7th Sea: the Fragments of Theus (Game Thread - Closed, Started)

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Rosemonde was trying to find her center. She could neither hear nor see. That damned Crescent had thrown a Synreth artifact in her face, and it had exploded. She hoped the rifleman had avoided the blast, as she wasn't in any state to help Surfan.

Find the center. Find your center, and you can do anything.
Her father's words again. During sparring, he had stressed the importance of knowing yourself above anything else. Not that it was any help in her current predicament- being blind and deaf in an active battle- but it kept her from panicking.
She'd fought blindfolded before, she remembered. Against Romaine. He had claimed it was an important part of a swordsman's training. She suspected he was just tired of her beating him and wanted to wail on her for awhile.
She smiled at the memory, and wondered where Romaine was. It wasn't important now, but when all of this was over, she'd go and visit.

When all of this is over... What is all of this? A pirate attack in Altamira of all places, and this strange man with Synreth artifacts... Something told her that this wouldn't be over for a long, long time.

Her hearing was coming back as the ringing subsided, and her vision began to clear some. She opened her eyes, just in time to see the man stepping through a Porte portal. By Theus, what have I gotten myself into?

"This I choose to do," she muttered to herself, then stopped. "No. This I chose to do. My choice has been made." She began to walk slowly, having to be careful to keep her balance, towards where the man had disappeared from.

"Well, that was not my best fight," she proclaimed to no one in particular, then sighed.

~Beatrice~

As Beatrice watched Erasmo approach one of the two men attempting to simply push their way outside, the lit match that was meant for her cigarette stopped just an inch away from it, and she stared. It would just be her luck that one of them would be the groom. And the Castillian had to be the father, she had no doubt. After a few moments, she simply waved out the match before it could singe her fingers as she decided that it was probably best to slip outside.

She was confident that Erasmo could think of something after all. As it was, she could hardly think of a distraction that would let him slip away with the groom, while keeping her presence, and status as a Witch, hidden. So there, he was on his own.

Turning towards the exit, she strode impatiently to one of the guards, then held up the unlit cigarette. "Look, if this stupid raid takes much longer, I'm going to need a smoke. I doubt the priests here are going to appreciate cigarette smoke in the University, so I'm going to have this just outside. I won't go far, unlike those two, so may I?", she asked, putting on the airs of a noblewoman who was tired of simply doing nothing.

After all, that wasn't far from the truth. As it was, that kind of attitude usually inspired some kind of results in her experience, along with irritated grumblings and mutters of "Bitch.", behind her back. But, time was of the essence.

University

"Given the number of pirates that were out there last I checked, I don't fancy your chances of survival if it's just you two going."

The pair seemed to quiet slightly at Garrett's words, but not for the same reasons. The groom - Garritt Engnestangen - seemed to see some wisdom in the statement; there was little hope they could succeed by themselves. Fortunado Alfonzo Cortez de Cordoba - the father of the bride - on the other hand, only grew quiet as his anger built.

"I will not just stand around while these pirates and Montaigne scum steal my daughter from me. Either help me rescue her or stand aside." he said, drawing his blade and marching on toward the gate. It was at this time the priest Erasmo arrived. "Excuse me, sirs." Erasmo said, and turned to the Vendel man "I believe you are the groom - my condolences. However, I am not simply here to express my sympathy, but to help as well. Now, if you would follow me..."

Fortunado seemed to take this as an offer to aid in the rescue and so responded in kind. Turning to Garrett, the Groom, and all his servants he said "See! Theus is on our side if even a peaceful Father will join me!" He quickly turned toward Erasmo saying "Lead the way Father."

Following his soon-to-be father-in-law, Garritt quickly ran after the priest, but not before turning to Garrett saying "I see your wisdom; will you not accompany us?"

Adrianna watched the exchange from where she'd first spoken with the strange priest. On the one hand, she had a duty to protect the university from further attack, yet the every fiber of her being told her to take the fight to the pirates and help save her friend. Shaking herself of the uncertainty, she quickly made to follow the the trio to the pirate vessel. Fortune favored the bold they say and no one would say she wasn't bold.

Distracted by the words of his friend Fortunado, Alejandro returned to the disgruntled Alec. Sighing slightly, he conceded the northerner had a point. He'd made an obligation to translate the texts. "Very well Seņor; I will find the scribes and tell them to return to their work, but I expect you to help with this crisis however you can in the meantime as we haven't people to spare."

Docks

Just as the bandaged man was about to disappear through he portal, Surfan and Renault struck. Renault arrived first. The bandaged man was quick however, bringing his arm up at just the right time to deflect the blow away from his head and toward the ground. However, in doing so, he left himself open to Surfan's strike. The Crescent man's blades came crashing down, severing the man's hand from his body just as he entered the portal. No screams of pain erupted however, perhaps lost among the screams of the Porte tunnel.

Ship

The pirates continued their attack, slowly gaining ground over the pair of mages. Though Reyes and Yvonne both ha great magic on their side, but for every pirate they brought down, three more seemed to take their place. Even where their powers allowed them to ignore weapons which would have spelled the doom for any others, the occasional lucky shots began to land. Unless they took action soon, their fate would be sealed.

Just as things began to look bad however, the world took a turn for the worse. From above deck, a massive Castillian man dressed a great deal finer than those around him entered. "What ya wait'n for ya yellow bastards! Kill these fools!" he yelled, bringing a very large pistol to bear from the other side of the crowd.

Surfan's blades slashed into the bandaged man but the strike yielded little reaction before the man disappeared into the portal. But what was left behind was a hand with the potion still in its grip. Surfan squatted to inspect the odd appendage. It had a reddish tint and the absence of blood from made Surfan even more curious. The only thing that came to mind was the stories his father would tell him about odd artifacts that the desert yielded. Artifacts the shared the same red tint and otherworldly features. Surfan ripped a piece for his turban to pick up the hand. Surfan then remembered the man that had helped in the fight and Surfan stood right up to face the man. Surfan bowed his head to the rifleman.

