Springtide Rosalia 2021 - Rosalia: Bus Factor

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Description: Brandon and Clio regroup after their respective tests during the Springtide Rosalia. Brandon knowing all of the problems he's dealing with, feels ill at ease with being single point of failure for the spell soon to be cast at Metro City Park. The two mages disagree on what the back up plan should be.

Brandon's travels through the halls of Castle Alucard finally bring the battered investigator to one of the main halls where the Rosalia was taking place. It was clear the man had just gone through it. Black dress shirt did a relatively good job covering the blood stains, dirt, and scorch marks, but the white of his vest, his tie, and his slacks did nothing to cover the watered down blood stains, the dirt, and scorch marks from fire and lightning nor the various rips and tears on his clothing.

The investigator slowly makes his way into the ballroom towards a table that is relatively empty, however there are chairs with jackets and coats on the backs of chairs of those wanting to make their way to the dance floor. Brandon isn't seated for long before a member of the castle staff is there to take his order. The food had already been prepped so it doesn't take particularly long for it to arrive at his table. After giving a nod of thanks, the investigator takes a hold of his knife and fork and digs in.

As the detective eats the duck that he ordered and roasted vegetables, he can feel his body starting to recover though in the background he can still feel that pounding headache from hell. On the upside, it has eased up to merely agonizing.

It was over.

Endless worlds of despair. Time stretched out infinitely into the void of endless death and rebirth and death once more. It was all a not-dream, a vision of what is and what will be and what has come. It has pained physically and mentally. But it has given the young Clio St. Jeanne a realization to the ties that bind continued existence.

That clarity has brought to Clio a sense of calm and resolution. Not the least of it comes from the alien lack of physical pain. It leaves the errant former Lieutenant without the literal reminder of the battle she has survived.

Or, at least, as she looks down at herself, a literal reminder different from her current outfit.

Her usual hoodie is gone, replaced for now with a brilliant azure gown. She feels strange in the outfit. It isn't her usual style, it clings in places, feeling constraining in ways the agile fighter doesn't find entirely comfortable. It's long, and elegant, but all that she can appreciate the look, she can't help but feel like it's weight and unwieldiness with each stop.

But she can't bring herself to stay around in a single room of the castle after everything she just went through. She can feel the flow of magic here, it pulls her along as anything worth her curiosity. The lack of pain and fatigue from a battle beyond the pale doesn't hurt, metaphorically, either. So she slips out of her room and into the halls of the grand castle manse.

Whether she finds the ballroom, or the ballroom finds her, is up for debate. What is not is that she arrives, and she sees Brandon Malone has also apparently made it there as well. However, he seems a great deal worse for wear. Her mouth quirks downward when she sees the dining detective, for his state rather than his presence. Her steps are quick to take her to the table, not nearly as hampered for her trained grace and agility. Part of her curses the fact. Rough and tumble Metro City kid really was refined in the NOL Academy. But that moment of reflection is fleeting as she slips into the empty seat opposite Brandon's place with the bustle of gown.

All a shimmer, the dark eyed Clio leans forward and rests her chin on the back of her hand. "Got any suggestions? I've never eaten here before." she quips with a smile, hoping that helps the clearly rough situation Brandon seems to be in.

The combination Clio's stealthy approach, addled mind from his mind essentially having previous knowledge overwritten by new knowledge, his body beaten and battered from the struggle required to obtain it, and the hunger built up from all of the physical activity all served to distract the detective and make him look more boorish than he actually was. When he looks up and hears a familiar voice along with seeing a familiar face(even though it was covered in most interactions), he suddenly has enough awareness to know he's looking kinda rude.

"Oh! Sorry! I should've gotten your chair."

There's a moment of quiet as the previous conversation enters his memory with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

"Wait a second... I didn't think you were going to attend but I'm glad you're here."

After the shock of seeing Clio there and he recovers a little bit from his inadvertant rude behavior, he finally registers the joke that his company has made. He looks downward to his plate with a smile on his face and quick, sharp, exhalation of air in amusement that barely escapes containment. It wouldn't quite count as laughter for anything besides a try not to laugh challenge.

"My first time here as well but the duck tastes incredibly good."

The food seemed to be helping him recover and soon he'd probably have enough energy to perform some cantrips to clean and mend his clothing.

Dark eyes look over Brandon. Clio St. Jeanne observes the situation. The wounds, the blood, the tatter to his clothing. Each of it tells the story of someone who has gone through a similar hell as herself. Something that, she suspects, is hardly visible on herself. As the letter implied; none will know of the that which is forgotten and the last stand of her and the kitsune.

Thinking on it, Clio smiles to herself.

"Don't worry about it," she says, voice quiet, "You look like you been through enough. I know how to sit in a chair." She laughs lightly, tilting her head in a playful manner to put across there's no hard feelings that in this of all times Brandon wasn't overly chivalrous.

But the question he asks is something legitimate. Clio has to lean back and shrug. "I wasn't going to," she admits, "But when you get an invitation to a metaphysical soiree then you have to show up."

