The Darkest Corners: A Modern Fantasy RP (Interest Thread - Closed)

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"Terra, when your able, you might want to explain to the gentleman over there what just happened." Seras said before going into a trance. Terra had a few guesses on the cause, but let them be for the moment. She'd apologize to Theon when Seras was done.

Terra took a few seconds to catch her breath, before looking to see what Seras had been talking about. She was going to ask what gentleman, but the question became obvious when she saw Richard. The other Richard. Sighing, she got back up and walked over to him. "You know, I don't need you watching me all the time; particularly when you don't step in to help when a wizard appears and threatens and insults us." she said, more then a little annoyed by how useless he'd been when the argument started.

"You know, I don't need you watching me all the time; particularly when you don't step in to help when a wizard appears and threatens and insults us."

"Oh... they got involved..." Richard thought.

"All I saw was your friends walking to the cafe' one instant, than the guy with a blade on his arm, the girl on the ground crying, and you looking a completely different direction," Richard said, "I didn't see the wizard. They been known to slow time to a crawl, leaving before even a second of real time has passed, just to integrate people. What did the wizard ask about?"

Theon took two steps, before hearing Seras speak to him. "I... I forgive you Theon....so hold on tight Theon, help is on the way." He sighed sounding relived, it seemed Seras had forgiven him. Still did she mean with help is on the way? Was she going to enter his mind, or something like that? He then heard a strange noise, followed by a warm feeling.

He sniffed the air looking for Seras, and after a while smelled a unfamiliar scent. He turned around to see an female armed knight, he was surprised for a moment. He wondered what the hell a knight was doing in here, he took a defensive stance and growled. His hands began to extend, and his claws began to grow. They had a strange gray color, and had grown quite big. "Who are you?" Theon asked ready to fight if needed.

"What did the wizard ask about?" The agent asked, no doubt looking for some information about their plans

"Not much; he wanted to know everything I knew about the heretic, AKA John - the Technomancer P.I.A agent who was on the plane with us. I don't know what he was looking from us though; he already knew more than I did about him." she said, shrugging her shoulders. "I just read his mind and blackmailed him with his own secrets. You'd think that if they were going to try and pump someone with telepathy for information, they wouldn't send someone who knew their secrets; or at least give them a decent mental wall spell." she finished, answering his questions and more.

"Now, if you don't mind, I need to get something to eat." she said, looking out into the street. Terra didn't want to spend anymore time here; that attempt to calm Theon had drained her of most of her excess essence. She needed nourishment; and not the kind she would find in the line at the hospital cafeteria.

Seras walked along seemingly empty landscape, her cape fluttering behind her in what little breeze there was. The sword, whilst sheathed, was out and ready to fight anything that opposed her. It appeared to be a large longsword with a basket hilt, and an obsidian coloured blade that had silver coloured symbols in a langauge that she did not understand. Despite its apparent weight, Seras found that she could carry it easily enough with a single hand.

She soon arrived at what she hoped was Theon, the claws on its long arms becoming longer and turning into a strange shade of grey.

"Who are you?" Theon asked, to which Seras could only respond with a girlish giggle.

"Isn't it obvious? Who, out of everyone you know, has the capability to enter your mental realm Mr. Shape?"

---Hotel---

Lucia rolled over, mumbled something about bunny's and continued to sleep rather soundly

The female knight responded to his question with a giggle, she then said. "Isn't it obvious? Who, out of everyone you know, has the capability to enter your mental realm Mr. Shape?" Theon instantly recognized her voice. He sighed relived as he made his claw's shrink, and he smiled brightly. For a moment there he had been wondering what a knight was doing in his head, though now it made more sense. "I am very happy to see you Seras and I am sorry about growling at you just now. But what is up with those clothes?" He asked pointing at her armor.

"I am very happy to see you Seras and I am sorry about growling at you just now. But what is up with those clothes?" Theon asked with a bright smile as he pointed at her armour, confused as to the reason why Seras was dressed up like she was. Seras smile back as she returned her sword to its place on her back.

"It is mostly due to the presence of Mileena within my own subconsciousness, the blood link we share Theon has somehow accessed her memories, and has pulled out this fragment for me to inhabit. Mileena referred to it as her Knight Form, as she could change into several. No doubt that there are countless other forms for me to assume, perhaps I can find a way to access these outside in the physical realm, but that is for another time." Seras remarked, giving a slightly shortened version of Mileena's description to Theon, whilst adding her own thoughts on the subject.

"You know its strange, I feel physically stronger when in this armour, like my melee attacks will do more damage. Hmm, will have to research this later. Anyway, back to the here and now, any idea as to where this entity? Suffice to say, I want some payback for what it did to you back in the hospital. Don't worry, as far as I can see, your safe and I'm right beside you, just as I am now." Seras said as she went up to Theon and hugged him.

Seras smiled and then started explaining, "It is mostly due to the presence of Mileena within my own subconsciousness...perhaps I can find a way to access these outside in the physical realm, but that is for another time." Theon looked at the armor, it sounded like a pretty handy power. "You know its strange, I feel physically stronger when in this armour, like my melee attacks will do more damage.....Don't worry, as far as I can see, your safe and I'm right beside you, just as I am now." Seras said as she walked up to him and hugged him, he hugged her back.

