Lloyd noted that he had done his preparations, just quickly. Well, that wasn't the crux of the issue anyway.
"It's not your prep that concerns me VIce, it's your lack of communication." The Huntsman said severely. "We're going into dangerous territory, and in the two fights we've been in, you haven't communicated with us at all. You don't talk to us off the job either." He looked Vice straight in the eyes.
"We're about to head out into the world. You need to start talking to us. We need to know we can rely on you." He'd have to have another talk at a later time to figure out what this grudge of his was, but until then this would have to do. He didn't trust Vice, and he needed to know that he could rely on the man.
Mirabelle smiled to herself, getting a little rush from her deception. She enjoyed this part of the job, Haytham's Investigations was proving itself to be a fine place to work. Jebediah was wonderfully playing along too, which always helped. She was certain that the policeman hadn't had any sort of close contact with anyone for a long time, if ever. The way he froze up when she kissed him earlier... It was unusual. She had toyed with all sorts at parties, nobody had quite reacted like that before. The peculiarities of her companion aside, there were far more pressing issues at hand.
"This part is simple. Get a glass of wine and some hors d'oeuvres in hand, survey the room and exits." Mira stated quickly, striding out into the party proper. She felt supremely confident here. Rich idiots with more money than class, all enjoying a tipple and the odd snack. She led the pair of them into the fray, picking out a glass of wine with a delicate hand and daintily eating a canapé she had picked out.
"I vote that we look around, see if there's anyone of high status that would be odd to see in Eredan. Also scout out what's keeping the guests from just walking upstairs" Jebediah recommended. She nodded in agreement. Outside of Lunaji, there were not many unusual patrons although she did spot an Izirian man with mechanical hands. He did not seem to be of any particular note. She could hear the sounds of the party continuing up the stairs, although nobody yet was going up.
"Are you quite alright Jebediah?" Mira asked, a hint of concern in her voice.
"Hmm?" The sergeant looked at her, presumably lost in the task at hand. "Oh yeah, yeah. Fine." He sniffled afterwards and looked away. It was not the truth, she could see that, but it was an issue to be deferred for later. A minute or two passed. She was satisfied with that answer for now. Eventually, she concluded that going up the main staircase was fine.
"Shall we?" Mirabelle wrapped her left arm around his right and led him towards the main stairway. He nodded, and up the stairs they proceeded.
The machine was guided through the Harbrook estate. It was reminiscent of Vincent's home in many ways. It had the trappings of a wealthy house, although unlike Lord Blackmont's home there were not the esoteric machines and there was no constant buzz of thrumming electronics and the whirring of machinery. This place was quieter. More unfamiliar. Humans, he had determined, would call this sensation discomfort. The golem was used to the life of machinery or the life of organics, this place seemed devoid of both.
When he finally arrived at the room, he was met with some of the life he sought. Two fat and fluffy cats padded across to Aspire, and the golem watched curiously with bright eyes as the creatures rubbed themselves against his chassis. He stretched a hand down and stroked them as he had seen humans do. They meowed, clearly enjoying the attention, and returned to the bed where they had been staying. Aspire could not see why humans liked these creatures. They did not reciprocate his affection in any way. Perhaps dogs were better.
The golem began his search. There was a dresser, but opening the drawers revealed little other than beauty products which he had no purpose for. Perhaps Lynda could use them, but that would not be lawfully seizing property. He rifled through papers on surfaces, but there was nothing of note. The human in the room looked at him with an odd expression. Perhaps they were displeased with his searching, but he had a job to do. Aspire searched under the bed, but returned with nothing but some dust and a lost sock. Cleaning oversight. The expression darkened further, but Aspire kept going. The only place that he had not yet searched was a chest of drawers. He opened up the first one, and was met with underwear. Bras, pants, socks. Things that humans needed to wear to keep warm and comfortable and such.
"Is that really necessary?" The maidservant spoke at last with a furious look. If her eyes were heat filaments, Aspire's body would be melting. "I understand that you are trying to conduct an investigation Officer-" There was an awkward pause as the woman seemed to realise that his name was not known to her. "Whatever your name is, but my lady is under suspicion of murder and I find it disrespectful that the best thing you can do is rifle through her personal effects!"
Aspire processed the complaint. There was nothing of value in this room, and she was right. Her implication that looking through her clothes was not the most useful thing that he could be doing was correct. The bedroom plainly had nothing useful for the investigation. He would move on.
"You are correct. May you please escort me from here to the office so that I may assist Officer Haltezor?" Aspire rumbled, deciding that it was best not to correct her on the notion that he was an official officer. That would make the situation more awkward.
Witchers were used to frosty receptions, having people regard him coldly or suspiciously was nothing new but this situation was downright bizarre. He could understand Miss Bartender getting uppity because he called her on being so heavily armed, and he didn't for a second believe that it was really about protecting herself. Of course she could use all that for protection, but most people didn't have a bow stocked with arrows unless they were a hunter, not the blades she wore. And no normal person played with knives the way she was.
"Little old? Short you may be but old I'd never have guessed." He attempted to inject some light humour, but suspected that the attempt would fall on deaf ears. It was hardly great wit. And then there was Teli.
