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[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=EB+Garamond] [size15 [EB+Garamond [+orange "Holy shit this was a bad idea."]
He rubbed his hands together in a vain attempt to stave off the creeping cold. There was no snow [i yet] but that didn't mean it wasn't damn freezing this high up. A dungeon was his goal. There was one up here, supposedly. Only when he found himself there did he recognize the near impossibility of his task. All around were mountainous cliffs. Jagged cliffs and patches of vegetation clinging to the rock as if they were slowly slipping, a second away from plummeting.
[+orange "Sure, the damn thing is supposed to be up here. Somewhere. But how in the hell am I supposed to find it?! FUCK!"]
He kicked a nearby rock off the ledge, and watched it sail out of sight below. He'd made himself a small camp at the center of a rocky plateau. A tent, and a campfire. Basic stuff. He could build a fortress if he wanted, in a matter of hours even... but that would be a waste of resources and gold.
Stomping back to the camp he sat down next to the fire, pointing his hands to the fire. The man grumbled.
[+orange "If only frost resistance ACTUALLY worked against this cold... Stupid as hell."]
After a moment he laid down. Cold and tired, spending a few hours at camp resting was something he wasn't entirely against. It had been nearly a week of searching these mountains only to continuously turn up, not a fucking thing.
A ravenous core. That was what he needed. It was what they had used back then, and it was what he was going to use again.
The warmth of the fire convinced him to close his eyes. Sure, he had a bedroll, and a tent, but moving the tent any closer to the fire... A bad idea. You can't exactly put a fire inside of, or too near a tent for a large number of well known good reasons. So in an attempt to shield himself slightly from the wind, he curled up next to the fire. A nap should be fine. A passing thought warned him that he should probably set an alarm through the menu system, but he figured it would be fine as is.
Not like there was anyone real waiting on him any more...
Surge of the Angels? Seems her store had brought in a crazy one. From what she'd read, it was a spell as misunderstood as it was old. She'd done some reading up on it as a child, but only because it had a lot to do with alchemy.
Her father hadn't been the best dad. He was a drider after all. But he made sure she was the best damn alchemist around and that she knew how the world worked. At least he did that right.
She knew the spell had been incomplete for a long time. It was so old, that was bound to happen. Some of the knowledge got lost between some exchange or another. She didn't even know what the purpose of this spell was, but it was obvious from here that Lyanna was going to end up dead if she continued alone.
[+magenta "You know that spell has been incomplete for a really long time right? Even I don't know everything is supposed to be together for it, though I'm no wizard."] she spoke in a monotone, not sure how she'd help her. Well, the forsaken capital was where the spell was created.
[+magenta "The only place you'll find the original is the forsaken capital, and even then, you'd need a LOT of help to get in there, you'd also have to know where to look."] she dreaded the thought of being out in the sun longer than necessary, but she REALLY needed to make some friends out here.
[+magenta "I could help, for a price."]
[#6B0648 [b "Perfect!"]] She called, happy to finally have the Yellow Spring. It was a rare ingredient, only used in a handful of spells, and usually ones that required a lot of training and power.
Lyanna nodded to the woman's question. She was bound to get questioned what she needed the Yellow Spring for. After all, it wasn't every day someone asked for that item. At least Lyanna wouldn't be bothered by it. She figured Ladrya was only asking because it could be used for bad spells. The last thing she needed was people finding out she sold to people using forbidden magics. But Lyanna's intentions were good, never dabbing into the dark stuff because of her position.
[#6B0648 [b "I'm going to use it for the Surge of the Angels spell."]]
It was a spell created long ago, and only used a small number of times. It had been attempted by many, and most failed. The level of failure was rather high, being from just the ingredients burning out, to death in the more horrid way. One slip up and the spell was ruined, no chance in fixing it. You had to be in the right state of mind the whole time, and have the same level of power pouring into it. Of course, Lyanna was told she was insane to try and attempt the spell, but she wasn't going to listen. She knew she could cast it and she was going to.
[#6B0648 [b "Of course."]] Lyanna replied, agreeing to the price. She knew it was going to be pricey, and she had the money, pulling out her sack of gold. Counting the coins needed, she then handed them over, glad she had some coins left. She could go and get a pastry on her way back now.