He felt himself slowly calming down, Seras always had a positive effect on his mental state. "I am very happy to see you Seras.." He released the hug and kissed her on the cheek. "I have to admit I am a bit scared, but with you here I feel much better. Thank you for being here for me Seras. And in case you were wondering Sandulf and me combined our powers, so that is why I look like this now." He said looking at his own body. "Well let's get moving, the sooner we are done here the better." Theon said as he started walking towards the black cloud in the distance.

~~~~~~~~~~~????????????~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Richard glared in the face of the Roman, as he laid back with a mildly amused smirk "You're potent, and you have will, but when I say you do something, you ask if you can stand up first."

Richard rolled his eyes "I'm no servant of yours, you may be my superior, but you do not own me."

The Roman raised a brow, this 'Richard' was very irreverent. If he didn't have such a strong will, The Roman would obliterate him. But he was useful, and not actually so bad past the authority issue. He might be extremely powerful in a couple thousand years, and the Ascended needed more heavy-hitters. The things that go bump inbetween galaxies were getting more and more aggressive.

"I suppose... that girl. Terra was her name? Yes, I suppose she's the one that owns you. Fair enough, Fortnight, I'll agree to stop attacking you, if you agree to actually attend to your Ascended duties with more than a carefree glance." The Roman's tone when from bemused to stern as he spoke.

Richard leveled a gaze "Deal." Richard was going to approach the other being when suddenly he felt himself shot down out of the pocket dimension that was the Roman's domain.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~HOSPITAL~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Richard coughed and his bones cracked and popped loudly as he woke, finally after five minutes he groaned and put his hands over his eyes "BRiiiiight...." Immediately after the rather painful reintegration into Earth, he felt around his mind for Terra, when he found her concern and worry and love and missing her and happy to feel her again and protectiveness rather flooded from him You okay? Where are you? Did anybody hurt you? What happened to the plane?

Terra had just left the PIA Agent behind when she heard it - Richard's voice in her head.

You okay? Where are you? Did anybody hurt you? What happened to the plane? Terra paused midstep, one foot still a few inches from the ground. She stood there for what felt like an eternity, disbelief and unreality the only feelings she could manifest.

At once, she spun on her heels, spread her wings, and bolted back into the hospital - the urge for souls delayed indefinitely. She flew past Agent Richard, Seras, and Theon without a second thought, flying down the hallways as fast as she could, much to the chagrin of the many nurses and doctors she was sure. Again, it felt like an eternity as she flew toward the room.

Her wings were hardly built for the 90 degree turns of hospital corridors and so she clipped her wings a few times in passage, paying the annoyance little heed. She merely flew on, squeezing every extra ounce of speed she could from her wings, trying to get there faster.

Finally, she turned the last corner into the hospital room to find Richard still lying in bed but very much awake. She hardly decelerated before reaching the bed and pulling him into an embrace. She wrapped her arms around him tightly, holding him as close as she could. She could feel her eyes stinging from the tears of joy and relief flowing down her face. "Richard" she managed to choke out, before just surrendering to the relief.

-Lucius-

Lucius hovered, eerily still, in the middle of his hotel room, pondering what offensive magic he could remember. Deciding that there was just about enough within grasp of his memories, he looked to the clock. 6am. Sometimes, he thought he'd get less bored if he still slept. He looked around, before deciding to practice flickering - blinking in and out of the material world almost-unnoticeably fast - always good for evading incoming attacks.

Richard sat in his chair, unsure to follow the angry demon, keep an eye on the dazed couple who haven't moved an inch or said a word for a long time, or just try to contact John about the fact the Order is on him.

"Where did the demon go off to?" Richard said, noticing she was not on the food court, "She... oh no."

Richard got up, only for his pager the hospital gave him start beeping. The other Richard was awake.

Before the agent could do anything, a winged demon flew by him at a desperate pace, making most of the people either run or scream. Richard started to hurry to the emergency room, but decided to quickly go to his "squad" car, taking a Custos Anima (if an agent ever needed to barter for a deal needing a soul, better to use one that isn't there's) before heading back into the emergency room. In there he saw the strange sight of a winged demon desperately holding onto a weak form of an ascended mage while a doctor was petrified in a corner.

"I am sorry to ruin the moment..." Richard began weakly, one hand holding an iron knife if Terra decided to eat his soul, "But we need to talk."

-Clarkson-

Clarkson took another sip from his whiskey (he wanted to forget all that just happened NOW), cursing how well he could hold down any liquor, before spotting a bird standing on the bar.

"Do you see the bird," Clarkson said to the barkeep, "Or have I drank to much already?"

"I am very happy to see you Seras." Theon said as he released himself from the hug to kiss Seras on the cheek, which was uncovered due to the type of helmet that she wore, which obscured her eyes, but left her nose and mouth visible. "I have to admit I am a bit scared, but with you here I feel much better. Thank you for being here for me Seras. And in case you were wondering Sandulf and me combined our powers, so that is why I look like this now." Theon then added as he took a moment to look around his body. "Well let's get moving, the sooner we are done here the better."

