Franziska - An Unexpected Bargain[Toggle Names]
Description: Once again, Kagura is up to his womanizing ways! After an unfortunate surprise cleaning of his office by his 'faithful' assistant, the commander found himself presented with an opportunity to spend some time getting to know one of the newer recruits to the NOL a bit more intimately. And what could be more intimate than a romantic dinner at one of Southtown's finest establishments?
One of Southtown's most known resturants that is frequented usually by those who one could consider the common class. That is to say that it doesn't have it's own share of customers who hail from the elite, and even the smattering of the super elite.
Today however, the entire upper floor has been reserved by one of the Mega Elite. The lanterns that light the interior of the establishment have been replaced, with lanterns that cascade a beautiful rainbow of colors across the darkened wood. It's quite obvious someone has gone to an extreme effort to make this evening quite enchanting, at a rather big expense.
The very person who just so happened to be responsible for all of this stands in the center of the first floor, waiting for the one whom he invited out this very night. They say that first impressions make the biggest impact. With Kagura? All of his impressions could be classified as natural disasters in strength. There isn't anyone alive who can say that this man does things with a sense of tact.
As an anachronism from a time when nobility wasn't an outdated concept - the social class, not the trait - Franziska is no stranger to the notion of being fashionably late. That the Librarium yet clings to such outdated social castes has played into the ancient mage's favor on several occasions. Knowing how to navigate the deadly minefield that is noble politics has allowed her to achieve the goals she set out to accomplish with surprising ease. The sins of pride and arrogance run as rampant through the NOL's ranks as any feudal court.
As such, it is nearly an hour after the designated time for the potentially romantic rendezvous before the doors to Genhaten swing open to admit the expected second member of this date. The creature that strolls into the room with Kagura bears only a vague resemblance to the woman that he had been so eager to invite into a more intimate setting. While the female uniforms of the Librarium do not suffer from an excess of prudishness in their design, the need to look professional and practical puts limits on their flashiness. No such rules exist for the outfit that she has chosen.
Draped about her elegant form from shoulder to floor, Franziska's dress is a single mass of raven-black silk. Expertly tailored to exacting specifications, the dress follows the contours of the woman's ample silhouette like a second skin. There is no need for Kagura's famous skill to guess at the measurements of this particular beauty as the outfit seems intentionally designed to make every single curve as visible and obvious as possible.
The neckline of the V-cut collar plunges dangerously low, leaving a suggestive amount of Franziska's pale flesh exposed. The near porcelain hue of her unblemished skin stands out in stark opposition to the deep midnight of her outfit. Likewise, her shimmering golden hair seems all the more vibrant against the backdrop of obsidian cloth.
Yet, despite the excessive amount of cleavage on display, the rest of the woman's outfit is almost fastidious in its desire to keep what lies beneath hidden away. The hem of the dress drapes all the way to the floor leaving nearly a foot of excess cloth to pool around her feet. The sleeves flare outwards at the wrist into unusually long cuffs that all but engulf her soft hands leaving only her fingers protruding out from underneath.
Franziska's gaze sweeps about the room as she enters, taking in the bombastic decorations with a faint smirk. With the long dress obscuring her feet she almost seems to float across the floor rather than walk, only the obvious sway of her hips beneath the tight dress betraying the effort needed to move her legs. Ghosting her way across the mostly empty room, she approaches the commander and fixes him with an enchanting smile tinged with only a slight hint of sheepish embarrassment.
"Apologies for ze lateness of my arrival. I had a few loose ends to tie up at verk. You know how it is."
As Franziska enters the resturant, a calmed hush falls over the employees who are moving about to serve what few customers may be within the resturant this evening. Yet, Kagura doesn't seem bothered whatsoever by the lateness of his date. Stepping forward, he approaches the pale mage with the grace and pomp of someone who knows damn well just how important they really are, yet none of the feeling is there. The movements, to him, are merely for show. People will be speaking about this evening even if he wanted to keep it quiet. So he may as well live up to the titles that have been bestowed upon him.
Bowing now towards Franziska, Kagura takes her left hand into his, and gently kisses it before rising up to his full stature, right arm extended for her to take if she so chooses.
"It's true you may be late, but I am one who is not prone to holding that sort of thing against others. Especially as we both have lives that require just so much of our own attention. However, it's at times like these that we should forget about the mundane day to day, and merely look forward to what this night may just bring.
Franziska is quite happy to allow her date to shower her with, what would be considered in modern times to be, rather excessive ceremony. The kiss to her hand is met with a warm smile and she eagerly slides her arm into his allowing him to take the lead.
There is something about being treated like some sort of princess that sends a slight thrill through the mage. The way that everyone looks at her, like she just stepped out of an old painting full of dragons and unicorns, instills her with a sense of... something. Pride? Satisfaction? She can't quite place it. It isn't a bad feeling, whatever it is. Considering that ever since she'd been spat out of that nightmarish hellscape known as the Eternal Battlefield she's been unable to feel almost anything at all, the faint warmth that this scenario stirs in her long dead and rotted heart is unexpected and welcome.
"How magnanimous of you, commander," she replies. There is a hint of amusement in her tone betraying the shared knowledge they have regarding his own reputation for punctuality - namely, the general lack thereof.
"If zere is van ting I like in a man it is his villingness to overlook my indiscretions."