Teli, like all sorceresses was an enigma, but the way she looked at him he found downright contradictory. Today he'd seen her be warm and inviting, as if she were inviting old friends into her home and not complete strangers. Now though, there was an almost forced distance. Today she had engaged him in conversation eagerly but now all she could do was murmur at him while looking into the distance. Odd. The arrival of Lumen and the guy who tried to convince them all to sail a boat into a raiding fleet distracted him.
"Even if someone else did hear our plans, I have a feeling that they wouldn't want to get involved. Anything involving Witchers tends to scare people off." Derrick replied offhandedly. Not to mention the two sorceresses with us. With their presence, his medallion was vibrating constantly and it was downright impossible to piece together whether he was normal. He definitely wasn't the wet werewolf he'd spotted throw itself into the sea for reasons unknown. Guess it really, really wanted a bite of sea serpent.
Lloyd was ready for her to explode on him. His Aura was ready and he was already considering whether to activate his Semblance, where to dodge and at what range he could reasonably draw his weapon. None of that was necessary, to his surprise. She took a moment to reply, and spoke quite reasonably in fact.
"Apology accepted. I'm sorry too, I shouldn't have antagonised you earlier." He said, trying to show an equal sense of responsibility. He still wasn't convinced that he had been entirely in the wrong. "But perhaps next time, you might consider not putting a gun to someone's head as a way to introduce yourself." He smiled slightly, trying to reinforce the idea with a bit of light humour.
"I'll be getting myself and my team ready." He nodded at Noire and headed off towards the inn. Now, there was someone who hadn't said or done much yet. As much as he needed tk get his own supplies ready, he could see that Arian and Dubhán were getting on with it. Someone was not.
"Vice, we need to talk." Lloyd called out to the man, crossing the distance between the two of them. "Why aren't you getting ready? We're moving out soon, this isn't the time for standing around."
Derrick had admittedly, been a tad useless in the whole organising the plan department. Teli seemed to be dealing with that Lumen guy okay, and he wasn't sure what else to say. 'Hey, come help me and a few other people commit a crime to come save the leader of my Witcher school! We promise the guards won't be mad or anything!' Yeah, great sales pitch that was going to be. But, he should probably help.
"Hey, Lumen right?" Derrick swept up and pulled a chair around, sitting on it the wrong way round and resting his front across the back of it. "We Witchers are few and far between, and my teacher is the leader of our school. He knows some things that really ought to be kept secret. I know we've got a pretty strict neutrality policy, but we've got to stick together sometimes." Derrick patted his side.
"We can pay too, if need be. Give it some thought, and come meet us."
Whether the guy would show or not was beyond him, but he just had to hope. He could probably do this alone if need be, his skill with Axii was greater than Veceslav. He could talk his way in and out, and any idiots in his way would wind up dead. Hopefully it wouldn't come to that. Well, much. He pulled on his cloak and put up the hoot, the hilts of his swords sticking out from the sides of the garment.
"We'll have to see whether Lumen shows. The four of us should be enough with or without him." He spoke as he came around the corner, hearing Dayla's words. He glanced at her weapons. "Awfully well armed for a bartender aren't you? What was the line of work before?"
Lloyd thought he was fast, but he wasn't faster than her. Not even close. He was on the ground, and her weapon was at his throat. He instinctively brought up his defensive Aura, but even that wouldn't save him for long. She had honed her skills well across her career as a Huntress... Or worse. He remained silent until she removed the weapon from his neck and got off him. He took Arian's helping hand and dusted himself off before nodding to Dubhán who had come over as well. He looked over at his old teacher, but Qrow did nothing. Said nothing either. His fist tightened at his side. He couldn't blame the others for not doing or saying anything, but Qrow? They were supposed to be colleagues right? Surely he could have said, or done something? He shook his head and took some deep breaths, trying to listen between the furious heartbeats that pounded in his head. So, there had been some team re-organisations? At least they had Dubhán and a clear objective now.
But they still had Arian, who still hadn't learned the right time for his jokes. Even though he didn't approve of the way he talked, he wasn't going to stand there and let his teammate be pushed around by her. He placed himself between the Faunus boy and the Huntress.
"He's making a joke Noire." Lloyd looked her straight in the eyes fearlessly. He saw how she operated crystal clear. Aggression was written all over her. "Arian makes bad jokes, but that doesn't mean he's any less committed to saving Remnant than you and I. Let him be." Antagonising her further might not be the best idea, so he brought up his Aura and tensed his muscles in preparation for something to happen.
Mirabelle scanned the building for any entrances from their position at the front of the house. Between the glare of the street lamps and the darkness, no such alternate route presented itself. She tapped the head of her cane irritably. That was not what she was hoping to see. The plan that she was trying to put together somewhat relied on one.
"Do you have a plan to get inside?" Mira asked, considering the building ahead of her.
Jebediah pondered how to get past the front door, it didn’t take long before he came up with a plan “We should get out hands on some invites or blag our way past the doorman.” He was clearly not thinking of the bigger picture and hoped that his companion had a better idea.
