The Lobby

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Kestrel, Jan 14, 2015.

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  1. The Lobby

    The Lobby was a bar founded by a couple of ex-librarians many years ago. Although it was far from official, it was often populated by librarians after their shifts had ended, or in between missions. The Lobby had three floors (and a wine cellar,) that dated a few decades back in both age and design. It was a built in length, with dark-wood floors and a long bar and a sizable liquor cabinet lurking behind it on the first floor. Those present on the first floor either stood or sat on a barstool. On the walls, there were memories of the old bar, which were either relics or junk depending on how long you'd been a customer. Lastly there was a stage in the back of the bar, where performances were held at night. They ranged from music to drama, and on nights they were held the Lobby was often filled to the brim with people.

    The first floor was a type of balcony, that looked out over the bar and had a good view on the stage as well. It was more designed as a lounge, with sofas and low tables. It was often taken by the PR departments, even if technically for everyone.

    The second floor was a game-room, where instead of tables, sofas and barstools there were pool tables and dart-boards. It was often a smoky lounge, especially during tournaments (which were common place,) and the windows were frequently opened only to look like substitute chimneys. There was a blackboard on the wall that was used to keep score, and riddled with obscure references that perhaps even it's writers no longer understood.

    All in all, it was considered a homely bar, where many went to meet up or blow off steam. It served as a haven for those between hours, and would likely continue to do so for a long while.
  2. Collaboration with @Fallenreaper

    Why had possessed him that day, Lux didn't quite remember, but he wasn't one to break a promise and he had promised to teach Emily how to swim properly... Because from what he'd seen Emily had not even the slightest bit of practice in keeping her head above water. Now that he was standing in front of a swimming pool waiting for his 'student' Lux felt unsure about what he had gotten himself into. It was far too late to even begin to phantom how he'd teach someone to swim. Lux tried to remember how he had learned, diving back into childhood memories of going to the lake with his parents on a hot summer day.

    Yet as he tried to recall what his father had told him first, he saw a familiar face in the distance. Lux popped out of thought and waved at Emily. "Free swimming classes, over here!" He shouted, as a grin formed on his face. He'd figure out something on the fly, and at the very least Emily had shown before she could at least avoid drowning. Lux chuckled to himself at the thought; his humour was turning morbid.

    Cerberus had scoffed and grumbled at her choice of attire, a suit made for swimming, as she made her way to one of the Hub’s public swimming pool areas. She was jittery and nervous, but she wouldn’t just crawl away at the slightest notion that she would look foolish. Coming from a desert area, it almost impossible to learn to swim and any water found was only enough to go wading rather than actually enough not to touch the bottom. It was easy to avoid water since no jobs in her past required anything beyond wading.

    She walked through the gates of the fenced off pool area, she caught Lux’s shout reach for her. Her head rotated a bit before finally location the source. With a smile, and eagerness to start, she began to move towards him. She passed, maneuvered, and shifted around the small crowd which had gather to exit as the pool area’s hours had drawing past its busiest time. For a bit, Emily was relieved as it meant she would be making a fool out herself around a much smaller crowd. Cerberus’s comment however had soured that moment.

    ‘I see little reason why you need to take swimming lessons from him. Why not take instructions elsewhere or learn on your own, instead of being an intolerable flirt like you usually are. You don’t need his hel-‘

    “Shut up Cerberus,” Emily snapped just when she came into range of Lux. She looked at the water; her mind still remembered the clumsy swimming and mad dash across the log to the shore, all her movements still very clear in her mind. Even now, she couldn’t quite understand how she had managed to do that but she did, which lead to this. “So what now? You’re not going to toss me and hold my head underwater are you? There’s more than one way to get a girl wet, you know then dunking her.”

    Lux couldn't help but smirk. Emily had once told him Cerberus was a guard dog in just about everything, and Lux had a pretty decent guess at what was going on between Emily and her spirit. On the off day he and Emily weren't dealing with dangerous rebels, dragons and zombies, Lux felt relaxed in her company. It was good to hang out with someone he trusted outside of work and with all that had been going on, Lux might have needed this swimming class just as much as Emily.

    "The idea is to keep your head above water, but without an ice sheet this time." Lux said with the ever-present grin on his face. He took Emily by the hand walked to the pool-side, where Lux sat down and put his legs in the water first. "Ease into it." Lux suggested, although he already knew that was an unlikely prospect; the water was a lot colder than the air.

    Emily’s eyebrow rose at him when he mentioned the ice sheet, she could recall the chill and cold that licked up flesh. It wasn’t all bad despite the aftermath of catching a cold on numerous occasions. Another comment, which caused Cerberus’s lips to draw back into a snarl, was made. “I don’t know. I sort of liked the attention afterwards and the bad thing about this swimming lesson, it might prevent that now.”

    One thing she liked about Lux was his remarks. Mainly because he could give as easily as he got without missing a beat, something that very few colleges could do around her. Lux provided those distracts from her problems, both mission and outside of them, which she grateful latched on like a life preserver just to save her sanity. Otherwise, it was just Cerberus and that was nothing she found one bit amusing. She let him take her hand as he led her to the poolside, her eyes watched him plopped down and gently eased his legs in. Emily almost wanted to chuckle but restrained herself.

    Instead she followed suit, easily. Her skin was introduced to the icy cold water and she fought the impulse to jerk them back out, quickly submerged her feet until her body adjusted to the water’s temperature. “I have no problem with water…until it gets to where I can’t touch the bottom anymore. In Der Etra, namely my hometown Soule, any underground water sources were deep enough to wade but nothing as deep as the river. Or this. And of course, no need to watch out for Dyrahs either.”

    She smirked a bit at the memory of the twin headed lizard only native to her home, Cerberus merely snorted on the other hand. He clear didn’t approve of their friendliness to one another, namely outside working conditions and made no effort to hide it. His spirit form glared down at Lux’s side, over protective guard dog mode flipped on, his teeth bared as if ready to tear the man limb from limb. Not that he really could.
    Lux couldn't help but be amused by Emily's reaction to the cold water. He had called it of course, still seeing her expression was rewarding. "Well you're in luck, Em," Lux said, he threw his arm around her as what would seem a friendly gesture, but something devilish twinkled in his eyes. "You can stand in here too." He said, and without warning he pushed Emily off the edge, into the water. After which Lux himself followed suit.

    The bath they were at was indeed not very deep, the water barely came up to Lux' chest when he stood up. This was perfect for now. Although he couldn't resist one more remark before he'd start his swimming classes; "There maybe no dyrah's, but who knows I'm just as bad!"
    Emily let her legs swish around in the pool’s water, the heat from her skin watered the temperature nearby to more tolerable degree as she grew accustomed to it. There was little trouble in noting his smirk when she first dipped in her legs. It he seemed to think it funny and while some Holder would’ve taken offense, Emily knew if the roles had been reversed then she would’ve been the one laughing. Emily made a note to take Lux rock climbing- if he hadn’t been- to return this favor. That thought made Cerberus’s main eyes roll in annoyance.

    When he threw his arm around her and spoke, she felt a suspicion rise. Her face displayed this quite easily but it didn’t brace her for Lux’s little surprise. Immediately, before she could reply, his hand pushed the middle of her back then shoved her into the pool! Her eyes widen in surprise as her body splashed into the pool. Her feet straightened and hands reached out only to miss before she realized the water level came around to only her chest. Already her thrashing heart had started to relax at this fact, her breath slightly lost in her yelp, and turned back to Lux just in time to see an interesting sight.

    Cerberus’s body tensed in alarm after she was shoved into the pool, his teeth flashed, and then all three heads snapped at Lux with the intentions to rip out his throat. Naturally her spirit’s fangs just phased right through the holder that hopped in shortly. Instead of chiding Cerberus, Emily’s mind focused upon Lux’s comment about being as bad as the Dyrah. It was something she seriously doubted and added her own opinion. “I would take a bite from you over a Dyrah any day.”

    "Careful what you wish for." Lux smirked, completely unaware of Cerberus' act. If he could've seen the three-headed spirit he might not have been so at ease. Yet he flashed his teeth before he turned it back into a smile.
    Lux tried to remember the basics he'd learned first when swimming, although it was almost two decades ago since his father's lessons. Lux just knew he'd never been afraid of water, for the better or worse, so between his memories and disposition it was hard to figure out what to do first. Lux settled for floating,

    "Water is sorta like a less solid land," He said clumsily, laughing at his own words before continuing. He really should've prepared for this... "If you distribute your weight right, you can float on the water. Like this."
    Lux' feet lost touch with the bottom and he tilted his body horizontally, like a plank drifting on the water. "See, it's not so bad." Lux encouraged Emily, as he put his hands in the back of his head. "It's actually quite relaxing. How about you give it a try?"

