camaraderie. Until Amy goes and mentions slaying someone like Blue.

"Sacre Bleu! Amy..."

Ky shakes his head, lowering his face until it becomes half obscured by the shadows of his silken hair, "Of course, this is a lesson that we must all come to learn. An enemy is not born, but made. An ogre can be a noble and kind spirit. A Gear can be an innocent. Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Let us judge what lies in the heart."

But what lies in Ky Kiske's heart? Is it so easy for him to cast aside a lifetime of prejudice and judgment? Is he a monster for the feelings that roil in his soul? He, much like Haruna on the question of thirst, finds no answer from within.

Haruna's face reddens when Alma reminds her about how she smells like gym class!! (She doesn't really.) The fact that this elegant woman from the mysterious Occident has turned her gaze upon her makes her feel, simultaenously, hideously underdressed, marginally jealous, and like she has been thrust bodily back into high school.

Especially when Ky speaks.

"Ah! Commander Kiske, isn't it?" Haruna says, entering the gazebo proper and beaming at him. She steps closer, bowing faintly and saying as she does, "It's a lap to meet you."

A beat. "I'm sorry, I mean I was - ha ha! English isn't my first language! Ahh, I mean to say I was DOING laps, so please do forgive my appearance, but it is a lapleasure to meet you!"

"Nah, I haven't met anybody here...the Order's been sending me all up and down Japan, Korea and damn near the entirety of Asia. I think nuking Fuji's brought every ugly out of the woodwork, and I've been workin' overtime cleanin' up messes."

Shaking his head, the blue horned beast took another swig of his canned beverage, before something more civilized was slid over to him, courtesy of Amy. His eyes twinkled as he nodded to her, his tail taking that six-pack so that his right hand could focus on picking up the tea. He chuckled with a snort at her remark, shaking his head as Ky spoke.

"Ahh, it's cool, I'da slain one of me too, if I attacked me in a dark alley. But what's all this about a 'Gear'? Those are monsters, right? You're sayin' we got one of them here in the church?"

Many who've only seen Amy in her more serious moments might wonder where her sense of the devious comes from, or at least where it goes when she's more intent upon her duties. Was it the influence of Mimiru Kasagi? Or is she, perhaps, not the lady she purports to be? The... last one, it's the last one. When Ky calls her out on the indelicate barb, her stormy eyes flash toward him, momentarily piercing in their intensity. She doesn't say it-- but she knows he empathises with her own struggle, adjusting to an Order no longer stuck in the old ways, putting aside prejudice drilled and rehearsed over so many tiresome tasks and lessons. Change is always happening, and it is rarely easy on those who must embrace it.

She wasn't always a stuffy knight, however. There's an ease with which Amy drifts between her roles, almost as if a recent distance from society has gifted her with an insight into her own character - a comfortable adjustment to her own duality. There's meditation in isolation, after all.

On the other hand, she stayed over and cooked eggs and bacon for one Alma Towazu after attempting to shank his good friend, and now hers, with a ritual knife. Was she ever all that she appeared to be, armed and armoured as a knight of the Sacred Order?

"It's okay, Ky," breezily murmurs Amy, rolling her shoulder as she settles back in her chair, looking up at the oni, "If we can't make light of the darker facts of our past, how do we ever move forward?" It was she who brought the dragon priest Walter into their ranks, after all; in some ways, the maverick who started it all. Strange, when the status quo raging against you turns and embraces your apparent betrayal.

Her grin is renewed with relish as Blue replies, and she tips her cup toward him once more, before arching a brow sidelong, toward the flustered Japanese woman - whom she can't smell, herself, but this tea IS lovely and fragrant. She may lack the ability to judge a heart by glance alone, but she can judge a social situation - and whatever's going on there, she... doesn't want to touch, just now. Mildly, she sips her tea.

More darkly, she addresses the more weighty subject at hand. "Please, tell me these politics can wait. If they cannot..."

The Knight Templar trails away, tipping her head askance as she looks between their number. Part of her itches for action. The other parts...

