Bound by Duty

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Psychedelic, Apr 22, 2015.

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  1. The first outing into an active role as a shinigami was always exciting. This was not the team's first assembly, but it was near enough for the novices to still feel a sense of excitement as they ventured out into the world that was inhabited by humanity. They could count on one hand the number of times they had visited this realm, and the fascination only grew as each infinitesimal detail was discovered, further layers to the fabric of the world beginning to show themselves as the young shinigami digested what they had previously seen. No doubt, in time they would become just as jaded as many of the elders, or else simply nonchalant. But, for now they were the bright eyed and bushy tailed personification of youth.


    This particular team consisted of four members, three of which were just growing into their roles, blooming much like flowers, although with a little luck their brilliance would be somewhat longer lasting. The fourth was their commander and teacher, a gruff man that did not tolerate failure, insubordination or mistakes. While he accepted that no one was perfect, if a preventable error was allowed, he inevitably came down on them like a tonne of bricks. His harshness was born out of a love for order, and his race, but this did not make it any easier to bear when his wrath inevitably turned against those he was tasked with training.


    Although green, the three he instructed were by no means defenceless, and were so far proving reasonably adept at their work, if a little fast and loose in their actions at times. One of these was a proud young woman by the name of Ophelia, an earnest girl with a heart of steel and a desire to live up to a familial legacy that was still being forged by the matriarch of the family. It was a tough act to follow, but she intended to be an asset to her family, as well as her race.


    Her ability to see the colour and intensity of souls was more of a blessing than usual, given her unfortunate disability. The blonde had been born lacking functioning optic nerves, something that had puzzled onlookers at first, seeing as her eyes had always appeared functional - pupils retracting and dilating correctly - it was simply that somewhere along the pathway of those particular nerves, the connection was lost, and so the signals never quite reached her brain.


    To begin with, her parents and wider family had been rather protective of the blind girl, supervising her religiously as she attempted to forge out ahead, just as any small child might do. Many a time had she frightened the lives out of her mother in her antics, often wandering into just the same danger as others her own age, and coming out unscathed, in much the same manner.


    It was perhaps this precociousness that had eventually led to her being allowed to join the academy in which the militarily shinigami were trained. Ophelia had relished the challenge, and although it had taken her longer to get the basics down pat, by the age of ten she was broaching the ranks of the average, forcing her way up through them until she was sure she was anybody's equal. It was a matter of pride, both personal and familial.


    In the present, the now adult woman strode with confidence into the realm of the humans, clustered among her teammates, smiling as she walked, apparently pleased to be entering into this world. They were headed towards a large city, and to a hospital situated within this area. It was a good place for the novices to start, as there were always souls in need of ushering into the afterlife, as well as those that died in more difficult circumstances and were ripe for demonic activity. The goal was to get to these before they had a chance to sink into the darkness, but sometimes things did go wrong - something they would soon learn.


    "There are more than last time." Ophelia observed, furrowing her brow as she attempted to count the vast number of souls situated in just the accident and emergency department. What she didn't understand, was it was a Saturday night here, and the place was full of drunken louts, which may have accounted for the vast number of sickly yellow souls that were at once garish and disconcerting in their colour. But, they were all bright and healthy, aside from the instability of the auras that was only a short term complaint.


    The woman tapped her cane on the ground impatiently, turning away in search of what their true goal was, though she first turned to her friend, asking her, "Are there any nearby that we should be looking at?" With her ability to see the times of death, she was far better placed to make a judgement. So, for the time being, Ophelia only waited for her answer, running her thumb along the ridge of the wooden cane that would reveal a slim rapier, should it be depressed. It was a practical solution, as there were times when she needed a little physical guidance, and the slim sword happened to suit her fighting style rather well.
     
    #1 Psychedelic, Apr 22, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 4, 2016
  2. The portal to the human world opened wide enough to let the team of four through, a hospital lobby just on the other side. Lily emerged next to her blind friend Ophelia, the portal snapping shut as the rest of the team came through. She took in the site of the building; dozens of souls concentrated in one place, many of them alive and well, some hanging on the very edge, but Lily knew they still had time, their deaths far into the future than many of those dear to them believed.

    "Are there any nearby that we should be looking at?"

    Lily squinted, trying to find a soul whose death was near. Not one of the souls flitting though the hall was even close. She leaned her two-pronged spear on her shoulders. “I don’t see one,” she said with a sigh. “We should go somewhere else, everyone here won’t die for a long time anyway.” She was just itching to get her first soul exorcised, taking that very first important step into becoming a full-fledged Shinigami. She missed out on the previous missions, the first two taken by her commander and third teammate, and the last one going to Ophelia. So she had some catching up do and she had every intention of the next one being hers before the others could get it.