"I appreciate your assistance, sir." Surfan said before rising. "This fight would have very different without you."

~Beatrice~

After a moment of impatience, Beatrice simply waved a hand and strode outside, reaching inside her traveling coat and pulling out a match. Once her cigarette was lit, she glanced over at the front doors of the university. Her mouth promptly fell open as she watched Erasmo trailed by not only the Vendel man, but the Castillian, and two others she didn't recognize, though one clearly wore a mask. Though she couldn't place the name of the vigilante that the mask belonged to, she knew it was someone that many in Castille considered a folk hero.

Catching her cigarette before it fell from her lips, she raised a brow at the priest-in-training. "I was hoping for just the groom, but who are the other two? This is the father of the bride, I presume?", she asked, motioning towards the older Castillian man.

"I think I may know how to find your daughter, and your bride, so long as you don't mind... Unusual methods. After all, since a Porte Mage took her, we can't be sure where she is. On that note, lead the way, Erasmo.", she told the group, before directing the last to the robed man.

"Very well Seņor; I will find the scribes and tell them to return to their work, but I expect you to help with this crisis however you can in the meantime as we haven't people to spare."

Alec shrugged; at least he was getting somewhere. "Very well; I can accept that exchange." He glanced around after accepting, so that he may better understand what he got himself into. "What do you need? Unfortunately, I have little skill in medicine, so I doubt I'll be much help there. I haven't personally seen how defended we are, but a location like this I'm sure I'll be able to fortify well if needed. In terms of combat, if you're going to send me after threats, then send an ally with me. On my own, it won't be pretty. If someone is with me though, then it will be magnificent."

"I will not just stand around while these pirates and Montaigne scum steal my daughter from me. Either help me rescue her or stand aside." Spoke the older Castillian and father of the kidnapped bride, as he drew his blade as he walked towards the gate.

Well, someone is impatient, then again, if it was my daughter that had been kidnapped, I guess I would be acting in a similar manner. Garrett mused to himself, at that moment though, a man who looked to be a priest arrived onto the scene.

"I believe you are the groom - my condolences. However, I am not simply here to express my sympathy, but to help as well. Now, if you would follow me..." The older Castillian seemed to be over joyed by the priest's mere presence and offer for help.

"See! Theus is on our side if even a peaceful Father will join me!" He said to everyone before turning to the priest. "Lead the way Father." The groom was about to follow suit, when he turned to face Garrett. "I see your wisdom; will you not accompany us?" This caused Garrett to smile as he pushed off from the pillar that he had been leaning against.

"I'm glad someone appreciated it, though I can understand why your soon to be father-in-law would be acting this way. And yes, I will accompany you on this rescue mission, as was my intention; I just wanted to make sure you two realised what you would be getting yourselves into. Give me a moment to reload my pistol and I shall join you." Garrett said as he held the empty firearm in his hand.

"Had to use it earlier to save someone, haven't had the chance to reload yet what with all this business going on at the moment." He then added as he poured some black-powder from the powder horn on his belt into the barrel, then placed a round shot wrapped in cloth, and rammed int down the barrel with a ramrod.

"There, all set, lead the way."

"Lead the way Father."

The Castillian's words warmed Erasmo's heart. Even with the trials and tribulations of the past and the present, it was always good to see others of the faith and that even a lowly deacon like him could bring happiness to people - even if just for a moment. If the Castillian thought that Erasmo was going to help with an assault on whoever had kidnapped his daughter, well, he was certainly mistaken. Hopefully the man wouldn't object too much to a little detour. After all, there was no point in pursuing when the location of the bride was unknown. She had been kidnapped by a Porte mage, therefore, she could be anywhere. With luck, the two distraught men would accept that logic. But what about the other followers?

"I was hoping for just the groom, but who are the other two? This is the father of the bride, I presume?"

"Yes." Eramso replied. Beatrice had went on to say exactly what was on the priest-in-training's mind. What were these strangers doing here? Probably just answering the call for help, from their words and their reputations. Nevertheless, it did feel kind of nostalgic, being in charge of a group like this. He mentally sighed. Erasmo guessed that he would have to spell out the situation for all. For one, cramming a group of this number into the top of the bell tower would probably prove tricky and no doubt that they would be puzzled by the little detour. Erasmo began to walk slowly, but quickly stopped and turned around, facing the ragtag group. With a stern voice, one with more authority than expected from a lowly deacon, he announced a little plan he hatched.

"Signors, it is as Signorina Fausti has said." Erasmo began, "We cannot be sure of the bride's location due to the fact that the kidnapper is a Porte mage, therefore we will make use of Signorina Fausti's... abilities. Those not connected to the bride may continue to the docks if they so wish. As for those that are, please continue to follow me. Do not worry, this will only take up but a small amount of your time and will definitely help with the rescue of your daughter. Of course, you can just disregard that plan and blindly rush into things." He paused and looked into each person's eyes before asking the big question and took a deep breath before resuming. Either way, Erasmo was taking a big risk here.

"So, do you agree to that or not?" He queried.

"Signors, it is as Signorina Fausti has said." Spoke the priest, referring the woman nearby who had a cigarette in her hand, who had called the priest Erasmo. The priest soon went into the specifics of the overall plan, saying that they would use Signorina Fausti's talents in conjunction with the father and the groom to locate where the bride had been taken; if Garrett had to hazard a guess, these 'abilities' that Erasmo mentioned were possibly Sorte magic, something to do with fate reading if he recalled from that one time years ago when visiting a fair in Avalon.

Upon further inspection of Signorina Fausti, Garrett had to admit she was rather elegant in her own way; easy on the eye to most men, with her soft curves, long looking legs and olive coloured skin, all wrapped up in a red tunic which appeared to be somewhat loose fitting on her. She reminded him of an equally beautiful gypsy be the name of Esmeralda that he spent the night with during a Vodacce carnival.

It was at this point that Garrett had to mentally slap himself to his senses.