Seras smiled as they began to walk even closer to the black cloud that was on the horizon; it briefly made her feel scared, knowing what it could do to Theon if it ever took control, but her will remained strong, thanks in no small part to Theon saying she made him feel better by the simple virtue of being here. With her armored right hand, she took hold of Theon's and kissed his cheek.

"No need to thank me Theon, you kind of have that same effect on me you know, it is good to know that we are there for each other in our time of need. And I must say, the combined sight of both you and Sandulf, makes you look rather handsome. I take it that this black cloud ahead is were that 'thing' lays in wait?"

Richard's eyes sizzled with light and power a little more than when he fell into the coma. Taking them over the wings of the girl in his arms he hugged her back and began mending her clips one by one "Sorry I've been gone, the Roman decided to try and knock me into obedience. I disagreed." Kissing her head, he shifted his eyes briefly to the other man with the knife in his hands.

"Whomever you are, we can talk like civilized beings. No talking will truly be done whilst you hold that knife, and I'm not feeling like letting you hold onto the thing that could hurt her." Richard turned his attention back to mending her wings and hugging Terra.

Over the link she could feel pure affection and protective instinct from him. Richard's sister woke up and blinked blearily, looking around she frowned and got in front of Richard's bed, leaning against it arms crossed, and letting her back lean on Richard's arm "Glad you're back, Bookface." Richard smirked while still mending Terra's wings "Hm."

Richard awkwardly put away his knife back in it's holster. He was very nervous, but Terra didn't seam to be very murder heavy at the moment.

"Sorry," Richard said quickly, "It's just that... Terra had a run in with a wizard of the Order of Magic over... wizard heresy by John or something. The mage slowed time so I didn't see it, but somehow your girlfriend got drained. I cannot allow her to eat human souls."

"Well," Richard began as he pulled out the Custos Anima, "Currently living human souls at any rate..."

The Ascended nodded "I will trust what Terra says, and her judgements, but I understand you being nervous." Richard's sister shrugged "I dunno what the Order is up to these days, but if it'll make you simmer down G-man, I'll talk to them and see if I can tell them to bring the pressure down on whomever John is-" Richard piped in "Another agent." Richard's sister nodded "-On your man."

Richard looked at the new arrival.

"Thanks for the offer," Richard began, "However I would suggest against it. Since the Great Reveal and many of their former magical subjects siding with humanity, or just becoming independent of mages, the Order has become zenophobic and isolationist to anyone that isn't a 'true' mage. Even ascended mages are considered heretics, although aren't actively hunted out of fear for your guys power."

"However, that is a side issue for the moment," Richard tried to change the conversation, trying to give as little information as possible, "We need to take care of Terra's hunger right now. You know what this is right?"

Richard pointed at the Custos Anima, which contained the soul of a mage at least 1600 years old and utterly insane by this point.

"She indicated that a... Nether dweller like her wouldn't be able to eat the soul driven so insane by the darkness and lack of sensation," Richard explained, "However, would you be able to the soul contained sane enough for consumption, or something like that?"

-Meanwhile-

In the Mediterranean, in the darkness before dawn, a small fleet of ships, surrounding two aircraft carriers, had stopped just short of being seen by land. Officially, these were French and Italian ships preforming a joint war exercise on stealth and mountain fighting. Really, it was the majority of the PIA task force assigned to keep the dragon seals contained. Jets, mostly A-10 Thunderbolt IIs (often nicknamed the "Dragon slayers" by their pilots) and Eurofighter Typhoons. Supply helicopters, containing soldiers, several of the magic users, and various weapon systems to wound, drive away, or take out anything that got out of those seals).

-EU PIA headquarters-

Communication officer Monroe sent a simple message to Princess T'Mat.

"Containment teams enroute. 2 hours till they are at designated areas."

Pegs awoke, and stretched. Those dreams of hers were sometimes so real. Almost like she was... No, that was not possible, not after the sealing... She brushed those thoughts away and gathered her belongings. The hotel staff could deal with the mess of plates, crumbs and glasses that remained of the food from room service. That Lich was an awfully nice person went it came to freebies. Especially since she wasn't planning to join in with the rest of the madness. Thought at least she had met one new interesting person on this part of her trip. She asked one of the staff if they had seen a silvery-purple dragon in the night and they answered positively. One of them even told her where she had landed. Pegs grabbed the small luggage case and wandered over to the hotel.

She arrived and called for the receptionist, who appeared promptly with a smile. Pegs smiled back and asked, "Is there a 'Lucia' here by any chance?"

The receptionist nodded and told the Fey the room number. After zooming up to it, Pegs knocked on the door, something cautious of waking a dragon up.

---Hotel---

Lucia awoke to a knocking at her door, confused she got up a threw a bath robe the hotel offered on, yawned and walked over to the door, only to find Pegs on the other side "Hey *yawn* what brings you here at this hour" she asked still drowsy.

---Inquisition HQ; Earth---

The Princess received the message and updated you team commanders of the time table, then waited. She kinda hated that she had to sit out some many missions due to her being the director, but the Queen insisted it would be good for her.

---Jade---