    Inwardly Cerberus’s possessive habits had lately begun to unravel her usually strong patience. It had gotten worse ever since their return from the mission in Szolner Woods, her mind mentally shivered at the large insects and their attempts to rub against her. She didn’t date outside her species nor did she intend to start ever. Her eyes darted to her spirit’s currently position against her better judgment, immediately fought the urge to roll her eyes. Cerberus’ had finally laid himself poolside, but his black fur was bristled up in anger as hell fire sizzling up his muzzle, so hot and strong, that it threatened to consume his face in the green blaze. For a moment she was happy no one other than her could see what a horse’s ass her spirit was being.

    Lux’s playful comment had Emily playfully sticking her tongue, adding an equally playful comment behind it. “Oh, I’m sure I’ll like it and might even encourage more.”

    Cerberus’s middle head let at a disgusted snort, disapprove to her flirting. However, since she had quit caring what the three headed dog had thought long ago, Emily found it easy to brush his resentment aside. Her toes curled and unfurled, her feet noted the water’s slight heaviness in comparison to air on dry land. She easily tuned into Lux when the Bishop began to talk, her mind focused on his words before she raised her eyebrow at the reference about water and land. Less solid, she didn’t doubt that one bit, but being compared to land was a little hard to swallow for her. And that was something which doesn’t happen often. After all, land hasn’t tried to drown her yet. When Lux showed her how to float, she still had a hard time believing she would be able of that.

    “You realize I don’t float, I sink.” She stressed the last word before continuing, “Of course, it’s reasonable you’ve forgotten that since you had about half a dozen or so plant infested animals nipping at your heels at the time.”

    Lux laughed out loud, which in hindsight wasn't the smartest thing to do as he curled up and sank underwater with his mouth wide open. He coughed and sneezed the water out of his palate, before regaining his composure. "And that was an example of how not to float." He smiled, although the taste in his mouth and nose made that smile fairly difficult. "All part of today's class."

    He swam towards Emily, because much as Lux liked fooling around, he did have a mission that afternoon. "I'll help you out," Lux offered, and put his hands on her shoulders. "You try to relax and sprawl. I'll keep your head above the water." Lux reassured Emily. "I promise I won't push you under this time."

    Emily’s hips tilted and hands settled upon them at a laughing Lux, who then sank below the surface only to come up hacking and choking on the water he swallow. Mentally the woman thought it served him right for laughing at her but resisted the urge to say it. She just chuckled a bit at the man’s unfortunate experience as he finally cleared the water from his lungs, at least enough to speak.

    At the mention of his mishap being an example to what not to do and his figure approaching her, Emily made a sarcastic remark. “Well, you don’t say? I though you did rather well in sinking while laughing your ass off. I thought you were supposed to help me with the floating part, not the many ways to sink?”

    Her relaxation soon turned to tension at his offer to help, feeling his hands perch on her shoulders then promise not to push her under. Emily’s answer was serious as she nodded her head, her body started to slide backwards into the water. She let her arms spread out to her side. Her head felt the water raise to brow line and seemed to threaten to engulf her, causing her body to stiffen against relaxation. The Rook started to believe if Lux didn’t shove her down then likely her ridge body would’ve. “If you do, I’m dragging you under with me. Keep that in mind, and fact I don’t think it would take much to pin you underneath me.”

    She smiled, partly entertaining the idea.

    “That's rather cold of you,” Lux retorted, as he blew small rings of frost mist from his mouth. He'd made a bowl for Emily's head out of his forearms, lifting it slightly higher above the water's surface. “Just relax, Em.” The bishop repeated, “I got you.”

    In truth though, Lux was trying to figure out how to actually relax Emily. This was the least deep body of water he knew of in the vicinity, but Lux supposed it was still a whole lot deeper than anything Emily was used to. Encasing her in armbands made of ice would be counter-productive, although maybe he could find some kind of wooden board? Perhaps some breathing exercises would work? Lux regretted not preparing his lesson more with every passing minute.

    “You seem to be enjoying yourself, Luxie-boy.” He heard a sly voice whisper. For the first time in days, Koko had given herself shape and she was laying on Emily's stomach, pawing at both her skin and bathing suit alike, although her cloud-like claws moved straight through them. Instantly Lux knew what this meant; his spirit had gotten bored of the tame nature of the lesson and was expecting more.

    Koko tip-toed over Emily, from stomach to chest, until the spirit's head hovered Emily's, blocking eye-contact between the rook and bishop. The cat-spirit hummed, as if in deep thought, before she suggested; “I think she's enjoying herself too.”

    Lux did his best to ignore Koko, but unlike Cereberus, Koko rarely made side-comments. His heartbeat sped up and his breathing became heavier out of frustration. Lux attempted to maintain composed, but Koko was getting under his skin. The spirit was plotting to turn events up a notch, and he knew it.

    “Tell me,” Koko yawned, as she now sat on Emily's face. “Why do you resist her, Luxie-boy? You know she's easy. Just ask the old team-leader, Ramza. He knows.” The bishop frowned, but his body tensed. In complete contrast to the cat, who seemed to have started cleaning her own paws. Koko stretched slowly, and yawned once more, then glanced at Lux as she put her recently cleaned paws onto Emily's face and whispered, “So why don't you just let her pin you down?”

    With that, Koko vanished from sight, leaving Lux with tense muscles and a pounding in his throat, and a full minute of having avoided eye-contact with his student at the visual blockade that'd been his spirit. Suddenly telling Emily to relax would come out a lot less convincing...

    Emily decided Lux was a smart ass, his mouth puffed out a few small rings of cold that almost made her shiver. One thing she didn’t like was being cold as it had happen at least on two different occasions. First time was with the drake then the floating life preserver, neither fun nor enjoyable in her mind and less reason to repeat the incident again. Her head lifted by his support, Emily heard his voice again reassure her using her nickname.

    Mentally Emily didn’t want to let go. Her body was fighting the sensation rather well and it wasn’t because she wanted to, her mind shifted to less pleasant thoughts. Ones that relieved the rushing water around her, rushed and pushed her along in a helpless grasp was enough to make anyone nervous. Her heart couldn’t help thumping rapidly that seemed to tick the time away.

    Relax…relax, Emily scolded herself.

    Cerberus had finally calmed down slightly as he slowly realized he wasn’t being very productive with his fit towards Lux. Emily mentally rolled her eyes. There wouldn’t be any calmness happening within her while Cerberus’s baritone voice rang out in her head, mostly slanderous insults that seemed to be pitiful attempts at discouragement or vented rage. Desperate to focus on something other than her spirit’s spite, she opened her eyes and made a slight smile at Lux. However her expression changed into concern. Something didn’t seem right because Lux’s face didn’t return her smirk with one of his own or even a comment, some quick witty phrase.

    Immediately Emily’s body pushed upright, albeit clumsier then she had liked, and turned to the Bishop. Her eyebrow raised in question at his tension, inwardly worried she’d caused it. She faced him, her dark eyes inquired yet her tone was slightly playful and gentle. “Oh….okay what’s the matter? Don’t tell me I’m that terrible of a student, am I?”

    “Heh, no, nothing like it.” Lux forced a chuckle, although even with Koko gone, Lux had trouble making eye-contact while saying that. How would he explain this, Lux didn't know. His spirit had gotten his ideas and feelings tangled, and the chaos prevented Lux from thinking or answering straight. The slight playfulness he picked up in Emily's voice didn't help with that either. Koko was right, Lux had picked up the hints, but why was he at conflict?

    “Give me five,” Lux asked, following it up with a quick remark in hopes not to worry Emily too much. “Minutes, not push-ups. I need to clear my mind about something.”

    Emily noted his eyes avoided hers, even when his voice seem light hearted and playful. However it didn’t seem to reach all of him and it unnerved her. In a short time, things had went from fun to uncomfortable, something Emily hadn’t expected or really wanted. Her shoulders lowered slightly as she backed off a bit.

    What did she do was the real question on her mind, her eyes fixed on Lux a moment then turned. “Maybe today was a bad time, uh? Can’t teach if you’ve got stuff on your mind can you? We can always put this off for later and I’ll promise to steer clear of any missions with water bodies.”

    For once, Cerberus, much to her relief had become silent. His head tilted and seemed to display a smugness Emily wanted to rip off her spirit’s face but stopped herself. Her feet started have moved towards the pool edge and hoisted herself up, twisted to sit upon it. It felt best to give Lux some breathing room while her spirit’s dark form followed her out. The Holder’s eyes shifted to him with a slight glare, not wanted to hear his comments or snide remarks to farther wound her pride and day.

    Lux shrugged, “Today's as good as any. It's the last couple missions, there's been a lot on my mind.” He saw Emily move out of the water and away from him. Inside his head he felt his spirit chuckle, but though Lux tried to ignore Koko, both women's action stung in his mind. Lux shook his head; he had to get this off his mind and relax, and fast.