"Please, tonight just call me Kagura, Fraulein von Valken." A slow pace is taken as Kagura leads Franziska towards the stairway that leads to the upper floor of the Genhanten, where the staff is stealthily already preparing a table in the the furthest private room from the entrance. As Kagura and Franziska ascend the stairs, a staff member slips out from a nearby room, placing a sign in front of the stairs, indicating that the floor has been reserved for a private engagement. While Franziska may be basking in the attention that is generally reserved for royalty, the Mutsuki scion is quite use to it.
Nearing the table, one of the waiting staff members slides out a chair that Kagura has skillfully led them to. Releasing his arm from Franziska's, he then leads her to sit in the chair, gently bringing it forward for her as she lowers herself. As he moves towards his seat, he smiles warmly at the awaiting staff member, "Is the Krug Grande Cuvee available as I requested?" Upon receiving a nod in the affirmative, Kagura gently clasps the staff member's hand, only to pull away and seat himself. While it may have been stealthy on Kagura's part, the poor waiter has a hard time hiding the full roll of bills that has been shunted into his hand as he rushes back towards the stairs to let the kitchen staff know the time has come.
Of course, this is all normal behaviour one would come to expect from the most supreme of Nobility. As the leader of the house that rules over the duodecim, there are some things that must be observed when in public. Even if they're completely overblown.
"I do apologize however, about the sudden change of locale. It seems.. that my requests were a bit beyond the Eventide's capabilty upon such short notice."
Franziska smirks at the colonel's attempt to pour on the romantic cliches and establish himself as a gentleman. She'd certainly experienced plenty of that back in her youth, though half the time her 'date' was more interested in the size of her family's bank account than the pretty face sitting in front of him. Were he not of noble blood himself, such theatrics would be so completely out of place that she'd have the odd notion that he was trying very hard to impress her. But surely a man of his status is simply this courtly and refined at all time - right?
"After you, /Sir/ Mutsuki," she retorts, chuckling faintly.
The mage graciously allow Kagura to escort her to the prepared chair without poking any further at his ostentatious display of manners. Her hands fold into her lap in a very lady-like manner as she takes a seat, digging up the old memories of proper etiquette that had all but been abandoned after her decision to join the German military. Soldiers are not known for their table manners and she found it more beneficial to ingratiate herself with the commoners rather than stand out. It's a good thing her mother never saw her during those days. The scandal might have been more devastating than the war.
Whatever a 'Krug Grande Cuvee' might be lies well beyond Franziska's extensive vocabulary. Perhaps she will get to experience something born out of this new age of technology. Cuisine has never really interested her all that much, even less so since her rebirth. Other than blood, very little has much taste to her any more. Perhaps there will be some rare meat involved in their dishes. It's about the best she can hope for on that front.
Of course, enjoying herself is hardly the reason that she's chosen to accept this particular invitation. Kagura's famous womanizing made him an easy target for her to exploit. If she can get on his good side, perhaps even establish herself as someone important to him, she might be able to get access to some of the more closely guarded secrets kept safe within the Librarium's protective embrace.
Having an easy path to restricted files is even more important in the wake of the Dragon's assault on the city as almost all of her time has been dedicated to cleaning up the veritable mountains of corpses left behind by the rampaging beasts. It didn't take much convincing for her to get that particular job. Her necromantic talents were enough to qualify her for the task. That she was allowed to do so with very little oversight, however, has provided her with a rather sizable stockpile of assets for future endeavors.
"Do not vorry about it," she says, giving Kagura another of her charming smiles. There difference between one venue and the next means little to her. "I am sure zat you haf done your best to make zis evenink enjoyable."
The Mutsuki scion lets out a hearty laugh at Franziska's reaction. The woman before him is matching him move for move, and generally that is something that rarely occurs with Kagura. When he truly puts himself to it, the game will never get this far. Of course, his penchant for never really applying himself is something that is fact amongst any who know of him.
"As you wish, Franziska."
Almost as quickly as he scurried off, the waiter has returned, this time with an extremely expensive bottle of champagne that has carefully been rested upon a bucket of ice. The bottle is offered to Kagura, who deftly opens it with expertise, spilling none of the expensive liquid that resides within as the cork comes out with an audible pop. Returning the bottle now to the waiter, the man's attention is returned to the woman before him.
Oh, he's read her files. He's read the files on nearly everyone who is under his command, and with someone as detail oriented as Hibiki, the Mutsuki scion can generally get a very good idea of just who he is dealing with.
So it's no surprise that while Franziska may be attempting to exploit one of his most well known traits, he's already taken this into account. One of the benefits of making yourself out to be an idiot, is that thusfar, no one has really noticed anything he's already put into play.
The charming smile of Franziska's is returned, only with one of Kagura's most dazzling. "I would like to believe I have. The staff here have gone out of their way to provide us an interesting menu. They've even prepared some fó tiào qiáng for us."
Strangely, Franziska's files are almost completely bare, consisting primarily of the report written up by Private Renka Koneko who was the first person to make contact with the strange mage. Of primary note are the mentions of the woman's unusual magical talents.
The ability to animate the dead and control blood garnered particular interest among the research branch as blood magic is generally considered to be too inefficient to function beyond minor tricks. You need a whole lot of blood to fuel the sorts of spells that seithr can facilitate and carrying around a giant vat of fresh vitae is neither subtle nor practical. Yet, somehow, Franziska makes it work. How she does it is either something she has yet to reveal or something that was deemed sensitive enough to be undisclosed, even to the commander himself.
Beyond that there is little to be learned. Her name and origins are unconfirmed as no such record of her exists in modern databases. Franziska herself has claimed no knowledge of when or where she might have come from, having only awoken a few short months before her run-in with the Library. Her accent is clearly Germanic in nature but beyond that there are no clues as to who she might actually be.