The Ancient One was listening to the reports of how the political dealings where going, she was pleased things where going so well, and pleasantly surprised by what and who instigated the final push to the vote that would be happening in a few days time. She knew that if Jade was made a member state the whole high council would go to earth for the the final leg of that. She was proud of how her 'children' had grown, she was also a little sad, it meant her 'mission' was nearing completion.

Terra turned to enter the conversation, freely admitting the truth. "He's right Richard-" she said, speaking with her Richard, "-I was headed out to... hunt. I had to use my powers to calm Theon down after the Order wizard called him a pet. It took more out of me than I expected, so I needed to refresh my reserves" she said, explaining the situation. She then turned to the PIA agent named Richard, adding "For the record though, I don't eat whole souls... I just skim some of the emotions off the top. It's not like it would have hurt anyone; some people would have even had a better day as a result." she said, trying to hint that it wasn't as simple as he liked to believe.

"On that note; I CAN eat from insane souls, just its the emotional equivalent of junk food. As good as it might be, you can't survive off it indefinitely. I also don't know if I can extract the soul from the object... I've never tried anything not alive before" she said, giving a clearer representation of the problem.

With that, she opened her mind up, touching briefly on the object in the agent's hands. There was a soul in there - no doubt about it. Even with all the protections the ancient necromancer had placed on it, he couldn't hide his existence. It was also, most definitely, insane. Terra was fairly sure it would give her heart burn.

Returning to the Agent for a moment, she added "and you can stop calling me a "Nether Dweller" and what not; I'm a demon, a succubus, a temptation demon, etc. alternatively, you could just call me "Terra" and be done with it. There isn't much of a reason to pussyfoot around what I am when I can read your mind." she offered, tired of the constant diplomatic speak.

"Now, if you'll excuse me." she said, turning back to her Richard and kissed him square on the lips. She help him there for a moment, enjoying every second of it, before regrettably letting go. Thereafter, she glared at him and said "and if you ever do anything as foolish as "playing the hero" or "saving a plane" again and leave me here in a hospital worried, I swear I'll delve into your head and drag you out kicking and screaming myself.

The Ascended smiled at her "Take up the long period of my rest with the Roman. I was rather unable to awaken while I was pulled into his pocket dimension. I disagreed with his terms of obedience and abandoning you, we discussed it with great conflict, and came to a reasonable agreement in the end." Richard kissed Terra again, and looked back to the other man's object "I could stabilize the soul for some amount of time. Long enough, at least. Souls and spells are essentially the same concept, one is just significantly more powerful... usually."

Richard went back to mending Terra's wings "I'd do it for you only."

"I'd do it for you only." Richard said as he committed to a task that couldn't be easy. All for her.

"Thank you Richard." she said, not really knowing what else to add at the moment. Her wings, now more or less fully healed, folded back up behind her and she turned so that she was now seated beside him, her head on his shoulder. "I don't know what I'd do without you." she added, closing her eyes. In truth, she had a few guesses what she'd do, but she didn't want to think about them - they were less than pleasant.

As she was sitting there, she felt the long day finally catch up to her. She'd been awake since the plane incident began more than a day ago, with most of it spent worried in a chair by Richard's bed or in the ER. She's also burned most of her power. All said and done, with the relief of Richard's return, the expected exhaustion came over her.

Standing up, she went over to the Agent Richard and took the magical object - looking it over to see what it would take to drain the soul. She didn't want to bother Richard with using magic just yet - he needed his rest - and while an Insane soul was hardly good food, it wasn't something harmful in the short term. She raised the Object up, examining it from multiple angles, before finally turning to the Agent and asking "May I?"

Richard just gave it to her.

"Consider this one a gift. Once your done with it, we need to talk business"

Richard waited till Terra drained the emotions from the object. Going to be more paperwork, but it was worth putting her in a better mood.

Richard waited until the Agent gave Terra the object, before he reached out to it highly ordered magical circles started orbiting the object, and the soul within seemed to briefly fight something before being forcefully conformed to the lines of the circles going through it, and brought back to a small period of vivid, awake sanity

Those with plenty of magical knowledge would recognize the circles as the magical equation for the physical aspect of reality.

Richard smiled at Terra

Hurry, not even this will keep it orderly for too long.

"Hurry, not even this will keep it orderly for too long." Richard said through their link. Already she could tell the soul was calming down. That said, Terra couldn't help but feel annoyed at Richard for using his magic; he'd just woken up, he was supposed to be resting and recovering, not wasting mana on what was effectively a midnight snack. None-the-less, she didn't say anything; Richard was welcome to use magic however he liked - so long as he didn't put himself in any more danger.

Terra held the ancient artifact up, close to her mouth. It was a bit odd to be draining a soul with an audience, but she tried to pay it no heed. When it was but a millimeter away, she began to inhale. At first, nothing seemed to happen, but slowly the object began to radiate. At first it was barely noticeable under the artificial illumination of the hospital, but as it grew it became more apparent. Finally, the pale, blue-white light the object gave forth grew bright enough to be seen clearly, and the truth became clearer. The smoky light of the Anima was being pulled into her mouth, disappearing down her throat.