"Ow!" Spoke normal Garrett.

"Get a hold of yourself Garrett! Now isn't the time for this. Focus on what's important." Said his inner voice, slightly angry at himself for thinking like this.

"Yeah, your right me, now isn't the time for such notions. Gotta steel myself." It was then that Erasmo had asked the group as a question.

"So, do you agree to that or not?"

"Of course Padre, though you could have told us sooner. I'm sure Vago and myself can wait a few minutes; whilst you and Senorita Fausti here take the father and groom of the bride off to do whatever hocus pocus that's necessary to locate the bride."

Misery does indeed love company, Yvonne thought as another tirade of pirates stormed the two magi. As she tried to battle off the encroaching horde all seemed lost for her pursuits of treasure, heroism and the fame that she expected to come from both. However, it would be unlike her to give up at the first signs of hardship, more like the first few she reconsidered, but this wasn't the time for semantics.

"Do you happen to have an escape plan, my dear?" The crescent said, chivalrously coming to her aid.

"Not so much an escape plan, more of a biding-our-time plan. You definitely won't like it."

With that she ripped open a portal and grabbed him, pulling him through it, whilst carefully covering his eyes, not without forgetting to drop a bloodied pin deeper into the bowls of the ship.

"Now, I'm sure you're aware that you really, really don't want to open your eyes in here. The plan is we wait for the pirates to think we're gone and then we go back to loo--rescuing that damsel who appearing to be in some distress. It not like you can really disagree with this plan since you can't leave this place yourself, but it would be nice to have your acceptance."

"So what do you say, Reyes?"

University

"...then send an ally with me. On my own, it won't be pretty. If someone is with me though, then it will be magnificent." Alec said. Alejandro took a very short moment to think about it. He was going to put more time into the response, but a dozen important matters - mostly related to the defenses and the injured - awaited his attention. Catching the mess with the groom and the bride's father, he decided to request some help there. "Please keep an eye on Don Cordoba and Garritt Engnestangen" he said, indicating the father-of-the-bride and the groom with his finger. "They're likely concocting some scheme to rescue the kidnapped bride right now and I'd rather not lose either of them while they're in such a state." he finished, before turning his attention toward finding the missing scribes and helping the injured.

Outside the University

"...Of course, you can just disregard that plan and blindly rush into things." the father said, drawing a curious glance from Adrianna, though the expression was hidden by her mask. To see a priest turn to vile magic so quickly was an unexpected turn. How he even knew the Vodacce woman - who she assumed was a Sorte mage - was something she wasn't certain of. Either way, she could hardly follow his suggestion; if she was a Sorte mage, she'd need to keep an eye on her until the meeting was done. If she had the priest under a spell or tried to put the others under such a spell, she'd be ready to deal with the problem. On the other hand, if she could find the bride and the sorcerer then she'd have to adjust her opinion of the dark magic - if only slightly.

Garritt seemed to take the entire matter well; magic wasn't so uncommon in the north after all. "I'll follow your lead Father." he said, before turning to his Castillian companion. "Will you as well father?" he continued. The father-of-the-bride was somewhat more hesitant. "I'll have nothing to do with this blasphemy!" he said in reply, before turning toward the docks to try his luck by himself. Garritt was quick to reach out and grab the man's shoulder. "We don't have time to search every ship. If we don't hurry, we won't have any chance of saving her."

The father seemed to think it over for a minute before grudgingly agreeing saying "...fine..." before stepping into line.

Docks

As Surfan picked up the hand, the bottle rolled from it onto the ground, hitting the stone road with a clink. Before anyone could react to this however, another sound overtook the group; the sound of horses. A few seconds later, horses bearing inquisitors rounded the corner toward the docks, their riders urging them forward at great speed. A moment and they were passing the trio of warriors, aiming for the ships in the bay.

The Dark Space Between Spaces

As Yvonne and Reyes rushed stood in the not-cold, not-hot pocket outside their universe, the sounds of screaming souls tearing into their eardrums in a cacophony of horror, they could feel a wetness touch upon them. It seemed thicker than water though not by much. The whole world seemed to smell of iron and copper and blood; so thick it could be tasted. The universe smelled of blood as well; though there was little in the way of flesh-scent.

As time passed, the screams began to fade into the background - omnipresent but subdued. In their place, voices whispered into their ears, promising them anything to open their eyes from absolute power to wealth beyond measure to the return of loved ones lost to paradise and immortality. Anything and everything was offered if they would but open their eyes in the slightest.

~Beatrice~

Beatrice nodded in support as Erasmo explained just what was going on to the small group that joined them. For his part, he was concise and to-the-point, which she approved, though she could tell that a few of them were going to have trouble with their plan. Thankfully, El Vago's companion didn't seem to. In fact, he looked at her in a way she couldn't help but find flattering, so she smiled as she took another drag of her cigarette.

"Of course Padre, though you could have told us sooner. I'm sure Vago and myself can wait a few minutes; whilst you and Senorita Fausti here take the father and groom of the bride off to do whatever hocus pocus that's necessary to locate the bride.".

The others, however, didn't seem so convinced, save the groom.

"I'll follow your lead Father.".

The father of the bride, however, was less convinced.

"I'll have nothing to do with this blasphemy!".

It was after the groom took his shoulder that he reluctantly agreed. With a stiffened expression, Beatrice blew out a line of smoke before stepping forward.

"Look, I know none of you really like the fact that I'm a Sorte Witch. That's fine with me. Personally, I don't know your bride, but if I feel I have a chance to help, I'm going to help, and I'm going to use my sorcery. You'll just have to make your peace with that.", she told them bluntly.

Then she turned to Erasmo and nodded. "I'm right behind you, Father.", she reassured him.

"Not so much an escape plan, more of a biding-our-time plan. You definitely won't like it."

"I'm pretty damn open!" Reyes muttered, speaking between clenched teeth. He had stuck to guns, sneaking them off the pirates who had them and firing upon their ranks. That always came with the danger of getting cut, and he was never the luckiest man in the world, no matter how often he felt that way with Rose.