Whatever her story might be, Franziska has proven herself possessed of a remarkable talent for the manipulation of magical energies. Her affinity tests were some of the highest ever recorded in the Librarium's history and her grasp of the mechanics of magical theory, while somewhat out-dated, are such that she was immediately transferred to the research division. Several months of operating under the watchful eye of the Librarium's Intelligence division has revealed no obviously nefarious motives. If anything, she seems suspiciously friendly and endearing to everyone she meets, able to charm her way into the good graces of even those known for being notoriously difficult to deal with. Only her desire to obtain and peruse restricted knowledge has been noted as potentially troublesome.
"That's better," the mage purrs as Kagura says her name for the first time.
Franziska waits patiently while the spirits are presented and ceremoniously cracked open. She would have considered champagne to be fairly cliche as a beverage choice but one drink is the same as another to her now. Unless he plans to let her practice her Dracula routine, she'll make due with whatever is put in front of her. Once the waiter has poured a measure of the golden liquid into her glass, she lifts it and waits for Kagura to take up his own cup for the traditional clink.
"How interestink. I've never had ze opportunity to sample Chinese cuisine before. Zis vill be a... novel experience, I'm sure."
"Oh, it will be." The clink of Franziska's glass is returned by Kagura's, who takes a small sip, before placing the glass upon the table. "Chinese cuisine isn't just about the taste. Almost every dish has some form of thought behind it. Like the fó tiào qiáng. The legend behind it is that it's so good, that even Buddha would jump over a wall to eat it."
Leaning forward now, the Mutsuki scion gently adjusts the shade of the lantern on the table, causing the light to go from casual, to intimate. "Of course, that doesn't mean that I'm only intending to have you eat a bunch of food that has strange legends and supposed magical properties. I want to learn more about you in specific." His right hand now moves across the table to gently rest itself upon Franziska's own.
"While I'm certain you know a fair bit about me.. I'm quite curious about you Franziska. Of course, I'm certain you can understand why. It's not every day we have mysterious beauties just falling into our laps. And yet, here you are."
Franziska taps her glass against Kagura's and leans back, sipping demurely at the champagne. The familiar sting of alcohol tickles her throat on the way down but it otherwise might as well be the most bland water she's ever tasted. Immortality does come with its drawbacks, unfortunately.
The mention of ancient legends seems to catch her interest as Kagura tries to play up the special nature of their meal. The glass is set aside and Franziska shifts her posture in the chair, obviously intrigued. The shift in mood lighting catches her off guard for a moment, her focus clearly on absorbing whatever other information her date might have had to share on the mystical nature of Chinese cooking. She blinks as his hand rests atop her but quickly recovers and gives Kagura a warm smile in return.
"Vell, unfortunately, zere is not much for me to tell. I voke up in a tomb, vandered into your cute little fox, und she invited me to verk vis ze Librarium."
Franziska lifts her unoccupied hand into a dainty shrug, giving Kagura an apologetic look. Her story, while very much the short version, matches that recorded in her files. Private Renka had stumbled across the necromancer trapped in the bowels of an old catacomb system after falling through a trap door into its lower levels. With Franziska's help, or that of her reanimated minions to be exact, the two of them were able to dig their way out and return to the surface.
"Zere is a few tings I can remember, I suppose. I haf a very strong interest in ze occult. Not very surprising for a mage, I am sure. But old legends in particular I find most fascinating. You vould be surprised how many of zem haf little nuggets of truth behind zem."
"Oh, every legend has some truth to it. Otherwise people wouldn't have bothered to pass them down." Not removing his hand, Kagura gives the mage a rather enticing and mostly disarming smile as he continues on. "The Wend had tales of their own, such as the Dubblesüger. An undead creature that was bloated and fed on the life of any and all it came in contact with. Supposedly, it could be dealt with by taking a spade to the back of it's neck. Of course, I'm certain you would know more about the undead, then I."
"I mean, your expertise is infact Necromancy. If I remember correctly, that's part of your current research." The way Kagura speaks is far to flippant to be purly coincidence, however he does stop himself with a rather sheepish grin. "My apologies, Franziska. I did promise that tonight would not be about work. I'm just merely quite fascinated with you. It's a shame you don't remember much about your past.. I suppose though it means you'll just have to make up for it with your future."
Franiska's expression remains as unnaturally pleasant as always as the conversation takes a decidedly strange turn. It doesn't surprise her that Kagura is aware of the information in her files. After all, the NOL isn't quite so crippled with nepotism that a completely incompetent buffoon would be given one of the highest and most powerful offices in the entire organization. Even if everyone thinks otherwise.
What surprises her is the bluntness of his approach to the subject. If he had intended to squeeze more information out of her due to suspicions that she hadn't told Intelligence the full truth he is going about it in an incredibly obvious manner. Perhaps there is more truth to the rumors that Kagura's success is owed more to the diligence of his young aide than his own merits. Or maybe he just sucks at being subtle. Either way, she's on the defensive now, though she tries not to let it show.
"Zere is no need to apologize, Kagura. I understand ze mistrust zat my area of speciality might create. Most people get zere understandink of such tings from less zan reliable sources."
She flashes him a coy smile, though intentionally keeps her lips together so as not to reveal her teeth. Leaning forward, Franziska quirks an eyebrow at the commander and the tone of her voice changes to a low whisper with obviously conspiratorial undertones.
"Are you perhaps afraid zat I might be some sort of abomination. A...vampire, perhaps, like your doppelsauger?"