    Like before, the bishop stretched out and let himself drift onto the water. His slowly breath regulated, and like his body, his mind drifted. Lux remembered something he'd told Exazie, the child with them on the sewer missions, about hiding his true emotions behind a mask and an act. Lux had seen right through the kid's, but it seemed nobody had figured out Lux' way of putting up a brave face was fooling around and acting like nothing was wrong. Yet there was always something on his mind. It even steered his actions now. The mission he'd go on next, the reason Emily and he were at the pool. The prices paid for his latest missions were always too large for Lux' liking. Yet there'd been one thing that had been consistent ever since the ball, someone that just by being there kept him sane.

    “Can I be honest with you, Em?” Lux asked, after a few minutes of pondering thoughts and focusing on his breathing. His voice was sincere, but appeared to still be slightly distant, as part of Lux was still drifted away in thought. “We've seen a lot of people come and go. I'm glad you've had my back the past months.” Lux waited for a bit, collecting his thoughts, but it wasn't long before he himself chuckled and spoke more freely. “In a way, having someone to survive by my side for so long is the only reason I'm more of a jester than a fool.” He smirked, which brought colour back to his face. “I almost thought I was carrying some kind of plague.”

    Lux swam towards Emily at the poolside, and pulled himself up to sit next to her. Finally he'd gotten enough of a grip on himself that he could look the rook in her eyes again. “Be my pal for the day, Em.” Lux put forth, “I'm up for a drink later, if you'd like, but right now I really want to see sure you swim before you sink.”

    Emily had been ignoring Cerberus’s comment best she could, her eyes settled upon Lux’s floating form as he seemed lost in his mind. Her mind drifted over the scene before and what thoughts possibly could’ve dwelled in Lux’s head, only to be torn from it when Lux spoke. Her head lifted slightly from the hand that cradled it and kept her head upright, preventing her attention from dipping down. His voice mingled between deep thought and sincere concern while his body drifted across the water, sprawled out and relaxed the whole time.

    Though she struggled not to interrupt, it was hard not to. She didn’t deny what Lux had say yet despite what they had overcome, there were things Lux and she didn’t know about each other. About their lives or history, and more were all a mystery and likely might remain to be during their professional relationship. Was that really a good idea, she questioned inside as her mind turned to answer she feared. No… trust was built on knowledge and understanding about what type of person he and she had placed it in.

    She would admit it was much better to hear a genuine laugh rather than a fake, hollowed one come from Lux’s voice. The skin seemed livelier than before while he started to paddle her way, his arms stroke the water and brought him along her. Naturally Cerberus wasn’t pleased with the recent shift from cold to hot within the scene. At his offer and desire to make sure she could swim, Emily’s voice spoke to him. “You and my cousin are just too much alike. She uses humor to hide stuff and makes it hard to determine when she’s hurting most or enjoying herself. It usually leaves me feeling like I’m running around chasing my tail when I should’ve been asking the right questions, unable to tell when she needs me most.”

    Emily took a deep breath and then added. “I can use that drink later so count me in. Though even you have to admit, I’ve done well before the lessons even if it’s by the skin of my teeth.”

    “Fancy a table or will the bar do?” Lux asked Emily, when they entered the Lobby. “I admit I can use one of those lounge sofa's.” They'd decided to take that drink after they had concluded their swimming class. Lux' hands still had wrinkles in them from all the time they'd spent in the water, though their aged look ironically reminded him of his childhood. Likewise his body felt tired, yet at ease. It was a good time to sit back and drink away some of his hard-earned money; at least the pay was a good perk about his job, although Lux inwardly grinned at how shallow that notion was.

    “Hey, barkeep, how's business today!” Lux raised his hand to get the bartender's attention. The man shrugged and waited for Lux to order. “This one is on me. What can I get you?” The bishop asked Emily, as he browsed the available places to sit from the corner of his eye.

    The swim lessons weren’t exactly what Emily had expected or did they go as well as she was hoping, her muscles held within a dull ache which seemed to increase with each movement. Even the smallest flicker made her grit not to whisper a soft ouch under her breath. It was the first time her body had to adjust to something she’d never truly done and currently all she could manage was a decent doggy paddle, which was better than floundering about and hope she didn’t drown. After several hours, Lux had decided to call it quit and take a break. Something she was secretly pleased about.

    When they entered the Lobby, she smirked at Lux’s question. Her hands held in front of her as her head glanced around, noted the seating arrangement and weighed her options. However, her decision became lopsided after Lux’s comment about a lounge sofa. She waited until after Lux had gathered the bartender’s attention and offered to pay, her head nodded to show her understanding.

    “I think there’s a seat over there,” She answered, her hand pointed over where an empty sofa was and finally added with a small chuckle. “Vodka might be ideal considering how sore I am.”

    “Vodka for the lady, and a white wine for me.” Lux ordered, to which the bartender couldn't help but wonder if it wasn't the other way around. As if reading the man's mind, Lux had to laugh. How much could a drink tell about a person?

    “A vodka for the lady,” Lux smiled as he joined Emily on the lounge's sofa. He stretched out before he sank into his seat, and held up his glass. “A toast, to sore muscles and wrinkled skin.” Lux said jovially, then brought the glass to his lips.

    “So how do you feel about swimming now? Up for another lesson after this?” Lux joked.

    Emily always had a soft spot for the harder liquor, Vodka being a favorite of her late Aunt, and thus had developed a taste for it. However she was surprised when Lux ordered a white wine as it seemed was the bartender, the man’s eyebrow raised and mentally seemed to question if that some sort of joke. Lux merely just laughed at the look then repeated her drink choice. She could only guess that Lux didn’t like the hard stuff or like her cousin, couldn’t handle it well.

    They soon were seated on the lounge’s sofa, his feet stretched out while he sank back to rise his glass to her. In similar motion, Emily copied his toast to their swimming lesson then took a drink. There was the familiar heat which filled her throat and came down nice and warm until it settled in her stomach, her ears perked up when Lux asked his questions.

    “Right now, I think a whole pool in my ear alone. I don’t think I’ll be swimming again if I can help it or might look more like a fish.” Emily joked, the fact her skin looked like a raisin didn’t help. “As for another lesson, as long it’s not right now, then I’m game. Though,what about you? How did it feel being a teacher for the first time?”

    “It made me feel more like a kid than anything.” Lux smirked, as he sipped his wine. The sweet, hypnotizing taste of a good wine relaxed him. The last time he had an opportunity to drink, he had to decline it doctor's advice. Now, in sheer contrast, the glass went down faster than Lux intended to.

    “I don't think I've said something as childish as 'less solid land' since... I can remember.” Lux had a good laugh at himself. “I promise I'll do better next lesson, so there's another reason to survive for us next mission, eh?”

    Emily had made herself comfortable. When her leg crossed over the other, she felt a slight winkle in her skirt which she straightened with one hand and the other held the Vodka upright, careful not to spill it. She caught the conversation about Lux’s mention of his childhood while he sipped the wine. He seemed to savory it but the liquid was going down rather quickly, a surprise to her. It seemed Lux hadn’t tasted good wine in a long time, a slight amusement to her.

    Emily leaned into the soft lounge sofa back as she let the drink’s harsh taste burn her throat then settle into her stomach. Lux’s last comment hit her a little harder then he might’ve known, mainly with the Mother of the Dunes mission. While it might’ve been a nice thought, that lingering doubt about was or could’ve had always been in her head. Namely how many would’ve survived if she didn’t. Emily shook the thought away and more quickly then she intended, down the last of her drink. The dull effects chased away the unsettling thoughts easily for now.

    “You better, though I can’t say you’re the worst teacher in the world. I’ve seen far worse.” Emily forced herself to giggle softly, the sound faded. “Speaking of childhood, come to think of it, I don’t know where you even grew up at or what it was like. Unless that’s too personal of a question for friends?”

    “Hah, well then, friend, let me tell you something personal then.” Lux laughed and threw an arm around Emily. “You're looking at your average downtown boy. My dad's a carpenter. Hell lot better a swimming teacher than me too. Taught me the trick, anyhow. My mom's stayed home for as long as I can remember. They tell me I was a little devil growing up, I drove them crazy. I remember one day my dad just plucked me off the streets and put a hammer and some nails in my hands. He told me,” Lux lowered the tone of his voice, put down his glass and made a mustache out of his finger.

    “From this day forth you're going to earn your meals, mister!” Lux said as he faked a stern fatherly look. “At the end of the day I ended up with sweat in places I didn't know I could and a handful of coins. My dad always lectured me, but that was the first time he got through to me. The next day I started a job-hunt and ended up a flyer boy for the Library. They picked me up for a position in recruitment when I turned sixteen, even made me a holder a somewhere down the line. Next thing you know, we're having a drink. Speaking of which...”

