NFG Season One - The Mystical Art of Kaffeeklatsch

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Description: In her haste to present a proposal to her sponsors, Iris had let a scheduled meeting with detective Brandon Malone slip her mind. His arrival gives her an opportunity to have a less weighty, though no less useful, conversation with a relative rarity: another spellcasting fighter.


A mysterious, surprisingly affect-less voice mentions a celebratory cake. Iris Osterlund starts breathing again for the first time since she entered the room. A pact is, not to put too fine a point on it, forged. Things might start looking up here, if all goes to plan.

And then Iris's phone makes a little chiming reminder noise and, panicking after reading it, she dives for the elevator back down to the 78th floor.


Muttering under her breath, Iris dives out of the elevator and into the (thankfully empty, since she left) lounge and living area, the canvas messenger bag she brought with her trailing behind her like a tiny cloth comet thanks to the heavy object inside. The table she was sitting at less than a half hour ago still shows the remnants of the previous occupation: Greg Ilvich's tiny napkin for his coffee cup, and even the leftover croissant and thermos of iced coffee that Iris hadn't been allowed to bring with her.

Vaulting a low shelf, Ferris Bueller-style, the Brit all but dives into the chair she'd been sitting in before, spreading the bag on the table and barely noticing when the flap opens up and a foot or so of Big Grimoire-Looking Book slides into view. Jamming a bite of croissant into her mouth, she chews on it while grabbing her phone and checking her hair, her face... her demeanor? A lot just went down, and practically none of it can be shared with her guest.


Having received a voice note from Iris -- "send him up, thank you! I'll be there when he gets there, probably!" -- the security folks check Brandon's ID and, presuming he is who he says he is, give him a visitor badge and direct him to the 78th floor. If he gets in the elevator in jig time, he should arrive JUST in time to see Iris fussing with her hair.

When Brandon first enters the lobby, his appearance can be described as mostly crisp. The private investigator wears a white fedora with a black band, black dress shirt, white vest, white tie in a half-windsor knot, white dress pants pressed so well the creases could cut paper. The two things that keep him from getting rid of the 'mostly' qualifier is that the shoulder length brown hair looks like it got caught in the wind (it did) and the white dress shoes look slightly scuffed.

When he goes to reception, he presents ID, signs the visitor log and all the steps required with little fuss and then is sent off to the elevator. Inside the elevator, the investigator has to focus just to keep from going light headed due to the speed of the elevator. When it reaches the 78th floor, Brandon is more than happy to be free from the enclosed space. He then looks at a woman messing with her hair.

Brandon opens his mouth and says in a noticable Metro City accent, "Hello. I'm Brandon Malone."

What Brandon could NOT know is that there is a tempest of things being processed in Iris's head right now, which would explain her lack of focus, at the very least. As it is, she doesn't hear the upsettlingly quiet Death Star-esque elevator arrive, so when Brandon speaks up, she literally goes "AAH!" and nearly drops her phone, scrambling at the last second to (successfully, at least) catch it before it hits the ground, though this makes her duck out of sight below the height of the table for a second.

When she comes back up, it's with a sheepish look on her face, gently placing the phone down on the table and giving a little wave with her other hand. "Yes! Hello, sorry," the Brit says, in her contrasting Received Pronunciation accent. "Thank you for coming. We just had a..." How to explain this? "Impromptu meeting with upper management, upstairs. I'm sorry I wasn't down to meet you, we got a little ambushed."

All of that comes tumbling out at speed, but as she starts to adjust, Iris blinks a little as she gives Brandon's decidedly distinct appearance a once-over. He can probably tell, too: it's not as if there's anything to 'sense' if they're not doing anything, but magic-using types really Just Kinda Know when they're looking at their own. "That must be why Mint thought I should meet you," Iris says aloud, though quietly, as if she hadn't intended to say it that way.

Brandon takes a moment to make his own observations. First of all that dropped phone pointed to her being distracted, while the subsequent catch points to a decent reaction speed, and her pause before impromptu meeting tells him some major stuff happened before he got there which was probably the cause of the previously mentioned distracted state she was in when he first saw her.

It doesn't matter though. He's not being paid to pry. If he can't get her to focus on the here and now, that might be a problem. He steps forward and leans against the table.