Thank. The. Fucking. Gods.
A person with some sensible requests. She wanted one common ingredient, one not so common. But she had the best source for ingredients she knew, a treasure hunter. And one who wasn't afraid to keep his eyes open for a little money.
[+magenta "Certainly, I have what you need here. The Yellow spring is pretty pricy though. You paying in gold, bills or credit?"] she was finally going to make some profit. She was the only GOOD apothecary on this side of the city. People would realize it eventually. She reached under the counter and into one satchel, then another. The requested herbs now on the counter.
Something was troubling her however. Neither of these plants were active reagents. She'd need a catalyst to use these. She may as well bring it up.
[+magenta "I'm not going to claim to know your business, but this spell of yours sounds like it's missing an active catalyst. You realize that right?"] a simple question, she probably shouldn't have asked. Now she seemed nosy.
And the last thing she wanted was more rumors being spread about her.
[+Magenta "By the way, these are Trade standard price if you're buyin'."]
She had leaned over on the counter, reaching under and retrieving a burlap bag for her to use to carry the herbs. Last thing she wanted was a potential future customer getting mugged for valuable reagents.
Lyanna looked over to see the woman peaking her head out and smiled. [#6B0648 [b "Nice to meet you Ladrya, I'm Lyanna Nightmore. I've been looking for some ingredients. A rather common one and then a special ingredient for a spell but I haven't found it anywhere. It's quite a rare item actually, which is why I'm having a hard time finding it."]]
She walked up to the counter, looking at the potions on the shelf. Seemed she had almost every potion you could think of, which was great. If this woman had what she needed, she might return more often. Still, even if she didn't, she couldn't hold it against her, and would be getting at least one of her ingredients here. After all, she had heard not many people came by. Sadly, Lyanna could think of a few reasons why, and they were reasons she wanted to take care of anyways.
Placing her hands on the table, she smiled softly to the girl. [#6B0648 [b "First, I need some Winter Darning Needle, and then I need Yellow Spring Eytelia. I'll understand if you don't have the Yellow Spring though, but I do need it for a very important spell."]]
Business was shit. No one would come in to her shop because she was part spider. Being the child of a drider wasn't the worst thing in the world! She couldn't count on her hands how many times she'd had to throw mobsters out of her store. There was one in particular, this dragon kin guy. Martin.
He'd been spreading rumors about her since she'd thrown him out with his mouth and hands bound by web. If she'd known running a shop would be this difficult, she'd have considered staying with her father. And he was literally half spider.
She was right in the middle of brewing a potion when her phone went off. She reached a carapaced hand and thin fingers into her back pocket under her thick smock. It was a message from Fatui.
[+grey 'Hope the ingredients I delivered work out for you. Tell me if you need anything else. Good luck.']
What a sweetheart. The bubbling cauldron in front of her changed colors rapidly. Uh oh. Time to let this thing rest for a while, she didn't have much choice as her acute senses heard the door open. Hopefully it was actually a customer. She leaned her head out the door of the brewing room to see a woman, a new face. Hopefully a customer.
[+magenta "Hello, and welcome to my parlor. I am Ladrya, how can I help you?"]
She had her thin fingers crossed she was here to fucking BUY something.
The streets were rather crowded, which was to be expected. People were at stalls, selling goods from near and far. Foods from their family farms, silks from the lands far away, spells and charms to offer good luck or health. If you needed something, you were going to find it here, you just had to know where to look. And so far, she couldn't find the right place.
Lyanna Nightmore, in line for a spot on the Council. She knew what she had, body wise, so she showed it off rather easily. She knew men watched as she walked by, just as she knew some women cursed her as well. Even with a scar taking up half her face, it seemed to only add to her beauty, which was lucky for her. Still, she didn't take it for granted. She used it when she saw fit, but she didn't rely on it solely. She was a powerful gem user, able to create weapons from the gem on her choker. It was her main gem, her most powerful one. She had others, but none of them were as powerful as this one. It wasn't because of the type of gem, or the power that locked inside of it. But because of something else that she wouldn't tell anyone. All they knew was that this gem in particular was powerful and she had it.