    She was about to turn back when their commander, Yama, turned her around. “Look harder,” he growled.

    Lily pouted and went back to searching, stepping away from the group at Yama’s encouragement as she looked for a dying human. She moved between the rooms, looking through the windows and checking everyone’s lifetime. Finally, she stopped at one room, nurses and doctor’s crowded around a person, trying to revive the patient’s heart that stopped. She was covered in blood and wounds, and it looked like the bones in her arm had been broken. The doctor’s did their best, but within a minute, the timer reached zero and they declared the patient dead.

    Lily smirked and rolled her shoulders. Once that woman’s soul came out, Lily was busting right in there and exorcising her before the others could even try. As she readied herself, their teammate, Otis, a Shinigami who can see the absence of souls stepped forward.

    “Don’t be rash; there’s a demon around here looking to eat that soul,” he warned.

    Lily scoffed, “We’ll be okay.” While most recruits would cower at the thought of coming across a demon so soon, Lily was all fired up. They were fortunate enough to not meet any until now, so Lily was excited they would get to see their first real live demon. She cracked her knuckles; if she can exorcise her first soul and kill a demon in one mission, then that would show the Council she was made for this job. “’Sides, we’ve been doing well so far. And if it’s too powerful, Yama would back us up, right Ophelia?”

    Yama pursed his lips and reminded her the demon soul must be exorcised last, but Lily had tuned him out, readying herself for the arrival of the soul, determination bright in her eyes.
     
  3. There was always an element of danger in any exorcism, as all the shinigami in training had been taught from day one. It was a fact of life, that where there were souls that needed guidance, there would always be some demon or other looking for an easy meal. High traffic areas such as these were generally safer than others though, seeing as the demons were usually thinned out and dispatched before they could take a hold, but the weaker, more desperate members of the species still milled about, in the hope that they would reach their meal ticket before the shinigami did.

    In this particular case, it was going to be a race to the finish line, and the prize that was the innocent and vibrant soul that seemed to be on the verge of death. Bearing this in mind, Ophelia couldn't give her friend the unequivocal go ahead that she was after, for it seemed that this job was going to be a little bit on the close side, certainly far less straightforward than on previous outings. Of course, ousting the demon would most likely be a piece of cake, but Lily needed to be prepared for it, rather than blinkered as she sought to get a point on the board.

    "You're both right." Forced to be the median between these two, Ophelia attempted to appease both sides, "We can't simply leave that soul to be devoured, but you can't go charging in without thought, Lily." The woman was enthusiastic, it had to be said, although that wasn't always a good thing.

    The blonde sighed, soon piping up again, "I suggest you exorcise it, while Otis and I create a barrier to let you work without interruption."

    "I agree." Of course he did, for he was certainly a cautious man by nature. "It's not a strong demon, but I don't want to take any chances." The void it created was tiny, it was mere vermin as far as Otis could tell, but he didn't dare labour that point, for fear the more daring females might become overzealous.

    Pursing her lips, Ophelia turned her attention back to Lily, waiting to see what she would say to what was a fairly conservative plan. It covered all bases and left nothing to chance, something that would most likely be commended by their superiors. Of course, boldness was a desirable trait in the more experienced that might be vying for a position of command, but for these green recruits there was far more of an emphasis on safety and reliability. Far too many had been lost to misplaced confidence and plain old recklessness. It was for this reason that sour men like Yama were appointed to their command, as their harsh tactics soon put to bed any ideas of glory hunting and thrill seeking. That was the theory, anyway.
     
  4. Lily placed one hand on her hip, frowning at her teammates. She was going to go in by herself and get the new soul. Normally, she’d be ecstatic because it was almost like a solo mission and an easy one too. But it was too easy, handed to her as if on a silver platter.

    “So, you’re not going to fight me for it then?” She wondered if they pitied her. As if in some meeting they had before the mission to which she did not attend, all three of them had unanimously agreed to let Lily get the next one. Because she was lacking, because she was behind, because she wasn’t as good as the rest of them.

    Sensing her delay, Yama promptly warned her if she didn’t move, then he would intervene and take the soul. Otis wasted no time and set up a barrier between Lily and her teammates.

    Gritting her teeth, Lily turned to Ophelia. “What about you? How come you don’t want it?” She glanced at the dead woman, her soul slowly lifting itself away from the body. Lily gripped her spear, the exorcising seal glowing at the butt end. “Is it because I haven't exorcised a soul yet?”
     
  5. Although she had only the best intentions, it seemed that Lily had not taken the plan she had offered as it was intended. Her dubiousness was somewhat understandable, but her arguing against it really didn't help all that much in such a time pressured situation. It seemed Yama was thinking the same thing, and of course made no bones about expressing this.