Mira considered that idea, though a couple of issues became immediately apparent to her.
"Well Sergeant, in most situations that is the approach that I would adopt. This is not however, one of those situations." She stated that first, trying to assure him that the idea was not in itself, bad. "The doorman will only accept the names of people that he recognises, and we do not know anyone who has attended. Getting invites would be a problem because we do not know whether there are invitations that need to be presented at all, and there are no guests to acquire them from. Apart from the mistress of the house and her guest in the door presently. Not to mention that we will need to be mostly out of sight inside because Lord and Lady Gallahowe will most certainly recognise anyone on the guest list." It could work potentially, but she thought little of their chances. So, they had to find another way around.
"I cannot see one, but I recommend a service entrance. There has to be somewhere that they allow food and such to be taken in through. If we can distract the person on watch outside, with some assistance from my magic we should be able to get through the door unseen." Mira explained. "Follow me, we shall take a look around. If nothing else appears, we will try to do this your way." Mira led the pair of them away from the house and followed the roads around it.
"Try to make it appear as if we are just walking. We are just very, very finely dressed passers-by." They skirted around the building, checking to see if like many houses, including her own, there was an entrance for goods to come in through. She tried her best to look casual, glancing over at the house while making small talk with Sergeant Crowne. Hopefully, the deception would hold up.
"Yeah." Lloyd replied, striding ahead of the group to lead them back into town. In his irritation, Lloyd suspected that he had come across as a great deal harsher than he had intended, but Arian needed to learn. If they were in danger, everyone needed to be at the top of their game. Taking hits was acceptable, and even likely, but being unaware of your surroundings was a quick way to an early grave. They soon reconvened in the town centre, and everyone seemed mostly alright. Not that he expected Qrow or Glynda to struggle with a few Grimm. They were professionals. Before anyone could get words out, there was a roar and a blur of motion as Arian and Auburn were snatched. Lloyd's hands flicked to Fire and Brand and he drew them, ready to leap in pursuit. Gunshots echoed across the town square and it stumbled, then fell as a mysterious woman cut the creature down. That was bad luck. How did they all miss that thing while they were clearing the Grimm out?
Lloyd would have put his blades down then, but then Arian and Auburn's 'rescuer' put a gun to Qrow's head. He listened to the conversation intently. This was one of Qrow's contacts apparently, but this Noire didn't seem like the above board type. Certainly, the Diamond Crosses weren't a name he'd picked up in Signal. Was there a relation between Qrow and them? He did wear that awkward cross around his neck... But perhaps not. He didn't seem to know her and if they were part of an organisation, then they didn't show it at all.
"Thanks for rescuing my friends and all, but I can't say I feel comfortable with someone who put a gun up to my teacher's head." Lloyd pointed out, blades remaining in his hands. "Going to keep threatening the group of armed and dangerous individuals in front of you, or are we good?" She might be here to help, but he was not going to relax while this woman had her weapons out. She was a threat, and he didn't fancy letting anyone else get hurt today. If Qrow or Glynda weren't going to defuse this, then he was just going to have to show her that she did not have the advantage here. He'd seen Qrow at Signal. The moment that trouble started that sword of his would be out and she'd be down for the count in moments. Not to mention Glynda. As soon as she disarmed herself, he'd happily hear her out.
Arian darted in on cue, finishing off the Beowulf he had struck.
"Thanks." Lloyd scanned the field and spotted a Beowolf moving on Aalis, but before he could leap to interfere he felt a heavy weight slam into him from behind and claws rake across his back. Lloyd bounced and rolled across the ground, each impact sending a jolt through his bones despite his Defensive Aura. He slammed one end of Firebrand into the ground to anchor himself, and pulled himself around it to land on his feet.
The creature that had caught him off guard was staring him down. It lunged forwards, mouth wide open to tear a bite from his flesh. Lloyd jumped over it, and the creature passed beneath him harmlessly. The Huntsman twirled in the air and fell, one of Firebrand's blades pointed towards it. The blade pierced its head, and Lloyd sunk to the floor as the beast's body dissipated beneath him. He stood up and surveyed the situation. Nought was left but the fading corpses of Grimm now, with all of his team standing. And Dubhán. He held down the release in the centre and twisted the Blades of Firebrand apart and sheathed them with a flourish.
"Next time Arian, please try to have more situational awareness." Lloyd spoke, a note of sarcasm in his voice. "You missed one." And it had hit him in the back, annoyingly. They got away with it this time, but with more dangerous Grimm, or simply more of them, those sorts of mistakes could be lethal.
(Seriously though, you did miss one Gabi :P Patrick noticed that you accidentally disappeared a Grimm in your post)
Beowolves Remaining: 0 (For real this time)
Arian and Lazuli started drinking, Dubhán joined them, and talked a little about himself. Another person from outside the Kingdoms indeed. He thought he had the look of one. And a lone wolf. That didn't bode well for teamwork. He had to work with some people surely? He decided not to drink, and instead fetched some water and returned to his seat.