Seeing Alma was just embracing a woman gives her some pause, because... well, Biyu doesn't want to interrupt anything. But Ky addresses that, and while she's busy being indecisive about what to do with her boxload of books, things happen. Finally she shakes her head, and just sets the box down--it's not like she's worried someone is going to abscond with these things, after all--and crouches down, rummaging around and pulling out the fruitcake.

As she straightens up, she weighs it in her hand; it looks almost like she's judging the weight and how she might throw it, like a bomb. A bomb of /deliciousness/. But, no, she saw people passing 'round tea and drinks and she thought she'd contribute. Finally, she walks over, the fruitcake in hand.

"Ahem! Uh... sorry 'bout that," she says, noting the faces she hasn't met yet. Amy, Blue... Haruna gets a smile and an acknowledging nod, Biyu not having been quite close enough for her ears to lap up what the mystic had said to Ky.

"I saw people had some drinks out and uh..." She glances down at the cake. "Well, I found this recipe in one of the books I've been reading and the nuns wanted to try it. It smells like it came out particularly good. The recipe was for a cake to celebrate anniversaries and dates of particular importance, but... why not any old time?" Then she realizes...

No knife to cut it with. Hmm.

"I uh... wasn't planning ont his, I don't really have a knife for it."

Alma hesitates in the midst of his attempt at gallantry toward Biyu, glancing back at Amy's banter with the oni, smiling somewhat wryly. He has no concern at potential awkwardness or hostility, given the lady knight's charm and the bruiser's fortitude. And at Ky's words, the fey psychic nods silently to the radiant captain, keeping his reservations to himself. It's up to Commander Kliff to assess the situation, as he has the full picture. Alma's perspective is limited by his encounter with Urien and the dread that accompanied it: that this is only the beginning of the undermining of the Order's base of support.

Even in the Vatican, are they truly out of the enemy's reach?

But regardless, Alma will show no fear. He has proven -- against Urien, against Duke -- that his heroic resolve will endure no matter how mighty or treacherous the foe. In this, he has good company here.

Are they taking shots of tea now? That is tea, right? "A fencing match between the Captain and the Dame would be a sight to behold, if a bit hot for my blood on a peaceful day such as this," he murmurs, before glancing at the oni. "Good work, Blue. I've heard of the call for monster hunters near Fuji. It seems that the NOL cannot fully contain them. As allies, the Order may help them..." But Alma quiets as Blue brings up the Command Gear. As Alma understands things, it's Dizzy's presence that makes the relationship between the Order and the NOL potentially awkward.

Not that he has any objections, of course.

"I'm sure politics can wait until tea and cake are finished," he says to Amy with a smile, now seeing that Biyu has simply put her box down and extracted her cargo. "In lieu of a fencing match, why not a cake-cutting match? Who possesses the skill to cut the straightest line?" Grinning, clearly joking, he directs his gaze to Haruna and nods in greeting, unfazed by her significantly different garb on this occasion. "Haruna-san, always a pleasure. Ah-- excuse me, a lapleasure. That-- is French, correct?"

That one-- didn't seem like a joke.

The discussion of the nuclear strike on Mt. Fuji - in defiance, of course, of Japan's three non-nuclear principles, as will no doubt be explained later - makes Haruna frown slightly, but it's a passing cloud. Amy moves and Haruna folds her hands behind her back in plausible discomfort, before saying with a laugh, "That's a pretty heavy subject, yeah!"

Along with the Gears and fighting. Biyu presents them with a cake.

And Alma presents her with an excuse.

Haruna's gaze upon Alma is thankful, bordering on worshipful.

"Could I have a little tea, Towazu?" She has, it seems, no plans to cut anything right now.

A... lap? Ky's azure eyes flutter with rapid blinks, bemusement striking that winsome face and rendering it dumbfounded. Who is this girl and what was this about laps? He's not certain why, but he has the feeling of ice water running through his veins, even as heat and color fills his cheeks, turning his fair flesh ruddy in color. "Ah...! Lapleasure? Wha...?"