The corner of her mouth quirks up just a little bit more as her smile widens, giving him a faint glimpse what is hiding behind her perfect lips without revealing her canines. After a few long moments, she winks at him and flashes a full dazzling smile of pearly white and perfectly normal teeth.
"I assure, I am no more of a blood sucker zan any ozer voman."
A reassuring statement, to be sure.
"But I do not mind if ve talk shop a little. I haf heard of zis creature, of course. A form of vampire by most accounts, but it may be more accurate to call it a revenant."
Franziska smirks at Kagura as she recalls the details of the legend. That definitely seems like something he would know about.
"Like many old folk tales, ze legend of ze doppelsauger has some razer specific und strange details. It vas born of ze body of a child who continued to breast feed after zey vere old enough to change to solid foods. After devourink ze flesh of zere own chest, zey vould prey upon family members, causing zem to loose veight."
The necromancer lets out an amused giggle at that part.
"Which proves zat not all undead are monsters, mm? Much more convenient zan goink to ze gym every day."
As Franziska continues with the mythology of the old Germanic vampire, Kagura nods slightly at her own question. Does he believe all undead are monsters? The better question, which is one that while he's masterfully managed to dodge answering honestly whenever questioned directly by Izanami, much to her frusturation, is one that he wishes could be shared and answered amongst everyone as a whole.
Sadly, just as Ikuraga proved, the truth is something that is more acceptable when covered by fiction.
"My theories are ones that are considered slightly controversial. Do I believe the undead to be monsters? I'm not sure I'm able to really answer that one to anyones real satisfaction. Mainly because there is... more to their history then most realize. The same could be said about kitsune, or werewolves, or even succubi. The blanket term that seems to have been adopted by the Novus Orbis Librarium is one that.. I don't fully agree with."
The man grows silent for a few moments as the waiters suddenly appear with appitizers, including the very soup that Kagura spoke of. The spread is quite large, even going as far to have a Chinese take upon Sushi. The overall theme of the food, however, is that which requires very few utensils, if any to eat.
Gently reaching down to his soup, he idly stirs it as if the real issue with Franziska's question is something he wants to rage against. Unfortunately, the man has a way of keeping that hidden, to where even the most astute of watchers have no way to truly see what lies within his mind.
"My apologies. I just have an issue with the blanket term of 'Darkstalker' being applied to everyone and everything that we do not understand, or have some sort of issue against. Sadly, my feelings on the matter don't exactly mesh with what our leadership decrees, so it's something I generally don't speak about."
The question had largely been a joke. No one in their right mind would consider the undead to be anything other than an abhorrent defilement of life. Even from a purely practical viewpoint, it's hard to justify the use of rotten shambling corpses for anything other than violence. What else are you going to have them do, mow your lawn? Anything they touch or get near is going to be at risk of terrible diseases. Then there is the social implications to deal with. Very few people are going to be at peace with grandma's half-rotted zombie putting a new coat of paint on your picket fence. More powerful forms of undead, like vampires or liches, might not be as disgusting to look at but every single one of them extracts a price from the society they inhabit merely by existing. They are blights, pure and simple.
That Kagura might incline himself towards legitimately considering otherwise is almost laughable. In much the same way, many of the creatures that fall under that umbrella term he dislikes so much suffer from similar existential issues. Werewolves are creatures consumed by uncontrollable rage, prone to bouts of random wanton violence when provoked. One need only look to the photographs taken of the aftermath in the streets after the Dragon's initial attack to see the sort of devastation such beasts can inflict on hapless normal humans. Succubi survive by literally sucking the souls out of their victims. Hard to spin that one in a positive light even if the victim's last night alive might be the most wild of their life. Kitsune are a little out of her wheelhouse but from what she's read they suffer from an excess of capriciousness. That adorable little fox that first encountered her was clearly in possession of some incredible amounts of spiritual energy. She could wreck an equally impressive amount of havoc if the mood struck.
Franziska sits quietly with Kagura while the food is spread out before them. It is an impressive array of dishes. Had she still been alive, this would have no doubt been enough to keep her attention occupied for quite some time. The various smells of unusual spices and seasonings from the dishes alone promise a sensory experience unlike anything she's ever encountered before. Alas, everything that isn't fresh blood or raw flesh tastes little better than ash to her now.
After eyeing the spread, Franziska goes for one of the pieces of sushi-like food. Perhaps the raw nature of the meat will at least offer her a little taste to enjoy. Sadly, her hunch proves incorrect. Perhaps the creature it was taken from has been dead for too long. Oh well.
Turning her attention back to Kagura, the mage offers him a placating smile to comfort him.
"Don't vorry, Kagura. I'm sure zat zere are ozers in our organization who agree wiz you. But it is a very progressive stance. Und after ze attack on ze city, it is unlikely you vill find many villing to lay aside zere petty prejudices so quickly. Be patient. I am sure in ze fullness of time ze true nature of zese creatures vill become obvious to everyone."
"No. It won't."
Staring directly into Franziska's eyes, Kagura seemingly comes to some form of understanding. "It's idiocy to consider that something like the undead are something more then pure monsters. The same can be said about almost any creature that is considered to be a monster. However, my issue is with the blanket labels. Seemingly because we don't agree with it, we must destroy it."
His tone suddenly becomes rather serious as he leans back in his chair, frowning more as he studies Franziska, and her reactions to the food. "The Wu Hu. The Jie. The Cromwell Conquest. The Balken Wars. The second world war. The Congo. Ikuraga. Humanity is just as, sometimes more, guilty as what we consider to be monsters. Our wars have proved to be far more evil."