    Otis was already in position as Ophelia answered her friend, trying to be diplomatic in her reaction. "I want it. Of course I do, but you want it more than me." She shrugged, turning her face toward the other and continuing on after a slight pause.

    "We're a team, Lily. We all need to get our hundred, and I'm not going to just walk over you to get what I want." She smirked a little as she added, "Well, not until we get to the end." When they were up to the late nineties, it was likely going to be every man for himself, and she was quite happy to admit that.

    Ophelia eventually sighed, "Are you going to take it or not? We really need to get this done." She was already focusing on her own strength, tuning in to Otis and adding to the mentally fueled barricade he had already set up.
     
  6. Ophelia’s little remark didn’t go unnoticed. Lily looked back at her friend before as smirk graced her own lips. She chuckled to let her friend know her previous demeanor had been lifted.

    “Fine then, but when we hit the nineties, I’m not going easy on you either. Even if you’re blind.”

    Lily proceeded forward, passing by doctors and nurses as they left the room. It was an odd ritual, these humans. Leaving the body of the deceased to be alone, as if they knew the spirit would rise and beings like her would come in to guide the souls. Most of the room had been cleared save for one nurse, who was busy gathering all instruments used to be cleaned up. Lily ignored him and turned to the soul of the woman who was sitting on the edge of the bed, looking at her body.

    Lily took a deep breath, tossing strands of her brown hair out of her face as she approached the soul. “Hello, I’m Lily. You may be confused, but it’s going to be okay. I’m a Shinigami and I’m here to guide you into the next world.” One of the many things the Academy liked to emphasize was the use of sympathy, empathy, and reassurance. The newly deceased were sometimes confused, especially young ones or those who had been through accidents. Shinigami like her have to show they mean no harm and help then get to the next place they need to go. Lily had at first thought it was a boring subject but after seeing reactions from souls in lectures and after a few missions on the field, she knew this skill was invaluable to have.

    The woman looked at her, then at her body. “That’s me, right?”

    Lily nodded, deciding to give the woman some time to process what happened. Suddenly, her skin prickled, the hairs on the back of her neck raised. Lily spun around, readying her spear as she looked for the source of the unsettling sensation. Her eyes landed on the nurse. The time above his head was working fine indicating he had another ten years to live, but it was splotchy, broken, as if something was eating it away.

    She barely heard Otis’s warning when an eye opened on his back and the demon lunged.
     
  7. Needless to say, she was somewhat relieved when Lily chuckled, marking that she was no longer suspicious of them taking pity on her or otherwise trying to placate her. The blind woman smirked, though for the time being she said nothing to her friends remark, as nothing really needed to be said. No doubt, there would be fierce competition between them as their training reached its end.

    Now that Lily had made up her mind to go for the soul, Ophelia turned her full attention to adding to the barrier that would keep the demon at bay. She and Otis worked in unison to maintain it, their minds as one as they overlapped their strengths in order to render a wall that was as strong as any stone - possibly stronger.

    It was only unfortunate that they were too late.

    It started off as a normal exorcism, as Lily carefully let the soul know what was happening, encouraging her not to be afraid, just as was expected of any good shinigami. The young woman was doing well, until it all went to pot, thanks to an oversight that no one had noticed, apart from perhaps Yama, who had most likely simply kept quiet about it in order to test his students.

    The demon appeared in a flash, although Ophelia could not see exactly where it was. It was the biggest disadvantage of an otherwise barely noticeable disability. As the demon had no soul, she had no way of seeing it, and as such, had to rely on her ears, proprioception, and her comrades.

    Unsheathing the rapier that was hidden within her cane, the blonde asked, "Where is it?" They had long since come up with a solution to the issue, simply by using the face of a clock. 12 o'clock was directly ahead, and so on. It was sensible, and enough to give her a frame of reference throughout any battle.
     
  8. Ophelia's barrier dropped as she pulled out her rapier from her cane. She stepped forward, asking Lily for the location of the demon. Lily didn't answer her at first, her attention on the imp-like demon in front of her gnawing at the handle of her spear. She struggled with the demon for a few moments before managing to kick it away from her and the soul cowering behind her.

    "The demon is at eleven o'clock," she said, automatically falling into the agreed battle strategy for Ophelia. Lily adjusted her spear, expanding her space to guard the soul. "It's a minor demon, but our first priority is the soul. Ophelia, I'm sending the soul to you, we're at two o'clock." She urged the soul towards Ophelia, her spear pointed at the demon in case of attack. Since Ophelia's vision could only pick up auras and demons lacked such, Lily would take on the demon herself and let Ophelia take care of the soul, ensuring the soul's safety.