"I'm from outside the Kingdoms too," Lloyd added, setting his glass down and glancing over at the quiet student. "Village in the mountains South-East of the city. Lavender it was called. Nice place, if remote." A hint of nostalgia entered his voice as he talked, thinking back to the calm streets and peaceful days there. He smiled a little, but it faded as his thoughts drifted back to his family. He frowned, then sipped some of his water. Before much more could be said though, Qrow barged in. So, their little late night meetup was getting shut down already.
"We were spending a little time getting to know each other sir." He explained as he walked past his old professor and out of the tavern. "Sorry for any inconvenience." Some might call him a suck-up. Lloyd just respected his teacher and his time. He had taught Lloyd well after all.
Little did he know, that assertion would be tested the next day.
They were woken early, but he was used to that. He had slept alright, all things considered. The day's fatigue, the gently flickering candle and the warmth of his room send him promptly asleep after he'd prepared for bed. Lloyd was too tired even to read his book. He woke up when the call came. Trousers, shirt, jacket, boots, his red ties and finally his hairband. He strapped Firebrand on to his back and headed down, quite ready. A quick breakfast, ate in mostly silence as everyone came round, and then came the day's briefing outside. For the second time in as many days, they received another description of things that they'd never heard of. Temples and Relics... He didn't know what any of those were, and he was tempted to ask. All that they knew was that they were important to the Guardians, but what they did they had no idea.
Before he could ask anything though, life showed that it had other plans for them. A cry of alarm went up, and a pack of were headed their way. He caught the bag thrown to him and threw out two bottles each to everyone in his team, including his temporary teammate Dubhán. Time to see what the lone wolf could do.
"Just because we've got these doesn't mean we can get cocky!" Lloyd warned the group as they ran to the East of the village. They reached it soon, and the others ran in and attacked. Aalis swept forwards and sliced the Ursa and cut down a Beowulf where it stood. Vice rushed forward and with a resounding hammer blow smote the beast. Even with its hands raised up to absorb the force of it, it couldn't help but take a step back. "Perfect."
Lloyd's hands flicked to Fire and Brand across his back and slotted them both together in the centre. He launched himself forwards with an Aura enhanced jump, crossing the distance between himself and the great Grimm and Vice, spinning in the air. He swung wide with his twinblade, cutting the beast's right leg out from underneath it. It collapsed, holding itself up barely with its huge arms. The huntsman spun Firebrand around and swept the blade up through its neck. As it faded into misty shadow behind him, Lloyd spotted a Beowulf leaping for him. He rolled forwards out of its wild attack, then cut one of his weapon's blades into its chest. It staggered back - Gravely injured, but not dead yet.
"Finish this one, it's weak!" Lloyd called. If someone stepped in then this thing would be removed from combat before it could do any damage and they could focus on the remaining Grimm.
Lloyd's HP: 15/15
Ursa: 0/8 BP
Beowulf: 1/4 BP
8 Beowulves: 4/4BP
Dubhán seemed a man of few words, not particularly social at all. Everyone else he had met so far, apart from the quiet girl on Blaine's team at least, had said a little more than that. He wasn't going to open up quickly at all. More were joining them though. Lazuli he remembered from the meeting earlier, and Blaine showed too. He was glad to see a couple from BLAU showed. He wondered what happened to Vice, but if the man didn't want to talk to them then that was his decision. He'd have to talk to him tomorrow though.
"Don't worry about it Lazuli. I don't think anyone will mind after the day we've had." He hardly knew the people around him. His team he knew a little about - Why they became Hunters and Huntresses and all that. But as people? What they liked do? Stuff like that? Precious little. Times like this were when they could talk and be casual about it. He noted that Blaine hadn't yet uttered a word. "You doing alright over there Blaine?" All he had to do was get the guy into the conversation, get him talking. Arian would come over, say something and then everything would sort of work itself out. At least, that's how he figured it. That's how it seemed to go. His eyes flicked over to Dubhán for a moment, then back to Blaine. He felt a bit bad that he wasn't engaging the guy further, but he didn't seem to want to talk. And the tired Huntsman had wanted to get to know his fellow team leader a bit better.
Lloyd leaned back in his seat, trying to relax a little more. He was going to enjoy his sleep. Talking wasn't always his strong point, and he'd need to rest up after doing this much of it. Not to mention being a leader now... But this wasn't the time to worry about that. He needed to make the effort. Be a leader, be social. It wasn't just about him anymore. He could rest when he was done.
The rest of Mirabelle's day after the Ministry Investigation was noticeably quieter than the morning. A sense of anticipation haunted her the whole time, and she would find herself glancing towards her destination tonight as she walked the streets. She excused herself from the office for lunch - Dylan was a very relaxed boss compared to what she expected. She took her time at a small café in one of the nicer quarters of the city, sipping tea elegantly from an equally elegant teacup with a plate of scones before her. The food, delicious as it was, was set aside for a while in favour of a piece of paper, an envelope and her pen. Often, she took time to write things down and in case things went wrong tonight, she wanted a small record of what had happened today so that someone could conduct some investigations under her family's direction. Besides, a murder at the Ministry was always good gossip, and Mira loved nothing more than to feed that cycle, if only for her own entertainment.