Once more reaching across the table, Kagura moves to once more rest his right hand upon Franziska's. There's something unspoken he is trying to get across, but until he's capable of forming the words, the simple act of contact is one he uses to convey.
"Which is why I said... my answer isn't something that is quite so simple, and it's one that constantly lands me in hot water with our highest levels of leadership."
Franziska is taken slightly aback by the swift rebuttal. She had already filed Kagura away into the category of hopeless optimist, one of those annoying naive fools who think that it's possible for every single thing in the world to hold hands and get along. The woman stares at him in surprise as he dispels that notion with a dose of common sense, though it seems he still has a few lingering motes of silly reservation clinging to the outside of his practical diagnosis.
"I vould sink ze reason ve vant to destroy zem has less to do vis philosophical disagreement and more vis not vanting to be eaten."
She pauses, looking thoughtfully up at the ceiling for a moment, then smiles jovial.
"Zough I suppose ve disagree vis zere desire to consume us, so technically zat is still correct! Hmm hmm hmm!"
As Kagura rattles off the list of human conflicts, Franziska quickly starts to mentally shove his image back towards the hopeless fool folder in her brain. While many of the wars fought throughout history have been for petty reasons, most of them have entirely logical premises behind them. With finite amounts of land and resources available to those stuck on this planet it is all but inevitable that conflict would arise over ownership of them. Then there are of course more esoteric reasons for armed conflict. When two groups of powerful individuals have fundamental differences in opinion, it stands to reason that eventually the group not in power will seek to change that.
Of particular note in his list, the mention of the second World War is one she holds direct knowledge of. In the aftermath of his defeat, the victors unsurprisingly did everything in their power to paint the Fuhrer as an unhinged genocidal maniac. The truth, however, is that to the people of Germany Hitler was the savior who stood up against the unjust oppression of the European nations. The treaties that came about following the first World War placed excessive sanctions upon the tiny nation. Starvation and poverty grew rampant throughout all social strata. Even her own family, a long line of successful and wealthy nobles, had to make massive changes in their lifestyle.
Was it evil of Hitler to use force to free his people from such suffering? Was it evil for the wandering nomads to lead a campaign of conquest in order to claim a land of their own? Was it evil for the crusaders of Christianity to strike into the heart of Islamic territory after decades of unprovoked raids into their lands? War is not so simple as to be classified as merely the result of human wickedness. If anyone is to be an expert on what true raw evil, unrestrained and merciless, looks like it would be her.
Franziska smiles pleasantly at the fool across the table, squeezing his hand in her own slender fingers as he reaches out for the warmth of human contact. The blood magic running through her long-dead flesh offers him the comfort he seeks, concealing the nature of the vile creature sitting merely feet away from him.
"Vell. Your heart is in ze right place, Kagura."
Four inches from your sternum and protected by little more than a few thin bones, she thinks with amusement.
"I'm sure zat your intentions vill earn you ze support you deserve. You haf me on your side, at least."
The Scion of the Mutsuki clan gently pulls his hand back as he smiles warmly at Franziska. "Sadly, my heart being in the right place doesn't seem to do a lot of good these days." He does cheer up slightly as he then reaches for his glass of champagne, taking a long draw from the fizzed contents. It's time however, for him to turn up the heat in his own way. It's obvious to him that Franziska is playing her own game, which is quite fine. However, he's got his own game to play as well.
"None of that matters right now however. Here I am, whining over things that have no place at a time like this. What I should be doing is reminding myself that I'm having a wonderful dinner with a stunningly beautiful woman."
He lifts his glass towards the Undead Mage, delivering a rather mischievious smile towards the woman, before speaking once again, this time with a tone that belies what could be his true intentions all along. "To the stunning Franziska von Valken, who sauntered into my office, and agreed to bless me with her time."
Franziska flashes another dazzling smile warm and pleasant enough to light up a room. She is, in fact, playing a game but it is one that she plays exceptionally well. The dark power of the Chalice flowing into her from its resting place in the Eternal Battlefield bolsters the woman's natural charms to a whole new level. She seems as radiant as an angel descended from the Heavens to grace Kagura with her presence, a vision of pure unnatural beauty.
"I vas startink to tink you had forgotten!"
Lifting her own glass, she taps it against Kagura's upraised cup creating a soft tinkle of sound. More of the bland tasteless liquid is sipped at to keep up appearances but she does her best to keep her intake of the food and drink light. It's all going to have to be disposed of later, after all, seeing as her stomach no longer functions.
"I get ze feelink you say zat to a lot of vomen," she says, teasing Kagura with his playboy history.
Underneath the table one of her legs slowly extends from beneath the long black dress, reaching across the space between them. A foot clad only in soft silk cloth presses against his ankle, gently rubbing the side of his calf as it starts to travel upwards. Resting her elbows on the table, Franziska creates a bridge with her fingers and nestles her chin onto it lazily. Her eyes close ever so slightly and she nibbles at her bottom lip, turning the seductress charm up another couple of notches.
"Vat else do you tell zem?"
Kagura will gladly hand it to Franziska. Her ability to keep up with him is absolutely impressive. In some ways, she's got him beat in every way there is. Yet, once the foot starts to make its way up his leg, a part of him almost throws in the towel right then and there. It would be the gentleman's way to do things right? Let the woman win when she knows that there is no point in continuing the game?
Very few people are alive who know just what sort of mental tricks the Mutsuki scion is capable of. He's managed to beat Inzanami in that department. However, when it comes to this sort of thing? He'll gladly keep going until he gets what he seemingly wants.