    Lily briefly glanced at Otis and Yama and noticed Otis was pulling out his crook and flail. "Keep the barrier up, Otis!" she yelled. "The demon needs to be contained before it gets anyone else." While there were some demons that were created strong, there was always the possibility for minor demons to get strong too, if they had eaten enough souls. This one seemed to have a long ways to go before it would be on the shinigami hit list, but Lily be damned if she let her first soul get eaten by a demon. The demon seemed to understand what the shinigami were trying to do and lunged for Lily's teammates and the soul. Lily got to it before it could attack Ophelia and struck her spear through its shoulder. She planted her feet firmly on the ground, using all her strength to keep the demon at spear's length. "Is the soul safe yet?" she asked Ophelia.
     
  9. Although she would not be fighting the demon directly, Ophelia was of course careful to tune into the desolate space that was the demon's body. She was careful to listen to everything her comrades said to her, knowing that any miscommunication between them could result in the deaths of any or all of them. Having to work this way had initially been tricky, and in training Ophelia had ended flat on her backside more than once, and had caused the same to happen to her comrades. However, these days their system seemed to work fairly well, and hopefully in this situation they would prove just as successful as they needed to be.

    Turning her attention to the soul that seemed to be flickering with worry, Ophelia did her best to rescue the situation before it got too out of hand. "Please stay calm. I know there's a lot to process right now, but we're here to help." She spoke as if they were the only ones in the room, doing her best to completely ignore the demon that was currently being subdued.

    "What is that?" The poor soul was understandably upset and afraid by the sudden appearance of the demon. It didn't take a genius to know it was dangerous and certainly homicidal, so it was no surprise that she was struggling to focus on the matter at hand.

    Despite all this, Ophelia attempted to placate the recently deceased, "It's a demon, but don't worry about it too much. Just take my hand, and I'll send you somewhere safe. I promise, no one will harm you." She knew that it was a big ask, but she held her hand out toward the soul, feeling that they had no real option but to be honest and hope that the soul would put her faith in the strange Shinigami that had appeared to help her.

    Finally, after what seemed an age, Ophelia felt a warmth on her open palm, and from there she was able to direct the soul towards the afterlife. She placed two fingers upon the ghost of a forehead, murmuring a few words of encouragement and instruction, connecting the soul to the correct channel and sending her on her way. Ordinarily it was always best to escort the soul, but when there was a demon here, they had no option but to open the path and do their best to ensure a colleague was there to meet the soul.

    This particular one had been a relatively easy case, all things considered, perhaps even spurred on by the fear of the demon, which still seemed to be at large. "The soul's gone on her way." Ophelia finally confirmed to Lily, now readying herself to join in the battle to destroy the demon, though she did not wade in uninvited, "Do you need help? Or do you want to handle it yourself?" She knew Lily would want to do it herself if possible, especially after missing out on the soul.
     
  10. "What? You exorcised it?!" Lily exclaimed, looking at her friend. Despite her brief distraction, she still held demon back from attacking her friend. "That was supposed to be my soul! We agreed I was going to take care of it!" Now Ophelia had two souls while Lily was still looking for her first. And it was even handed to her too! Right there, literally ready to be picked off by Lily, not Ophelia, Lily.

    The demon roared and tried to wrench itself from her spear, flailing its arms in an attempt to hit Lily. "Shut up!" she barked and pushed the demon back. It stumbled backwards, crashing against the overbed table. Lily rushed at it, thrusting her spear in the spot where its heart would be. Whispering a spell, she ran her hand over the handle, glowing runes following the path of her hand. The tip sank further in, making the demon thrash harder. Lily dragged it across its chest and piercing it once more, creating a large X before its body dissolved into the air, leaving in its place a glowing red soul.

    She spun around and stomped towards Ophelia, her footsteps letting Ophelia know where she was coming from. "Why did you exorcise it? You know I was going to do it and I needed it more than you anyways," she growled. She couldn't believe her friend had taken advantage of the situation for her own gain. Lily knew the two of them were in a race to become a Shinigami, that both of them had made it a competition to get the required number of souls before the other, but they were just beginning. The real part of the competition hadn't even started. Surely Ophelia could have just told the soul to stay back while they got rid of the demon. And even if Otis or Yama had gotten to it instead of her, at least Ophelia had her back.

    Otis had brought down the barrier and Yama stepped forward. He murmured a few words and a light formed in the palms of his hands. Approaching the demon soul, he cupped the red soul, encasing it in light before sending it through a channel and into the Shinigami realm.

    "Admirable that you took care of the demon on your own, but remember it doesn't count. The human–"

    "I know that," she snapped at Yama, glaring at her squad leader. He barely raised an eyebrow at her tone, long since used to it and expecting this out of one of his most hot-blooded students. He wasn't going to let her walk all over him though, and opened his mouth to reprimand her again, but she turned around and sliced open a portal to the Shinigami realm. "I'm going home!" she declared, not caring if she was acting like a child as she stepped through the portal.
     