She looks around. "Would it be rude if I asked for a gelato before the meal?"

She waves her hand, and when it comes time she buckles and orders salad like the responsible adult that she is. She can't, however, play off on ignoring the obvious for too long and she leans back toward Brandon. "So what happened to you? I've seen enough of this place to know what it's got hiding in its corners."

With enough of his strength returning due to the food, he finally has enough energy to at least make himself presentable. Two cards suddenly appear in his hand with a pale yellow glow. He takes one card into his other hand and scrapes it along his clothing. The crusted blood, dirt, and the charred bits get collected, cleaning it as he goes and leaving only the tears and perforations in his clothes. The second card goes towards the damaged locations of his clothing, mending those spots as if by magic.

"I save soooo much on dry cleaning bills."

The second card disappears to be replaced by one of the sample baggies Clio may have noticed him using at the park. He opens the baggie and dumps the contents of that original card used into the baggy before making them both disappear with a flick of his wrist.

"I looked like a wreck because I'm coming off from a test of sorts. I passed. So now, I have good news, bad news, possibly troubling news, and horrible news."

Clio's eyes follow the cards and the flow of the arcane that cleanse and mend the torn clothing. A simple, yet altogether very practical bit of spellcraft that Clio tries to dissect with her eyes. She's interested, but she throws aside the moment of academic arcane curiosity to focus on the moment. She simply looks impressed at the act, quietly chastising herself for not taking the initiative to work on more practical arcane matters.

"I could have used something like that," she says. "Didn't have anything to wear, myself, but the host provided." She gives a wry gesture to herself. "Of course it's the NOL colors. Colonel Kagura would love to see this," she laughs off the form fit and rather 'showy' cut of the gown.

But news, news trumps banter. Her lips purse in concern and Clio's focus gets dark. "That's a lot of different news. Start bad, get good. I want to end on dessert."

"Of course, it would be NOL colors."

The private investigator shakes his head with a wry grin on his face. NOL colors or not, he still had to admit that it did look good on her.

"Not quite that simple. The bad news and the horrible news need the good news for context."

He glances around at the darkstalkers and humans dancing to and fro on the dance floor before returning his attention to Clio.

"So the good news is that there was a spell developed to address a similar situation to what we're attempting to deal with in Metro City and that I was informed that the artifact required to cast it was also being retrieved here. The horrible news is that the original mage to cast it ended up killing themselves in the process of casting it. The bad news is that even after passing the test which was to determine whether I even had the strength to use it, the price for me learning that spell was that I had to lose one of my spells. Knowledge for knowledge. I sacrificed one of my card spells. I remember having cast it, I can go through my preparation process for creating the card, but I can't do the spell imprint or duplicate the creation of the spell."

He takes a deep breath, watching for Clio's reaction and giving himself a moment to figure out how he'll go into the next part

"And that brings us to the possibly troubling news. The lightning thing, I told you about? Fighters all over have been similarly afflicted. The lightning thing happened during my test, and apparently it happened because my energy was tainted somehow. Anyway, I'm concerned that because a lot of energy would be moving around during the spell, it may end up complicating an already risky spell should the lightning flare up happen while I'm attempting to use the cleansing spell."

Clio starts with some distance, but her lean grows closer as the words come out. While she rests her chin on the back of one hand, the other flits over the table, drawing circles and repeated sigils. Thinking, considering, working the hermetic maths out as she sees them. A power surge? Improper conduit use? Siethr poisoning?

The cost. Clio doesn't look phased, instead nodding along. "Exchange is always a thing with these powers. Always."

She finishes the tiny circle on the table and pulls iridescent energy up from it. Her hand held over, it flickers and dances, rolling tongues of flame that play for her palm. Her face doesn't betray much emotion. She is too busy thinking. "That's a complication," she says, her dark eyes not kept on Brandon. "But I think there's something."

She dismisses the arcane flame from the table as her order arrives. Once more, she's leaning back to give Brandon space at the table. "I'll need to think, and I'll need to touch base with Jubei. I might have something I can do about that, but I don't want to get hopes up."

The arcane investigator watches with fascination as Clio's hand dances to and fro drawing sigils and circles as he continues to consume his duck and vegetables. He found it interesting seeing the similarities and differences in their styles of spellwork.

"So that's possibly reassuring. And since the required artifact was in the process of being retrieved, my gut is telling me...

He raises his napkin to his lips to cover his mouth under the guise of wiping his lips but it's probably to stymie lip readers if there are any around. He continues in a softer voice, "... Jubei is probably the one retrieving the artifact which means I may have to touch base with him as well."

The napkin returns to his lap, as he picks up his fork once more.

"And since the events requiring the spell have happened before, part of me is tempted to make sure there's documentation of how to perform Kazarov's Purification in case it happens again after I'm gone."