"Having looked at your fight footage, I will have to admit that I might be in a place where I might be closer to your peer than a mentor figure but I believe that I can still help you become a stronger magic user. If what I suspect is correct, we had different entries into magic and we could learn a lot from each other."

Brandon stands upright once more but still keeps a hand rested on the table.

"I'm curious about your background. How did you pick up the fundamentals and what drove you towards joining the NFG? Oh and this isn't a one way street. Feel free to ask me any questions."

For reasons that aren't Brandon's fault in any real way, the question of Iris's background makes a brief, pained expression cross her face. Thinking about her background sends her right back to the abandoned-feeling manor she was just at a few days prior. Of her now-gone parents and sister, of the disappearance of her butler and nanny. All the ties to her past.

She recovers quickly enough, at the very least, taking a breath and smiling, gesturing at the other chairs at the table. "My family are rune mages," she explains. After all, if Brandon is from the US, there's a good chance he'd had never heard of a European wizarding lineage. "My very distant ancestors are likely from Scandinavia or Russia, and they moved south toward France and then England after the time of the Vikings. We aren't really sure since there weren't many records kept."

Actively telling the story seems to put her more at ease, at any rate; perhaps good memories are mixing with the bad. "I learned all the basics when I was a kid, from my mother," she explains. "Like you probably know already, runes are mostly used for enchanting and divination, though we can do all the movie wizard stuff like throwing energy around, too. My parents were getting on in years when I was born, so they've both passed on. It was my sister Celica who was supposed to inherit all the secrets and such," Iris continues, looking briefly somber, "but she died last year. Now it's just me."

She holds out a hand and, with a twirl of her fingers, summons a dagger in her grip in a burst of rainbow light, as Brandon probably saw in any videos he's seen. "Celica has always been rubbish at combat magic, though. Rune mages aren't really fighters, historically. But... well." A shrug, and the Brit gives a sheepish little grin. "I was always a tomboy, and nobody ever expected me to master all the stuff she did. So I dug into the library, and I pestered my mother and sister to teach me that stuff. Maybe I just wanted to rebel and do something different. But it meant when the NFG started up, I was ripe to fall, I guess? I'd learned all this battle magic, so why not try something insane and see how it went?"

While the detective does not comment on it, he notes the pained expression on Iris' face. There's no need to bring it up if she doesn't. When she gathers herself and makes a gestures to the chairs, Brandon takes it as an invitation to sit and he does so. In the moment between taking that standing position near the table and sitting down, Brandon has taken his eyes off of Iris, giving her words all of his attention.

The burst of rainbow light along with the appearance of the dagger surprises the arcane investigator. He wasn't expecting a demonstration along with the story. But when it's over, Brandon nods.

"Turns out I was right about having different entries into the arcane."

Brandon rests his hands on the table, his fingers interlaced between each other. He lowers his head as the brim of the fedora covers his eyes.

"I didn't have anything like a lineage. If anything, I was a brawler who lucked into finding he had the ability to use magic and lucky enough to have an Uncle who had the ability and the time to teach. He covered the fundamentals and then after that, had to seek further knowledge on my own. Unfortunately, I had some complications when using magic and so I created my deck as a work around to deal with it."

With a flick of his wrist courtesy of sleight of hand, a 3 of Cups appears in his hand. For those sensitive as well as all of those energy measuring machines that Ultratech has, they will note that Brandon's energy is in three different places. Within his body is where most of it resides. The chunk of energy on the hip and the sliver of energy within the card in his hand. With a flick of the wrist the card is gone and the energy is now only on his hip and within him once more.

"Eventually, I ended up interning with a private investigator and ended getting practical experience using battle magic in the field before eventually opening my own private investigation business where I gained even more practical experience."

Okay, well, his comment about being a 'peer' aside, Iris's facial expression at that story and the little card trick -- complete with the less immediately visible side of it, in which she takes an academic interest -- definitely suggests that she now thinks Brandon is Very Cool. The card makes her break into a smile, but in truth, it's the story of how he got where he was that she's really into.

"That's a very American way to go about it," she says with a grin, her little summoned dagger having long since disappeared. Compared to Brandon moving and replacing things with magic, he can tell that Iris is simply creating -- well, summoning -- things wholesale which then disappear as soon as the energy tethering them there runs out. Two different approaches, two similar effects.