  11. Well, that was unexpected. Ophelia pursed her lips, clearly not overly impressed with Lily and her anger. As much as she understood that exorcising souls was exceedingly important to both of them, she felt that the safety of said soul was far more important than any race the team had decided between themselves. Even at the expense of camaraderie, as long as the soul was safe and well, that was what mattered. If they were to be true Shinigami and not just lowly trainees, they had to know when to put their own wants to one side and focus on the goal they had been assigned.

    "Lily, I didn't do it for my own gain." Of course, she had benefited from it, but that wasn't the driving force behind her actions. "If I had simply protected her, she was still at risk. If I'd failed, and the demon had got to her...she had to go as quickly as possible." She felt it was a reasonable thing to have done, and of course, any superiors would hardly have berated her for it. Unfortunately, it was Lily's ire that she really cared about.

    There was no chance to talk to her any further, as the woman was on her way out in quite the huff just moments after the job was done, and as such, Ophelia could only turn to her remaining comrade and sigh, "I suppose we'd best get back and file our report." No doubt, it would be a fairly long winded process, given the presence of the demon and what had been something of a near miss.

    With that, the blonde carved her own door into the ether, motioning at the strong wisps of light that were her brother in arms and her mentor, proceeding to follow them through the doorway before sealing it shut behind her, more than glad to leave Earth and its debauchery.

    Once back in their own world, Ophelia could feel the sun beating down on her face, sincerely wishing she could see it, too. But, that was never going to happen, and there was no point dwelling on it, as she and Otis headed indoors, where the latter quickly drew out the forms that were the bureaucratic heart of the organisation. He didn't mind doing the paperwork, and often joked that he was destined to live behind a desk, but that didn't keep Ophelia from feeling just a little guilty as she dictated the events, detailing her own actions and mentioning anything he might have missed.

    When it was done, Otis signed, and Ophelia stamped the bottom of the paper, proceeding to suggest, "I'll go and find Lily. We'd best get this filed sooner rather than later." It was a good excuse to go and see how she was doing, she only hoped that the other female had cooled down a little since they had last been together.

    Ophelia headed first to her friends home, knocking on the door with her free hand, while the other hung loosely at her side, paper in hand. "Lily? Are you in there? Are you alright?" She was unsure what was the best way to go about this, but did speak a couple more words, "I'm sorry." She really was, although she still thought she was in the right, though that did nothing to put her mind at ease where it came to upsetting her friend.
     
  12. Once Lily had stepped into the Shinigami realm, she ignored the pathway towards Headquarters. She wasn’t in the mood to fill in paper work and file the report, letting her teammates take care of the job. Otis liked that kind of stuff anyways.

    She headed straight home, roughly depositing her gear on the floor of her closet. She moved about her house, still fuming over losing that soul. Finding she just couldn’t focus, she went outside to her garden.

    While Lily’s demeanor was of a headstrong, loud sort, she did have a quieter side and that often took the form of gardening. She liked taking care of the plants in her home, having learned the skill from her parents who learned it from theirs and so on. In fact, relatives were often named after plants such as herself. Her family’s love for plants came from the humans who cared and tended to such beautiful things in their world while alive. And so, in the Shinigami world where Death was a prevailing ideology, it was a nice change to bring about life.

    Lily’s garden isn’t big. It was cramped in the small plot of land she was allowed, but she tried to grow as many things as she could. Of course she had her namesake, she also had poppies, orchids, anything she thought looked pretty based on the packets. After watering the lilies in her backyard, she moved to the front to take care of the cypress tree given to her by her uncle. She noticed Ophelia standing in front of her door. Ophelia looked like she was saying something, but was too far for Lily to hear.

    “I’m out here,” she called, turning off the hose and walking to her friend. Lily was still upset about having lost the soul, but gardening helped calm her down enough to not yell at her friend. She noticed the paper in Ophelia’s hand. “Is that the report? Give it here, I’ll sign it.”

    She took the paper from Ophelia and signed it on her porch before handing it back. Almost immediately, an awkward silence filled the space between them. “Um, hey, sorry. About how I acted earlier.” She looked away to hide the blush on her cheeks even though she knew Ophelia couldn’t see them, but she hoped her aura wasn’t going crazy to show her friend how embarrassed she felt.
     
  13. She had been so focused on trying to persuade Lily to open the door, that she hadn't quite heard the telltale sounds of gardening. Of course, those noises were hardly loud, but it still annoyed her that it took her friend speaking to her first in order for her to realise she was there. But, at least that meant they had a dialogue going.