    Lux picked up his glass and tipped it against Emily's, “Can I get you another? I'll trade for the story of how you grew up.”

    Emily was relieved to hear Lux, her slight inner worry eased by his light hearted reaction as he pulled his arm around her. It gently rested upon her slight naked shoulder and only seemed to encourage her to settle in closer. She naturally twisted her body about to face him, pulling in slightly closer. Eyes focused while he spoke of his childhood made it easy for her to tell the memories he shared were fond ones and display his ties to his family rather well. His hand placed the glass down for the moment in order to mimic his father’s appearance with his finger and even lowered his voice to make the ruse more believable. A sight that made it rather hard for Emily not to giggle, her teeth bit her bottom lip in the effort to seal away the sound’s start.

    It seemed the relationship was rather strong by his actions, her heart slightly tugged at the fact she never gotten to know her own and wondered about her life’s many ifs. What if her father had been like Lux’s or had been even been in here? What might’ve happened lingered there for only a few moments before the desire to know had faded, as it always did. Emily knew questioning the past would never change yet the occasional time did little to stop her from doing so. Her hand pushed a stubborn bang and curled it behind her ear, clearing her eyes of the distraction.

    She couldn’t help the smile that kept on her expression even after Lux’s offer had changed the topic. His glass dinged against her own, though it was only the question which rang in her ears. At first her eyebrow raised in question and inwardly she debated on what she would share. The Rook soon realized it was thing to ask about another’s past, but another to realize she had to reveal her own. However she did start this and it was only fair she followed through came her reasoning. Emily sighed in surrender when she set her glass into her lap.

    “Can’t say I grew up like you for sure.” She paused, thinking for a second then continued. “My mother died in childborn and so I lived with my Aunt and cousin in the desert of Gyptalria. She raised my cousin and me in a small village called Soule, very tightly knit community of about a few families. It’s within a place called Der Etra or the Badlands where we live in the large canyon wall and most of our homes are merely dug out. Heck, you need to know how to climb in order to reach your front door or your neighbors’. My childhood was mostly boring and normal in that time. It was simpler too as when I turned old enough, I ended up getting old jobs to support my family and expand my world’s experience. I first heard Cerberus’s voice when I was 21 after…”

    Emily stopped long enough to set the empty back upon the table, her hands now freed but her tone had sounded slightly depressed at the thought. “After my Aunt had died. One of the things about Cerberus, he’s always been connected to death. Maybe that’s why I’m his Holder after all.”

    She quickly realized her tone and hastened to correct herself. “Sorry, some things don’t always heal easily.” Emily clicked her tongue to her mouth’s roof then continued to move from the topic.

    “A few weeks later I was employed at the Library. I mostly worked in the Research Branch, mainly as an aid to those researching the archives and helped in gathering the materials. Only a few years after that I volunteered for an experimental procedure to increase my mana. After a few months I get the smiling image of my spirit over me and discover I’m a Rook right before the ball incident. I’m pretty sure you know the rest. That pretty much sums up my life.”

    Emily knew the last bit was a lie because there had been bits she left out on purpose. One was her engagement at sixteen which didn’t happen and the other was her near death at the bottom of a mine, when Cerberus had to keep her alive for two days until they found her. If she was honest with herself, Emily didn’t want pity from Lux and in her heart, was a little scared he wouldn’t look at her again without it. That idea seemed to hurt her more then she wanted to admit.

    Lux regretted finishing his wine before Emily did her story, because he sure could have used a sip while thinking of what to say. “For what it's worth, I don't know many girls tussling hand-to-hand with a bear.” Lux said, playfully pinching Emily's biceps, “Your aunt sounds like she was pretty strong, if she was able to give you a boring childhood. I bet some of that toughness rubbed off on you.”

    Truth to be told, Lux had no experience whatsoever losing a family member, nor any idea of having to support them. He never had thought of that how the woman, although just by sitting there and having a drink helped Lux deal with his demons, Emily had a bunch of her own. He wasn't sure how to respond to Emily's story nor her signs, At least, not very well.

    “I'm told alcohol is a good way to disinfect wounds though,” Lux said after a short pause, as he picked both their glasses off the table and raised them for the bartender to see while smiling at the man apologetically (though he hid that expression from Emily.) The barkeep poured two new drinks, but put them on the bar for Lux to get himself. Should've known, Lux thought to himself, tapped on Emily's knee and got up from the sofa, “We can put the medicine on my tab, just give me a second to get it.” Lux grinned, wasting a second to see if Emily was okay, before turning around to get the drinks.

    In hindsight, giving himself a few seconds to think about what to ask next wasn't a bad idea, Lux thought as he paid the barkeep and returned to the sofa. He handed Emily a vodka, just like the last one she ordered and Lux himself too had stuck to the wine. “So tell me about your cousin,” Lux said as he sat back down next to Emily. “Are they still living all the way back in Soule?”

    Emily had heard his words type of words before. They felt like ones used to consult and sooth, neither was one she really wanted them. However it was too late take her story back as she wondered if she had shared far too much or should’ve excluded more, evolved her story into one that mimicked Lux’s own. Her later history tailored to mention the joy without including the pain that made those moments all the more meaningful. For a second, a bit of regret seeps into her mind until Lux’s words about her encounter with the bear caught her attention. Emily raised an eyebrow when he pinched her bicep playfully causing her to smirk a bit then reply.

    “Only as a holder could a girl say that… I still get shivers from that mission and the fact I will never cozy up to a bug ever.” Emily said with a mixture of humor and seriously.

    Her skin, in reality, still crawled whenever she thought back to that event and even swore she hadn’t gotten all the ‘honey’ off her. She sighed a bit but made no reply to his next comment, worried any farther dwelling upon the topic might end up bring the mood down again. Lux on the other hand, wasted little time in refilling their after referring it to medicine for the wounded emotions and leaned over to take the empty glasses. She mildly watched him rise they over to the bar tender who seemed to frown and filled two new ones, promptly left upon the counter for Lux to retrieved. It wasn’t hard for Emily to tell her companion wasn’t happy to get up yet she wonder if a small part of him was relieved to break away, even for a moment, to gather his thoughts. It wouldn’t have surprised her. It was the tap upon her leg which jerked Emily from her thoughts and caused her to spot his wily grin. She nodded in understanding then lingered upon his back while he went to for the drinks, shortly returned once more.

    The mood between them seemed to have shifted when Lux had changed the topic. His hand had passed her a new glass of vodka, his still filled with wine, while she thanked him and took it. “Yes, she is and it’s been several years since I’ve seen her. Mainly due to travel and missions, there’s barely any time to stop by but I do hear news time to time. As far as I know, my cousin is happily married to the village leader’s brother and possibly expecting a child in the coming months.”
    She left off the fact there was more to her reasons then she let on, preferring not to enter the harsh reality and draw more pity.

    “Hah, congratulations.” Lux raised his glass, toasting to Emily's cousin's pregnancy. “Not sure if celebrating with something she can't have is appropriate, though.” Lux mused, as he took a sip of his wine. “But here's to a healthy kid.”

    Lux wasn't sure if he should inquire more about Emily's personal life. Even though the mood wasn't as grim as when he'd asked about her past. It was hard, though, coming up with a positive topic. In their line of work, they didn't often celebrate. He certainly wanted to take Emily's mind off all the bad things. Hell, that's what Lux wanted for himself too...

    “How do you spend your time off missions normally, Em? I can't imagine you had a lot of swimming instructors before me.”

    Emily's shoulders relaxed when Lux changed the subject. Her eyes shifted to see Lux's hand, his glass raised in toast for her future second cousin and a small smile crept to her lips. Gently, her hand pulled upright towards his. With a soft clink she tapped the glass against his and let the vibration made her skin tremble with the action before she took a drink. The burn again comforted her throat as she let it glide down to settle deeply.

    Her hand moved to place the glass onto the table, but her mind wasn't on the action. Instead it wandered over the memories. A painful barb poked her, one of fact and reality that if she ever stepped foot into Soule then things might not turn out for the best. She had left a slight conflict when she refused to marry Seth, ruined the tradition set for many ages. Needless to say it was a terrible mess that likely hadn't gotten better and probably won't be for several years.

    She dwelled a few moments longer in her head until Lux's words came into focus. Her head turned to face him and jerked back into the present. It was an odd question to her at first, her teeth bit her bottom lip in debate. "No, never really considered swimming in deep water until now. I'm more a desert dweller to be honest and painting doesn't really require me to be submerged in water. I tend to paint portraits, landscapes and even animals time to time. Sometimes it helps me sleep after a mission."

    "You don't say." Lux laughed. For some reason, Emily never struck him as a painter. It was hard to imagine her like one. "I don't suppose you're willing to show me some time." He teased the rook, and couldn't help himself adding "I wonder if you paint in watercolour."