Eventually, she posted her letter off to her family. She would have handed it to her family herself, but she was not fond of the idea of staying away from Dylan's office too long. Lax as he was, she felt it only appropriate that she remain on hand, especially with such an intense case before them. When her lunch was concluded, her scones a mere memory of savoury goodness on her palate, she walked back to Dylan's office. The day dragged on, and despite her best efforts, she felt a little bit bored just waiting there. Eventually, her mind turned to planning for the night, and a couple of ideas came to mind. First and foremost though, she had to sort out her partner. She put together a quick note, and sent that off to the Constabulary for the interest of one Jebediah Crowne. They were going to need to dress nicely tonight. Well, he would need to. Mira always dressed nicely.
Eventually, the appointed time came and she caught a cab over to the manor. On her way, much to her annoyance, little stood out to her about it other than the spectacle. She had hoped to spot something, but no such luck. She would have to employ the investigatory skills of Mr Crowne, who she could see awaiting her on the street corner. Something felt off about this party. Nobody she knew was attending to her knowledge. Gallahowe was stingy with his invitations. As she stepped out of the cab, she spotted two people on the road outside. A little lady, wearing something a far cry from the elaborate affair of the average noblewoman. Even from here she could tell that it was covered in grease. However, her companion was a far different story. Radiating with dignity and refined elegance, with a practically cut dress that showed off the stark white tattoos across her arms. It seemed that this lady would not sacrifice prudence for aesthetics, and perhaps that was wise for immediately her suspicions were raised. Hirokiri. With the cybernetic eye mechanism, that could only be the Lord of the manor's wife. Lunaji if she recalled. She was on the avoid list. Mira made a mental note that her watch was in her top left pocket inside her suit jacket.
Mira crossed over to her partner for the evening, and gave him a quick scan. She sighed internally. It fitted him ill, and not only because it clearly was not his suit. He looked awkward in it. The aesthetically concerned Mira would have told him not to have bothered if he was going to look like that, but they were here for a mission. And of course he wore his sword. At least it looked a little fashionable.
"Mister Crowne, good evening." She said with a pleased smile, placing the tip of her cane on the paving as she stopped in front of him. "You have acquitted yourself well in the dressing department." She noted some discomfort, hoping that a small compliment would serve to relax him a little.
"Tonight will be interesting..." Mira's mouth morphed into a flat line, and she dropped her volume to explain the next part so as not to attract the attention of those across the road. "Nobody I know has an invitation, and I was not given one either. This is a very specific, closed party. I imagine we will have to show our invitations at the door. We do not have said invitations, so I suspect that we will have to find another way around. Gallahowe is not likely to have a stupid Clockwork Butler who will let us past." She tapped the head of her cane with her right hand.
"So, if your profession happens to have lent you any skills in the infiltration department, I suggest we make use of them. We cannot be seen by that white haired lady. She is the lady of the house, Lunaji Gallahowe, and will likely know that we are not on the guest list."
The Golem stepped out of Lynda's car with a resounding thunk as they arrived at their destination. He had been considering the situation while speaking to Constable Ulrich Haltezor, who had given him the front seat for some reason, possibly to allow his mechanisms to experience less stress due to having to maintain an uncomfortable posture. A murder in the humans' government agency must be disturbing business for them. He had been mulling over the facts as given, and it all seemed difficult. He uttered a low, bass prayer to the Walking God as they ventured towards the manor in search of the secrets of the one puppeted by the suspected Hirokiri mage. The magic seemed eminently disturbing to Aspire, and he felt a surge of relief through his circuits when he realised that as he was a machine, he was immune to the manipulations. At least, he believed so. Such was the advantage of being beyond human.
A warrant was presented, a thing that he remembered from his time in Izir when he first met Lynda. She always seemed to be needing those warrants to do things. He wondered whether she needed a warrant to leave her office, or enter it. Law enforcement seemed to be mostly paperwork. They soon stepped inside, distracting him from thinking uselessly about the intricacies of Constabulary work. Ulrich asked Lynda where they were to begin, but Aspire felt no requirement to do the same. He stepped inside, scanning the lobby that they had entered into.
A grand, curved stairway dominated the room. He could see the artistic value, but he felt that it was space inefficient although he conceded that the curve of the stair was pleasing. One door on each side of the room led to other areas of the manor. Aspire could only conclude that it led to living rooms and kitchens. Unlike Vincent, the Harbrooks likely did not have a laboratory and workshop at home. A glance to the upstairs suggested that there was a corridor, likely containing bedrooms and restrooms based on his understanding of architecture.
"I conclude that we begin with an investigation of Lilian Harbrook's bedroom." He suggested in a mechanical grumble, after considering their options. He looked to the one who let them in. "May you please lead us to this bedroom? Thank you." He made sure to be polite, and respectful. Humans seemed to do what you ask if you asked them nicely.
Teli's answer didn't tell him much, and she seemed to be avoiding the question. It was safe to say though - She was more than capable of breaking people out of prisons. Her lack of an answer suggested to him that she may have even broken a Witcher out before. She was suspiciously non-specific about it. But, that wasn't really his business. Just a matter of curiosity. He watched from a short distance away as the sorceress made herself seem as alluring as possible as she tried to be in the process of heading over to a table. He saw someone he vaguely recognised from the boat earlier, but he didn't think much of the man at the time. However, upon closer inspection, he spotted the telltale cats' eyes of a Witcher. He'd wait until she'd made the suggestion before joining her. For now, he strolled on up to the bar.