He wished so hard that she could be here, standing at his side and doing all the killing-

"Gah, crap!" She took him by the arm as he was about to fire again, covering his eyes and yanking him into her bloody portal. He clenched his eyes shut, seeing the faces of those he brought down in his minds eye as she spoke to him, over the screams and promises of demons.

"Now, I'm sure you're aware that you really, really don't want to open your eyes in here. The plan is we wait for the pirates to think we're gone and then we go back to loo--rescuing that damsel who appearing to be in some distress. It not like you can really disagree with this plan since you can't leave this place yourself, but it would be nice to have your acceptance."

Reyes considered, nodding politely over the voice of one promising to bring his mother back to her youth. He knew them for lies, though they were magical. To be heard over the ringing known by all who fired weapons implied as much, anyways.

"So what do you say, Reyes?"

"I say looting before rescuing. I need pants, I feel liquids getting into places liquids should not be." He spoke weakly, even wearing a weak and fake smile. He was not sure why, she couldn't see him. Must've been to fool himself.

"I'm right behind you, Father."

Now, instead of warmth, all Erasmo got from Castillian was a cold remark. The words of the bride's father-in-law caused his heart to twist and turn around the dagger of ice. Anger rose up and Erasmo cursed the situation, instead of the usual prayer for aid. He knew it was blasphemy to trust in vile Sorcery. Yes, he agreed with the Castillian, the very notion was repugnant. However, it was the only way of finding the lost piece which had been taken so suddenly by nefarious Porte magic. Such a twisted method. Not that their counter plan of using Sorte to find the bride was any better. Still, Erasmo had the groom and the Sorte Witch herself to thank. Without the intervention of the groom, the Castillian would have gone off to huff and puff at pirate ships. As for Beatrice, kind words were always appreciated, even if they were from someone who stood on the different side of the line. But words were just words, now was the time for action. Onward! To the bell tower of La Trinidad!

"Grazie mille." He said, "This way please."

"I'll have nothing to do with this blasphemy!" Shouted the father of the kidnapped bride Aniya in protest to the use of using Sorte magic; someone was certainly a very pious and Vaticine individual, Garrett was somewhat glad to see that the Groom was more accepting of this, which made sense as magic was a lot more common in places like Avalon and the twin islands of Vendel and Vestenmannavnjar.

"We don't have time to search every ship. If we don't hurry, we won't have any chance of saving her." Spoke the groom, bringing a sense of logic and reasoning, hopefully making the father of the bride see sense. Luckily, it seemed as though the man's words had done their job. "...fine..." Spoke the father. Garrett worked hard to suppress a chuckle as the man was brought into line. He noticed that Senorita Fausti gave a him a smile as she took a puff from her cigarette, this sort of set alarm bells off for the mercenary.

"Did she know what I was thinking, I knew Sorte were fate readers, but not mind one was as well."

"Look, I know none of you really like the fact that I'm a Sorte Witch. That's fine with me. Personally, I don't know your bride, but if I feel I have a chance to help, I'm going to help, and I'm going to use my sorcery. You'll just have to make your peace with that." Spoke Fausti in a straight forward manner.

"I have to admit Seņor, Seņorita Fausti has a point. Sorte magic may not be the most trusted form of sorcery, it's better than nothing if I'm being honest, and it is your best shot of finding your daughter; as opposed to simply running in blind and risk getting yourself killed. Think of it as the lesser of two evils."

~Beatrice~

When El Vago's companion spoke up, the Sorte Witch couldn't help but smile a little to herself, glad to know that someone was willing to put a little faith in good intentions, even if they involved sorcery.

"I have to admit Seņor, Seņorita Fausti has a point. Sorte magic may not be the most trusted form of sorcery, it's better than nothing if I'm being honest, and it is your best shot of finding your daughter; as opposed to simply running in blind and risk getting yourself killed. Think of it as the lesser of two evils.".

"Well put. And I appreciate someone besides Father Erasmo is willing to take a chance if it means finding the captured bride.", she said, before she looked over at the priest-in-training.

"Grazie mille. This way please.".

She nodded, keeping up beside him as he led them to their objective. After a few moments, she gave him a sidelong glance.

"So, where will we have the best view?", she asked, giving him a supportive smile.

"Please keep an eye on Don Cordoba and Garritt Engnestangen. They're likely concocting some scheme to rescue the kidnapped bride right now and I'd rather not lose either of them while they're in such a state."

Alec gave a simple, curt nod before replying "Very well sir. Thank you for your generosity." He left Alejandro to his rescue efforts and traveled the direction he was pointed in. He found the pair with the priest he had met earlier, as well as a tall man in a large coat and a woman who was smoking who were accompanying them. As he reached them, he found them embroiled in an argument involving the use of Sorte magic. Interesting. Alec figured the smoking woman was the Sorte practitioner given the direction of the conversation and decided to avoid intruding until it was over. Nonetheless, Alec still followed the group, waiting until he was asked to answer.

"I say looting before rescuing. I need pants, I feel liquids getting into places liquids should not be." He said weakly.

"It's good that we see eye to eye," She said grinning at the tasteless joke.

Nevertheless, the longer they stayed here, the more itch to open their eyes would increase, it wouldn't take long for the drawn out nagging to get to one of them. Probably Reyes first. Being swallowed by the unknown into what is considered a fate worst then death, although no one really knew or pirates, lots and lots of pirates - that was their choice. Neither seemed favourable to Yvonne, she hoped that the pirates they had encountered had a limited imagination though.

"Well, I'm sure you'll find a pair off a pirate soon. At least we're not on one of those crazy, forward thinking, female only pirate boats. Kinda." She teased Reyes, who even though she couldn't see him, still seemed to be embarrassed by his distinct lack of clothes.

"So, where will we have the best view?"

Erasmo let out a brief smile, "The First Prophet's bell tower - that on which we stand, of course."