    With yet another sip of wine, Lux began feeling it's effects. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, or maybe not having been able to drink for a long time (although that was probably for the best, considering his last chance was at the ball and his drinking partner back there had been drowning himself in liquor like Lux had never seen before). His chest felt warm and his grin was even bigger than normal... Although he wasn't sure that was appropriate after hearing such a dark backstory behind Lux' painting.

    "You know, Em, maybe we should do these things more often. Not just the swimming, but see if we can have a little fun in life. Before work literally kills us. Like this, or a show, or a party. Today's been the first I haven't been working or thinking about, well, things going wrong at work. Maybe you can teach me how to paint after we conclude our swimming classes. What do you say?"

    Emily rolled her eyes at Lux's comments, his laughter struck the air in merriment and teasing. She knew what he was thinking. With the experience of blood and gore, it was hard to imagine her rough, working hands capable to perform anything gentle outside severing head from shoulders on some unfortunate corpse. Immediately her mind shifted to the Woodland mission with the hive, the memory of the sloth's dead and sightless eyes bored into her was enough to make her shiver at the thought. Her fingers tighter about the glass neck for a moment then just as soon, released.

    She was determined not to let this moment fall to ashes because of some stubborn memories, namely missions past. While Lux continued his tease, Emily's smile remained. Her ear caught his addition about watercolors as a light, possibly unintentional, jab at her less then adapt swimming. Ignoring her more negative assumption, she corrected his first conclusion. "Actually, with the low amount of rainfall, I don't use much water in my paints. It's too precious. Instead we use plant dyes from rushed flowers, fruits, clays or for any foods which hold the color needed. Mixing it with a little bit of sand and clay, little of water to add consistency makes it ideal for that gritty feel. It's also used in fabric and hair dyes as well as festive face paint."

    At his mention of doing things more often, and less health hazard, Emily's lips smirked about the pleasant thought. "Our profession isn't exactly the best one to start a family with or have much relax time is it?"

    She thought about the fact, her hand took a another sip letting the buzz gather at her head back, stronger then before. It was a pleasant sensation which she enjoyed time to time though often it was followed by a good lay. At the fleeting notion, she pulled her body straight (either to hide the fact she was slowly getting drunk or drive away the brief thought) and focused on Lux's subject. " However, I do agree with you on doing this more often. What's life without a little fun so often? As for painting, might be best if I teach you how to make your own paints first as there's really no right or wrong way to paint. Mostly just basics in the end but I will be willing...if you help me keep from getting rusty between missions? I don't have many sparring partners."

    “Shame too, I'd like to someday.” Lux mentioned when Emily spoke about starting a family. Funny, he thought to himself, he never said that out loud before. The wine was starting to run his mouth, alright. Even Koko showed herself briefly between Emily and him on the sofa, just to shake her head at it, but Lux ignored his spirit. Maybe it was that part of him missed it when things were easy, when he didn't have to worry about death stalking him on the job... Lux hadn't sank into nostalgia like he had today for a long time. “Weird how you can miss things like that.”

    Lux listened to Emily's story about paint, as the liquor pulled the corners of his mouth once more. Unlike his conversation partner, Lux was sinking deeper in his spot on the sofa. “It's a deal then,” He said and extended his hand followed by a wink. “You teach me to paint and I'll teach you to swim.” Lux agreed, “It'll be something to look forward to.”

    Koko, having laid passively on the sofa ever since expressing her disapproval, looked at Lux from under her brow. “A handshake.” The cat laughed haughtily, grabbing Lux' attention. Was his spirit trying to ruin this moment for him too? In spite of Lux' decision to ignore her, Koko knew exactly what to bring up. “She asked for a bite,” The spirit spoke slyly, as she walked up to Emily's leg and pranced from there up her arm and jumped to her bared shoulder.

    “How about...” Koko whispered, as she scratched the surface of Emily's skin, “Here.”

    With that last word, Lux instantly tore his eyes from Koko and regained eye-contact with Emily. Lux composed himself with a grin, as he always did. His spirit had a manipulative streak... And a villainous way of getting what she wanted; entertainment. Emily wouldn't know Lux' glance had been following his spirit...

    For some reason, Emily didn’t find Lux’s reply a surprise. That same instinct seemed to tell her he would’ve been grand at it. The bad part was she couldn’t give the same response. Mainly because of both personal and logical reasons already stated, her conscious unable to bring any child through the hell she chosen. Even if she would love them more than they could want for, it just could never be enough to spare them the burden the knowledge brought or the isolation from those who also shared it. Despite the old tradition of the arranged marriage, it served a purpose for future generations and safety reasons yet she couldn’t face marrying someone she couldn’t love. Especially one she viewed as a brother.

    The realization seemed to constrict her heart for a moment before it passed. Absentmindedly she took another drink, letting the liquor hit her and loosen the tightness in her chest. Emily wisely kept her thoughts to herself, not really wanted to see pity flicker across Lux’s face or be seen as emotionally delicate, a phrase some men seemed to use to explain why a woman was sad. Like she needed an excuse to be depressed about something.

    ‘Just because you left Soule doesn’t make its history disappear.’

    Cerberus’s sudden words made Emily jump inwardly, her only sign of it were the fact her hands tightened about her glass, whitening them briefly. She had to fight the impulse to punch the air where her spirit’s image was stretched out, right next to the sofa end. As if he could sense her confusion, Cerberus continued though he knew she’d rather he was hushed.

    ‘You chose never to marry that idiot, Meth, wasn’t it?’

    ‘Seth’ Emily, annoyingly corrected him.

    ‘It doesn’t matter. What does, is you left but Soule and your choices remain. Being away changes very little, merely scabs over an infected wound. The pain might’ve dulled on the surface, yet it’s not gone. And it’s still hot to the touch.’

    Having no answer for Cerberus, she only watched Lux sink deeper into the sofa. His lips pulled upwards in a way that added a greater charm and she had to admit, for likely the second or third time, he was a handsome man. From his spiky blond hair to pretty blue eyes, including the way they seemed to reflect his smile into his soul. If she had met him first, she could’ve seen herself enjoying his company in many ways, from inside out. At the thought, she couldn’t help but wonder if maybe she had finally hit her limit. Emily knew she had already had at least two, or was it three, glasses full now. Her latest one was already lower than she realized, nearly gone while she conversed with Lux. Even if it was at a slower pace, some point she would start to feel the effects.

    Though she should’ve been a little concern, Emily merely discovered she was amused. She couldn’t help wonder if Lux, also, was feeling a little drunk. He did make mention he wasn’t usually a drinker which meant it take far less to kick him on his ass. When he agreed to her painting in exchanged for the swimming lessons, she smiled at his wink and reached out her own hand to shake his.

    “Indeed, though I will admit I hope to be a patient teacher when it comes to teaching.” Emily teased lightly, finally sensing where Lux’s eyes had drifted. Instinctively she felt her skin bubble up into goose bumps, unsure if it was flattery or discomfort which made her body react.

    Her eyebrow rose in question at him but before she could say anything, unsure whether she should scold or flirt back, Cerberus’s abrupt shift took her attention.

    It was like someone had flipped a switch within her spirit. He suddenly let out a low, deep warning growl. His three heads had their lips retreated enough to show his fangs, eyes flashed in anger and in seconds his bulky body rose upright. Hunches up and tension dance along his figure while his claws, if they been solid, would’ve torn the carpet into tattered shreds from his fury. Flames seemed to increase from his mouth due to his ill mood swing. It was a good thing Cerberus wasn’t a Knight spirit. With his possessiveness and mood swings, Emily was sure he would’ve torn both Lux and the place apart.

    “Cerberus…” Emily’s warning came out slightly more tense then she meant. Her head was twisted to the side; her eyes stared out into the space just at the side of Lux. There was Cerberus stood looming over the man’s relaxed position on the sofa. Then he lounged for the man’s throat.

    Something had put Emily less at ease... And Lux wasn't sure what had done it. Still, from what she'd told him, Lux had an idea why she was looking past his eyes right after shaking his hand. “Spirits, huh?” Lux shrugged, leaning back a little to create distance. Koko didn't speak to him much... Even if every word she had uttered lately had began to etch itself into the back of his mind...

    “Would it be too late to tell Cerberus I won't bite?” Lux smirked, thinking back of their swimming lesson once more. “Well, unless you want me to.”

    Impulsively, Emily reacted. Her eyes watched the spirit with worry and tension as if he was really flesh and blood, his fangs lashed at Lux’s jugular with a vengeance. She jerked, her hand and arm raised to intercept the bite only to realize one mistake she had made: Cerberus wasn’t a living creature. Her action paused halfway up when the thought filled her mind. Emily’s teeth bit down, gritting, and her legs crossed under her dress when she shifted back to face away. Her heart was still racing within her chest, a threat it would burst and shatter within her ribs from the start her spirit gave her.

