Vladimir just sighed in the moment his attempts where in vain, he suddenly stopped and summoned the Books of Driaochtas. The pages passed on their own as if it knew what spell Vladimir wanted to use. Some pentagram appeared in thin air as he spoke in enochian, shinning with bright white lights. The pentagram formed to protect the Ex-Paladin, if the bees tried to pierce through it they could get hit by thunder and electricity.
Vladimir was using the last of his magic to protect himself, he could attack from the inside but he wanted to make sure his spell wasn't in vain. However, he went into position, ready to use his spear.
Ron expected the snake to yield easily, but it was tougher than he expected. What kind of paper could rummage around in the snow and be fine? That was stupid. But thankfully so was the snake. He could see it circling around behind. He didn’t even have to turn. Two of his wing blades crossed like scissors. The snake lept from the snow with a loud crunch and his blades slashed out, seeking to catch and bisect it before it landed another bite.
Normally, Marceline liked being close to enemies. She was short after all. She couldn’t punch that far. But closing that gap only really helped when your enemy relied on space to throw punches. Jenifer’s claws and teeth dug into her just as well up close, leaving slashes both long and deep all over her torso. Marceline fought back, not listening to Loveline’s demands not to. She wasn’t going to get savaged without a fight. She ducked a bite that would have engulfed her whole head and uppercut the werewolf so hard that crocodilian teeth went clattering across the floor. The dizzied werewolf let Marceline slip behind her and stomp out her elbow, inverting it entirely. Jenifer howled in agony and Marceline jumped back to let her scramble up and start to run.
“Problem solved.” She waved the werewolf goodbye. “No, Marcy! She’s going to hurt somebody else if she meets them!” Cosmina yelled, distracted from her scanning. “She’s got a vial on her front pocket!” “Oh, fucking easy for you to say! You’re not the one getting your fucking tits clawed off!” Marceline snarled at her sister, immediately regretting it when she pulled back. “Keep your hands open ginger!” She yelled, running after the fleeing Jenifer. She caught her by the legs, slamming her snout into the floor. They wrestled again until Marceline managed to get her fingers into Jenifer’s pocket. The vial fell into her hand, but she didn’t get to toss it before Jenifer bit her wrist. Even with her increasing durability, stake-shaped teeth pierced to the bone. She dropped the vial and it rolled on the floor. “Get it! Fucking get it before- let go, you fucking bitch!” Marceline struggled and punched, but Jenifer only clamped down harder.
Seeing the bird kicking up snow, Yamiko let out an annoyed sigh. "That's it? You want to blow around snow? Well that energy is better spent blowing-" Before Yamiko could finish, the bird managed to grab her side and begin flying up in the air. Yamiko stared up for a second. “Is that it? You just wanted to show me something? Well here, I have something to show you too!”
Motioning her hand downward, a deep red spike the size of her entire body formed, pointed directly up at the bird. She grinned wildly as she flicked her hand upward and sent the spike sailing straight for its body.
Both Cosmina and Kate entered the room to find a werewolf fighting Marceline. Before Kate was able to grab something and use it as a weapon, Loveline said not to fight it. She looked at Love with a confused expression. “You expect me to just let that thing do whatever?!” She asked. Hearing Love’s plan, Kate let out a groan and watched as Marcy took the vial from the werewolf’s pocket and dropped it, the object rolling across the floor.
Making a fist, Kate sprinted forward and picked up the vial, immediately cupping it in both hands to upgrade how much was inside, and the strength. Looking at the werewolf, Kate grimaced at how much covering the rubber suit gave. Not many places she could aim the vial. Regardless, she uncorked the vial and emptied some onto her gloved hand, taking aim and tossing the glob directly at Jenniver’s face.