Then, almost as soon as the the light was overpowering the other sources in the room, it began to fade away, much faster than it had grow. It seconds, the light faded to a dull thermal glow and was lost. Terra held it for a few more seconds before she exhaled - it was done; the soul was gone. All that was left was a useless piece of rubble from a long fallen empire.

She offered the empty Anima back to Agent Richard, unsure if he wanted it back for some secret project or not.

Thereafter, she turned to her Richard and muttered a quick "Thank you" before returning to her seat where she tried not to attract anymore attention. It was a bit embarrassing to be seen eating, given how it didn't take a genius to see how the soul drain would have worked on something that wasn't a pseudo Lich's Phylactery. Still, it had done what it needed to; recharging her powers and putting the barrier against her darker impulses back in place. Now, she just wanted to sleep, but then she was sure Agent Richard had more to say - no doubt wanting Richard's help on the fool's errand that was hunting a Lich.

Richard grabbed the brooch that used to contain the soul and put it into his pocket (the lab boys would want to study if anything physically changed with the object as compared to the first one.

"Now, I am not sure how much you remember from today, but the person who almost took down the plane was a very dangerous Lich. Not the one who was the passenger, the one who took over the dropplegangers. The people I work for have had extreme troubles hunter her down. I need to ask if your willing to help us. You will be compensated, we will send more of these Aminas to you two so Terra can have a more ready food supply. We will also allow you complete, supervised, access to the Lich's records. Are you interested?"

Richard smiled "Silly Agent, Faustian Deals are for Ascended. Yeah, I'll help you with the understanding that the 'records' includes access to notebooks and libraries. I'd also like to look at the phylactery when we find it- the Higher Powers as they like to think of themselves-have essentially made me the grunt in charge of actually fixing problems already ON Earth. If you have any need of Ascended services, I'm most likely the most helpful person to talk to, and I can get messages up to the Others if you need me too. As for Terra's soul supply, I'd like more than good word-I have no promise yet that you won't use it as a leash. You ARE a secret agency in the middle of a shadow war with the threats overwhelming Humanity, just because we're both defending the same thing, doesn't mean you think I'm worthy of doing it as freely or with the rights you have. Until I know more about your organization, or the Others officially put us in alliance, it's my job to protect my loved ones and the other Ascended interests on Earth, and that includes our rights. I hope you don't take this personally, and of course I will help you hunt the threat, but I'd like more than hearsay of what you're saying." Richard had a notepad and pen float over to him from a hospital drawer somewhere outside, and he wrote down a number on the pad, having the page float over to the Agent whilst the pad and pen went back outside, presumably to go back to wherever their home was.

"That number will get you talking to a Guardian I know-they're like the Wizard version of you guys- that particular one is very good at their job, and happens to be both reasonable and influential. Also, have any information you have found so far sent to me so that I can get up to date, please. Oh, and I will compensate your people for the equipment damage that the Roman caused after my landing, I presume you already have my accounts and assets pulled up somewhere and inventoried-I'll have a portion of it flagged for you guys to go ahead and use for replacements."

Richard extended his hand "Good to meet you."

In the link, Terra felt affection come from Richard Part of my deal with the Roman is that I join the Faction a little earlier than I planned-although I'll be getting paid, hence how I have enough money to compensate these people. He needs to go away; I've missed you.

Richard's sister, for her part, merely watched the Agent levelly the entire time.

Richard looked as blankly as the doctor still scared out of his wits in the corner.

"I... I need to make some phone calls," Richard said before quickly walking out of the room with the notepad. Bowl would have his @$$ for this...

-PIA EU headquarters-

Translated from German.

Director Bowl picked up another phone, trying to keep all departments in check. Very rarely did any one action call for such a massive movement of manpower. Of course, when the existence of three Elder dragons in the middle of the EU slips their agency notice, and the fact the seals are weakening, never happens with this organization. Of course, many strange things have been happening as of late.

"Status on army threat levels?" Bowl asked one of the many people in the communication center.

"Fake anti-magical terrorist threats have forced the mobilization of Germany, Spain, and France. Switzerland didn't buy it and the current commander of the Italian forces supports their efforts."

"@#$% the Pope," Bowl shook her head, the Roman Catholic Church had taken a hard stance against paranormal creatures since the great revealing, electing the most militant pope since Julius II, "How many of our land base forces have managed to deploy?"

"Only 24% have managed to take off, bad storms have grounded our all forces north of the Alps, while an outbreak of the Ophio fungus has forced us to avert out Spanish forces to contain the infection. Sea based forces will be here in 15 minutes."

Bowl rubbed her temples, this was going horribly. Several of the magic users were tied up in other missions, and had to take some from North African and Middle Eastern forces. Another phone call came in.