She continued through the streets, only stopping at stalls that sold spell ingredients. She was looking for one ingredient in particular, but so far, was having no luck. It was a rare one to find, so she wasn't too much surprised. Still, she really needed to find it if she was going to perform that spell. It was a rather dangerous spell, one that should only be performed by true masters. Lyanna didn't see herself as a true master, but she figured she was close enough to try. Besides, if she pulled this off, it would look great in the eyes of the Council. Might even be enough to get her a seat. Or at least real missions aside from accompanying people from one place to another.
[#6B0648 [b "It's got to be somewhere. Surely someone would have the ingredient..."]] She muttered, leaving yet another store with nothing.
Looking around, Lyanna had to think of any other magic shops that might sell the ingredient. That's when she remembered that a new store had opened recently. The store owner was said to be a spider woman, which scared some people off. Lyanna didn't really have a preference, not like she had seen anything creepier than a spider person before. After all, the scar on her face was from a horrid creature.
So, Lyanna was off to find the store, which wasn't that hard to find. The front had no windows, just a huge wooden door with a sign above it. [#6B0648 [b "So, this is the place. Well, let's hope they have what I need."]]
Opening the door, she stepped into a rather dim shop. No sunlight broke through, aside from when the door opened. It would've been completely dark, if it weren't for the glowing potions hanging on the tops by something. There was a counter with all the spells and ingredients behind it. Some potions were being brewed, others looking like they were about to be bottled or put together. There was another room behind the counter, and stars to the side. A rather nice place for a just starting business.
[#6B0648 [b "Hello?"]] She called, closing the door behind her. [#6B0648 [b "Anyone around?"]]
She hadn't noticed Seiji picking her up and taking her towards her room. Sayako was fast asleep and dreaming. Once the girl closed her eyes to sleep, she would be asleep, not much waking her until the sun rose. If anything did, it was only by chance most of the time. She didn't fear falling asleep in the garden, having done it before a few times. Someone always seemed to take her to bed, she never really found out who, but she imagined it wasn't the same person each time.
Though many would be weary, Sayako trusted these men very well. She grew up surrounded by most of them, so she had no reason to think against them. Also, they seemed to not want to go against her father's wishes, so most watched their tongues around her. They did for any of the maids, but more so around her. Of course, they never know the language her father used while around her. He was more free willed when it was just the two of them, even with her mother was still alive. She was used to it, but they didn't know and she wouldn't tell them.
The dream she had was peaceful, remembering her father again. She had many of these dreams since his passing a few years ago. They were mostly of when she was little and he would have time to actually play with her. He was busy, and she knew that very well, so she treasured these moments a lot.
While in Seiji's arms, she sighed softly and started to stir. It was one of those chances where she would randomly wake during the night. As she did, she slowly realized she was being carried. But by who? Glancing up, she saw Seiji and smiled a bit.
[b "Good, you made it back safe."] She said softly. [b "I'm sorry I made you carry me, I should've went to my room for the night. But I really liked the stars and fireflies tonight."]
Seiji looked a bit surprised to see the young woman in the spot he had left her, was she waiting for him or was it just a coincidence? It was almost comic watching her fade in and out of consciousness right there on the deck. [i What a precarious place to sleep] he thought to himself as he made his way to where she was. The garden was rather large but it took him no time to cover the distance, and arrive to the young Miss' side, kneeling down Seiji noticed that she had fallen fast asleep regardless of the noise the men were still making, even with war on the horizon they stayed up drinking and chattering, calling geisha's and rough housing. Though it seemed obscene to be doing a thing here and at such a crucial time in the revolution, it was a necessity, it was safer here than drunk on the streets and it kept tensions low.
[b "It is not safe here, that it is not."] he mumbled to her before adjusting his sword and leaning down to scoop up the girl in his arms, careful to avoid getting any of the blood on her Kimono. [b "Women should be careful around groups of drunk men, that they should."] Seiji smiled briefly before taking back his grim expression.
Seiji walked quietly to Miss Takatsukasa's room, it was located in another area of the temple grounds and it would seem very odd if someone saw him carrying her around, a man carrying a woman, alone in the dark, covered in blood, it would raise questions, that and a good portion of the people here had never seen Seiji, only heard stories of the demon Hitokiri Battousai. Himura decided to stick to the garden paths, moving quickly across the small bridges under the cover of darkness in between the tall grasses and trees.
