Chapter VII - Healing Pains

This is what you came here for. Adventure, intrigue, murder, mystery and action - plus a healthy dose of boring everyday stuff. One continuous story-line, broken up into smaller themes for easier consumption.
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TennyoCeres84
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Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

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The Archmage grinned wryly as Spector described being tossed by the Baron. "Baron Samedi, from what I understand, is rarely serious and would rather party. Plus, given the histories of his practitioners, it's no surprise he has no use for authority types," she stated with amusement. "I'll see about asking Lucian to look into Arkham, when I have the chance."

Meris frowned thoughtfully as she looked at the shared, grainy image on her phone. "A foe with all the positives of our enemies, but none of their shortcomings. Dangerously practical and cold, probably the type that's in it for the long haul. Hoping to outlast Chambers and anybody else who would seek to get in his way, to be sure," she mused a grimace.

She thought of her own connections to the Void Weavers, her past as Merath. She had been the exact opposite to Travers' cold realism and passed on that spirit to her. There was no reasoning with this one, and he was likely as wily without the fanaticism as she could imagine. He was far dangerous than Chambers in this regard.

She sighed as she pocketed her phone and looked back to the second suit. "If this suit does belong to him, I'm sure we'll meet officially at the event for Azazel. Given its blank state, he's probably embroidered in his own defensive measures. Ones he knows he can have control over."

As for Aspasia, she nodded with some confidence. "Thanks, I'm sure I will too."

She then chuckled and eyed Meris. "Your Highness, I know it's your nature to start plotting early against your opponents, but you've got a seamstress who wanted to talk to you, once she's done getting Azazel situated with his measurements."

The selkie's serious expression broke, and she chuckled awkwardly. "Ah, right. There'll be time to find out who we're dealing with," she responded.


***

Ciaran couldn't help but smile with amusement at Claudia's analology. "That's an interesting way to put it. Is there any way ease the grumpy cat's ire with some treats so that it'll be more agreeable?" he suggested.

"There's bound to be ways to at least coax magic to be less difficult to work with. You might not be Doc Dickens, but you still have a lot of life in you from Enlil's bloodline," he mused. "That should help in some way."

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Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

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"A'ready done," Charles noted with a grin in reference to disabling the cars, putting his tools away. "I'll call fer cabs 'n rollbeds, aye? No need t' make a federal issue outta it." He pulled his phone out and started sending off texts, calling in favors and placing orders. As connected as he still was in Hope, it wouldn't take long at all. "We gonna send 'em to a shelter, 'r just home?"

"Should we not stay here to make sure none of them wander off on foot?" Abraham asked, trying to be practical in the face of what had happened. Would Three and Nereus really have opened fire in this place, with these people around? It was rude to just ask...

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Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

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Abigail smiled. "Well, right now, I'm dealing with someone who's got a bit of an issue with my needles," she noted, even as she had draped a length of linen over one of Azazel's outstretched arms. The demon flinched and struggled not to move his arms away, mostly failing in the process. A wince was added, along with an apologetic look.

"I just - Sariel told Tom," he said. "She told Aislinn, too. I - I don't do well with n-needles," he said, stammering where he hadn't, earlier. "Even the t-tests they made me take were hard; Archie eventually agreed to have the docs p-put me under for my physical. All their readings were s-shot, I was so nervous."

The fear that had taken root at the far end of his gaze wasn't rational, and he knew it. It wasn't needed, and he also knew it. Unfortunately, the body remembers abuse acutely, perhaps moreso than the mind. No matter how many obvious attempts at calming breaths he made, he continued to jerk, fidget and apologize. Abigail gave Meris an inclusive glance, perhaps thinking that pushing conversation on the Faun would at least detract him from his phobia.

"Did you ever hear about a demon called Nickar?" she asked Azazel, even if rhetorically, the question was effectively pointed at Meris. "I hear he was Pride's best armorsmith."