Recognition, or at the very least, suspicion, starts to settle in. Suspicion and dread. Where once Ky Kiske's face was blushing with color, that color drains as quickly as he eyes become wide as silver dollars. He shoots up from his place on the railing, and with swift, authoritive movements, the Knight Captain approaches the Jolly Blue Giant and holds out a hand. "May I have one of those. S'il vous plaît."

Ky doesn't even really wait for a response, before he's reaching for one of those canned beverages that Blue dangles in his tail. Cracking it open, the Captain takes a deep draught, before he even attempts to deal with this new personal hell.

Oh look. A diversion.

"A... cake cutting contest?" Ky asks incredulously, turning his attention back to Alma. "My sword is Thunderseal, a sacred and powerful artifact that merges mysticism and technology in a way that even our best and brightest still haven't been able to completely puzzle out. It is priceless and precious. And you present the idea that I might use it for something as petty and immature as cutting a cake?"

A pause, as the tension builds and the air surrounding Ky Kiske seems charged with a nervous, but electrifying energy.

"Very well."

A single flash of light as the waning sunlight glints off that ancient and powerful relic of a sword, leaving a fading golden arc in its wake. Thunderseal is drawn and descends in one nearly imperceptible swoop. Cake is sliced, pure, straight and clean in the blink of an eye, and when Ky's sword tip rises, it points, defiantly, in the direction of Amy, with a slice balanced precariously on the barest tip of it. His face; an unspoken challenge.

Blue's eyes watch as that powerful heavenly blade is freed from its scabbard, arcing through the air inches from the oni's face and horns until it neatly bisects the lovely treat. Somehow with the creature's jutting bottom tusks he is able to whistle at the sight, clearly impressed. He looks around at everyone else, at Amy's blade, at everyone's armaments, before lifting his left arm to reveal the holster that hid his world war one pistol, along with a canister of mace. After half a second, he looked over to his right, where a massive, two-handed Japanese warclub lay propped up against a nearby pillar, before looking around wryly at the group.

"I think it might be wise to say that I concede this contest, ladies and gents. Also, afraid I'm going to pass on the cake in general, never really enjoyed sweet things. It's just too much for my tongue."

During the interval when Ky is preparing his cake hisatsus, Haruna thinks: He doesn't suspect anything. That was close.

She also lets her eyes turn to Blue and just... take him in, in all of his oni-esque nature. She doesn't speak up.

Fortunately Biyu is well away from the cake before Ky cuts it. With the ancient artifact Thunderseal, no less. This is roughly her expression as _that_ happens.


But it passes pretty quickly. "Uh, well, I was just gonna... run off to the kitchen and grab a cake knife and some plates buuuut..." A bright smile that will surely hide her nervousness.

"... I guess that works!" She will cede cake cutting duties to Commander Ky Kiske, because, well... after -that- display why even bother? She -does- run off for some plates, though, with a only slightly-nervous laugh.

"I'll get those plates though. Uh... be back in a moment."

Slowly and surely, while the others talk, a capped figure with normal Sacred Order clothes, with a slight shimmery barrier, floats into view. It isn't actually focusing on the conversations, and the owner is in constant, slow, rhymatic movement. Left and right, the broom is swung, carefully bushing the dirt to one side, lifting up just as much as necessary, and then being swept, carefully, the other way. With each pass of the broom, more dirt finds itself out of the main paths.

Before it is depressed by the 'streamers' on the back of her dress. They move only as much as necessary, imprinting the dirt into the ground so that it would not move. The broom would carefully move the dirt off the path, and then the dirt would be carefully depressed into the form, and mold, that would best suit the form and function. With each motion, the broom is carefully swung back and forth. Eyes blank as the owner works that task in a zen, meditative state.

The movement of the wielder of the broom is slow - and steady. Barely a step is taken every thirty seconds. With such focus, the task is held to high regards to simply brush the dirt from one part of the path and to the other, where it more seemingly belongs.

Rather, Pukai is drifting along much like a jellyfish might in the other, and barely registers she's even cleaning.