Magic has always come easy to Lieutenant St. Jeanne. It was always there, a force just screaming to burst outward. Even in the NOL, her chain was never really an Ars Magica. Not in the sense most people's were. The sigils and formulae that etched the metal were all meant to collect and direct the more unstable aspects of her capacity to tap into more than just the flow of chi in an area. The symbols and equations gave her focus, rather than risk exploding outward, or consuming her entirely.

This was something she knew, she lived it, but it was rarely something she spoke too much on. She knows what that connection tends to mean.

"I'd like to talk to him again," Clio says, voice not so conspiratorial. She simply misses the old cat and seeing the beyond thanks to that which was forgotten has left her feeling as though it has been ages since she last saw him.

Wistfulness aside, she has Brandon there, and that's something of note to focus on. Particularly since his next words bring out the NOL in the young woman. "You said you paid a price for the spell in the first place. You do understand that recording that information usually takes some kind of cost too, right?"

That was something that the two have in common, that inner force that was waiting to scream outward. Brandon on the other hand seemed to find a different solution in the way he uses his cards. Using them for storage of his boundary laced power and then releasing them with prepared spells in a controlled manner with an option to bolster it with tiny bursts of energy directly from himself if need be. Or as Clio experienced a little bit of, he could release the bonds on his power to throw the arcane kitchen sink at an adversary.

Clio's response gave the detective something to chew on. While it was something he thought about, it wasn't exactly on he forefront of his thoughts until she specifically mentioned the cost.

"The price would've been paid regardless of whether or not it was a spell or whether it was a cooking recipe. Any knowledge taken from the Athenaeum Arcanum required knowledge to be offered in turn. It was the price of receiving information specifically from that location. That being said, even if there is a cost to documenting the spell, I'm not sure we can afford to not pay the cost."

The detective carves out tiny pieces out of the duck and lifts a piece of it to his mouth and chews on it for an instant before swallowing. He wasn't going to talk with his mouth full.

"First, you have to consider the Mortal Kombat tournament that came out victorious from. Now that they can get to us via the tourney, they might try to undermine earth in a different way. Then you have to consider Southtown having the Makai embassy show up and then Kira Volkov causing a darkstalker rampage in Southtown. Who knows who or what else is out there to cause a mess that would require a spell like this to be cast. Next, you also have to consider bus factor. I've made some powerful enemies. Lee Chaolan from Violet Systems over the HitBit controversy, a recent investigation required me to poke a stick at the hornet's nest that is the 'R' organization. Even if I were to survive casting the spell, what happens should I get knocked off by either of them and the knowledge for performing the spell is required again? Finally, we also have to consider innovation. With more people of varying viewpoints learning the spell, there's a higher likelihood of being able to devise a safer version of the spell that isn't guaranteed to kill you."

Clio watches Brandon. Her own order going unconsidered as her focus is on deciphering the detective across from her. She taps on the table in a steady timed rhythm; a poor replacement for clinking her chains together. A passing thought reminds her that she's going to have to replace yet another chain.

"I just want to know where you're willing to go," Clio states. She leaves things as simply as that for a moment. She isn't certain on what she wants to push, and when Brandon goes into a long spiel about enemies and dangers. She closes her eyes and takes the time to focus on possibilities.

Her hand drifts from her chin to pressing thin fingers against her temple. "That's a lot of enemies." Quiet again. She goes still. She starts moving again with a steady tap-tap-tap of her fingers on the table. "Putting that information out there is dangerous. Innovation goes both ways. It might get safer, a lot of people might get dead by mistake."

Clio opens her eyes to look at Brandon. "Or intentional."

She sighs and shakes her head. "Can't escape where you came from, but listen, there's a lot of danger in recording that information. Let alone the personal cost. I can't stop you but I do think your should take some careful consideration into why this was so hard to get in the first place and what you had to give to get. And what that can mean when it gets out."

Brandon pinches the bridge of his nose as Clio speaks. The headache he had was suddenly intensifying and he had no idea if it was a side effect of having the knowledge of the spell force fed into his brain or the fact that he was being talked down to.

"I wouldn't have even brought it up if I hadn't already thought about those things."

The detective goes quiet as he digs into the roasted vegetables with an awkward silence hanging over them. Bit by bit, the food goes into his mouth until the plate is for the most part empty.

The word 'civilian' rolled around in Clio's mind as she watched a man display a clearly bruised ego and go quietly into his meal for sullen solace. She watches, flatly, and prods at her own. She isn't feeling too much an appetite in the moment.

An unknown knight must sacrifice. She taps at the table. "When you need your ass pulled out of the fire, I'll be there."

Quick words, simple, direct. She has a certain trinket on her person she needs to consider. Moreover, she needs a cat to talk to. She pushes back her chair, stands, and adjusts the dress.

"Don't do anything dumb. Metro needs you," she adds before parting. Words may be sharp, but she won't at least massage the boy's ego and remind him his importance.

Log created on 11:44:26 07/22/2021 by Brandon, and last modified on 22:35:41 08/07/2021.