"Sir, agent Richard wishes to speak with you, he says could lead to a potential alliance with The Others."

"How did he deal with the ascended? I don't have time for this, send him over to the NA headquarters," Bowl said.

-Somewhere in Nevada...-

Director Atkins sipped his coffee. It had been an uneventful day. Raiding a cult who was trying to unlock a cursed crate in Vancouver, hunting down some vampires trying to drink those in a retirement home in Florida, cleaning up after a person blasted some huge bat creature in Texas, it was a slow day. Most of it was taken care of by middle management. Soon the night shift would be here and he could go to...

The phone started to ring.

"Hello?" Atkins said, "Agent Richard? Why do you sound British... oh, different one? Why are you... directed over, I see... Wait, slow down... There is another Richard? The Order of what? The ascended... ok... the Ascended? What is that number again..."

Atkins watched as the computer took down the number for him.

"I will call you back Richard."

Atkin saw his communication expert type in the number given, keeping tabs on where the signal was coming from while doing everything he cold to hide where their location hidden.

"Since when has the ascended adopted technology?"

"Do you see the bird," Clarkson said to the barkeep, "Or have I drank to much already?"

Roland flew a bit closer and looked him over before he spoke.

"Now, if you were to ask me..." he said, considering, "I think it's a bit of both. Although if you start seeing pink elephants or little green men then that's probably just the drink."

He then turned towards the barkeep. "Something to eat and drink please and put it on his tab," he ordered, motioning towards Clarkson.

Clarkson glared down at the bird, about to strangle the tiny #^*@ when he saw the barkeep bring in the bird's "meal."

A single peanut and a shot glass filled with water. Clarkson chuckled at that.

"Alright, what do you want?" Clarkson said, taking another sip.

Richard's sister walked out of the room after a brief knowing smile directed to her brother behind her

walking along out into the hospital halls she melded with the flow of the crowd, lifting a labcoat from a counter and slipping in on in the first five seconds, she looked like just another doctor as she moved up and looked over another doctor's shoulder to a clipboard. Keeping this act up until they passed a closet, which she slipped into. After she was inside, the door closed and seemingly became a wall. Nobody looked.

Immediately after she finished the passover wards, her phone rang. She considered briefly where she wanted to reroute the track they'd place. She decided the moon was nice this time of year. It wasn't a hard spell-simple really. Wizards had been altering radiation patterns since they were first able to bend the sunbeams to extort farmers. They would run their whatever, and trace her to the moon. taking her phone out of her pocket, she used a spell to bend the sound of her voice to sound scottish. And male. And really old, noble and distinguished, really.

"Yes?"

"Hey *yawn* what brings you here at this hour" she asked still drowsy.

Pegs was glad to see that the dragon wasn't breathing fire or anything. She smiled and just simply replied, "Sorry, I just got the urge to go on a little walk. Bad dreams." She looked out of the window, but with the light pollution, she couldn't see anything. Nevertheless, she said, "Feels like something's coming, doesn't it?"

Books books books books books and more books. Zaheer was running an underground operation at this point, having left the airport and a shade to follow the others from a distance. Fromanzio was active coordinator to the dozens of Jinn stealing spell tomes from wherever they could find them.

Zaheer had acquired the small apartment before leaving for London. A small transaction he was easily able to afford, he simply used transmutation to make a large quantity of gold. The retailer did not question him.

"The loading and unloading dock is full right now, please wait for a book representative to accomidate yo-I SAID WAIT! DO NOT MAKE FROMANZIO RIP YOU TO SHREDS!"

Fromanzio was less than thrilled with his new duty, but Zaheer was impossible to approach when he was reading. The left pile was discarded books that were either finished or had nothing worthwhile inside and many Jinn were working to return said tomes.

"Just like old times again." Fromanzio sighed. One of the tomes caught his attention. "Ohhh! Master, lookie here! One of the Jinn found a book on Thaumaturgy!" Fromanzio rushed over to the hooded mage's side and excitedly bounced with it stuck out. If Zaheer started using those spells, things would explode in a beautiful mist! Fromanzio couldn't wait to see that. Zaheer was so much more interesting compared to his other masters in that regard.

As Zaheer reached out to grab his next tome from Fromanzio, he suddenly found himself floating out in what he could only describe as a flaming ball of death. Strangely, instead of being instantly incinerated and forced to revert to his more powerful Ascended form, Zaheer was perfectly fine. His hoodie was even perfectly unharmed. He let the hood down, revealing his plain bald head, a singular snake tattoo running down the back of his tan head.

Something was strange here, someone wanted him. That or he was being imprisoned for something. That last one bothered him because this wasn't a cage he would likely be getting out of. Zaheer was slightly nervous as he yelled "If this is about those humans I incinerated a few years back, that was an accident I swear!"

"There have been worse emergences unto our stage."

Behind Zaheer, was a suit of armor in a wizard's cloak, both very large. There were odd markings adorning the creature, and no skin, in place was a metal mask. On it, were the magical incants representing law and order

The creature 'stood' or floated rather, at something like ten feet. "We needed to speak to you, and I figured that you'd enjoy the view, your obsession with power, now you get to see more than you could create. And if you play nice, that last part could change."