It was supposed to be the inner sections that she was cleaning. She just apparently never stopped.

Amy's not far off going for her own blade, dextrous fingertips thrumming upon the hilt in a strange sort of habit before she goes to actually seize and draw it-- but Ky's outburst is more than a little distracting. An eyebrow arches, and that hand rebusies itself lifting to the lady knight's forehead, partly shielding the unintentional smile raised by the offence. She's surprised, in truth, and distracts herself doing another once-over of Biyu's fascinating technological augment - another subject to be tackled later, perhaps, when...

"Oh sh--- m-my..."

Amy's eyes are wide as Thunderseal is pulled clean and glistening from its esconcement, flourished in a manner that draws forth a tangible spark from the Templar. She's all too sensitive to such energies, and her own misty formation is called forth instinctively, tendrils emerging from the air about the gazebo like wispy ghosts, curling into grasping life before she can regain control. She does so swiftly, but motes still cling to her shoulders, coiling down her bare upper arms and clinging as if for security, the singular strike of Ky's blade calling forth more than mere astonishment. Those stormy-blues narrow a touch, and then further as she follows the repositioned tip of Thunderseal.

Her hand slides to her breast, to the golden cross emblazoned upon her uniform, fingertips resting poised as if to say, 'moi?' but her gaze says something else entirely - locking onto Ky's own with a slow hardening, of resolve and acceptance. A firm nod angles her expression momentarily, and then she's moving from her seat, toward the shining point of the blade. From her own breast to that sharp conjuction of edges, her finger sets upon it with a confident pressure... and then her hand darts to seize the slice of cake and bring it up to her lips.

"Why it so happens," she murmurs, eyes lidding before she takes a nibble of the delicacy, chewing and swallowing at leisure before she turns and moves to seat herself once more, glancing back at Ky over her shoulder as she turns. "I'm free this afternoon, if you'd care to put your weapon to a more mature purpose." Her smile is one-sided, a slanted edge much like a blade itself, one cheek dimpling in sympatico. The entendre isn't pressed home, just allowed to... lie there, supine, as with coolly confident eyes she takes another bite of cake. If she has it, she'll eat it.

"Of course, Haruna-san," Alma obliges, approaching the table again to take up the teapot and pour a cup for the lovely exorcist. But that is when Ky turns a seemingly offended look upon him. Alma blinks, meeting Ky's gaze silently, as the Knight Captain extols the virtues of his blade. Tea slowly pours over the lip of the teacup, splattering down onto the floor of the gazebo, Alma transfixed by those gorge-- uh, intense blue eyes.

And then Ky just goes for it.

"Magnificent!" the psychic declares, smiling and turning toward Haruna, only to stop and blink again. "Ah-- pardon my clumsiness." Seeing how the teacup is filled to the brim, he pauses to sip a little from it and render it less likely to spill before proferring it. "I hope you'll forgive my impetuousness, Haruna-san." He sets down the teapot upon the table again, wringing his wet hands awkwardly and glancing about for a mop or some equivalent to deal with the spill, only to see a new visitor.

"Ah, Pukai-san!" he calls to the sweeping woman, hoping to rouse her from her stupor-- er, meditative state. "You wouldn't happen to have a sponge or cleaning rag as well, would you?" He doesn't know her well except as a dutiful member of the Order, but perhaps in the coming days they will get to know each other better.

Hopeful that he will be able to clean up his own mess soon, Alma pours himself a cup of tea to match Haruna's and leans back against one of the gazebo's supporting pillars, slipping into the background, enjoying Ky and Amy's exchange.

For the moment, Ky seems to be solely focused on Amy as she reacts to his display. Her gaze is met, steady and level, with one of both knowing and determination. Those succulent lips of his part, slowly, with the grin that starts to overcome him. This will really take their minds off of that lap business, right?


Amy's finger depresses the tip of his blade, which otherwise remains steady as if it were held aloft, suspended in the air rather than held by a human hand. Her touch, however, seems to draw forth a low, thrumming hum from the ancient and powerful relic. The promise of immeasurable power, of barely contained lightning, trapped but ready to be unleashed. And then she takes the cake.