Sayako had returned to the men after a while, only to deliver more drinks. She believed they had enough, but it wasn't her place to say so, despite the other maids believing it as well. Seiji was right, they were drinking because they were about to head into battle. But it was a good thing they weren't going out tomorrow because their hangovers would take some time, even with the remedies they had.
[b "I don't get the appeal of sake, but it's what they want to forget, so why take that from them."] She chuckled, now back outside again.
It was a warm night, the fireflies flying around, shining brightly. She remembered as a child going out at night to catch them. She would then use them as a sort of night light and then let them free in the morning. Growing up, she was one of the only children in the whole place. But Sayako was loved by her adoptive father and mother. Her mother died about two years after she was adopted, so for the most part it was just her and her father. She was fine with that, he would bring her into the meetings they had and let her play next to him, sometimes falling asleep there. She always woke up in her own room though, but she had no reason to be mad about it.
The night was turning late, and Sayako was getting tired. She sat on the porch, leaning against a beam, as she continued to watch the garden. It was nice here, one of the few places in Kyoto that seemed to be peaceful, despite where it was. Rather ironic really.
As she fell asleep, Seiji was returning. She didn't hear him approach, nor did she really see him. She thought she saw a figure, and she had it in her mind that it was Seiji, but she was too exhausted. Sleep was quickly overtaking her.
[b "Welcome home..."] She muttered softly.
Blood spattered across the paper screen door as Seiji's blade pierced his targets heart, he felt no joy, no excitement, no dishonor, for he felt that his cause was just, to use the Hiten Mitsurugi style to remove the pain from the hearts of the people, to bring an end to the Shogunate. With a quick flick of the wrist the Assassin flung the remaining blood from his blade and returned it to its scabbard, his intention were now to escape through the shadows and return home in the night, it wouldn't be long before these murders were discovered and to save face he made sure to take their coin purses and a few artifacts from the building and throw them into the mote, if it looked like a robbery gone awry it would be harder for Tokugawa to wage an open attack on the members of the Ishen ShiShi without a just cause.
Seiji had no problems carrying out an order, regardless of the task, he did not live for family or honor, he lived not to kill but to save, using his body as a catalyst to repair Japan and it's people. His eyes cold, soulless, eyes of a man who had tasted deaths kiss on several occasions and was still able to walk away. As a child he experienced his first taste of death when his parents died of Cholera, his second was when his slavers were murdered by bandits and in the process the three girls who designated themselves his care taker were murdered holding him in their arms. No, death was no stranger here, it was a pain that tainted a pure heart, and now it was a tool for revolution.
Hours had passed before Seiji made it back, it was roughly somewhere between midnight and two in the morning, he wasn't sure, on the track back he made sure to double back several time and even cut through some crowded areas just to lose any tails he might have acquired, Kyoto was notorious for spies and ninja and that was the last thing he desired, for blood to be shed in the place he called home, for innocents to be involved in battle because he was careless, no matter how cold he appeared the Red-haired warrior cared deeply for the people otherwise he had no reason to pick up a blade.
Seiji lept down from the wall quietly landing in the garden he had been in prior, he took special care to come in under the cover of night and to not use the main entrance due to the fact that he was usually covered in blood and it wasn't something the servants and regular workers needed to see.
[b "May you have luck."] Sayako muttered as he left, watching him sink into the shadows.
She stood and walked back into the room with the drinks, greeted happily by the men. The girl smiled and started making her rounds again. While she poured the drinks, one of the men called out to her.
[i "Tsuka-chan! Dance for us, please!"]
[b "Oh I couldn't, there aren't any musicians here."]
Sayako wasn't in the mood for a dance, so having no one to play the instruments were a good thing for once. She had much on her mind at the moment, and she didn't wish to give them a sad dance. But they persisted, sending out another servant to go and find musicians willing to play. It didn't take them long, pulling in two that were ready to play. Because of that, Sayako agreed and was given two fans before she walked over to take her position.
