Half-and-Half

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Gwathdraug
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Re: Half-and-Half

Post by Gwathdraug »

"Percival." Lyra leaned back, crossing her arms in front of her chest. "Would you like me to ask my friend - our waitress - to take a seat with us or would you be more comfortable if she was out of the room?" Lyra's attention was unflinchingly focused on the man across from her. Her eyes had set with a slight squint and her smile hadn't moved a millimetre.

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Kokuten
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Re: Half-and-Half

Post by Kokuten »

"You're very considerate to me Ms. Valsted," answered Percival to Lyra's careful guard. He had lost this little subtle battle of words rather handily and his concession was just a mild, relieved sigh into the soft comfort of the chair "especially someone comes barging in on your time off. If you feel Ms. Arsenyev would have something to contribute to the conversation, I think that'd be grand."

The man crossed a knee over the other and tilted his head over his braced arm on the arm of the chair. "Meeting you now, I wish I hadn't set off any bloody alarms. You are frightfully pleasant; you know that, don't you? But you are awful difficult to reach normally. I was hoping we'd just have a little conversation about our common connection. She's rather dear to me, to a lot of us, and I'd like to clear a few things up."

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Gwathdraug
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Re: Half-and-Half

Post by Gwathdraug »

"I think we'll manage alright without her." Lyra stated, her tone nonplussed, as she waved Erica off. "And if you hadn't set off any of my 'bloody alarms' I'm quite sure we wouldn't have had much of a meeting of any sort." Leaning forward the brunette rest both her elbows on the small table her chin sitting atop her laced fingers. The muscular woman's smile had dropped to a small, but somewhat cocky, grin. "I've been very good at being unsociable for years now after all."

Lyra's attention didn't shift, but her eyes did dart towards their periphery in a slight gesture to the fire behind her. "I do hope my discomfort towards a magical item being pointed at me hasn't cost you too overtly." Lyra pivoted her head slightly as it rest against the back of her fingers as she looked over the man across from her. Her face was blank once again as she seemed to come to a decision. "So, our matter of a little sister then - what brings the middle sibling halfway across the world into the den of the oldest?"

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Kokuten
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Re: Half-and-Half

Post by Kokuten »

"I'm sorry, come again?" Percival did not wait for a response, pulling another brown notebook from his satchel and setting it on the table. He opened it up, and it was filled with the same number of incoherent ciphered letters that he used to hide his notes. "I thought you were her cousin. Nothing was written down officially, but... There was nothing except... The mother... The mother is never mentioned. Bloody bells, how did I miss that? Even as a consideration. As astronomical... No. Wait..."

He paused, considering a few things in his mind, muttering something about his own mother. For a moment he looked distressed, continuing to mutter under his breath just audible enough to hear, "The fake smiles, the predisposition to self-narration, having pride in things people shouldn't be proud of most of the time, the look in the eyes, and that bloody grin..."

The characteristics came off almost like a list of alchemical ingredients.

There was a strong assertive look in the man's eyes meeting Lyra's cocky gaze, "My dear sister, if this is true, then this changes quite a bit. In fact, if we don't leave this table enemies, I will need to firmly insist that you are to meet the family, particularly Mum. The matter is firmly out of my hand now, you see."

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Gwathdraug
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Re: Half-and-Half

Post by Gwathdraug »

"I'm afraid I mostly make my life about things I care about-" Lyra leaned back, her posture casual, but the skin around her eyes was still tight - strained. "Parents of any sort don't factor very highly into any of those decisions. I am sure though that a pair as competent as yours could manage to get ahold of my rates for business if need be."

"And-" The large woman dipped two fingers into the dredges of her tea in front of her. Raising her hand up she looked at herself disinterestedly as she rolled her thumb across the wet fingers. "-as lovely as it would be if actions came from blood-" Lyra's voice was near deadpan with just enough of a caustic turn to have her statement invalidate itself. "-smiles and oddities and all that are things you learn to teach yourself. If every six year old that had to learn that no one will provide for you just because grew up to be family I imagine we'd all be better off."

"Just a thought." Lyra almost shrugged but instead settled the movement by steapling her hands in front of her. The brunette seemed about to continue with her hold over the conversation, but instead relented her control with a nod towards her guest.