Ky flicks his wrist, deftly spinning that humming sword in an elegant display, before he repeats his previous performance once, twice, thrice over, leaving the cake cut into symetrical slices for the rest of those assembled. And just as quickly as it is drawn does that sword find itself resting back within its home on his hip.

"I hope you all have enjoyed the show, but I hope you enjoy the cake even more so," Ky's soft, singsong voice spills from his tongue with all the warmth and sweetness of molten honey. He gives a slight bow at the waist, before he lifts the stolen drink from Blue to his lips, taking a sip before finishing his goodbye. "For now, I will take my leave. I still have a lot of... work to do. Amy, I will be free this afternoon. Seek me out in the barracks and we can test our steel against one another."

With that, Ky turns on his heels, and walks away. From awkwardness about his lap.

The teacup spills to the ground. It is a shame.

Blank eyes refocus, head tilting towards Alma as she 'awakens'. Small and a bit stocky, Pukai twists around to face Alma and bows to him. "Sir Alma." She decrees, holding him in high regards. There is Ky. There are others as well. She holds her head forwards for so long it is possible she had fallen into the state once more - yet the question is asked - and her head raises again. With eyes looking at Alma, she asks, "How may I help you?" Hands clasping together with the broom held between them, against the Sacred Order tabard.

Alma had only just asked the question.

"Oh. There seems to be a spill..." The member of the Sacred Order didn't need a sponge. Neither did she need a mop - because as she takes a step or two forwards, she lurches somewhat forwards placing her palm against the tea. It's a little warm - yet it wouldn't be there for long. It seems to just ... vanish. In truth, she has drank it.

"Ah. Delicious. Thank you, Mr. Alma." She bows twice, smiling wide, as she waves to Ky as he leaves, "Goodbye, Mr. Kiske!" She pauses for a moment, rocking a little with her hands clasped together, "Ah~. Hmmm, Mr. Kiske's lap has an admirer." She smiles, "Heeeee... do you think she has written a note to it?" Completely ignoring the logical part of this.

Barracks. Steel. It's a date.

Amy's latent energies still spiral at the edge of awakening, her core practically vibrating even as she feigns relaxation with her very over-sliced piece of cake. Her smile tugs a little more profoundly too, though; whatever games she may like to play, however much she may enjoy to flirt or tease, she's a warrior in heart and soul. And a knight besides. Crossing blades with Ky Kiske... it's more than an honour, it's an education and a chance to glimpse more of that dizzying (ho ho) power, to part the covers of a book that holds untold secrets. What is life but an opportunity to learn, and grow? And in the fact of what's to come, they'll all need to be sharper, more powerful. United, too.

Watching the blonde master of lightning take his leave, she doesn't do more than incline her head in acknowledgement, feeling a focus come upon her that she'd all but forgotten. Devouring the last of her cake, she places a hand upon her sword's hilt and stands in a single, smooth motion, drawing a breath as she straightens, shaking out her hair and adjusting her knightly beret.

"My fellow devout," she speaks so all present can hear, her tone commanding if not quite... demanding. She certainly has confidence. "It has been a pleasure, this brief soujourn, and I hope to see more of you all. Dark days present themselves for our attention-- let us take the pleasantry while we can, learn what we must about each other, forge our bonds. And then have them tested. Speaking of which..."

She glances down, smiles soberly, and then looks up only to sketch a deep bow.

"I take my leave, to prepare myself for what's bound to be a thrilling encounter."

She straightens once more, and moves to depart, but not before reaching out to brush Alma's arm in additional farewell to the artist. She'll catch his eye as she goes, her expression softening in the passing. There's no fear in her countenance, but she is... concerned, for what may come. Concerned for them all, but perhaps him most of all. Certainly more than herself. To them all, at least, she says before she fades from their company:

"Grace be with you all."

Log created on 18:26:09 01/20/2018 by Alma, and last modified on 12:55:52 01/21/2018.