Zaheer stood still, looking at the burning planet to his right and the sun to his left. He sighed. This wasn't a punishment, the other Ascended were finally recognizing him to a degree. This was bad. He wasn't ready for them yet, not enough power and without Richard or Lucius to help him, the creature behind him could easily rip him to shreds.

"You have been watching me then?" Zaheer began. "I suppose I should have checked better for spies. When I saw the Roman go after Richard instead of myself, I figured I was in the clear. Guess not."

Zaheer kept his eyes on Mercury. Quite a sight to behold. The power to create something like that was far beyond him for now, but the secrets these people held...could prove to change that.

"What is it you want then? Wouldn't want to waste your time I suppose."

"Spies? Really? We don't need to spy to see what happens on Earth." The Creature 'walked' over and pointed down to the planet "I want to make you able to do that, if you agree to cooperate with us. See, we don't mind you being immature and disagreeable-that's your business."

"You know Richard Fortnight, yes? Follow his example. See, we're rather tied up with other business, so we need you all working together nice and tight. But don't worry, the Faction takes care of loyal employees. You work for us, we make you able to do it better... and then if you just so happen to enjoy those benefits personally... all the better for anybody."

Zaheer did indeed know who Richard Fortnight was. The Roman was going to be taking quite a bit of that poor bastard's time. Didn't he have a girlfriend? Would suck to be her Zaheer supposed. Ascended don't waste time on family, might not be long before Richard goes eons without seeing her. Either way, Zaheer didn't have time to waste jumping through their hoops.

"And I assume that comes with thousands of years of mindless service. I don't have time for that. That said, what you guys do is interesting to say the least. I will agree to this under one pretense. I am sure you are aware of my work yes?"

Zaheer turned and faced what he figured was the police of the Ascended. Seemed the most likely anyway. Most books didn't go into specifics beyond the three most important. "There is a certain demon who has been ignoring me for quite some time. The weapons forger, Azazel. If I do this, I want an audience with him under the assumption he will make something for me. Will this work for your order?"

The creature laughed "Children are so cute. You won't have any thousand year missions, we just need you to help Richard keep the fort down on Earth. If you agree to our deal and let us have a little more time do do what we need, we'll get you whatever cap pistol you want."

Zaheer wasn't amused. The Ascended was toying with him. Who did he think he was? Zaheer wanted even less now to cooperate with these self righteous power dealers. Still, if he kept his cool, it would work out.

"I don't want a ""Cap pistol"". I want something more important to me. If Azazel can craft a weapon capable of splitting a planet in two, I am sure he could make me an object capable of granting me knowledge of every spell known to demons, angels, and whatever else their influence reaches. It would prove an excellent starting place for me to expand upon. I assume by "keep the fort", you mean you want Arzhaela and whatever else comes along dead or sealed. I would normally chose to leave that to others, but as long as there is something more rewarding than a few more humans living their short lives out, I will be happy to help. I already know where Richard is. He is about to have to deal with a rather large army poised to ruin his week."

Zaheer put out his hand to the creature. "Shake on my deal and consider him perfectly safe."

Zaheer was honestly curious as to why they needed him for this, Richard was more than capable of handeling this. He supposed it might be more towards keeping the others safe. He could do that.

The Judge chuckled "I'm a Judge of the Arbitrators. If I want you to jump, you better follow the law on how high. Look, I'm sure this all seems very arbitrary-hah- to you, and I don't care what you think of it. Help the Humans, I'll give you a spellbook to start out, good old and unique." The creature reached into it's billowing cloak and held out a heavy looking tome with seemingly no effort at all, the thing was the size of a full dictionary. It also had script on the front in a language Zaheer had never even seen before.

Zaheer looked at the book and scratched his head. It looked like Azazel would be on his own perogative. Which raised another question. Although it seemed he was pretty much without options. "I have two questions, one, how am I supposed to read that, two, why are the Ascended so concerned with humans?"

The Judge looked at Zaheer "You're still in your teenage stage? Really? I think I got to deal with you as spite from the others. Is this because I broke up with Sara back when I was trying to screw Cleopatra? Look. You want power, to us you're like a child, and I'm trusting you with the equivalent of a crossbow. If you can't figure out how to use it, then that's not exactly our problem. What do you care about our reasons anyway?"

Zaheer sighed. More work for him, though he supposed it would be worth it. He could get a few of the Jinn under his employ to research it while he was away. "Simple intrigue really. You don't have to answer. I will find out on my own soon enough anyway."

The Judge chuckled again "We care for Humanity. You wouldn't understand why, not yet. Eventually, maybe you might."

Zaheer laughed along with the Judge. "Perhaps. Now I request you send me back so I can rip that horde from the inside out. I have a particular demon who will be very excited to let loose for a bit."

The Judge shrugged "Try not to cause too much damage, we kinda need to keep SOME people liking us down there, and London happens to be where some of them live."

"If you would like, I could turn the zombies into lolipops and have the Jinn hand them out to all the kiddies. Not as fun as making them all com-bust, but it would be entertaining to see the PIA's reaction to it."