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Kokuten
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Re: Half-and-Half

Post by Kokuten »

"That's a shame. My mother is very particular about daughters. Always wanted one when she married my father, and then she got me," Percival picked up the conversation right as the woman across from him dropped it.

He had been listening intently to Lyra as she answered him in her restrained way, and he had loosened up considerably as she spoke. Something in the conversation was putting the man at ease, and he seemed to drop all of his defenses. "Terrible business, never were brave enough to conceive after me. I was a bad egg, spooked the whole line and all the neighbors. So our dear sister was a blessing to the family. Rough and tumble few months, those first few. Considering that she constantly kept flying out of the house every morning after breakfast, and flew right back in before dinner started. Like a cat, I tell you."

More animated and energetic now, he leaned over the table, resting on his elbow, "Speaking of those days, ten years ago now, why did you take a contract on her?"

Percival's eyes were bright and curious.

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Gwathdraug
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Re: Half-and-Half

Post by Gwathdraug »

The woman across from Percy was still stiff, her reactions well practiced but off, as the alchemist talked about his mother and father. As the subject slowly changed towards Riley though it was impossible not to see Lyra relax and by the end she was even good-naturedly snorting at his commentary on how badly the little stage magician had fit in.

Then he asked his question.

To Percy's curious eyes the swordswoman's reaction was disjointed - a clattering of different actions that didn't fit. A slow, halting smile seemed to almost awkwardly, reflexively make itself know. Her brow furrowed, the skin between her eyebrows pinched as if in worry. Grey eyes dilating like the light in the room was dropping. "It was twelve years ago." Lyra's statement was declarative - too confident, too loud for a conversation between two people. Then, biting her lip, the large woman's voice drifted off into a murmur. "...not ten... she was just nine at the time..."

She stopped. Her vision entirely unfocused. Her body only moving under heavy, deep breaths that she seemed entirely unaware she was forcing herself through.

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Kokuten
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Re: Half-and-Half

Post by Kokuten »

Decanus, like many of the spirits of the Elementalia, had taught Percival quite a bit in his time as Font of the realm. One of those things was how to bury a knife, not in a person, but in yourself, to be drawn to strike when they least expected it. The old god spoke in quiet whispers, and while much of it was just notes on paper in Percival's study, one expression was written keenly in his mind.

When you strike, look deep into their eyes and the truth will stare back at you.

The words gave Percival chills as he saw what his question had done to Lyra. He had dredged up something that she very likely only wanted to forget. Those bright green eyes watched her every move, curious for a coherent answer.

When you learn the truth, that is when you know what to do next.

His eyes narrowed.

Twist the blade?

And then closed.

Withdraw it? Or...

"Yes, she was quite young," picked up Percival, as if he hadn't just dropped a brick on the table, "but so were you. You're only a few months older than me, mind you. You would've been... what... fourteen?"

Still leaning over the table, he rolled his hand on his wrist as he cycled through a few points, "You obviously weren't successful, and you've made no effort to reach out since in more than a decade. Lyra, I'm not here to condemn you, and this isn't a formal inquiry. This is a concerned sibling who wants to know the truth, nothing you say here is going to leave the room, or reach the ears of anyone else. Not even Riley's. So I'll ask one more time..."

Will you press the hilt?

"...Why?"

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Gwathdraug
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Re: Half-and-Half

Post by Gwathdraug »

Lyra was ten and the room was full of robes that wore faces. They were people, but seemingly deprived of expression, only left as stones set by the hand of judgement.

He was with her. He guided her to the center of the circle and placed her before the creature - a shaggy beast of corded muscle with a coat of interwoven black, and brown, and gold. A dire wolf: frozen, paralyzed, but still beautiful.

His hand brushed against the coat. Fiery sparks coming to life from the fingers of his left hand announcing his excitement, but his magic found no purchase against the strands of fur.

"She's protected."

His other hand, always trailed by a gentle breeze, reached down to her waist and drew the dirk she wore. Their hands touched as he closed her fingers about the weapon's grip. The hand of sparks made a small glittered circle around the wolf's ribs. "Here."

"Be useful. You know how."