Azazel at least replied with a chuckle, even if it didn't ease his tension. "Heh - He's more of a t-tailor, I'd say. I've seen him make blouses for Pride vestals that could let air pass like sheer silk and stop blades like one of your modern Kevin suits."

Abigail glanced at Meris even as she chuckled. "Kevlar, Azazel. I think you mean Kevlar; even if I'd figure he's, well, prideful enough to draw more from ballistic ceramics or gel inserts, in comparison. Anything light and effective."

Azazel nodded in allowance, the gesture looking awkward. He tensed for a second as a length of linen's own pins and needles brushed against his side, suggesting the mockup of a suit's flaps. In so doing, he gave Meris a nod. "The real heavy s-stuff came from Belial, heh. He really didn't like it when Mister Rothchild cleared up an entire century's worth of blackened Brimstone and gave even the average footman his own cape."

Spector, amused by the display, leaned in closer. "Hm. Now, the Legion of Burning Suns is peppered across practically every level of civilian defense, from mall cops all the way through to badges, Agency recruits, Army lieutenants... Not a single one of them working Intelligence or Counter-Intel, though."

Silas seemed to think that Bill was missing the bigger picture. "Man, they see themselves as part of Reality's last line of defense, now. Do you really think they'll play spies or torture oldschool Wrath loyalists in Gitmo?! They have more in common with Cuthbert, now, every one of them, than with Paimon or Allocer! Lucian's given them a cause that fits them so well they're going to be as pig-headed in trying to defend us as that idiot castellan or bailey keeper was with dueling Vlastos honorably!"

Azazel scoffed in amusement, his unease at least masked by the discussion. "It'll be nice to see a named face pop up in their numbers, some day. I really want to figure out what he's shown them, what makes a Pride Knight go chrome with gold inserts..."

Anjali shrugged. "A higher purpose, I guess? Pride Knights aren't dumb, they're just natively taught to accept almost nothing for truth. As for Nickar, well..."

The girl grimaced slightly. "I met him once; I didn't have a vest that fit me for range practice. I didn't need a complete refitting and he looked insulted when I said I just needed to cinch a few snap buckles a little tighter."

She scoffed. "I didn't know you need to look runway-certified when all you want is to be able to shoulder antipersonnel armor without it killing your shoulders."

* * *

"I just go slow," the vampire summarized. "Slower than back when I'd first started picking up magic in Junior High. which makes it frustrating. I treat my local ley line like a vein, like a piece of something that's alive and fragile - which it kind of is. Draw too much and you could break it. Draw too little, and most of the stuff just diverts around you, like a river working its way around a boulder. It's just hard, seeing as I'd gone past feeling like I could sprout powers or mutate or if I so much as touched a line ages ago."

Wanting to give him space, she shrugged lightly. "How about you?" she asked. "How are you coping with, well - all this?"

* * *

Abraham's concerns were valid, but Nereus had no resources to offer. The people's vehicles were out of commission until further notice, being carried out in a truck's container would likely bother a fair few of them after their recent tribulations, and yet..."

Marius could rest easy, as Aidan powered down his rifle and slung it on his back. In doing so, he gave Nereus a somewhat knowing glance. "It's not like we can wait here until rentals arrive or the bus to town stops by. We especially can't leave these people alone, here..."

Approaching Zahavi, Aidan leaned in slightly. He kept his tone quiet, but the situation wasn't exactly so dire, at present, that he was afraid of anyone hearing him speak.

"Do you think you could ask one of the fry-cooks to show you to the gas lines? We just need to shut everything down, here, if we're taking everyone into town."

Catching this, Nereus seemed concerned. "We're still targets, Aidan - Heck, I've never stopped being a target! I don't think any civilian is safe around me, even if I'm not the one harming them; not until we reach Magnus Tower!"

Three nodded. "I know, but we can't cruise along at walking speeds and just let everyone conga-line through the freeway. Plus, they're out of sight while in the bin, so if any Loyalist wants another shot, he won't be able to draw a bead on anyone."