For the priest-in-training, it was La Trinidad's only bell tower. They were at an altitude of over one hundred feet. Probably even over one hundred and fifty feet. Nearly all of Altamira was visible, save the South, which was partially blocked by a huge Vaticine cross. Nevertheless, part of Erasmo doubted that the pirates would take the kidnapped bride somewhere inland. He knew about hiding in places that were the least expected, but to take the bride deeper into Castille... Surely that would be more trouble than it's worth. Either way, the location would be confirmed with Beatrice's... magic. He tried to keep the 's' word out of his head, he tried to reassure himself that he was doing the right thing and that there was the chance of forgiveness. Regardless, at least he had her smile. Erasmo found strength in that smile. Enough to carry on with what the father-in-law of the bride perceived as a farce of the faith.

He took Beatrice's hand and led her to the balustrade, pulling her gently out of the gathered crowd.

"Here; here is the best view. Now, I will leave you to it." Erasmo said, letting go of her hand.

~Beatrice~

As she followed the priest-in-training to their destination, Beatrice couldn't help but glance back at the newcomer following behind them, someone who had been behind them since the University. As much as it put her on edge, she decided to keep it to herself and push it to the back of her mind. Particularly since Erasmo replied to her question.

"The First Prophet's bell tower - that on which we stand, of course.".

She looked back to him and nodded, keeping up the pace as they made their way up the tower itself. The bell tower was impressive, one of the highest points in the city, and overlooking nearly the whole of Altamira, except for the south. That was blocked by a rather obnoxious Vaticine cross.

When they reached the top, Beatrice took Erasmo's hand as he led her to the ornamented railing.

"Here; here is the best view. Now, I will leave you to it.".

She nodded and smiled in reply, before pulling her cigarette from her mouth and jabbing it in the direction of the groom and father of the bride. "You two, come over here, I need you separate from the rest of them.", she said, before looking at the newcomer.

"I don't know you, but you keep back too. I can't afford to be distracted while I do this.", she warned him, before placing her cigarette back between her teeth.

Turning to the balustrade, she was lucky that someone else thought to bring up a table and a single chair, likely because it was a rather nice spot to overlook the city. Sitting down, she reached into her traveling coat and pulled out her Sorte Deck, while with her other hand she adjusted the small pair of glasses she still wore.

Then she began to shuffle the cards. It was flashy, as her ritual always was, but she kept her gaze on the two men she was planning on reading, and before long the Strands of Fate came into her view. There were quite a few, and it took her some time to single out the Strands she wanted, but once she did, she reached up and gave both the gentlest of tugs.

The Strand from the father of the bride was a blue Cups strand, but was strangely fraying. Some emotional conflict between father and daughter, perhaps?

The Strand from the groom, however, was yellow, represented by Coins. A business relationship, one that led in turn back to the father. In fact, the one Strand she was hoping was connected to the bride, a blue strand that represented passion, and possibly love, led straight back to the University.

But that wasn't going to help find the bride. Turning to where the Strands led, she stood up and pointed resolutely at one of the pirate vessels. "There. You'll find your bride on that ship.", she said.

Then she turned to the two men and took off her glasses. "Regardless, while I hope you find her safe and sound, I can't say I support this marriage.", she said, before motioning to the groom.

"You're in love with another. I don't see any reason why you should deny yourself of it. This is a marriage of business, not love, so I suggest you find a different solution for whatever business it involves. Particularly since I can tell that it likely put you and your daughter at odds over it.", she explained, turning to the father.

"But, that's just my suggestion. However, the Strands have never lied to me before, so make of that what you will.", Beatrice told them formally, a small smile on her lips before she turned to Erasmo.

"Now, lets make sure those pirates don't get away. There's a damsel in distress, and I know I'm not the only one who wants to see her rescued.", she said, motioning for him to once again lead the way.

"It's good that we see eye to eye."

'Are we the same height?' His brain asked him, a stupid question.

"Open your eyes, find out."

"Shush you." He told the phantom, under his breath. It had only been, what, minutes since they arrived? If even that... he wanted to open his eyes, if not for a wish than to see what this land was truly like. The Scholar in him was going to fucking kill him if they didn't leave sooner rather than later.

"Well, I'm sure you'll find a pair off a pirate soon. At least we're not on one of those crazy, forward thinking, female only pirate boats. Kinda."

And, like that, Reyes was made aware of his own nudity again. He'd never been without pants this long, since he was a very small child at least... It had been kind of cold out there... He was suddenly glad she couldn't open her eyes, but he needed clothes. He would settle for a dress-

"We can get you the prettiest dress..."

"I want to leave." Reyes muttered weakly.

"Well put. And I appreciate someone besides Father Erasmo is willing to take a chance if it means finding the captured bride." Spoke Fausti as the group left the ballroom to the bell-tower La Trinidad, this made Garrett smile a little inside.

"Gracias seņorita. Thank you for your kind words." As Garrett spoke, he placed a hand where his heart roughly was and gave a small bow of respect. Now that they were alone, or alone as one could be in a large room full of people, he thought it high time to have a word with Adrianna.

"So then El Vago, what do you make of our current situation; do you think that they will be able to locate the bride through the use of the Fate Threads? And if they do, what would be our plan of attack, or rather rescue, whatever word feels appropriate. One suggestion is for a more subtle approach, try and sneak on board using the commotion as cover; then again with a high value target on board, security may be an issue." Garrett said as he took the half full bottle of run from his belt, and had a small sip from it.

"In any case I am up for a fight." He then added, making the gesture of offering the bottle.

Before Surfan could fetch the bottle, he was interrupted by three inquisitors charging down the street on their horses. Surfan had to move out of the way or else he would have been part of the street. By the looks of it, they were headed down to the docks where there was no doubt more trouble. He would have traveled down that road if it weren't for his wounds. He looked down at his bleeding arms and decided that a trip to the University was worth a visit. The last time he looked, he saw the doctor go down there so hopefully he would fix him at least temporarily.