"The strongest stuff you've got if you would." He asked the bartender, who was revealed to be the Aen Sídhe woman from earlier. A haughty Elf behind a bar? Well, this was quite the sight. Whyever did she have that bow still, he wondered.
He waited for a while, thinking things over. Reflecting on the fight earlier. The argument on the Bullhead with Makani, one sided as it was. Things were quiet. For a while anyway. A cry went out, and unsurprisingly it was Arian offering to buy them all more food. He smiled wryly. Of course it would be him who ran down the corridors to interrupt people's rest. Lloyd knew that there was only one real option when he heard that. He stood up and headed towards the door. He put a hand on his jacket and considered throwing it on as well, but relented. It wasn't cold. They weren't in danger. He didn't need his armoured jacket, or Firebrand. He picked up his hairband from the table and arranged his hair into his usual ponytail and headed downstairs.
He found the others sat around a table. Three were sat there. Arian was there of course, and that quiet boy from earlier who hadn't said much, he was just there with Glynda. Aalis was there, but something was very different.
"You're looking a little blue there Aalis." Lloyd commented as he crossed the room to their table, a bemused smirk on his face. He pulled out a chair and took a seat, leaning back and trying to relax a little. He glanced over too their quiet friend. "Have any of my team introduced themselves to you?" He suspected not.
"I'm Lloyd, leader of Team LAVA. These are Aalis and Arian, two of my team." He gestured to each of them in turn. "Your name is...?"
"Indeed." Mira agreed, falling in step with Dylan. They had a plan together. Thankfully her new boss was willing to work with the Sergeant. Although, that last line more or less confirmed that she was not in fact a Tower agent. Maybe the Sergeant would assume that Dylan was playing the part still, but she had to resign herself to her little ploy probably being over. While obviating the need for secrecy was always a good thing, she still felt slightly disappointed. It was fun to play different parts sometimes, if only to make a change from being the demure young lady that she usually was. As they fell out of earshot of the palace and Sergeant Crowne, she looked over at Dylan and smiled, satisfied. "A good morning's work I should say. I wonder where the other two got to though?"
"I do not study statues, nor anatomy, though finding treasure would be exciting. I hope that I am able to experience this at some point." The Golem was familiar with the concept of finding treasure from human stories. He suspected that it would be enjoyable, but he lacked the opportunities to do so. And in some ways, the idea felt antiquated. According to his records, Aspire could remember no modern treasure-hunting stories. The human looked at the statue in an odd way after he mentioned the treasure. Perhaps he was there for treasure. He did seem to be eyeing the precious materials. Then, surprisingly, the man turned back and introduced himself with an unusual bow. Aspire saw no point in the motion, so did not return it. "Greetings Rigel Northam. I call myself Aspire. I do not live in this city. I was exploring. Currently I am waiting until I can meet a friend from my travels in Izir. She will not be available until approximately 7pm. Are you able to tell me anything interesting about this city in the meantime? I am somewhat lacking in guidance." He rattled off his responses then watched Rigel expectantly for an answer.
Derrick very reluctantly listened to Vec and watched the guards take his teacher away with a scowl. They could have torn that group of guards apart with ease, had they tried. A quick Aard, and a flash of steel and they'd have had three or four dead in an instant. Axii one, maybe two for chaos. It would have been a mess though. Even if they hadn't got hit, more may have come and he doubted they'd be able to blame it on Skellige raiders.
"You're right." He agreed as Teli put a hand on his shoulder and reminded him that jailbreaks were a thing. The only problem being - It was a jailbreak. Witchers weren't welcome all the time but they weren't usually outright arrested. He didn't fancy being on a wanted list somewhere, but he'd already lost one brother. Vec wasn't out of reach per say, but nor did he relish the likelihood of a breakout. He had an option to get some help on a potential breakout, and he wasn't going to say know. He followed after the sorceress and her sister. That Elf lady's tavern was going to be the spot eh? Didn't surprise him in the slightest that guards didn't frequent it.
The tavern was bustling, and he spotted the Aen Sídhe from the boat again inside. And the crazy guy that was ready to sail a boat directly into that raider fleet. This place was full of interesting characters. He took a seat next to Teliana, not wishing to get a drink quite yet. He didn't want to get that strange man involved. Not when his Medallion was playing havoc with the two sorceresses nearby and a bar full of other strange people. He was more than a little suspicious.
"So, what gets a sorceress interested in helping a Witcher jailbreak his Witcher teacher?" He asked casually, leaning back against his chair. "Or is this something you do often?"