The Judge shrugged "Focus on something else, if you can find it. I'm sure Fortnight can take some shamblers." The Creature then walked between the sun and Zaheer "Have you ever fallen from orbit before?"

Zaheer had a look of pure annoyance with the Judge. This might hurt a tiny bit. "Can't say I have. Guess I am about to find out."

"Call it a learning experience."

The Judge smiled to Zaheer, and before the younger Ascended could say anything, he found a blur of gravitational and physical forces he couldn't even label twisting and cycloning around him. Looking around, he noted the patterns.

He now understood how Richard pulled a few of the stunts he pulled during the plane battle.

As he turned his decidedly non-physical perception in the direction he noticed he was going unreasonably fast, he already saw Earth approaching. Doing a quick stint of math, he figured he was going somethingl like 2c. Beam him up, Scotty. Now he had to slow down before he obliterated the planet he was supposed to protect, as he was calculating his spells, he suddenly felt a horrible sensation, like he was vomitting out his entire being, multidimensional and all, then it was vomitting actual vomit out. He'd come to a complete stop-the only thing within this quarter of the galaxy at objective stop. Noting the physical impossibility he was committing, he felt Earth's gravity apologetically try to help him down. Lovely.

For the first time, he could actually SEE conventionally what was going on. He noted that a Human would feel like it was beautiful. Briefly he wondered if he could get a girl to see this-it'd be a good trick to play for favor. Looking behind him, he saw the Judge watching. Zaheer could practically FEEL the humor of the creature. Then he could only feel the very odd sensation of being weightless despite the fact that he was getting put at extremely high velocities. Looking at his three dimensional form, he noted that suddenly he was a very low-mass ball of supersolid force. Looking at the ground, he noticed that he was about to land in a small crowd of zombies outside of London. Benefits of multidimensional sight included high velocity comprehension. His impact was remarkably low-damage, he hit like a cannon ball and the small pack of undead was obliterated. Stumbling up from the odd experience of pain and nausea being felt for the first time in years, he noticed he had some brains. And liquefied bones. And liquified many things on him. "Lovely."

Zaheer had no time to waste with whatever those things were. He wasn't instructed to pay attention to them and the Judge probably wanted to piss him off even more by ruining his clothes. Zaheer burned the liquified zombie off of him and teleported to his library.

Fromanzio stood still at Zaheer's desk. His master left, to do something...without him! "Unforgivable! Absolutely unacceptable! Fromanzio is not a secretary to leave at home while master goes off to do fun things without him! He isn't even wearing an apron! The nerve of some people!"

Fromanzio turned to see a terrified Jinn below him. Normally Jinn were proud, but Fromanzio and Zaheer easily outclassed them and used them for spies and errand boys. Their invisibility and shape shifting proved extraordinarily useful in that regard. Fromanzio turned his hand into a sharp bunch of claws and ripped the demon in half. A black ichor clumping on the ground quickly vaporizing and returning to Zaheer who had now teleported behind Fromanzio.

"What did I say about killing my servants Fromanzio?"

"But master! You left and did fun things without your dear friend! Fromanzio can smell the burning corpse on you! What did you do without Fromanzio! He must know!"

"I got summoned by the Ascended. They want me to help get rid of Arzhaela." Zaheer slapped the tome on the desk. "This is their payment." Zaheer ordered the Jinn to do as much research on his book as possible and several shades quickly grabbed it, leaving to go talk to individual masters, all of which Zaheer had talked to a few years back. He didn't summon them to do cartwheels for him and they used their vast knowledge to help him identify things. Quite a nice deal for all involved.

Looking through the eyes of his Jinn spying on the group, he figured Fromanzio could gather information from the human agent while he talked to Richard. Could be funny to see the thing's reaction.

Zaheer teleported in front of Richard and sent Fromanzio to his destination with a message. Get some information from John. "We are working together now Richard. Get over it and tell me what you know because the faster we get done with this, the sooner I can get back to my research."

While Zaheer butted in on Richard, Fromanzio took a slower approach with John. Everywhere around the agent, the lights started to flicker. A voice too familiar to the agent started to permeate the air. "Johnny boyyyyy it is I, your old business partnerrrrrrrr. Bwooooooooo."

---???---

The Ancient One walked along a path, one she'd never been on but knew well, she walked in the realm of the Ascended. Around her sights that would leave a mortal stunned in awe, the formation of stars and galaxy's, plantiods floating in the distance, buildings made of Diamond or what ever precious material that builder favored, she even spotted a literal Ivory Tower, though she assumed that some kind of joke on the builders part.

All in all she found it fitting for beings of god like power, and at the same time, gaudy, to her it seemed like little more then a grand display of power for the sake of showing off, sure, she had breathed life into the dragon broods of Earth, and created Jade several century's before it became home to dragon kind, but she never bragged about it, though she was usually to busy to brag.

As she continued up the path, she shed her massive 'dragon god' form, it being just to big and went back to her true form, a Platinum Dragon, a horribly scared one who was missing her left front leg, a limb she replaced with one made of hard light, damaged or sheered off horns and a 'dead' left eye, wounds she never regenerated because she felt the mistakes that earn her them should not be just 'wiped away'.

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