Before he went there he turned to his comrades who were more or less somewhat injured in the fighting.

"I thank you both for your assistance in the battle. I must go to the University to see if the citizens are alright..." Surfan looked at his bleeding wounds. "And see if the doctor is there as well. You are both welcome to follow me."

He bowed to both of them before turning and going towards the University. When he got there, it was no use looking for the doctor as the place was packed with people muttering something about magic and sorcery. It took sometime asking around before someone had pointed out where they last saw the doctor go. After sometime he made the figure of the father.

"Good Father!" Surfan yelled out before noticing he was conversing with other people. "Ah, apologies. Please finish" He said to them.

The bandaged man disappeared into his Sorte portal, only to leave behind a full appendage for his trouble. His new Crescent friend seemed to have quite the sword arm, to lop it off so cleanly. "Nicely done, my friend." Renault, still trying to catch his breath from that bit of exercise, motioned to address the Crescent man properly, but was interrupted by the arrival of a cadre of Inquisitors on horseback. They stormed towards the harbor, right in the direction of the docks the pirates had made berth. "I thank you both for your assistance in the battle. I must go to the University to see if the citizens are alright...And see if the doctor is there as well. You are both welcome to follow me." Now that he got a better look at the man, Renault couldn't fault him for wanting to sit this next one out - that wound looked like it could fell a horse!

"Business to tend to, I'm afraid. I'm certain we'll cross paths again soon enough." With that, Renault pulled his cloak over his head and headed in the direction of the Inquisitors. If they deigned to involve themselves so directly with whatever was going on with this attack, it must be something of great import - and Renault had more than a few ideas as to what - or, more specifically, who - was behind it.

Rosemonde stood, watching the two other swordsmen part ways.
Men can be such fools.
She frowned, and made a short list of priorities.
1. Justice for those murdered that day. But given her abysmal failure while fighting the bandaged man, she was no longer sure she could dole it out herself.
2. Find Reyes. He could've mist formed anywhere, and, at the very least, he would meet her in San Marcos by dawn.
3. Clear out whatever pirates were remaining.
4. Find that deacon and get her arm bandaged.
She ignored all of these things, and picked up the bottle. Perhaps Reyes or one of his friends could tell her what in the hells that man had been. She slipped it into a pack.
Then, she looked around carefully, and trotted after the rifleman. At the very least, she could see what the Inquisitors were up to and stop them if she had to.
"Greetings. I am Rosemonde Baudin. Thank you for your help back there."

"Now, lets make sure those pirates don't get away. There's a damsel in distress, and I know I'm not the only one who wants to see her rescued."

"Of course." Erasmo replied rather neutrally. With the revelation that the bride was indeed on of the ships in the docks, he grew simply angry at himself. 'So this wasn't necessary after all. Letting Sorte be used in a church... By Theus, I am a fool.' That thought blazed in his mind, along with others. He had to finish it soon, before he became even more steeped in sin. Ha! He was planning to sin to begin with; however, Erasmo saw it more as self-defence more than anything else. Yes, they had struck the first blow. And yes, they were probably aware of the consequences of doing such a thing. Anger soon turned to tranquil, almost soft, pity. Gentleness restored, he turned to the father-in-law and with a solemn face he said, "I deeply apologise for this blasphemy. I have done naught but sinned against Theus and have wasted time. Forgive me."

"...Ah, apologies. Please finish"

Suddenly a bandaged man called out to the group, it appeared to the Crescent (or was it Cathay?) man from earlier and that he needed the priest-in-training's help once again. Erasmo couldn't help but let out a sigh - had he been fighting again? Bravery and valor were commendable, but to fight in such a state... That was just reckless and stupid, even if the man had been cornered. Nevertheless, the night had been filled with such violence ever since the pirate attack. Such a pitiable thing. So much for El Aņo Nuevo, so much for a festival about the start of a new year. Surely, it wouldn't continue to be as bloodstained as the festival turned out to be? However, Erasmo set aside his hopes for tomorrow. He was as bloodstained as the rest and now there was a bloodstained man who required his help. At least it was something to focus on...

"I am finished." The deacon replied, "Come, let us find somewhere for you to rest; healing won't come without it."

Top of the Tower

"...but, that's just my suggestion. However, the Strands have never lied to me before, so make of that what you will." Beatrice said, drawing some ire from the the father. "You know nothing of the world. I must see to it that my daughter is cared for and that our family remains strong. Romantic love is a distraction; lust in guise as something else. I have no doubt that she will be happy, even if she does not see it yet." the father said, dismissing her words with little more than a few sentences and a wave of his hand. After saying this, he turned on his heels and made his way down the stairs - intent on rescuing his daughter before there were anymore interferences.

Garritt remained quiet and followed.

Meanwhile, Adrianna listed to Garrett's words, thinking them over. "...what would be our plan of attack, or rather rescue, whatever word feels appropriate. One suggestion is for a more subtle approach, try and sneak on board using the commotion as cover; then again with a high value target on board, security may be an issue." he said. Adrianna mulled the question over for a short while before replying. "I... think that stealth will only take us so far. We'll likely need it to get aboard the vessel without drawing attention to avoid cannon fire, but thereafter I fear we'll need to fight our way to the bottom."

After saying this, she spotted the Garritt and Don Cordoba making their exit; apparently the Sorte witch had accomplished her task. "I suppose this means its time to make our move." she said to Garrett with a smile hidden behind her mask. "I look forward to fighting beside you Garrett."

She made her way toward the star case before turning to the priest, witch, scholar, and their new swordsman companion, asking "If you wish to stay here in safety I won't begrudge you the choice - Theus knows we stand little chance - but I'd welcome any help you're willing to lend and do my best to ensure your safety." She waited to see who would follow before making her way down the stairs and after the most foolish and desperate of their company.