    "Yes. Otis has done everything, as usual." He was far too good at admin, and Ophelia still couldn't get her head round the fact that anyone could enjoy sitting at a desk all day, when there was action to be had and people to help. But, that was up to him. Pushing that thought aside, she handed the small sheaf of papers to the other woman, trying to ignore what her aura was doing, as it always felt a bit intrusive to study what was going on in these situations.

    Sadly, it was entirely impossible to miss everything, and she did see the fire of the light that was Lily almost trying to close in on itself, a telltale sign of uncertainty or difficulty. It didn't take much of a leap to decide just what the cause of it was, especially as the girl apologised for her previous behaviour, only confirming what Ophelia had already suspected.

    The blonde sighed, trying to speak as diplomatically as possible, as although Lily seemed to be meek enough for now, she was not always of the most even temper, and she had no desire to cause her to become angry again. "It's okay. You don't need to apologise. I promised to let you have that soul, and I took it. I probably should have thought more before exorcising her." It was a difficult balance, friendship and responsibility. In this case, responsibility had won out, but perhaps that had been a mistake.

    In an effort to focus more on the pleasant surroundings they were in, Ophelia ended up commenting, "Your garden seems to be doing well. The smell is...almost overwhelming." The lilies in particular could be scented from here, the potency of their pollen quite obvious to anyone that dared to venture near the property. "It's lovely, though. If you ever move, I'll be able to find you without any trouble." Just follow the scent of flowers, and she would find Lily. It was a sweet little fact that she found charming, not that it really meant anything.
     
  14. Lily perked up when Ophelia mentioned her garden, laughing at her comment about the overwhelming smell. She hadn’t noticed it herself due to being around it all the time whenever she came home. Hopefully the neighbors weren’t too bothered by it. Her friend was also right about it not being very hard to find her should she ever decide to move.

    “And when if I ever do, the smell will be stronger since I’ll have picked a place with a much larger plot of land,” she said, chuckling. She waved the paper in the air and handed it back to Ophelia. She wished Ophelia could see, she wanted to show her all her hardwork. If only plants had auras and souls like humans and Shinigamis. What would the color of their auras be? Green perhaps, or would it match the color of their flower petals? But flowers do not have souls or auras. They bloom once a year and then die before the next year, as if they had souls, but the lack of a countdown above their heads said otherwise. It’s a shame, they look so beautiful when in full bloom. She was sure Ophelia would like to see that as smell could only tell so much.

    “Hey, did you know in the human world they like to give meaning to plants?” she approached the cypress tree she was watering earlier and gestured to it. “Take this tree. It’s a few inches taller than me and covered in green kinda prickly leaves. In some places of the human world, this is the tree of their death god. It’s supposed to represent mourning, at least that’s what I’ve been told. Odd, really.”
     
  15. Ophelia wasn't surprised by that comment. "Of course. Your plants are an extension of you, it's one of the best things about you." She was not one to shirk her duties, but to spend so much time tending to a garden of flowers and other plants that were doomed to die anyway, and served no obvious purpose was not something the blonde felt she was able to even conceive of doing. But here was Lily, utterly devoted and unchanging in her love of these living things.

    She took back the paper, tucking it away for the time being, while she focused on the tree that Lily was describing to her. Unfortunately, the description was little to go on compared to the visuals, particularly as Ophelia had no real way of knowing what 'green' was. She saw these colours where souls were concerned, and had a vague idea from the others that could see auras that red looked a certain way and blue was associated with other things, but she had no way to know that her perception matched up, if it even did.

    In any case, she reached out a gentle finger, just brushing the leaves and feeling the sensation that helped her paint a picture of the world around her. "I'm not sure if that's morbid or touching." The blind girl commented, although she did proceed to mention, "But it's certainly fitting to have one here." If ever there was a place for a tree associated with mourning, then this was it.

    "I'd best get this turned in. But next time, tell me what your namesake means. And if it's anything other than a rambunctious girl, I won't believe you." Ophelia grinned, lightly teasing her friend before stealing away to get the paper filed back with their superiors before the evening closed in on them. Lateness was never tolerable.
     
  16. Lily smiled slyly at her friend, despite knowing Ophelia couldn't see the expression.

    "Sure thing. Don't be too upset when I tell you," she laughed, picking up the hose. "I'll see you tomorrow then!"

    Lily watched Ophelia go, happy they were able to make up despite her losing her chance to get a soul this time. She turned back to water her tree. Next time she'd get that soul. She wasn't going to leave room for mistakes this time, and she wasn't going to let Ophelia get too far ahead of her. That she promised herself.