    Even through there was little reason for it, she imagined many of the fellow patrons within the bar were looking at her which only farther her inner embarrassment. Emily tried to hid her discomfort as she spotted Cerberus’s ghostly figure attempt to murder Lux on the spot. It was…disturbing to see. The middle head phased right through where the neck and shoulder connected, the teeth sank far too deeply then what was natural much to Emily’s relief. However she still felt his wrath and hate corded within her own. It was rather a strange experience as she usually ignored the mental connection, solely focused on the imagery he gave of himself rather than the deeper one. She inhaled and closed her eyes for a moment. After several seconds, namely the ones used for Lux’s comment to reach her, she opened them and looked in his direction.

    Emily’s stomach was still flipping around in her middle, but she managed to keep it in check for now. She smirked and flashed him a narrowed and flirty expression that might’ve been seen as slight interest. “Something tells me he wouldn’t care. To be honest, I think he’s got a guardian complex or over protective issues. I doubt I could have any male company in any…form if he was anything but a spirit.”

    Her eyes moved a bit only to catch a yellow, brightly colored image on a poster. Her eyes zoomed in and noticed it was an advertisement for a five-ring circus, skirting from the five distinct images that surrounded a man dressed in white trousers and dress shirt, with a red dress coat and black top hat. His smiling face graced by a black, thick goatee and his arm sweep wide. The five that surrounded him were what seemed to be a strongman, a female animal tamer, a few clowns, and tightrope acrobats. She stared harder at one of the tightrope acrobats. There some familiarity about him, from his dark hair to his grinning features and dark eyes.

    Deep down, Emily felt like she knew him. Though he was about her age back then and had been missing over ten years, believed to be dead. Her gut gnawed inside that something was off but she wasn’t sure if pursuing it was the right course of action right now. Namely with Lux and her supposed to be visiting. Would he even want to?

    “That looks like it was too late,” Lux laughed, giving Emily a little tap on the shoulder. “At least we aren't knights. I wouldn't want to imagine how that could have turned out.” Although, the idea of the demon hound Emily had described chasing Koko around was one Lux could entertain.

    “Hey, what are you looking at?” Lux asked, when Emily's eyes seemed to be focusing on something else. It took Lux a little while to realise, as the wine had kicked in early and his own vision was getting a little fuzzy. He turned to see the poster advertising a circus, though it wasn't one he knew.

    “Do you like the circus,” Lux asked, “I wouldn't have pegged you for the type.”
    #2 Kestrel, Jan 14, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2015
  3. Emily

    Emily was jarred from her thoughts by Lux’s words and his tap, her shoulder gave an instinctive flinch at it. Her head jerked into his direction while he noted where her attention was drawn. Her slightly dazed expression was replaced by acknowledgement and in her vague distraction, she tried to gather what he had said last. Naturally Cerberus wasn’t any help. The spirit merely snorted his anger, his eyes glaring, as he settled into the floor with his three head placed down. However his eyes narrowed on Lux with an eagerness to rip the man to pieces.

    Remembering only a bit of his mention, her mind fashioned a sloppy conclusion of what he had said. It made her answer more guess work and she hated that. “I think I have enough complications in my life rather than to add keeping my spirit on a leash. Last thing I would need is him chasing cats or carriages around.”

    Cerberus snarled his disapproval yet his tongues were silent. His eyes merely stared, fixed in anger, before he snorted then turned away like a spoiled child. Emily rolled her eyes at his little display. She wasn’t going to have a fight with her spirit in public any farther and look like a lunatic anymore. Her attention was quickly, and with much joy, torn from the decision when Lux mentioned the poster.

    “I’m not usually, but I think the high wire acrobat is from Soule, my home town. That’s impossible as he vanished before I turned sixteen, yet I can’t shake that sensation.” She paused and looked at the slight gauze in Lux’s eyes. “If I’m not mistaken, you look a little...sloshed?”
  4. Lux​

    “Maybe.” Lux smiled, not realising a blush was starting to creep onto his cheeks. He was normally well-tanned, but in this light the contrast showed with his paling skin. Appearances as he'd kept up lately, his complexion didn't lie nearly as well. The man was tired.

    “This guy?” He pointed at acrobat on the poster, studying the man's traits. “You know, he has your skin tone. And the eyes are-” Lux double-checked looking at Emily's, “-Pretty similar as well.”

    As Lux said that, the colour of the eyes on the poster seemed to follow Lux' gaze like a water-brush. He chuckled to himself, but didn't share the irony with Emily. Even Lux couldn't deny it right now, there was a spin to his vision. “Hey Em, would it be weird if I asked you to walk me home?” Lux asked, with a stupid grin on his face. He didn't want to go just yet, but if he let more alcohol flow, who knew what he'd say next.
  5. Emily

    Emily softly giggled under her breath when Lux smiled, his cheeks turning slightly red against his pale skin and made him blush some. For a moment she took in his image, absentmindedly admiring his image and noted something she hadn't fully before. His tiredness had finally emerged to the surface. Her sight caught the slight darker rings under his eyes as his skin had a paler complexion compared to the last missions failed to match. It made her feeling guilty at asking him to come.

    Her skin rippled with the sensation of being, her head turned during Lux's comparison and noted Cerberus' middle head fixed on her. He studied her closely realizing why the resemblance was so close. The man in the picture looked like her cousin. When Lux finished, she heard him chuckle causing her eyes to shift and focus on him. She inhaled and suppressed another chuckle, listening to his words accompanied with a fat grin on his lips. If she made him walk alone it was unlikely he would've made it home safely. Or even made it past the door. She gently glided Lux's glass, now likely empty, from his hand to the table and rose to her feet. She held out her hand with a smile on her face as she coaxed him to grab it, “Well lets get you up on your feet and see about getting you home. Though I hope you know the direction or this could be a long night.”

    Once Lux took a hold of her hand, Emily pulled him upright where she could lead him out and onto the street. Begrudgingly Cerberus also stood on his paws and padded out. His mind had caught the image from Emily, seeing the rain clouds gather and threaten to drench the pair. It had casted an gloomy scene while carriages pulled across the street drenched in water. The horses' hooves clip-clopped, their legs high stepping dragging the shiny black transport behind them with the driver baring through the sprinkling just starting.
  6. Mime
    Paper-pushing was a tedious and repetitive job. A full day of Arlette doing nothing but paper-pushing in Mrs. Lysander's office meant a bored Mime, which usually lead to the old lady kicking the spirit out. This time, Mime was kicked out after the faux-girl crafted a large amount of paper gliders from the discarded papers and set them flying indoor. To top it, Mrs. Lysander had also taken Mime's 'bread privilege' as several of the paper gliders had almost knocked over an ink bottle over a stack of documents.

    Left alone in the middle of the day until her holder finished her administrative job, Mime decided to combat boredom by roaming about the Hub. ​
  7. Adeline Tourret was at her desk in the Library headquarters. She was a member of the research department; in between exciting (and dangerous) missions, Librarians usually had a secondary job in one of the many departments. Only those of the mercenary department worked on missions full-time. Adeline felt more at home amongst the books and scrolls than running about outside. Her experience with Library missions had usually involved "almost dying" or "a lot of pain and blood".

    I even had to… to kill people. What was mom thinking?

    Adeline's mother had been a Librarian until she became pregnant with her brother. It was her idea to send Adeline to the Library despite her dad's objections. Here, she said, Adeline would learn how to live with her spirit, no matter how difficult it seemed.

    "Your spirit is so much more than old Al here." Her mother had said, tapping her head. "I'm sure you'll be able to do great deeds."

    "Great things… all I've done is run around like a headless chicken. And Sonneillon occasionally crushes people," Adeline muttered to herself. A round head popped over her cubicle just then.

    "Still at work? It's time to go home!" Charmaine, her colleague said. She was a holder like she was, but her spirit was not suited for field work, so she spent all her time in the research department. Lucky.

    "Give me a bit more time," Adeline said, her gaze fixated on the document in front of her. "I need to finish this up for Ling En. You know how he stares at people who don't finish their work. It's scary."

    "Screw him! Come on, girl. Let's get a break! I know of just the place…"

    Charmaine was one of the few people in the Library that she could call a friend, so she usually took her suggestions seriously. Adeline let herself be dragged to a place called "The Lobby". She took a glance at the entrance, and whispered to Charmaine, "A-are you sure? Isn't this a bar? Have you forgotten I'm underage?"

    "It's not like your parents are here! Don't worry!" She hooked an arm around the girl and ushered her into the dimly lit establishment. There was already a crowd inside, and Adeline was surprised to see more than a couple of familiar faces. It seemed like this place was a frequent haunt for Librarians.