The song was light, starting slow as she turned, holding her fans out. All the men turned silent and watched her in awe as she started to turn the fans, her arms flowing like water. As she danced, the music sped up, her arms matching the rhythm perfectly. While she danced, she only thought of the mission Seiji was just sent on. She didn't know who the target was, but she knew it was of high rank. He was a famous Samurai, so he was always on the most dangerous missions. She had to admit, she worried about most of the Samurai, but she hadn't seen most of them lately, so they were out of her mind at the moment.
As the dance ended, she bowed down, the men applauding and complimenting how great it was. She smiled and thanked them, excusing herself saying she needed to get more drinks. They protested but let her go, wanting drinks more. Once out of the room, she was able to breathe. She didn't mind entertaining them, but they were a handful when getting drunk. That was usually when she handed them off to one of the other maids.
Making her way out into the garden, she looked up at the sky again, seeing the stars. The smile she had before came back to her face as she watched the night sky. She could name all the constellations, her adoptive father having taught her them. Sighing, she lost the smile for a bit.
[b "It's times like these that I wish I could still speak with you father..."]
Nodding in concurrence Seiji raised himself from the ground and brushed off any dirt that had collected. [b "Thank you for your time Takatsukasa-sama."] Turning away from the woman Seiji began his descent into the shadows, tonight the Battousai would strike. The target was no simple task, a member of the former daimyo Ii Naosuke's inner circle, one of the last few members that held the secret of Naosuke's assassination from the Shogun. After the incidents regarding the Ansei Purge the Oniwaban increased their presence in Kyoto making it more difficult to carry out mission such as this in the city.
Seiji wasted no time moving across the rooftops, keeping his presence concealed in shadow. His target, according to the note would be hiding in the abandoned Tenshu of Nijō Castle. No small task to get over the mote and past the guards. though with the Hiten Mitsurugi style no man would stand a chance against the Hitokiri Battousai. Light as air his feet hit the ground, as the two men guarding the front gate dropped dead, their blood misting into the air around him. This was god-like speed, a blade drawn so fast it was as if men would fall just from his gaze. Without hesitation the red-haired samurai pushed forward, his only route a long bridge across the first mote. If luck remained on his side the guard would not be alert to his presence until the deed was done.
She listened to what Seiji had to say. It seemed he still thought his work put him on the lowest of the low. Yes, some people thought that, but no one would say it out loud. Sayako didn't see it that way though. She followed status structure that was in place and didn't go against it. And because of that, she wasn't going to argue with this man about the structure, it would be out of place for her.
[b "No, do not worry about it Seiji-sama."] Sayako replied. [b "You know I'm perfectly capable of handling conversation over any matter."]
Sayako noticed a man approach them. She quickly turned towards him and bowed down, showing the respect she was to give to him. He paid no mind to her, not needing to, and went on with his business of telling Seiji his next target. She watched silently as he whispered and handed the Samurai the paper before walking back in. Raising herself again, she looked towards Seiji.
[b "Guess you will go off on your next target then."] She gave her soft smile to him, wishing him luck in hopes of returning. [b "I should probably return to the men as well, I'm sure they're ready for another round of drinks."]
Calmly the Samurai, adjusted himself to a crossed legged position, picking up his blade and resting the hilt on his shoulder. [b "I am a Man-Slayer, nothing more, even one such as you who distances herself from the darkness can not hide from the stories, the sin I commit place me at the bottom.] His expression remaining cold and still. [b "As for the drinking, they say Sake helps them feel at ease before the go out to what could be there last night on this earth."] Seiji did not intend to give off such a grim vibe, but he also saw no point in sugar coating life, not when he himself has faced of against the abyss.
[b "My apologies Takatsukasa-sama, there is no reason to pollute your mind with such darkness."] Seiji opened his eyes once more, this time to look upon the face of the woman beside him as she stared at the sky.
The summer air was cool and the sweet smell of the Sara trees filled the air around them, the garden illuminated solely by the moon and the fireflies that made it their home. It was as she said, beautiful, if only every night Seiji experienced were like this forever, but like most things it would soon end. That was when a man approached from inside the room, a handler if you will for the Battousai. Leaning over the Samurai the man whispered a name quietly into his ear before slipping him a small note and quickly shuffling away.
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