"Honestly, that sounds like it was more fun," Iris says, a little quieter. "A lineage feels more like a burden than a benefit to me nowadays, though..." She reaches over, a look of brief surprise passing as she registers that the book in her bag has partially spilled out, but quickly moving past it, she pats the cover absently. "It has some uses, sometimes."

She pauses for a moment before scratching the side of her cheek, asking the question absently. "But you learned to fight first, and then do magic, right? Do you think that helped?" She turns to look at Brandon fully rather than sidelong. "I never really learned to fight, period. I'm kind of running on instinct, with a couple exceptions. I know how to use a sword since I've had fencing lessons for a long time, and I used a javelin in track and field. Everything else, though, not so much."

"Fun? It had its moments."

The part that Brandon would rather not dwell on was the times where his fighting skill, before learning from his uncle, was the only thing allowing him to eat whether it was in the fight halls and fight clubs or protecting the winnings. After wards it allowed him some extra spending money when he was still in school.

"With a lineage you do have the benefit of knowledge of the past. Where a lot of what I had to learn came from trial and error or stumbling across the right instructors. You however get to learn a lot about yourself and about your morals. Knowing what lengths you are willing to go learn in terms of magic. I found there were things I just wasn't willing to do to gain specific types of knowledge or use specific types of combat magic."

He rubs his chin as he thinks about whether he saw a benefit to learning to fight before learning magic. While there were were pros there were also cons as well.

"Well there's footwork, developing a sense of timing, and getting use to the idea of people trying to hit you whether it's up close and personal or from far away. Even then, those are things you can still develop even if you learned magic first."

"Well," Iris says, bringing up a hand and rubbing the back of her neck, realizing that she is still a little bit sore from the beating she took from Hawksley, "I got some good news: if you didn't know that when you started fighting, like I did, you end up learning it in a hurry." She gives a little smile to defuse the tension of that, but... boy, she hadn't been in the NFG long before she took more than a few beatings that really did give her an education in getting her ass kicked.

The statement about the types of magic he wasn't willing to master, however, is... much more timely than he could possibly know. "Yeah... I hear you. I've joked about putting curses on people a couple times, but that was just trash talk," the Brit says carefully. "Well, or telling them what they expect to hear. I don't know a single curse and I don't think I'd ever be interested in learning one."

She pauses for a moment, and reaches down to idly tear a chunk off her croissant and chew it in silence before she thinks of something she wants to ask. "Can I ask... have you ever had a spell go wrong? In a fight, I mean." A frown creases her face as she thinks of it. "I was telling Mint... Corporal Panesh... that, earlier, before she recommended I talk to you. I've had moments where I know, I KNOW, I did the magic part entirely correct, but the result was something off-base, like trying to summon a spear and getting a broom. Does stuff like that happen to you?"

The thaumaturgic brawler has to smile in the face of Iris' self-deprecating humor. After all, if she's attempting to see humor in it, the least he can do is laugh with her. After all he knows the pain of getting his ass kicked. One of Team Thunder's mentors had a front row seat to his butt kicking right before she got one from the same guy.

"I have to admit that I've been tempted to talk about putting a hex on someone when other fighters make fun of my use of cards. Not interested in that type of magic though."

When Iris asks about magic going wrong, it gets fairly close to the complication he had mentioned though tried to avoid going into specifics on. He inhales audibly making a sound like a hiss.

"I've had my magic go wrong for me but in my case, it goes wrong in a consistent, repeatable way related to that complication that I mentioned earlier. Because of that, I have to think carefully as to whether or not to forego using my cards."

As Iris told ARIA not too long ago, wizards make good secret-keepers because they know the value of hidden knowledge. So, if Brandon doesn't want to elaborate on his example, that's fine with her. After all, could it be worse than getting a squeaky mallet instead of a battleaxe? (It could, but don't tell her that)


"Honestly that... makes me feel a bit better." As she'd said to Mint, one of Iris's problems was feeling like she was the only person in the world that ever seemed to screw it up in a fight, part of which she'd attributed to her lack of experience fighting. But for Brandon, it's exactly the opposite, which... well, it helps more than he'd think.

"Does Mint know that?" she asks, suddenly curious. "Maybe that's why she suggested I talk to you. Could be that's what I really need to do: look at the times it's happened, and see if there's some pattern, like you said happened to you. Then at least I could... I don't know." She shrugs. "If I can't prevent it, maybe I can anticipate it and adjust?"