    She was faced with a cocktail Charmaine ordered for her. Memories of her drunken bumbling through the Library's ball, which ended in utter chaos, resurfaced in her mind. Adeline sighed.

    "You're not thinking of that Allen guy again, are you?"
    "What? N-no!"
    "I'm sure he'll be fine. His recovery is coming along just fine, wasn't it?"
    "A shame, he was a cute one."

    Adeline took a sip from her glass, and felt the sweet liquid burn as it slid down her throat.
  8. Emily

    Emily had dropped off Lux. He drunk off his ass and that was clear the moment she placing him on the crouch, his body suddenly collapsed then fell asleep. He was still snoring when she made her exit back to her apartment. Stripping out of her night clothes and into a nightgown, Emily spent more of the night painting the images flashing through her mind since the bar. Her fingers blackened and color smear her cheeks and more, staining her skin. Finishing her painting she strolled to the bed to sleep off the alcohol.

    Thankfully she didn’t wake up with a hangover.

    Waking up, she felt groggy and heavy as she crawled out of bed, her legs slipped into the bare floor. Shuffling over she edged into the closet where she pulled on a green laced corset, knee low skirt and boots. She was so use to the complex design and workings, she hadn’t much trouble putting it in a hurry. Emily looked over her image within the looking glass for a moment and absorbed the sight, straighten out the crumbling and gathering fabric until she was presentable. Taking a deep inhale, she walked out intending to head to the pub.

    Her mind was distracted, thinking over the poster from yesterday, as she made her way inside. The place was filled, like usual, with normal and holders alike seeking to fill their daily routines. She was lead to

    After a breakfast, bath, and putting on a green laced corset and skirt running down to her knees, she left her apartment. Her boots clipping across the pavement while she brought herself towards the bar with her head down and deep within thought. Along the way, she held a crumbling paper flyer within her hand, staring at it. The detail was clear which made it harder to mistake the man within the corner. It wasn’t unusual to cross paths with Soule residents who never returned home, but due to their lowering numbers many returned home to keep their culture from fading.

    She was being led to a table when she noticed two females enter the pub, one clearly underage, and sipping on cocktails. It made Emily smirk at recalling a youth’s first attempt to drink in front of her, the memory causing her to pull closer after waving the waiter away. Her body slipped into the bar stool next to them, her hand raised to order both breakfast and a drink, then turned to the pair. She suspected there one of two reasons minors would attempt to drink. Either due to peer pressure or forget something tragic, her experience was usually the later. Knowing either way she couldn’t just let it happen, Emily leaned over raise for her drink, the first of her order done, while she whispered quietly to Adeline.“You know, alcohol isn’t as fun as many holders make it seem. And it won’t chase away any regrets you might have. So what's your name? Mine's Emily, nice to meet you."
  9. Adeline let out an inaudible squeak when a woman started a conversation with her. She was young, with light brown hair and striking eyes. On second glance, Adeline recognized her, at least partially. She was sometimes in the research department. Didn't her name start with an "A", or a...

    Emily, she introduced herself as. Adeline flashed a polite smile.

    "H-hello. I'm Adeline. A-and this is Charmaine. We're from research," she replied. For the rest of Emily's words, Adeline didn't know how to respond. Contrary to Emily's guess, she really was giving in to peer pressure. The thought of burying her past with drink hadn't even occurred to the youth yet.

    What does alcohol have to do with regrets?

    "Hey," Charmaine chimed in, raising her glass in acknowledgement.

    "I've seen you around. I think," Adeline continued. She swept a loose lock of hair back, and the ice in her glass clinked with her movements. "Weren't you part of that artificial cellulo-manascopy project? I heard it didn't end well... something about... explosive tumors..."
  10. Mime end up in the front of the Lobby after awhile. The spirit hovered in front of the building wondering if she should enter as is or disguised herself as someone older. She got a lot less attention if she blend in after all, not to mention that alcoholic beverages would also be available for the spirit to sample without having to pay as the majority of the holders had tabs in the establishment. On second thought, maybe she shouldn't. Unlike during the evening, Mime has no advantage of the holders being wasted and blaming any orders they didn't remember ordering or eating to it.

    Decision made, Mime stepped into the building and went looking for a seat. Being early, the Lobby was emptier than usual, filled by those with no work and those who worked late, or just simply those who didn't want to cook on their own. Being emptier than usual, Mime found that the bar stools were largely empty. Taking a seat on one of them, Mime ordered some food and while waiting for it, the spirit glanced to the other customers. "I'm sorry, I hope you don't mind me taking this seat," Mime said to them in her best Arlette impression.
  11. Emily's eyes shifted from the girl to her friend, noting the other also having a drink in her hand and raised it in gesture. She merely smiled but made no comment, her mind finally putting the pieces together. It wasn't hard to see she might've been wrong about Adeline's reason to drink and sighed a little inwards. Though she wasn't guiltless of this, Emily still hated peer pressure in general because it often led to stupid over all decisions and risk best left avoided.

    Inside her protective and concerning nature won out. At the mention of the research department, the rook tried to recall her experiences. Her memories were slight hazy thanks to her time being spent less and less, her job requiring her presence more on missions now a days. So it was hard to recall the past immediately, namely if she already met Adeline, but that was shortly discarded when mention about her manna transfusion came up.

    Emily's eyes widen, expression slightly taken aback, a little surprise Adeline knew about her incident. Her sight turned when she spotted the bartender shifting a vodka her way as she reached for it, bring it closer. She gently traced the glass top with her forefinger, absorbing the girl's words. "That was a while ago, I believe. It turned out I had more natural manna than the doctors at the Hub had realized and the artificial manna tried to consume it. Just there were some pulps that had emerged which were growing extremely fast, though they were quickly removed and repaired before they exploded. Else I wouldn't be able to move if they had." She took a small breath and added, her body resting in a seat comfortably. "It was an experimental procedure compared to another method, mainly because I already had manna within me. I knew what I was getting into when I volunteered for it."

    Beside her, another voice chimed in and excused herself causing Emily's head to twist about. A young, timid looking girl sat in the most girlish fashion upon a bar stool and seemed to be waiting on food. Emily gave a gentle smile and subtly nodded her head, acknowledging the woman. "No, not at all. Just glided over here myself hun."

    Returning to the conversation with Adeline, a thought occurred to her. She slide the poster, a bit crumpled and worn thanks to her tight grip, toward Adeline and Charmaine then inquired about it. "I don't suppose either of you have been to the current circus show being held on the outskirts of town, have you?"

    Emily's head turned to the girl beside her to show he rook expected an answer from her as well.
  12. Adeline nodded as Emily explained the incident. She was too late to realize that the topic might not be the best of conversation starters. Anxiety crept up upon her like a shadow, locking up her voice. All she could manage in reponse was a, "Ah, I see..."

    Another female had joined them. She looked very young, perhaps even more so than Adeline herself. Librarians her age were rare, but the patrons of the Lobby did not have to be one. Was she a potential friend in a place full of adults? Adeline hoped so.

    "A circus? No, I've not heard of it. I don't really leave the headquarters much," Adeline said softly. In fact, she couldn't remember the last time she went to a circus. Memories from her childhood told her it was an exciting place, and even now she thought fondly of such an event. The poster depicted all the staples of a circus- exotic animals, clowns, and daring acts of gymnastics. Her interest piqued, she inquired further.

    "What about it? Have you seen it?" The words came out more enthusiastic than she realized.
  13. Emily's eyes tightened, her sight studied the girl harder for a movement and noted the fallen expression. It seemed she had said something wrong or maybe it was the gloomy topic, her body stilled for an answer to her earlier question. An awkward moment passed before Emily's question was answered.

    At Adeline's comment, Emily's hopes fell. So much for getting easy information before hand, she thought bitterly and bit we lip against her incoming sigh. Her hand went to her glass as she took a sip, the alcohol burning in her throat back pleasantly, while she considered her answer for the girl's next question. Truthfully she wasn't enthusiastic about going by herself and asking Lux seemed to be a no go. That left few options to her, Emily turned to note Adeline's interest.

    Emily smirked. "No, I've not been to it yet. Been thinking about it because of this guy," she tapped the crinkle image of the man, "remind me of a childhood friend, one that went missing from my village years ago. After a little big of research, I thought I pop over for the show and see for myself, figure out the truth. It turns out the circus is connected to some unsavory incidents and happenings where their shows have been seen at. The bad part is I'm not too eager to go alone. I would ask a friend of mine, but he ended up being unable to hold his liquor last and so he's out. I imagine he's likely waking up with a hang over this morning then suitable for any unofficial investigation. I'm hoping I'm just paranoid really."
  14. For the first time since they began talking, Adeline was looking at the woman's face. Thus, she caught her disappointment at her answer. Did she say something wrong? Emily took a sip from her glass before explaining the reason why she was interested in a circus. She was looking for someone from her childhood, she said, and one of the faces on the poster reminded her of it. To Adeline, it sounded like a mere coincidence. Missing childhood friends usually stay missing.