She did. Her mana met the steel with no resistance. The steel met flesh with no resistance. She died. The body collapsed. The statues spoke as a babble - appreciative, excited, congraluting. A pair of arms claimed her shoulders holding her aloft and she was alone, awashed red amidst the stench of fear and iron.

She was twelve. She was allowed to wear a sword now, but her belt was gone. The axe in her hands felt like it was biting at her skin and a foreign spell cloaked her. It made her body want to twist and itch. It was necessary - it kept her from being seen, from being recognized, from being somebody.

The room she was in was small and held a simple line carved close to the far wall. Stepping over it filled her with a rush of vertigo as she was moved - back to the center of the familiar circular room.

The edges of the room where packed with people that wanted to see. They were here for the man closest to her - he was bound, weighed down in chains, blinded by a hood - he had been sentenced but laughed that his protections were unbreakable.

She had come alone today.

Her mana moved. The axe moved. There was no resistance.

"You know how."

He was with her.

She was fourteen. Her body hurt. She wanted sleep. Her stomach ached; curled beyond hunger. The room was small and it made her itch and itch and itch.

He wanted her dead. If she left the room he would do it. If she signed the paper she would have to do it. He told her that she was confident. That she was her better. That she went through walls and objects as childsplay. That she was magic. She wouldn't know that she knew how.

It was later when she grabbed the pen. It had to be. Her body was a shamble of disconnected pain from want of water. She didn't know how she had gotten here with the paper. The pen dropped a blot of ink that stained the parchment red as it trembled in her hand.

She signed: a messy crawl of a scrawl, but her name none the less.

--

Lyra was unresponsive to Percy's probing. She closed her eyes and her breath turned shallow alongside the sound of his voice. Her left arm and shoulder began to tremble and she gripped her bicep hard with her right.

Her fingers tensed inward and inward until lines of blood flowed from beneath her hand.

With Percy's last why the swordswoman's eyes snapped open. She blinked, rapidly, her attention shifting all across the room as if she wasn't recognizing anything.

"Excuse-" She shook her head twice as if she was fighting something inside. Then quick as lightning was staring at the alchemist across from her. "Your Riley's brother. What were we talking - I'm sorry my memory... my memories aren't always like this." Her hand moved up to massage her temple and froze as it passed in front of her eyes.

Lyra stared at the blood smeared across her palm - the lines in her skin highlighted a darker red on red.

Her head flicked back towards Percival. "I'm- I'm sorry. Washroom. Just one minute, I need to... to wash my hands." The swordswoman went to push herself up and froze once more - her hands hovering just inches away from the clean tablecloth. She jerked her chair back letting her stand while carefully manuevering around her jacket to not touch it. "I'll- I'll be back."

Percy was alone at the table.

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Kokuten
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Re: Half-and-Half

Post by Kokuten »

Percival stared at the empty chair, a look of displeasure on his face. He held a small handkerchief in his fingers, drawn to hand to the woman before she made her escape. She had left swiftly when she managed to get away from her chair, and there wasn't a chance to act as a gentleman would. So, instead, he was left to stew in his thoughts. When the opportunity had revealed itself to learn why, he dove on it, and pursued it relentlessly. What had he learned?

For Lyra, there seemed to be painful memories associated with the event. Had she been ensorceled? Was her mind not allowed to conjure an answer? No. She wouldn't have had such a reaction. Memory erasure, mind control, and spells of suggestion were more natural than that. What she was experiencing was more human than magical; emotive responses, a loss of control in posture, and reflexive reactions to outward stimulus.

Then, short-term memory loss? She seemed to misplace him for a minute, before recalling that he was there. Something more was hiding behind this, but for some reason, Percival suspected it had nothing to do with Riley; not directly, at least.

Was this the answer he was looking for? Lyra held no ill will to Riley. He could gather that much. Something else must be playing into this, but drumming up more painful reactions like that would be cruel.

His mother would be rather upset if he continued burning bridges with another potential daughter. Albeit, Elizabeth would have a harder time roping this one into the family.

He waited, sipping at his drink quietly, staring at the fire.

"Am I protecting her, or am I just protecting myself?" sighed Percival quietly, as if he were speaking to the flames. A few months ago, he would have heard a response, a soft voice resonating in his mind telling him one answer, a harsh one telling him the other. It was hard doing these things without guidance, doing it alone.

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