The bees didn't try to go through the barriers Vlad placed, making a half-circle instead and firing their stingers at him. Small and made of paper, but packing the power of a bullet, they aimed to turn him into swiss cheese or chase him toward their target. The snake leaped out of the snow, straight between the wings. Snip. The snake was cut in half with no problem. However, it wasn't dead yet. The front half of the snake kept flying, its fangs bared and ready to bite into Ron as soon as the head reached him. The spike shooting up nearly hit the bird. Nearly. It pushed itself back and out of the way just in time. However, it dropped Yamiko while doing so. The bird performed a somersault in the air and dove down quickly. It tried to grab Yamiko with its talons again, drag her through the snow for a bit to daze her, and then it would continue carrying her away. Kate followed Loveline's instructions. Now they just needed to get Jenifer to swallow it. Hard to do with Marceline's arm serving as her chew toy. Hazel took solving that problem into her own hands though. Literally. She ran over to the transformed maid and tried to grab both sides of her snout. With strength far surpassing that of a regular person, let along a girl of her size, she wanted to pry it open and move it to catch the wolfsbane glob.
Ron felt the slight resistance as his wing blades passed through the serpent and smiled. Then its head struck him just below the wings and its teeth sank into his spine. He gasped out, a choked cry cut short as the venom reached his diaphragm. His nanites could only do so much at once, and they were already busy fighting the other venom injected. As his lungs struggled, he knew he only had seconds before his body shut down all non-essential functions to fight the venom. The only problems were that he still had that head injecting venom and was in the middle of a battlefield.
Same solution applied to both and there was no time to think. His engines purred, then roared and he was off the ground. The head was directly beneath his engines, so with any luck, it would be burnt to ash, or at least thrown off. With half his body paralyzed, Ron could only vaguely steer himself back towards the hotel, swiftly spiraling upwards until the fated message came. “Lethal Damage Detected: All Non-Essential Systems Off” flashed across his vision just before the engines cut off. He felt his conscious mind slipping, and he was glad. He would rather not be awake when he crash-landed through the roof, honestly.
Bones cracked and came loose in Jenifer’s jaws and Marcy gasped in agony. Hazel's hands came in and attempted to pry them loose, getting her teeth out of Marceline’s hand, but not wide enough for the potion about to be thrown. “Sorry bitch, but you’ve gotta scream for us!” Marceline clapped her palm to Jenifer’s stomach and a distant crackle came. With a pop, Jenifer’s every nerve was alight, pain magnified to infinity. Her jaws opened wide in a wrathful howl and the liquid landed right on her tongue. She yelped and spat, but too late. Marceline smashed her ribs with a fearsome hook, dropping her to her knees. Her legs just sprawled out under her and she sat wobbling for a moment before falling straight on her face, tail sticking up over her back before it too fell limp.
Marceline watched for a moment before sighing and spinning on the teenagers standing behind her. “What the fuck were you thinking!” She grabbed Hazel and Kate by the backs of their shirts, ignoring how both were taller than her to lift them off the ground, even if they could still touch it with their toes. “There was a shelter and you stupid little shits were supposed to be in it! Fucking march!” She shoved them. “Fuck! Cosmina, help me find my fingers first!” She gripped her mangled hand. “And somebody restrain the bitch or I’m breaking her legs!”
Vladimir could only feel worse at that moment, these bees were really persistent... He wasn't in the best condition to perform such an attack like that, otherwise he'll end up in a similar situation like when he summoned fire, with his own temperature dropping in the cold weather.
But he had no other choice. With spear in hand he began to word in both irish and enochian from the inside of the dome made of pentagrams. The words water and fire were written, if the paper bees didn't break for getting soaked at least he could burn them. As the bees fired he stomped the ground with great force with one of his legs and the dome exploded to the outside, swirls of fire and water surrounded him and expanding the most he could.
He took that chance to run away, teleporting the most he could to get away. He needed to find the Master behind the bees, as he ran he noticed there was also a bird and a snake. Paper was the worst in this moment, the temperature in his body was lower, and he began to feel dehydrated... "Keep going! You need to find the caster!"