    "Unsavory incidents? Whatever do you mean? Is it... dangerous?" She was now torn between her curiosity and cowardice. However, both of them were holders. Adeline still had to remind herself of what that meant.

    "It's just a circus, right? What could go wrong? I, um, wouldn't mind. Going with you. If you want to, I mean!"
  15. Emily elaborated a bit on what she meant, her mind starting to wonder if involving the youth was a good choice on her part. Her fingers tightened about her glass and swirled the contents remaining in it before letting it thump softly on the table. The rook bit her lip slightly, thinking on the correct choice of words, then finally settled on being honest. “It could be. I researched as far as the first appearance, Paggio, to each show since all the way up to their current one in Olivia Town. The same events happen over and over. Several individuals, after attending the show, end up going missing without a trace. The authorities investigate the circus within a week, turning over their belongings to searching the animal pens and more. Nothing. The Circus oftens leave within a day or two of arriving due to the hassle. The people are never seen again. That’s why I find it odd. I recall this man and the circus coming our village, for a day and the same thing happened. He was among those that vanished.”

    The rook tapped her finger on the poster, her eyes scanned for additional clues she knew wasn’t there. Finally accepting there wasn’t any, she slid the poster to the side and finished any reminder in her glass before passing it back to the barkeep. Absentmindedly, he snatched it up then started to clean it. His voice rang out, polite and thick in accent, while he inquired if she wanted another. There was something odd about his voice. As if he was straining to be calm causing Emily some creeping anxiety. Emily shook her head no and mumbled thanks. Her fingers balled into a fist and she forced her eyes away, noticing for the first time an odd sensation of being watched. Her neck hairs crept up in alert while she used the poster as an excuse to edge closer to Adeline and whispered quietly. “Is it me, or does it feel like we’re being watched?”

    Unknown to the two girls, a man was sitting in the corner. His eyes shifted slightly in their direction to note their movements, particularly Emily’s, before he rose up and began to move toward the door. He briefly glanced in the bartender’s direction which made the man suddenly drop his glass. The item shattered into pieces on impact causing him to startle as he bent down, his hands shakily picking the fragments up. His brow sweating and nervous, the bartender stopped long enough to peer then relaxed. The man had vanished completely.
  16. Adeline listened to Emily's account of the history behind the circus. With the initial excitement wearing off, the girl became more reserved, although her eyes betrayed her keen interest in the story. Within her mind she processed the facts. Strange disappearances wherever the circus went. Adeline found it curious how it even managed to continue its tours with such a terrible reputation.

    Another question played on the girl's mind. Why had Emily come to her, of all people? While she had an analytical mind, Adeline's lack of street smarts made her a terrible detective. A mystery this morbid did not seem like something you would approach a stranger with. Blind trust for a fellow colleague, then?

    "That does sound like rather damning evidence. How could the authorities have failed to find the perpetrators every time?" Adeline said. Watching Emily finish her drink reminded her to do the same, her lesson learnt during the Ball forgotten. She hadn't realized her cheeks were flushed, and that her gait would be a tad less stable than usual.

    She wasn't intoxicated enough to notice Emily's sudden shift in expression. She whispered that she felt watched. Unaccustomed to such situations, Adeline glanced around the room in search of Emily's source of unease, unaware that she might be alerting whoever it might be. Her eyes fell upon a man leaving the bar in a hurry, but the ear-splitting sound of breaking glass distracted Adeline. When she turned back, he was gone.

    "A-are you sure?" Adeline said to Emily in a hushed voice. She had no idea what was going on. "The man leaving the bar just now. He seemed a little suspicious, don't you think?"

    Adeline gave the matter some thought. She could either help Emily with her little adventure, or she could scurry back home now. Surprisingly, she didn't prefer the latter. Perhaps the alcohol was lessening her cowardice.

    "In any case, if you're going to check out the circus, I don't m-mind coming along. I'm not much good at sleuthing, but- if you need some muscle, I can provide that."
  17. Mime tilted her head in curiosity. "A circus?" She repeated. "I don't think I did." Neither did her holder since Old Lady Lysander was currently swamped with work and as a result Arlette had also a lot of things she helped her with and was too tired to do much when they got home. The spirit had decided to attempt to bring the young Holder to the circus later, but what the woman followed with caused Mime to reconsider it.

    "Um,'s that obvious and... the police doesn't do anything..." Mime spoke slowly, "Wouldn't that mean they're probably working together?"

    When the bartender dropped the glass, Mime almost immediately gave him a concerned look.

    "Are you alright?" She said in false emotion. It was unlike the bartender to make a slip and while any mistake like that was generally a cause for Mime to cheer, it was not the time as something was obviously off... and she's still playing the good girl.
  18. Emily

    Emily had been about to answer Adeline, inwardly biting back her discomfort at losing a lead out of her voice. It wasn’t the girl’s fault. In truth, it was her own as she had involved her. Cerberus snorted in his usual disapproving manner causing Emily to jerk her head sideways. Her eyes narrowed and glared at the space where he was, positioned just over the counter and beside the barkeep. The large, three headed dog immediately spoke up in his deep baritone voice adding to his chiding tone. She could easily feel his anger at her poor choice in allies and it only strengthened her desire to keep to her choice, rather than pull away for better ones.

    You’re asking children to help you, Emily? What good are they if you’re going to be worrying after them all the time?!? Cerberus snapped harshly.

    ‘They can get into places I can’t as much as I don’t like it, Cerberus. Besides, holders have their spirits to protect them and since she works at the library I’ve already researched her employment recorders. She’s in the mercenary branch as well which means she can handle herself.’ Emily privately retorted, her past within the research branch not completely useless and shuffled in her seat a bit more comfortably. ‘Besides, aren’t you happy you don’t have to deal with Lux and his spirit? I thought you would be happy I’m taking along the ‘fairer’ gender than another male?’

    Cerberus growled but kept his muzzle silent. For a moment, Emily’s lips pursed into a smile at finally gaining the advantage in a conversation. However it didn’t last when her ears caught the shattering glass filled the pub. Her body jerked and nearly withdrew from her seat with hands already darkening around them. Already her gauntlets were being summoned to physical form only to cease abruptly and fade on realizing it wasn’t an attack. It was impulse mostly from the recent missions that had her more rattled than she should’ve been which didn’t help her in keeping calm. Thankfully the only two who would’ve seen the dark mist form were Adeline and the other girl as Emily had managed, barely, to shove her hands underneath the table.

    Her heart pounding heavily, Emily released her weapons back into darkness.

    She absorbed both the girl’s and Adeline’s earlier statements before the glass shattering caused her to react. "I would appreciate that, really. I think you being younger might allow you to snoop around a little more than I can. Youngsters they might not be as watchful of compared to adults like myself."

    She than turned to the spirit imitating a girl, and added. "I thought that too but to do that would extremely hard. how they have gotten away with this in different countries? Every country has had their own authorities and I honestly find it believe every single one of them can be bought. That no one has even attempted to found evidence and managed to link them? The world can be shitty but not all of it is that shitty."


    The barkeep,at Mime’s inquiry, went more pale. His eyes widened as he plastered on a fake smile and immediately replied in the best acting voice he could muster. “No, just butter fingers is all. I was distracted and merely lost my glass was it. Don’t mind me while I get a broom from the back to clean this up.”

    He paused long enough to hold a finger out for an impatient customer to wait, then used his bar towel to collect the sharp shards into a pile and left it covering the mess. Stepping over, his hard soled shoes tapped the wooden floor in a fast pace to the back door to the cellar. It was here he claimed to have left the broom and pan,. It was easy for Mime spot the items sitting in plain view against the far wall, a simple grab and he would be right back out. however, as just before the door closed he moved to the right instead.
  19. "I see, I suppose you might be right," Adeline blurted, her mind wondering what she was getting into. Her heart quickened at the mention of 'snooping around'. It wasn't an activity she was good at or fond of, especially when it might involve dark places and kidnappers. Her knuckles whitened as her grip around her glass tightened. She noticed it was still half full, so Adeline downed it in one extended gulp. The liquid felt warm in her belly.

    Adeline got off her feet, leaving a few coins to pay for the drink. She informed Charmaine that she was leaving with Emily, and the portly woman made no suggestion otherwise. However, Emily and the other girl were still seated, which made Adeline worry that she was being too hasty. Awkwardly she sat back down between them, fidgeting nervously.
  20. Mime looked at the twitchy bartender, which she almost giggled at, and the broom that the bartender slipped away from, missing Emily's reply. Now that's curious. What to do, should she go after him? Hmmm...

    "Hey, I think the bartender didn't leave for the broom," Mime 'pointed out' to Emily. "
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