    As she put away all her gardening tools, her phone buzzed: it was a text from Otis, reminding her Yama wanted to have a team meeting tomorrow. Lily groaned. She forgot Yama liked to have these after every mission. The purpose of these after-mission meetings was to review and get graded on their performance. She could hear him now: You're reaction time to the demon was slow. It could have easily gotten past you and got the soul. Lucky for you Ophelia was there, but step up your game if you really desire to be a Shinigami.

    "Stupid Yama," she grumbled, kicking the potting soil in her shed.

    The next day, Lily made her way to Headquarters. She had it all planned out. If Yama told her she was slow, then she'll counter it by asking for speed exercises. She'll even make sure Yama is the one who oversees she gets herself up to his standards of speed, no matter how much he says no. If he says she needs to step up her game, then she'll step it up so well, the Council will give them harder missions just because of her performance. She rubbed her hands as a smile spread across her face. She will make Yama eat his words.

    "You know, sometimes I wonder if you're mom dropped you on your head."

    Lily jumped and turned in the direction of the voice to see Otis, laying down on the bench by Yama's office. He had his sweater piled under his head like a pillow, but his attention was on his phone as he played whatever game had his attention.

    "Don't scare me like that, jeez." Lily took the bench opposite Otis who shrugged and muttered something along the lines of well you scare me with that creeper face. "Ophelia not come yet?" she asked.

    "Nope."

    "What grade you think we'll get?"

    "No idea." He paused as something happened on his game. "Not too bad maybe, but your review worries me the most. If he gives you a poor review it will reflect on the group report."

    Lily bit her lip. A bad grade on her part could affect anything from whether or not she earns the title of Shinigami or resigns to be a pastor, to what missions the team gets and how reliable they are to the Council in performing duties. She didn't want to drag the team down and most certainly didn't want to become the first ever pastor in her family, but things didn't look too good. She placed her hands on he forehead, fingers tangling into her brown locks.
     
  17. The meeting that was scheduled for the morning was par for the course, even if it was a bit of a drag at times. Certainly in the beginning any debriefing had been helpful, but as their training had progressed it had become quite a waste of time, as they had become happy in their roles. However, now that they were actively doing their duty, many of these meetings were relevant and necessary. That was certainly true in this case, as Yama's perspective on what had happened would be of great use to the lot of them.

    Ophelia did worry about what might be said, and also how she and Lily might react to it. Although they had made up without incident, it was easy to get defensive when a superior was putting either of them down. It was for this reason that the blonde was less than eager to get there, though she was not late - merely dead on time.

    Otis and Lily were waiting outside, the former seeming rather relaxed, if the softness of the outline of his soul was anything to go by. Lily wasn't quite so calm about the situation, although she was hardly panicking, either. She was just...Lily. In all honesty, nothing was really amiss, it was simply their familiarity that allowed the blind woman to pick up on any small changes in her disposition.

    "Sorry to keep you two waiting, shall we go in and face the music?" Ophelia spoke in the general direction of the two, knowing that it was probably best to get this over and done with as quickly as possible.

    The three of them soon headed inside, where Yama was waiting rather impatiently. They were not late, but he had been early - as usual - and he also happened to like to think he had lots of important things to do, rather than wasting his time on these three young upstarts.

    "Take a seat then. Let's get this done." He was not one to mince his words, and it was no surprise that he chose to address the elephant in the room, first and foremost.

    "You should all know by now that the safety of the soul is paramount. You are exorcists, not demon hunters or soul punishers. Not yet, anyway. So tell me, Lily, how would you rate your performance?" He was being a bit of an arse, but he was harsh for a reason, as they all needed to know their positions inside and out, to act on instinct in these hellish situations, no matter what.

    Ophelia glanced over to her friend, wanting to speak up for her, but instead gauging what she would say and how her aura reacted. Stepping in would be a bad idea, and no doubt would only make things worse. That was to say nothing of the fact that Yama would most likely have plenty to moan at her about too.
     
  18. Lily fidgeted. She hadn’t expected Yama to address her first. Usually, it was either Otis or Ophelia since they were the ones who had gotten a soul during previous missions.

    “I would rate it a―” she paused “—four.” The last word came out so quietly, she wasn’t even sure she had said it.

    “Why four?”

    Lily clenched her teeth. Dammit, why a four? She replayed the mission over and over in her head, trying to find a reason for such a low score.

    “We accomplished the mission yes. We saved and exorcised the soul, even defeated a demon, but I missed the opportunity to get my first soul. Maybe if I had let Ophelia or Otis take on the demon, or even got rid of it right away, maybe I could finally catch up.” She balled her fists. “I was so fucking close. I can’t believe I just let it go.”

    Yama sighed, leaning back in his chair. It was almost as if he expected the brunette to give herself such a harsh score. He had often observed despite her fiery attitude, she was too hard on herself. Maybe it was because of a family reputation.