Nereus nervously sighed. "So we're taxiing innocents, now."

Aidan shrugged. "If anyone has a plan..."

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Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

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Meris tilted her head in allowance and chuckled. "From an outsider's perspective, I would agree that you needn't look your best while fighting the good fight. However, I'd also say that impressions can be as important as how functional a garment can be."

"How's that?" Miranda asked, frowning.

The Archmage clicked her tongue as she searched for an example, looking at the teenager. "What's are the colors for your volleyball team?"

The younger Fauness recalled her uniform. "Well, our team name is The Lightning Strikers, and our main colors are white and electric blue."

The selkie nodded. "Appropriately so. Those colors indicate how fast and agile you can be while hitting the ball over the net. They tell both your opponents and spectators you're a force to be reckoned with. In turn, it boosts your confidence to beat the other team."

Miranda smiled understandingly. "I get it. Nickar wants even the simplest designs to be durable but also leave a last impression on whoever sees it."

Aspasia nodded approvingly. "Compared to Abdiel's armor, my bodysuit was functional, but it still had style. It was my characteristic blue, but it blended older archer clothing styles with your standard Kevlar suits. He also had it warded with runes to provide some additional protection."

Meris then smiled over at Azazel and then looked to the dummy clad in Nereus' suit. "You all figured out who the suit was for by looking the composition and its numerous wards and protective measures. Like the old saying, the clothes make the man. It gives onlookers a sense of the wearer' identity, and the garments act as a mirror for who the wearer is, reinforcing their truest qualities. I think that's what Nickar aims for beyond just the standard functionality of the clothing."

***

As Claudia directed what was a seemingly basic question, he initially blinked and then sighed when the full meaning of it sank in. "I mean, I'm functioning. I wake up, get dressed, do what needs to be done. But I feel like a chunk's been cut out of me that I feel like I'll never get back."

He leaned back against his seat, his shoulders sinking. "Like with the music playing, I felt like I might never feel love again. Just friendships or lovers that go nowhere."

"Then there's the lack of satisfaction I feel when some well-intended asshole just up and made the Goat go fucking catatonic. Anybody who felt like they needed some justice to at least numb that wound some was just gone because of someone thought they were doing us a favor! Everybody lost something during the incursions, but it felt whoever that was twisted the knife in my side even more! It's stupid, but it feels like Sophia and I were robbed!"

Ciaran rested his forehead against his a propped up hand and sighed again, shaking his head. "Sorry to unload all of that on you, Claudia. I just wanted to have a nice evening with a friend and I end up doing this!"

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Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

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Looking a bit miffed, Charles cleared his throat and stepped forward. "I called a coupla favors 'n got some guys comin' out here as we're jabberin' away," he told them. "Cabs 'n wreckers, yeah? S'all good."

Marius nodded. "We could ask them if they wish to wait for the cabs, or if some would like to get in my truck and get back into town faster. Leave it up them, as it were." For his part, Abe was already heading back to the diner, though he wasn't sure if Drake literally wanted the gas shut down or if he had been speaking in euphemisms and he really just wanted it all blown up. Or maybe it was up to him? Blowing up a diner would help Charles feel better, at least...

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Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

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"Great," replied Aidan, looking relieved by Charles' input. The now-freed waitress chose this moment to step forward, looking a bit self-conscious. Her uniform wasn't especially dirty, but it had a fair bit of dust on it, and more than its fair share of wrinkles. Without the filmy effect brought on by enthrallment or the tedium of her job, she looked both alert and beset with a fair bit of understandable fatigue.

"Actually, sir, I'd like to take you up on that offer," she told Marius. "I don't know if last fall's Pedway tickets will get me anywhere, but I can at least hail a cab from downtown."