End of Docks

As Rose and Renault arrived at the end of the dock, they were taken in my the scene. Across the bay, Castille ships had finally managed a proper counter attack; their cannons blazing from across the bay as 9 pound balls of iron slammed into the sides of the pirate vessels. Still, the counter-offensive wasn't enough to push back the pirates who appeared to be making ready to sail to freedom; their holds laid down with ill-gotten treasures.

Meanwhile, on the docks themselves, the Inquisition had set up a makeshift barricade to take shots at the pirates foolish enough to be within their rifle range. They fought with vigor unseen in the city guards, though perhaps more desperately than sensibly. Already they were dropping small rafts into the water, loaded down with inquisitors almost assured death at the hands of the cannons, protected only by the little cover fire the inquisition could muster. Still, the sailed forward into the cannons with either reckless abandon or iron souled courage. Whatever their reason, they were desperate to board the ships before they made sail and were lost.

The pirates themselves seemed to be making more haste than seemed entirely necessary in their retreat. Even a novice sailor could tell you their ships would make greater headway than any of the Castillian vessels yet in port and still held the advantage in the engagement despite the growing pincer attack. Whatever the reason, they seemed to desire to be in the wind much sooner than could be expected.

Well; except one pirate vessel which seemed more alive with activity than any of the others for reason not apparent.

Aboard said Busy Pirate Vessel

The nail clinked and rolled and bounced and clattered around the vessel in the hurried actions of the crew. Eventually, it found its way under the thick wooden door of one of the more luxurious staterooms. The room was better decorated than one would expect aboard a pirate vessel. Elegant gold-inlaid Montaigne tapestries hung from the walls in all their finery. A desk sat in one corner, topped with papers, ink and a pair of quills. - a sturdy chair before it. Upon the chair sat a leather handbag filled with equipment of unknown use. A well-made bed sat in a different corner, covered in fine linens.

And atop the bed lay a scarred man, hog-tied in the most uncomfortable position and chained to the bed-frame to prevent escape. A gag was over his mouth.

Nearly half an hour after the pin had rolled into the room a portal tore open in the fabric of reality, spilling forth the very red and very naked Reyes and the equally red but remarkably less naked Yvonne.

Jean was not having a good night. Hours ago, he had been simply hoping to reach Altamira in time for the festival. Peddle his wares, earn a generous bit of coin, enjoy some drink of his own, have company, make merry and wake up forgetting who he was for a brief time. Well, that and escape the legal jurisdiction of Montaigne. Unfortunately none of these hopes came to be, as Jean was caught at the border and taken captive.

Judging from the scummy way they looked and talked, his captors clearly weren't the typical law enforcement. Probably pirates. Mercenaries being used as manhunters. They had bound Jean in a manner that made his limbs so sore, he wished they would just fall off. The bastards also gagged Jean to stop him from cussing at them. If there was one thing to find relief in, it was that they didn't bother ruffling through his possessions. They had merely left his tools and satchels aside in the same room as Jean.

For most of the day, Jean had laid on the bed hog-tied. He briefly considered trying to shake himself off the bed, but the action only made his limbs ache more. That and he realized that a cushy linen bed was a better place to lay than the wooden floor of a ship. Lately there had been quite a stir of noise outside, mostly consisting of cannonfire and gunshots. Jean prayed that a cannonball wouldn't come crashing into his part of the ship and kill him. And for the most part, that seemed to be working.

As Jean shuffled uncomfortably in his state, something odd happened. He noticed a pin roll into the room, something that would have normally gone unnoticed if the boy had anything other to do than sit around immobile and mute. He didn't pay much care for the pin, until for some reason magic came spewing out of it. Jean's eyes went wide as a portal materialized before his very eyes. From it came two people, a man who was unfortunately naked and a woman who was unfortunately clothed. Both were drenched in red.

Jean stared at the two mysterious beings. His burned face shifted slowly from an expression of shock to bewilderment, then confusion as his brow arched as if to say, "What the actual fuck?"

~Beatrice~

The reaction from the father of the bride was a little unexpected to say the least.

"You know nothing of the world. I must see to it that my daughter is cared for and that our family remains strong. Romantic love is a distraction; lust in guise as something else. I have no doubt that she will be happy, even if she does not see it yet.".

When he finished, Beatrice's dark eyes turned into icy slits. "Is that so?", she said simply, her tone otherwise neutral save the underlying bite.

In all fairness, she shouldn't have been surprised. She wasn't known here, not as Beatrice at any rate, while he wasn't a man of Vodacce. He didn't know the barest extent of a Sorte Witches power, so he didn't know to respect them, or fear them. And at the moment, his approval was far from her top priority: The safety of the bride was.

"I deeply apologise for this blasphemy. I have done naught but sinned against Theus and have wasted time. Forgive me.".

Beatrice promptly whirled around to face the priest-in-training, and for the first time that night her composure broke. She stared at him and gaped slack-jawed, the cigarette on her lips falling unnoticed by her. When she finally managed to say something, she aimed a withering glare at him.

"A... A waste of time?! For a man of the cloth you have surprisingly little faith! We had no idea where the bride was, she could have been anywhere thanks to Porte Magic, but now we know, without a shadow of a doubt, where she is! And you think that was a waste of time?!", she repeated in astonishment.

Shaking her head, she strode over to both El Vago and Garrett, who had been discussing a plan of attack while she found out just where the missing bride was. When she reached them, El Vago herself addressed the group, along with the wounded swordsman who had arrived not a few minutes ago.

"If you wish to stay here in safety I won't begrudge you the choice - Theus knows we stand little chance - but I'd welcome any help you're willing to lend and do my best to ensure your safety.".

"I'm coming. I need to show you which ship the bride is on so you know for certain. And if nothing else, I can always provide a distraction for any pirates.", she added easily, managing to regain her composure in relatively short order.

"I... think that stealth will only take us so far. We'll likely need it to get aboard the vessel without drawing attention to avoid cannon fire, but thereafter I fear we'll need to fight our way to the bottom." Spoke Adrianna after a moment of contemplation.