    “Interesting reflection. At the end I will give the three of you my scores.” He turned to Otis. “Otis, you?”

    Otis cleared his throat. “Unlike my teammate here, I rate our performance with a number nine. We followed procedure, accomplished our job, and added bonus: we defeated a demon.” Suddenly, his normally apathetic tone suddenly changed. “And most important of all, we worked as a team.” A small black, jackal dog head appeared next to him, snapping its jaws at Lily.

    Lily glared at Otis and opened her mouth, but Yama forced it closed with his own charm and zapped the dog head away.

    “Save your fighting for the battlefield, not my office,” their instructor growled. “Ophelia?”
     
  19. Having to put a number on their individual and group performances was never something that Ophelia looked forward to. Although she understood the reasoning behind it, she did usually feel as though she was just plucking a random number out of thin air and hoping her explanation backed it up. However, there was no point complaining, and so the blonde simply listened to everything her comrades had to say.

    She almost interrupted when Lily spoke up, her mouth opening before abruptly snapping shut again. She wanted to defend her friend, but knew she would have her own time to speak. Instead, she did her best to remain quiet, soon listening as Otis gave an entirely different account of the previous days mission. He had always been a positive young man, and it was no surprise that he was pleased as punch with everything that had happened. She saw the brief explosion of colour as he summoned some sort of familiar, though the finer points of what was happening were lost on her. But, it was gone as quickly as it had come, as Yama turned his attention on her.

    The girl didn't immediately answer, seeming to chew on her words before speaking, "I'd say a seven." She finally offered, proceeding to explain herself. "We accomplished the mission, and as Otis said, we dealt with the demon well. However, there was a lack of communication that could have led to some dire consequences had it been a less straightforward mission."

    Ophelia wondered what they would make of that, though she supposed it was only Yama's opinion that mattered. No doubt, he'd already made his mind up hours ago, perhaps as soon as the situation unfolded before him. And he wasn't the type to change his mind easily.
     
  20. Yama paused, recording each of their answers on the papers in front of him. Still unable to talk, Lily soon found her stomach churning as his pen moved across the paper. If their teacher wasn’t such a jerk or so strict, she’d promptly ask to go to the bathroom and have Ophelia give her her report. He finished swiftly then looked at his three students, folding his hands in front of him on his desk.

    “Ophelia, I rate your performance with a seven, same as how you rated yourself. I applaud your initiative to aid your teammate when she encountered the demon along with taking care of the soul first. Had you not acted quickly, we would have lost the soul. Also your perception with the clock-type battle strategy has improved, but I suggest we also include distance in addition to location. The lack of communication mainly came when you decided to drop your shield without notifying Otis. Tell him next time so he can create a stronger barrier.

    “Otis, you have the lowest score, a five. You sensed and notified everyone of the demon and your barrier was second to none, but when Ophelia and Lily were fighting you were ready to drop the barrier to join them. The soul is the mission, but your part was to isolate the demon and prevent other demons from attacking the soul or your teammates. They are relying on you to keep the battlefield in control and prevent unnecessary casualties.

    “Lily, I rate you a six. Your overall performance wasn’t the worst I have ever seen, and your empathy to the soul who is coming to terms with the passing has improved. I, however, was surprised by the leadership you showed yesterday. You successfully guided Ophelia to the soul and later making sure Otis kept up his barrier. You were able to make sure everyone kept up with protocols. A skill I had believed until now to be nonexistent in you.”

    At this, Lily straightened her back as she started to find pride in herself despite her pessimistic view on yesterday’s mission.

    “I would have given you a seven like Ophelia, but your attitude afterwards cost you. As Otis said, you are part of a team and as Shinigami you work together to secure a soul, no matter who gets it. True you still have yet to obtain your first soul, but I hope you show a little more maturity next mission.”

    He handed all three of them an individual copy of their reports before filing his away to be sent to the Council. Lily stared at the red six circled at the top, a smile slowly spreading across her face. She had expected worse, especially from Yama, but it seems he saw something she didn't; while the mission didn’t go as she wanted, but it was nice to see she did better than she thought. And leadership? If she could only talk she’d probably gush nonstop about being a leader and taking on the biggest, baddest demon the Society could find with the best Shinigami following her. She’d look so awesome as squad leader, just like her Uncle Cypress.

    She briefly glanced at Ophelia; ok, maybe she could work on not making a storm next time, but she’ll still work hard to get her first soul. She pointed at her mouth, making a noise to get Yama’s attention.

    “The charm will lift once you leave my office,” he blinked. “I feared you would make my ears bleed once you got my score. We’ll meet at our usual spot for out next mission. Dismissed.”
     
    #20 Yuuki_Tatsunohi, Aug 1, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2015
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