The young family nodded along as well. The father looked at his disabled car, his expression mixing both relief and regret. The first one seemed to win out on the second, after a heartbeat or so. "I don't know about the others, but I don't mind what you did to my car," he told Charles. "Considering what's happened, I don't know how safe it is for any of us to drive anything, right now."

Nereus glanced towards Abraham, somehow convinced he'd figure out that blowing out the gas line wasn't on the table - that diner was someone's livelihood, obviously, and that I wouldn't be too hard for the Israeli to catch up with one of the line cooks before they joined the others. One of the two stepped out as he mused along, having shucked on a light padded coat over his grease-stained white shirt and pants.

As for Abraham, he'd obviously find himself alone in a now-deserted eatery - which made for a bit of an eerie scene, considering how neither his coffee or Travers' had been cleaned away. The cooks had apparently pushed off burger buns waiting for the evening's round of orders and shut off their ranges, but the smell of browning butter and sizzling grease served as a light olfactive backdrop - like the ghost of just-vacated human presences.

One quick pass, almost two - and then he'd distantly hear it: someone using an ad-hoc hammer of sorts to bang away on a door, somewhere near the back of the kitchen - likely in a maintenance-related room that his viewing angles hadn't immediately revealed. Judging by the sounds, it couldn't have been made with an actual hammer hitting one of the premises' many metal doorknobs; it sounded like someone was trying to find a creative use for some sort of heavy ladle or a meat tenderizer... The quiet sounds grew louder, too - whoever made them likely thinking Abraham had already left...

* * *

Anjali didn't look entirely convinced. "I guess; it's just a little weird to have people in the family who place so much attention on how they look, when people who do mainly the same thing without the same focus mostly just shuck on some body armor and a clip-on badge."

Silas seemed amused. "Angie, hon - the moment your father stops finding time to switch between morning and evening wear, I'll know things are getting serious. Your father, Major Woodford - they're from a dying breed that wasn't even common back in their heyday. And today's soldiers, well..."

He let out a thoughtful tsk. "All the bulk, the padding - it's as visual as it's practical. You see one of the local Therios in the SWAT division; you instantly know who they are and what they're here to do. They're padded to take rounds, and that padding's made to snap off in two, three gestures, tops. A few practiced motions later, you've got yourself a tactically-enhanced werewolf. Soldiers get the same bulk, just slathered in camo. Work any beat and you're sending a message. Nigel's Great White Hunter getup works the same way: you spot that pith helmet and those friendlies," he said, referring to Nigel's facial hair, "and you know he's not one of the Raj's toadies."

The Soulborn didn't contest the lich's logic, but instead followed along. "So why don't we standardize? There's a hard little core of us that almost always work together; shouldn't we try and look like a traditional superteam?"

Spector chimed in while looking away. "That's a no on capes; you don't know how I spent my first years under Oberon. He didn't just hand me to the Americans and let me dip my toes in the Gulf War; he had me recommended for the FBI's Metahuman Investigations team, at first. Mostly paperwork, to get my feet wet while keeping me out of reach of the public."
- Sounds kind of awesome," admitted Azazel, to which the White King rolled nonexistent eyes, his motile eyebrow ridge selling the gesture.

"If your definition of awesome involves spending two years filing away insurance claims involving fliers, capes and spinning Boeing 747 turbines and listening to the TFA's former air jockeys nerd over twisted metal and roasted gristle - then yes, it was awesome."

Catching the inference, Anjali turned slightly pale. "Um, yeah," she agreed. "No capes it is."

* * *

The part of Claudia that was a newborn Carmilla sent heat coursing through her as Ciaran spoke. She was in a unique position to bring some measure of comfort to a grieving man, and his sense of loss felt magnetic to her. Of course, the part of the same woman who hadn't really changed realized this was an upsetting area of approach. There'd be no feeding on this man's grief, that much she swore to herself. She leaned forward, threading her fingers together to compose herself and to force herself to look at things with the empathy she'd inherited and the lucidity she'd always had.