"Oh no, every woman is quite different. I can without any doubt in my soul say that your beauty is on a level I've never encountered in my life."
Sliding himself closer to the table, he continues to stare directly into the Mage's eyes. Even if she thinks that his words may be a bluff or a ploy, the very look in his eyes would betray that. In this moment, and at this time, there is no other beauty that can exist that can compare to what Franziska is displaying to him at this moment.
"Yours is the beauty that almost makes me terrified to touch. As if it were to burn away at the very moment I truly get the first taste. You would ruin me for life, as none could ever compare."
For a moment, Franziska finds herself oddly stunned by the sincerity that seems to pour from those claims. A brief flash of old memories jolts through her mind, a handsome young man sitting across a table from her much the same as now. He leans forward to speak and though she cannot recall the words the recollection of the sensation they brought to her is bright and vivid. She had flushed as brightly as an apple, too young and naive to recognize the real purpose behind her suitor's honeyed compliments. All that mattered was how warm and fulfilled it made her feel.
And then the moment is gone. The mage blinks, startled by the unexpected vision and the powerful emotion it brought with it. She'd all but given up on feeling anything but hunger and ambition. To her even greater surprise, the warmth that she'd recalled from those many decades ago still lingers.
Sitting up, her hands slowly lift to her cheeks, feeling the unexpected heat radiating from her pale skin. She's actually blushing! Of course, even that is a phenomenon facilitated by her magic. The heart within her bosom has been dead and rotted for years, able to neither pump blood to her cheeks nor palpitate rapidly in response to the excessively thick compliments. How strange then that the wicked power flowing through her veins would react in such a manner.
To Kagura, it would seem that his counter-strike had been a devastating one. The beautiful mage leans back, her face turning bright pink as she cups her cheeks in wide-eyed shock like a teenager just paid her first real compliment by a handsome man.
"I-I...! What did...?"
Stammering foolishly over her words, Franziska blinks and shakes her head as if trying to shake off a sudden bout of dizziness. It takes her a few seconds to gather her wits but eventually her expression settles back to its former self-assured smirk. Leaning back in her chair, the woman runs a hand through her hair and laughs openly. Like everything else about her, her mirth is beyond pleasant to experience.
"My goodness! Kagura, you naughty boy! You can't just broadside a girl like zat.
She waggles a finger at him like a school teacher scolding a disruptive student.
"I sought ve vere playing a game, not usink live ammunition."
"Whomever said that I was playing a game?"
The absolute sincerity of his voice is something that speaks volumes. Slowly now, he rises from his chair and moves around the table to stand before the undead Mage.
"Tell me Franziska. You have already deemed me worthy of your time. Would it be wrong of me then to press you then for more?"
The opening salvo of Franziska is nothing now compared to the sheer onslaught that the Mutsuki scion is now pressing forward with. Reaching forward, he moves to draw her left hand into his own, fluidly moving to kneel before her as if she truly were some princess whose favor he now intends to receive. Gently, he moves to press his lips once more against Franziska's hand, this time letting the contact linger before moving to lift his gaze up to hers once again.
"Would you also find it offensive, for me to beg for more than just your time? Time is fleeting, but I wish to attempt to taste that which I fear will be all to fleeting. Tell me, fair Franziska? Would you accept my request to receive so much more than just your time?"
Franziska blinks again in surprise as Kagura tries to press his advantage. Her gaze follows him as he rises and moves to her side, silently watching to see what the unexpectedly bold man has in mind. When he takes her hand she passively allows it, apparently too stunned to react with anything other than a wide-eyed stare as he gets down on one knee. A hand goes to her cheek again as he places a lingering kiss on her fingers as if afraid she might blush again.
Well, this is certainly accelerating faster than she expected. Romance in the modern era seems to have become quite the whirlwind if all it takes is one little dinner and some flirting to get men down on their knees and begging. Some of that is no doubt to be attributed to the magic ensorcelling anyone who gazes upon her. However attractive she might have been in life, the Chalice's unholy taint has granted her powers not unlike those often portrayed by vampires in modern cinema. Call it a charm or an enchantment or outright mind control, to look into the eyes of the undead mage is all but the same as surrendering to her will, should she choose to exert that influence.
And yet, she has not been using those powers this evening. Considering her victim is himself a skilled magic user, there is no telling how his own powers might react to such an overt attack. Over the past several months her charms have been put to the test against various members of the NOL, often with positive results, but she has yet had the opportunity to test herself against the will of someone on Kagura's level.
She hesitates as he stares up into the deep blue pools of her eyes. On some level he is already aware that her intentions are not sincere. The way he has been probing her interests and background has not been subtle. So far he has been content to simply go along with her story but any attempt to influence him directly could out her true nature should he be prepared with defensive magics.
No. This risk is too great. There are other avenues to exhaust before reaching for the big guns.
The bewildered expression on Franziska's face vanishes suddenly, as if it had been little more than a ploy to begin with. A wicked grin spreads wide in its place as she shifts one leg, planting the toe of her elegant high-heeled shoe square into the center of Kagura's chest. She shoves, hard, the strength behind her slender limb more than adequate to send the kneeling man sprawling onto his back.
"You should know, Kagura..."
Franziska casually tosses her head, sending her shimmering golden hair fanning out behind her in a dazzling display. She reaches over to the table with the hand Kagura was holding to pick up her glass of champagne. Leaning back, she crosses her legs underneath the form-fitting silk of her dress and regards the commander with a haughty look, swirling the golden liquid around in the glass smugly.
"Desperation isn't very sexy, darlink."