"Ah well, figured the silent approach would only get us so far." Garrett remarked with an annoyed sounding huff. It was a couple of minutes later, Garrett could make out the group consisting of Seņorita Fausti, Father Erasmo, the groom and father of the bride Aniya.

"I suppose this means its time to make our move." Said Adrianna as she also acknowledged the return of the group. "I look forward to fighting beside you Garrett."

"And I look forward to fighting alongside you as well, El Vago." Spoke Garrett with a smile as he tapped the hilt of his Castillian sword.

"I here you are rather skilled with a sword as well Seņor Vago, it would be interesting to see if the stories are true." He then added with a smirk. A moment later, Seņorita Fausti had joined them.

"I'm coming. I need to show you which ship the bride is on so you know for certain. And if nothing else, I can always provide a distraction for any pirates."

"Splendid! The more the merrier I say. We'll show those pirates a thing or two, and get back the bride all at the same time. So, how did the groom and the bride's father take to your pearls of wisdom?" Garrett said with a delighted looking smile on his face.

The naked, bloodied Reyes burst into reality, dropping to his knee's and gasping for sweet air, thankful for a bit of silence. He sat there for a moment or two, ignoring the world and focusing on his own noises, the lack of whispers in the back of his mind. Words were hard to find that moment, he just settled for gasping and feeling the ship beneath him, rocking with the waves. Good old earth. At least he thought.

Everything was black, he noticed. Something he should have sooner, probably just distracted. Nothing wrong with him. Reyes moved to sitting on his knees. Had he opened his eyes yet? He forced them open, blinking from the dull light. He rubbed his forearm against his eyes, and felt the burn of the blood on him immediately.

"Gah- ah fuck!" Reyes blurted out, remembering where he likely was. The fucking ship. And he needed pants. Think later, action now. He looked at the hogtied man, doing a double take. He stumbled to his feet, wandering over and pulling out the gag.

"Come, let us find somewhere for you to rest; healing won't come without it."

"Yes, father." Safan said although the last word carried some weight behind them. Then before anything else could be done a masked woman came before them with a proposition.

"If you wish to stay here in safety I won't begrudge you the choice - Theus knows we stand little chance - but I'd welcome any help you're willing to lend and do my best to ensure your safety."

Surfan thought for a moment at the woman's plead. Although he would love to help, he looked down at his wounds. He didn't seek to join the afterlife just yet and in joining this woman he feared that would expedite the process.

"I will join you shortly after this good father will tend to my wounds." Safan said to the woman. "As much as it pains me, I cannot join you yet." But in all honesty, his wounds pained him no matter if he joined the fight or not. He had to be tended to even if that meant missing one fight.

"...As much as it pains me, I cannot join you yet."

Erasmo frowned slightly, "Pardon me, sir. But I doubt you are in any state to join the group just yet, or even as noble as the cause is, you should refrain from fighting tonight. Your wounds are too great."

As for Beatrice's words previously and the lack of response of the father of the bride, he chose simply not care. He had done his best for the father of the bride, that was enough. While with Beatrice's astonished outcry, Erasmo just chose to remain silent. All the previous warmth the priest-in-training had shown to others vanished, only to be replaced by an icy glare. Erasmo now looked at the Cathay-Crescent with that stern look, hopefully it would get the man to return his senses. Speaking of which, Erasmo was sobered by that little speech about faith. Oh how little the hypocrite knew. A Sorceress talking about faith, what next? Then again, his slate wasn't exactly clean either. At least he had forgiveness, forgiveness in Theus.

Besides, it was better to burn that bridge sooner rather than later. A Sorte Witch stalker would only cause trouble later on. He turned to the rescue group, "I am afraid that I will have to stay here with this man. It is my duty."

"Nevertheless, I wish you all the luck in fulfilling yours. May Theus guide you." Erasmo quickly added with a solemn bow of the head.

~Beatrice~

Beatrice spared a quick glance back at the priest-in-training Erasmo, and his response had her eyes narrowing again, this time in frustration.

"I am afraid that I will have to stay here with this man. It is my duty. Nevertheless, I wish you all the luck in fulfilling yours. May Theus guide you.".

The man was rather tactful whenever he set his mind to it, it seemed. That, or he was cowardly, though she doubted that was the case. Short-sighted, maybe. Unwilling to put any faith in mages, certainly. But not a coward. As frustrated as she was, she had to admit, she was intrigued in him almost against her will.

"We're going to be talking about this later." she told Erasmo flatly, though her tone was neither cold or angry.

Then she turned fully to both El Vago and her companion.

"Splendid! The more the merrier I say. We'll show those pirates a thing or two, and get back the bride all at the same time. So, how did the groom and the bride's father take to your pearls of wisdom?".

Beatrice's mouth quirked into a wry smile. "They didn't. Apparently I'm naive, and there's no such thing as love. Or choice of spouse." she said, but she shook her head.

"I can't blame them. They aren't from Vodacce, so they don't know how foolish it is to disregard a Sorte Witches predictions like that. Regardless," she said, waving a dismissive hand, "We need to save that bride. This way." Beatrice told them.

She led them down the stairway of the bell tower, and the moment they were outside, she tore in the direction of the docks, knowing exactly which ship the bride was on. With any luck, the bride wouldn't be moved before they got there. As it was, she didn't worry about outpacing her new companions: The fact she was out-of-shape made that impossible for anyone athletic in the least.

"So much for this outfit" Yvonne thought as the duo bounded out the portal, the pair were covered from head to toe in blood; must have been one hell of a sight for the rooms one other occupant, who was hog tied and chained to a very luxurious bed. However what really caught her eyes was the bag that sat upon just as fine a desk.

"Reyes, I think we've found you some pants," She quipped, she then turned to the man and the bed and continued, "It looks like those pirates have no love for you either and we may have started quite the ruckus downstairs, so, it would be in yours and ours best interest for you to stay quiet, oui?"

Once she was sure that the man understood she walked over to desk pilfered through the bag. All these goodies packed and ready to go.

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