"I know," she said, as she looked up, smiling. "I can only speak as a friend and as someone who's lived through some traumatic stuff at your side, so I don't want you to think I'm trying to come on to you or to dismiss what you're feeling, alright? This is just me being my janky, socially-awkward Empathy Plus self when I say this, but..."

She leaned in a bit closer, then reached out to grab one of Ciaran's hands. "This isn't productive. It isn't - not for you or for Sophia's memory - and you need to let go. Not of Sophia, never of what she inspired you to do - but of the pain that's involved. We were all robbed of justice because of what that jackass did to the Goat; but that's something you fix by being proactive in the investigation that's involved."

Her eyes glistened slightly. "I'm hurting too, you know. I lost some friends, a few family members, I lost my mortal life, no matter how much I thought Enlil was bullshitting me when he first said I had to prepare for the usual stages of grief in the case of my own undeath; there's lecturers I spoke to for long hours, gray-haired book nerds I spent hours sipping coffee with, that I'll never get to speak to again. I attended six funerals in the past three weeks, Ciaran. Six. I'm officially out of anything black to wear, apart from what's on me."

She shook her head. "I can't carry this. If I did, I'd turn into the youngest Carmilla burnout in history within the week. Instead I got up, ate something, washed up, downed one of my reinforced blood smoothies like a good little baby vampire, went out to work on campus and then came here. Just - one foot in front of the other, like you. I take my pain, and I at least try and set terms to process it."

Her gaze turned from frank and supportive to fairly serious - with a touch of humor. "Besides, selkies live for a long time, unless Olive Garden or Arby's are part of your weekday go-tos and you fuck up your cholesterol. Do you really want to turn into Zebediah Buck, plus sealskin?"

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Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

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Meris grimaced slightly and nodded at Anjali. "Loose clothing is generally not advisable in a variety of professions. I remember wearing dresses for the longest, but I eventually needed to wear trousers while on ships."

"Weren't you a pirate of sorts at one point?" Miranda asked.

"Aye, lass," she cheekily responded with a wink, then sobering some. "Mainly to weaken Dalarath's slave trade, which was bolstered by the Atlantic slave trade."

"Back to Nickar, I imagine he would probably want to exemplify the wearer's strengths in any uniform, while accounting for functionality," she mused. "So there might come a time for some standardization, but he'd probably want to have each person's individuality to shine through."

***
Claudia's recollection of trauma gave the selkie pause as he listened to her. He swallowed hard as he realized how many funerals she had attended, much like he had. The friends and colleagues she had lost, ones that she had probably felt like it had been yesterday since their last conversation.

The vampire's urging to pull himself from his grief and sorrow and to use his everyday routine to move past those obstacles resonated with what he already knew, and the need for an investigation into the Goat's attacker had him making tight fists on the surface of the table. Whoever had assaulted the former Prince of Pride had stolen justice from all of them.

The last point really broke Ciaran out of his melancholy, leaving him to chuckle heartily. He shook his head. "He's come a long way since Shield formed, but I definitely don't want to be shuffling around in sweats, robe, and slippers," he scoffed, then tilting up a smile to her.

"Thanks, Claudia," he said, giving her offered hand a light squeeze.

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Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

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Abraham only detained the second cook long enough to ask where the valves were, then stepped back and allowed the man to leave. He went through the diner, switching lights off and turning the gas valves when he found them, as well as deactivating the various machines and utilities. Someone could come back later and close it properly; he figured there wasn't time to clean it all.

He was about to leave when the tapping sounds came, and he went back to see what he'd missed. "Hello?" he called, staring at the storage closet. "Is anyone in there?" Years of living in Hope had taught him never to just open random doors, no matter what noises came from them. Hell, especially when they were making weird noises!

Outside, Marius nodded in agreement. "I must remind you all that my truck is meant for cargo, not people, so make sure to use the cargo straps to secure yourselves as best you can," he told them all. "Or you can wait for Jenkins' cabs, which might be more comfortable."