While Brandon had been thinking about the consistent magic going wrong. He's forgotten about the weirder, wilder magic gone wrong scenario. He has intimate knowledge of how he has way too much power for his body to handle. He's lived with it learned how to work with it somewhat. He had, for a moment forgotten about the 'tainted energy' situation. After all it's been a while since he's been on a case that required him to fight.

"Well... Unless she's seen a few of my fights after we teamed up together, probably not. She's never seen me /not/ using my cards in person."

He then rubs his chin as Iris puts forth a possible solution. Look at the times it happened and if not prevent, anticipate it and adjust. It is a good plan. He however can't in good conscience not bring up the 'tainted energy' situation.

"I can actually think of another occurance. Though this is something that affected more than magic as it affected other energy users as well. For awhile, there were a whole bunch of fighters who had their energy occasionally change in the middle of fights. In my particular case it would change my light based magic to lightning. A wind based fighter would suddenly release plants, water based fighter's energy turning to fire and so on. Fighters with no history of energy attacks would suddenly have some type of energy on their attacks. I was looking for a solution for something else when one more knowledgable about that type of thing identified it as 'tainted energy.' I still haven't found the solution to that but that in particular didn't affect my fights beyond adding a element of weirdness."

That gets more than a few blinks out of her. "That... sounds pretty intense." Brandon mentions 'other energy users' as well and for a moment, she thinks back to her fights with Ichika and Hawksley, whose energy she got to experience up close and personal. What she largely remembers is that said energy felt familiar, but also unfamiliar, compared to magic, which had been to date the only 'energy' she'd ever really known firsthand. It's one thing to know that chi is a power fighters use; it's another to get punched with chi flame or hit with a glowing blue sword.

"Sounds like the sort of thing a curse would do, doesn't it? But if it were, I bet you'd have noticed straightaway." She doesn't REALLY know that, but she expects it to be true, in Brandon's case. Furrowing her brow, she thinks back to the moments when a weapon summoning has gone awry. The Rumble? Fighting Genie and Tamaki. Stressful, but... was there anything around that could interfere?

"I don't think that's what happened in my case," Iris eventually ventures, speaking slowly as she thinks it thought. "But I appreciate the warning either way. And who knows, maybe there WAS someone in the shadows interfering. That's the thing about using magic when I'm fighting," she adds, shrugging. "I'm sure you've noticed it too. Doing a spell in the comfort of your living room is easy, but doing it in a high-stress situation like a fight is a lot harder. At least, I think it is. Mint says it gets easier with time as the fighting part starts to become second nature, and maybe that's true, but I'm definitely not there yet."

Brandon nods in agreement with Iris' curse analysis. "But it is also strange for a curse to be so wide reaching and so random at the same time. Random people and randomly occuring."

Brandon's eyebrow raises for a moment as if suddenly aware of something. He looks down at his watch then rises from the seat. And that's when the vibrating of his phone becomes just barely audible. With a flick of the wrist the phone appears in his hand. With a moment given to shut off the alarm on the phone that was set to vibrate.

"I'm glad I had a chance to meet you and get an idea of where you're at from a mental and magical education standpoint. The next time we get together, I'd like to have a chance to spar with you. So we can each have an idea of what the other can do."

Somehow the conversation made her forget she was talking to a professional in the middle of the day who's probably on the clock. Thus, when Brandon's phone makes that 'massager stuck under a pillow' sound that vibrating phones do, Iris blinks in surprise. "Oh! Of course," she says automatically, getting out of her chair and reaching across the table to shake his head.

In truth... maybe it was fate that made Brandon show up at the building mere moments after her conversation with Mint and ARIA. If you're struggling with the ethics of something you've done, a conversation rooted entirely in practicality is sometimes exactly what the doctor ordered. Get out of your own head by focusing on the here and now.

"That sounds fun. I haven't really fought anyone else who uses m--" The Brit starts that sentence, then instantly stops herself. One of her fights was against an actual youkai; another was against someone who partially transformed into a dragon. Those COULD be 'chi', but something tells her that even if they weren't 'magic spells', they were DEFINITELY mystical in nature.

"I definitely haven't fought another spellcaster yet," she finishes, more accurately. "Thanks again for coming and, uh, honestly... thanks for me knowing it's not just me. I fight that fight a little every day, so every bit helps."

Log created on 14:31:24 09/28/2023 by Iris, and last modified on 14:59:30 09/29/2023.