A obvious grin crosses Kagura's face for the briefest of moments when Franziska decides to finally go on the defensive. Now this is more what he expected, and more than confirms a few notions he has of his own. Yet, it's easy enough to truly consider this night a success on many levels for Kagura. He's not stupid enough to realize that Franziska knows full well he's pressing her in different ways.
Nor is he daft enough to fail to notice the presence of magic that seems to permeate her entire being. The goal for him however, has nothing to do with either of those things, and that is when he lets out a loud laugh as he lands on the floor, staring up at the ceiling.
"Now this is more to my expectations." Sitting up, a grin rests upon his face as he stares at the undead mage, letting the first mask of many finally slip away, giving the woman the briefest of hints as to the real nature of the Mutsuki scion. He lets the veil remain pulled away just long enough to truly give the woman before him an idea as to just how dangerous this game truly is, before restoring the mask simply for the sake of appearance.
"Oh I truly agree, desperation is quite unflattering, yet. For one such as you, it's almost as if that is the only way one will possibly go any further."
A sly smile is given as he pulls himself up from the floor, casually dusting himself off while he returns to his own seat. "So, let's drop the pretenses, shall we?"
Franziska smirks, taking a sip from the champagne in the most haughty manner possible. In a sense both of them had lost the game they were playing as their opponent was now fully aware that a game was being played. It's sort of like that old Internet meme. Talk about the game and you lose it. However, as Kagura was the one to call for a cease-fire first, she considers herself to have a leg-up on him.
Shaking her head at the commander, the mage clucks her tongue chidingly.
"Tired of ze game already, Kagura? I sought you had more endurance zan zat. Perhaps not all ze rumors are true, mm?"
Twisting back around to face the table, the glass is set aside and forgotten once more along with all of the food which remains mostly untouched. Neither of them seem to have cared much for the cuisine on offer when a far more juicy meal lay just out of reach. She doubts Kagura's desire to 'taste' her is quite as literal as her own hunger, however.
"Vhat can I say, darlink? I like to play hard to get."
The enthusiasm in the woman's voice is a little more subdued now that the stakes have been obliterated. She isn't fooling Kagura any more than he is fooling her. The mystery behind his continued success as the commander of the NOL forces has been largely dispelled. While clearly dedicated to his craft as a womanizer, there is a shrewd and perceptive mind lurking beneath his buffoonish behavior.
Unfortunately, that creates a real problem for her. Now that she's drawn attention to herself directly, any further attempts to slip restricted file requests past him are going to be all the more difficult. There isn't really anyone higher up the chain she could try to manipulate to get around his authority either. The Imperator herself, maybe, but even trying to interact with a figure of such importance would likely put her under intense scrutiny. Her options are starting to become distressingly slim. The NOL and it's resources may have just been taken off the table.
Leaning back with an exasperated sigh, Franziska folds her hands together and gives Kagura a conciliatory look.
"Very vell. Vhat is it you vish to know?"
When you realize you're playing the game, you've already lost. Kagura knows that much better than almost anyone else who currently walks the Earth. Yet, he's still not lost when it comes to just what exactly he intends for Franziska.
"First, let me actually be honest with you for the first time tonight. I have no intentions of exposing you. That said, your loss against me should be taken with grace, as I'll take mine towards you the same."
Reaching for the bottle of champagne, he fills his glass once more. He swirls the liquid around in the glass, before gently sipping at it. "Of course, I doubt you'd be able to expose me if you truly put your all into it. I'm not saying that as a challenge, but merely as fact. So tread carefully if you plan on trying to subvert my own intentions for how things go."
Setting the glass upon the table, Kagura steeples his fingers, finally giving a hint of his hidden personality a chance to come to the surface as he mulls over his words. "Why are you so keen on accessing the restricted archives?"
"Is zat all?"
Franziska purses her lips, sounding genuinely disappointed by the question. The answer should be fairly obvious. But, if he wants her to spell it out for him, she shall be, as he put it, graceful about the exchange.
"To get access to ze information hidden away in zem, of course."
She offers him a smile. An honest one, this time, not the magic-laden enchantment she's been throwing at him all night. There is still an element of that laced into her. The way she moves with unnatural grace and the almost impossible beauty of her delicate features are clearly inhuman in their nature. But that seems to be integral to who, or what, she is rather than any sort of conscious effort on her part.
"My understandink of ze forces of magic is not as in depth as it could be. Zere are always more secrets to uncover und I haf always been a curious one."
The mysterious mage gives him another smile, this one tinged with traces of amusement as she recalls a quote from one of the more infamous figures from her period of history.
"Stop learnink, start dyink, mm?"
"That's it? That's the only reason you strolled into my office with your charm cranked up to eleven to get me to sign some fake papers to give you further access to the archives?" That sort of blow is one Kagura should have expected. He's mildly let down by it, yet he doesn't quite let it show as well.
"There's so much more in the archives beyond silly magic tomes and long forgotten alchemical equations. It's a shame that you're only focusing on scratching the surface."
He sighs loudly at this, as the formidable opponent that he was looking to entertain himself with has only the most mundane of reasons for making him aware fully of their existence.
"Let me ask you one final thing, and then we'll return to my original question before you gave yourself away."
The way the light dances across his face from the lantern lends more credence to the fact he's got far more talents then he ever lets on, yet he finally cranks his own charm up to max as he gently whispers his next few words.
"What is your actual name?"