Charles was quick to reassure the man: "Eh, any good mechanic'll be able to fix 'er up good. Them trucks'll bring 'em to my guys, 'n they'll get 'em back road worthy real quick. If y'all wanna give us yer contact deets we'll reach out when they're ready, aye?" Towing and repairing a bunch of cars wouldn't be cheap, but Shield would reimburse at least part of the bill if the folks' insurances declined, so he wasn't terribly worried about it.

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Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

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That last door had the nondescript, solidly-fitted and blank looks of a stragically important location. Judging by the kitchen's layouts, this had to be the door to the water heater closet, and possibly to some inner junction of the gas main that Abraham wouldn't have been able to reach. A quick inspection would reveal that someone had broken the lock's key inside the keyhole, likely to lock themselves in. Whoever was in there was hard at work on some piece of piping, their voice a hurried and panicked whisper that all but demanded to turn into a scream. Something was being repeated - or some things - and the rising noise suggested whoever was in there knew Abraham was just outside.

Oddly enough, the banging wasn't exactly regular. Whoever it was in there that was planning on flooding the place with gas seemed to be fighting a battle against themselves, and could be heard shuffling away from the pipe and attempting to mutter something that was likely meant to be soothing or rationalizing, in regards to their actions.

More importantly, Abraham would recognize a few scant phonemes from when Charles and Nereus had used their shared idiom, the door and the person's panicked state preventing the Black Speech from reaching him in an intelligible - and crippling - manner. As he didn't speak it, he wouldn't recognize the words being spoken - but he also didn't need to. He'd seen his fair share of hostage situations during his legitimate days, and knew groups of hostage-takers and terrorists always had a weak link, someone with second thoughts of some kind.

Or in this case, a seemingly literal internal conflict.

One of Travers' thralls, perhaps, resisting his master's conditioning?

A few more bangs, a long, eerie pause...

Then a body slamming against the door with all its force, the jammer doorknob furiously rattling as the person twisted it from the other side, letting out animalistic shrieks, more recognizable screams and even more noises that even common Thralls weren't in the habit of producing. The unwitting servants of the Dead Gods usually parrotted nonsensical litanies whenever their native language was concerned - but it instead felt as though some sort of external force were puppeteering the man's throat, as had been sometimes been the case during the early Infernal incursions and more common cases of possession.

Notably, however, that forced voice of sorts spoke Hebrew.

"The lock won't hold for long! Hurry! This one never belonged to Travers; I won't be able to hold it in much longer! Kill it before it pushes me out! Kill it before it Speaks!"

* * *

Outside, some made the decision to use one of the hailed cabs, others accepted Marius' offer. The now-freed food vlogger seemingly accepted on the basis of the experiential factor of it all, and man in the elderly couple stated he'd rather stick to friendly faces, in the immediate. Three had no doubt in Charles' ability to have connections with an eye for discreet exits and a way with shocked passengers, but it was sort of hard to fault the seniors' logic. Marius, himself, Charles, Abraham, Nereus - all were quantifiable in the immediate. All of them probably felt like safe bets. Your average cabbie, in the eyes of a disorientated elderly couple?

Three couldn't quite keep himself from smirking at Marius. He wondered how the vampire took to the notion of others finding him reliable, dependable - or even to act as a comforting presence, in the immediate... If these two silverheads didn't mind handling cargo ties and rough shocks, it spoke volumes as to the amount of trust the Ordo Dracul elder had gained in such a short amount of time.

The remaining three felt more at ease with the concept of deferring to cabbies. The mother in the formerly-affected nuclear family started to ask Charles if he thought a situation like this warranted her pulling out her driver's license or her insurance policy number, when Nereus raised a hand and effectively asked everyone to quiet down with a pointed Shhh!

A few seconds passed. Muffled screams - not Abraham's - could be heard rising from the back of the diner. Although not the most fleet-footed in the group, the former Augur took back off towards the diner.