Internally, Lloyd breathed a sigh of relief when the joke went down well. Well enough at least. It got the person who actually handled humour and small talk better doing his thing again, and maybe it defrosted some of the earlier tension. When he thought about this morning's events in light of what had happened afterwards... Did it even matter? It probably didn't. And then there was the matter of the cheese man. He had to admit - He hadn't spotted that. How he missed that was beyond him. Aalis' explanation of her Semblance was yet more concerning somehow - She had a Semblance that activated more or less randomly and had random effects? That was... Unique. The conversation went on, and Arian's stomach started awkwardly grumbling while Lloyd thought about his Semblance feeling perfectly ordinary by comparison. His mouth curled into a slight smile at the timing of Arian's hunger pangs, although he couldn't help but notice Vice being conspicuously silent. Before he could say anything though, they touched down.
As he glanced outside, he noticed a sign stating that they had arrived in... Mistral? That's when it hit him - This was the first time he had left Vale. He was on new soil, in a strange land, with stranger events surrounding him with only a group of people who had only just stopped being strangers. And even some of them remained mysteries to him. The quiet girl on Blaine's team for instance, Auburn was it? And as he saw Professor Goodwitch, another boy was standing there with her. He wasn't one of the ones from the office earlier, was he? They looked around the same age. Maybe he was a year above or something? Either way, he didn't look like any of the others here in a distinct way - He had an air of roughness about him that pegged him as another one from outside the Kingdoms' big cities. For now, he said nothing and followed into an establishment known as the Crestworth Inn to listen.
After the argument earlier, Lloyd had no taste for arguing about the sense of what was happening. Instead, he fixed his attention on listening to what he was being told. An enemy capable of taking on heroes of legend, someone named Tavor. Prophecies that they were a part of. The explanation made about as much sense as anything else had today. He wasn't ready to accept all of this as normal yet. Everything felt so exceptional. He thought that Beacon would be like Signal but for older students. Instead they found... This. The talk ended, and they were all led away.
"If any of you need to talk about any of this, drop by. My door's open." He offered as they were all taken to their rooms. He was a leader, and he had to take care of his team. And the others. He left the offer deliberately open. Even if he didn't entirely understand it all, this wasn't a burden that they could all handle alone. The team leader unbuckled Firebrand from his back and placed the twin blades lovingly on the table before sitting heavily on the bed, stripping off his heavy jacket. "What have I got myself into here...?" He reached behind him and undid the tie holding his ponytail together and looked down at it.
"I don't know if I'm coming home..." He reflected grimly, as if the one who gave it to him could hear what he was saying. He sighed and threw the small hairband over by his weapon, and his jacket flew across the room and thudded on to the chair. He stood up, and hung it properly over the back and sat on it. He kept a lamp on but the main light was off. He'd stay awake a while in case someone did want to come talk to him. Honestly, he wished he'd had time to bring his stuff with him. He didn't have any of his books to read and relax. "What is the world coming to?" He held his right knee up with his hands and stared at the leg of the table, lost in his thoughts, waiting for a knock that may never come.
Mirabelle glanced away from the awful construction in front of her when she heard Dylan cry out. It was clear to her now that her new employer had some kind of magical sensitivity. She would inquire after they had parted from Sergeant Crowne. Since he had not mentioned it earlier, it may not have been a subject he was comfortable with broaching - Having a police officer here would do little to assuage that. His analogy did bring a light chuckle out of her.
"An apt description." She noted lightly. His later deduction about the canals was more than likely correct - And clearly explained how this came about in her mind. There was little else to be done then. For now, they would have to go their separate ways and pursue a lead on this Mortimer Gallahowe who likely had connections to the Hirokiri responsible for this, and a possible motive surrounding the recent immigration legislation being debated in the Ministry. Something that would almost certain fall through now that the bill's main proponent had been effectively discredited and likely imprisoned. It felt like the time to leave, but Sergeant Crowne had one last surprise for them. Well, for Dylan perhaps. This was entirely expected for her. "I think that would be an excellent idea, Sergeant." She felt a little unsure about making the move tonight, but they had an entire day until then to come up with a plan of attack - So to speak. She shook the proffered hand firmly, but not uncomfortably. Upon hindsight, it may have been unwise to agree to such a thing without Dylan's approval, but this felt right for getting results. Should the worst come to the worst, she was willing to operate with the Sergeant without her boss and get results while he attacked an alternative angle with Kara and Zephyr.
"I expect that will be all then? It seems that there is little else to do here, and we have reports to write." Mira kept up the act a little longer. The Sergeant showed little sign of being actively certain that she was not a Tower agent, and given that he had worked with her directly she suspected that her insistence had convinced him. Perhaps she would reveal the truth later tonight. For now, it seemed useful to have a slight veil over the truth.
Dylan hardly seemed to appreciate the note passing, but she could understand that. He was being left out of the loop a little, but she had every intention on filling him in on all the relevant details later. He made an interesting assumption about the competency of the mage that cast the spell. That seemed logical - The bullet hole in the ceiling attested to the attempt at suicide and it seemed more than a little unlikely that it was a gambit to make them underestimate the mage. After all, they had no idea how the magic worked in the first place. She watched her employer check underneath the carpet, and just as she suspected, there it was. The entrance that she suspected was there.