Well, she had always suspected that there were wonders of all sorts stored away in the vaults of an organization that literally dedicates itself to the monopoly of all magic in the world. But merely asking about things of that nature could by itself be enough to get her thrown into some deep dark dungeon. Normally, she wouldn't be terribly worried about that. She has ways to escape such places that most people wouldn't even dream of. But when the Librarium is concerned she has to be more careful. If anyone would be capable of trapping an eldritch entity such as herself, it would be them.
Kagura's disappointment at her lack of brazen disregard for her own safety is somewhat strange. Perhaps the thought of imprisonment should he fail in such a gamble is less tangible to someone who has never experienced it. Being trapped in the Eternal Battlefield for nigh on an entire century has made Franziska a little more wary, however. She doubts that the hospitality of the NOL is comparable to that literal hellscape but why risk finding out she's wrong when all she has to do is exercise a little patience?
That one earns him a puzzled look from the woman. Did he suspect her of using a fake one? Why would she bother when no one still alive even knows who she is? Maybe he suspects her of being a better spy than she actually is. Infiltration was never her area of expertise.
Franziska shrugs at him, smiling sheepishly, as if embarrassed to disappoint the commander again with a less exciting answer than he might have hoped for.
"It is ze van I already told you. I had little need to create a false identity."
The Mutsuki scion purses his lips as he processes this revelation. In a way, he had been overestimating the Undead Mage, which while it may be better than underestimating.. It's still a mistake that could have easily been avoided. Yet, he's already formulating a new plan just as quickly as the old one failed.
"Which leads us back the start. So let's start a new game Franziska. One that I feel could benefit both of us. Of course, if either of us were to fail to properly play..." A slight shrug of his shoulders would indicate that the end of it would not be as simple as the game they just finished.
"I'm more then willing to play the doe-eyed patsy to your quest for knowledge. So long as you're willing to do something for me."
Leaning forward now, his voice is hushed. "I want to know the orders that circulate around the lower ranks. Who is giving them, and what they consist of. I'm certain that's quite fair, wouldn't you?"
Franziska's eyebrows lift a little at the request. If she's intimidated by his subtle hints of potential fallout should she fail to play along, she shows no overt signs of it. But, despite her many failures as a spy, she's already proven to at least be quite skilled at hiding her true emotions.
In truth, she's quite enjoying the direction this conversation is headed. If Kagura believes that giving her access to the repositories of ancient forbidden magic is something that won't have any major impact on the world then she is more than happy to let him enjoy those delusions. Even more so if the only price he asks is for her to keep an ear out for some simple information. Though, it does seem strange to her that the commander of the entire NOL military would /need/ her to ferret out such basic details. Surely such things have to go through him in the first place? Then again, there may be more going on inside of the Librarium's upper echelons than she is aware of. Paying attention to the petty inter-faction politics hasn't exactly been high on her priority list.
The woman smiles at him, clearly pleased with the proposed exchange.
"If zat is all you vant, I should haf little difficulty acquiring such information."
"No, that isn't all I want, however.. I suppose I will have to accept it." There is a notable tinge of dismay to Kagura's voice as he slowly rises from the table once more. Again, he makes his way towards Franziska, offering his arm to her. "I do believe that we both have appearances to uphold, and mine generally mean that dinners never run this long for me."
Kagura's smile is a bit of a mix of emotions. The sincerity he displayed earlier is true in its own right, however the lack of reciprocation on the other end is one that he generally doesn't receive.
"From here, we go to my private residence, and then it will be safe for you to return to your own agenda I suppose." Sadly, all things must come to an end, and while the previous game is truly now over, it doesn't mean that Kagura isn't quite ready to accept it in his own right. Even if she is an undead mage that is far older then he is. It isn't every day that he gets a chance to savor it.
"Shall we, my fair Franziska?"
"Of course, Herr Mutsuki."
Franziska's smile is by far the more satisfied of the two of them. She has gotten what she came for and learned quite a bit more about Kagura in the bargain. The price of keeping her ear out for some gossip about orders being passed around is hardly even a bother. She's already done the work to ingratiate herself among the lower ranks using her powerful charms to make friends in as many places as possible. You never know when having the janitor with access to a ring full of keys to various offices on your side might come in handy.
Extending her hand to take Kagura's outstretched arm, the mage lightly pulls herself to her feet and takes up position at his side. The plan to visit Kagura's personal lodgings is an interesting one. She has little need to maintain any sort of appearances herself. As a member of the research division her schedule is utterly devoid of anything resembling stable, nor has she established obvious habits that might be noticed by paranoid eyes.
Well, there might be one exception to that. Several of the fresh recruits sharing the common rooms had established a 'movie night' as they called it, a gathering where anyone who wished to participate could meet and consume modern entertainment. Franziska had never been much for cinemas back in her day but technology has progressed quite far since then. The sorts of spectacles that can be created with modern movie magic are breathtaking, to say the least. And, more importantly, mingling with the troops has been one of her primary methods of acquiring data about modern social behaviors and customs. The easier she can blend in the less attention she attracts.
Fortunately, that is still a few days away. She has all the time in the world to spend trying to gouge this strange turn of events for all it's worth. And perhaps, despite being caught red-handed, she might yet exploit the commander's weakness for a little bit more.
Turning her face up towards commander's, Franziska gives him another sultry look as she presses her shapely body into his side. There is no subtlety about the gesture this time and the expression on her unearthly features is quite clear in what she is suggesting with her body language.
"Mmm, my agenda can vait a few hours, darlink. Are you sure you can't spare some time for some... private negotiations?"
Log created on 02:45:32 02/13/2021 by Franziska, and last modified on 21:28:04 02/16/2021.