* * *

Anjali smirked as she watched Azazel fidget further. "Yeah, I doubt he'd give in to Fantastic Four-ish minimalism, anyway. Besides, isn't body-conforming leather more of a Paradise staple?
- For the Vanguard, it is," nodded Spector. The rest of the station's denizens love their secret pockets, and the rowdier ones take to a bit of padding.
- Even without the Squids," asked Azazel, "couldn't someone - ow - mess things up for us, anyway? Like, say, a disgraced Sidhe or something?"

Spector caught his inference. "You mean Sharpe. He's been swatted on the beak more than enough. Besides, he has a media conglomerate to rebuild, now that Titania's issued a geas forcing his former partners to sever their ties to him."

Silas' eyelights grew slightly brighter. "What'd she offer them in return?
- Peace," replied Bill. "The irony of fire-and-brimstone Evangelicals working with old analogues of Allocer's for various cities across the Southern States wasn't lost on her. She agreed to let them be on the condition that they dissolved. If the Goat did a single good thing for Humanity, it was showing us just who in our midst would be willing to sacrifice everything for a shred of power."

Azazel appeared relieved as Abigail removed his crude mockup for a jacket from his shoulders. "Sure, but Sharpe wasn't the only Fae willing to accept help from practically anyone, right? He couldn't have been. That, plus an event like a Choosing is a great place to make some sort of grand, sweeping proclamation."

After a while, Spector canted his head in allowance. "There might be others. Bit-players for the moment, but with a sizable advantage over Sharpe: that of not being American. I've never had problems tracking targets worldwide, but there are some I couldn't reach without risking a diplomatic incident. Chinese and Russian Fae Duchies and Baronies, apatride Fae with deep roots in long-dead states... The Chinese Fae are especially difficult to follow on a chart. The Zhou, the Han, the Song or Hu Xia... All Courts that formed and reformed as patrilineal relations reshaped China over thousands of years."

Azazel tried his best to be helpful as his legs' measurements were being taken. "Aren't they all just Chinese, technically?"

Spector looked amused, or well, as amused as he could, as he shared a ragged grin with Meris. "Saying the Old Dragonheads are just Chinese is comparable to calling Lady Hanako Urakawa just a cat."

* * *

"Anytime," replied his friend, holding a smile for a second or two.

She then pulled away slightly. "So; I've got my technical issues and you're grieving. Ragged edges, missing pieces... What is it that people like us do in a club like this?" she asked, her tone a bit rhetorical in nature. Claudia's eyes turned oblique, perhaps a tad mischievous.

"You want I go charm tonight's deejay? We could always see if they've got something fun to stop thinking things over, for a change - and I need someone I'm not close to, or else I'll never feel comfortable with Enlil's mood-shifting tricks."

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Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

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Meris grinned as she thought of Hanako being called a cat. Aspasia joined in and and burst out laughing at the notion.

The Archmage snickered. "If anyone called a Malk like Lady Urakawa just a cat, she'd likely gut them where they stood. That might be a hyperbole, but she'd likely be rather agitated at whoever called her that and she'd make for bad company to be around."

The satryess nodded. "She absolutely would! A Wyldfae's pride is similar to what the various dragonheads would feel. Yes, they're technically Chinese, but they're too wrapped up in the history of the regions and country to be painted with such a broad brush. They're proud of where they came from and the histories they're involved in, so with that comes power at their behest."

Aspasia tilted her head in consideration. "A personalized form of faith in one's self, in a way," she mused, rolling her wrist as though it added more evidence to the argument. "They know their own power, so they're powerful. Know thyself and what you're capable of, and you become capable of that."

***

Ciaran smiled lightly and nodded. "Sure, that sounds like a better idea than dwelling on more of the same stuff. Finding something to lighten the mood seems like a good idea to me," he said, getting up from his seat.

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