And then Sergeant Crowne busted the door with a steel leg. She looked at him sympathetically as he grunted quietly. Smashing through solid wood like that probably was not the most pleasant thing to do, especially with augments. She hardly would have relished the prospect of doing that with her own arm, albeit hers was a little more ornamental than the officer's. Hers would be far more expensive to replace. Mira peered down the revealed door, settling to one knee to get a closer look as the room's light failed to penetrate the darkness below.
"Do you have a light?" Mira asked, a shake of Dylan's head answered the question for her. She expected no help from Sergeant Crowne. "Very well." Resignedly, she sighed and gingerly clambered on to the ladder.
Part way down, she recalled that Dylan was a smoker and could have at least lent her his lighter. It was hardly as if he were going to light up a cigarette inside the Ministry, and surely not at the expense of one of his employees. That being said, he was not the most social person. Perhaps it simply would not have occurred. Mira made a mental note to carry some sort of lighting implement with her in the future. Considering how what should have been a routine day in the office turned into a dive into the secret tunnels of the Ministry, she no longer trusted the profession to remain even relatively sane.
She breathed a sigh of relief as she felt the stone underfoot. Mira estimated that it was perhaps a ten meter climb from top till bottom. The tunnel did not seem as dark, and it was clear that her eyes had adjusted during the descent into this tunnel. She turned around, and stepped back instinctively out of shock. The skull of a bird loomed out of the shadow at her, lit softly from underneath by a gently glowing ritual circle of red in the middle of the tunnel. She sucked in a deep breath and overcame the surprise, before stepping boldly forward into the tunnel. As she got closer, she could see that it was not only the skull, but the entire skeleton of a bird, propped up on sticks with strings hanging from its limbs as if it were some kind of sick puppet. She could see the runes around the circle quite clearly, between her well adjusted eyes and the red glow before her. An analysis of these runes revealed them to be, as far as she could make out, of Hirokiri origin based on the magical studies she had conducted and the few Hirokiri documents that she had seen in her life. Not that she could read them of course.
"We have a ritual circle it would seem." Mira spoke, turning her head to the entrance of the tunnel so that they could hear her. "The skeleton of a bird has strings attached to its wings and legs. It seems that this might be the origin of control..." Mirabelle Autumnfield was no expert on magic, although she knew people who were. However, some things were instinctively obvious. This must be the means by which Lilian was controlled, the poor woman. She glanced suspiciously down to the opposite end of the tunnel. It went on into nothing but blackness as far as she could see. Her eyes fell to the setup before her again. It was clear why it was Forbidden Magic. This was hardly the most grisly that she had heard Hirokiri rituals could be and it was still almost unsettling, and certainly surprising to see - Not to mention the terrifying power of the ritual itself. All it took was a dead bird, a few sticks, strings and a bit of magic to force anyone's body to serve you. Regardless of how you felt about it. The prospect of losing her autonomy in that way was disturbing. It was little wonder that Lilian seemed so horrified.
The clockwork golem had made quite intense study of the statue, cross-referencing each character with the legends he knew were associated with them. These humans must have been exceptional in their own way. It would have pleased him greatly to meet such famous individuals. These were paragons of humanity, and he supposed that through them he might find some hint of purpose. His core ticked along, processing these ideas. Humans took inspiration from notable figures from their pasts, so it seemed only logical that Aspire take note of what humanity had to offer.
But this seemed wrong somehow. He was not human. Why should he look to humanity alone for inspiration. He was considerably less aware than he should be about his own species. Perhaps he should educate himself. A famous clockwork golem could perhaps inspire him to greater heights. But surely they would also be modelled off humans? Aspire considered this problem. Was it possible for a clockwork golem to forge its own identity, untouched and uninfluenced by humans in this world? By their very nature as humanity's creations, could they separate themselves from their society and history? Was it simply inevitable, as there were no other frames of reference. There were the dragons of course... This seemed like a difficult prospect. Perhaps he would seek the advice of a being that transcended such concerns.
This philosophising was interrupted by a voice. He had filtered most of them out. They were distracting. But this one seemed directed at him. The lumbering machine turned its head to look at the one interrupting his thoughts, blank, glowing blue eyes staring at the figure.
"No. I am outside Saviour's Spire in Eredan, examining the statue of the Saviours for which the Spire is named." Aspire replied flatly. The man was armed with a longsword. He made no move to use it. No hostile intent seemed present. "Is there a purpose for asking whether I am lost? Do you frequently ask other humans this question?" The golem was not clear on whether it was appropriate for humans to ask each other whether they were lost when they were simply looking at a statue. Was that uncommon? Did humans not look at statues? If they did not, what was the purpose of statues if not to be looked at? The more logical conclusion is that this human was an outlier. Perhaps he expected clockwork golems to be less intelligent than humans, thus easily confused? This was an illogical assumption. Machines made only human error. This in turn would involve this human casting aspersions on Vincent, and it seemed unlikely that he was doing so. The chances that his creator had met this particular human were slim. Therefore, this human must be one of those who were considered 'weird'. Vincent was considered 'weird' by many humans, according to him. Perhaps this human would prove similarly stimulating company. He had to be careful though - If he were interesting company then he must be wary of the time so that he did not miss Lynda at her office later.