Feeling herself being let go by the bird, Yamiko grew a large, toothy smile and began turning her body into mist once more. "Hahaha! Can't grab me again, you shitty chicken!" She laughed. Before the mist could be blown away, Yamiko summoned two massive red slabs and clapped her hands together, hoping to completely crush the bird from both sides. Regardless of the result, she managed to spot a figure in the distance. Who the hell was this? Frowning, Yamiko began to fly towards them. "Hey! This fucking bird yours?! If so, where do you want me to shove it; down your throat or up your ass?!"
Kate let out a small 'yip' when Marceline grabbed the back of her shirt and threw her backwards, but quickly got back onto her feet. She frowned in annoyance at the words that followed. "Uh huh. You guys sure had it under control here." The upgrade master rolled her eyes. Grabbing a nearby scarf that had fallen on the floor, Kate walked over to Jen's body and looped the material around her wrists, tying her arms behind her back. She then held her hands on the material for several seconds to make the material far stronger than normal, much harder to get out of without someone untying the knot. Once she was done, Kate walked over and jammed her finger to the middle of Loveline's head.
"And this was HER idea, not mine." Kate gave another poke, and took a position leaning against the wall to wait for Cosmina to help her doll sister.
The bees fired their stingers at Vlad futilely. They could never reach him through the swirling mass of fire and water, and when his dome started expanding, their loss was most assured. A lot of them were soaked and fell into the snow, turning into a mystical mush, like spitballs on the snow. Others were burned by the flames, turning into ash and disappearing into the wind as if they were never there. And a few managed to survive, but the losses they took hurt them. They spun around in confused circles, giving Vlad plenty of time to rush toward their creator.
And rush toward their creator he did. The masked woman standing and observing them from afar was the most obvious suspect, and his suspicions should only be made stronger when Haruko, or the woman who looked like a taller white-haired Haruko, flew over to confront her. --- The snake head bit Ron, but that only led to its demise. His jets burned the paper until there was nothing left. Safe from the snake, Ron propelled himself back toward the hotel. It wasn't exactly as the omnyo woman imagined, but it didn't matter. Her goal was to distract, entrap, and stall the enemy while the mob's forces retreated. If Ron retreated back into the hotel, her goal was still achieved.
Meanwhile, Arthur was running across the top floor of the resort. He'd been finding all the enemies that managed to infiltrate it, cutting them down and tossing them out of the hotel with no regard for their lives. They were child-harming scum and deserved no mercy. So when he finally thought he was done, he was surprised to see something bursting through the roof of the resort. He got ready for a tough opponent, but then he noticed that they were already unconscious. And that it was in fact Ron!
Arthur looked him over quickly. He seemed fairly beat up, but none of his injuries seemed grievous. Still, as far as Arthur could tell, he was tossed through the roof and was unconscious. He definitely needed some medical help. Arthur quickly used a healing spell to make sure he wasn't dying right now, then scooped Ron up and dashed down the stairs. He was far faster than waiting for an elevator would be, and he wanted to get Ron into the infirmary ASAP. --- The bird spread its wings to do precisely what Yamiko expected. But before it could blow her away, it was smashed and flattened. It wasn't killed, of course. It was just paper. It could reform itself. Except Yamiko kept it pressed between her red slabs and carried her over to the onmyo magician. Yamiko taunted the magician, but she only stared back in silence. Then she pulled out three paper talismans and threw them at Yamiko. Two papers caught on fire as they approached her, and the third would start circling around to produce a tornado when it got close, absorbing the flaming talismans to produce a fiery tornado while it sucked Yamiko in if she tried turning into mist. --- Hazel was glad she could help Marceline with freeing her hand, but after it was all complete, Marceline chewed her out. Hazel stared at her feet, ashamed and unable to pretest. She only wanted to protect her sister. Loveline had no problems protesting though.
"We were more useful out here! We helped with the people inside while you handled the ones outside. Until Jenifer transformed into a werewolf... But we could've totally dealt with her on our own!"
"Ahem." Arthur coughed, suddenly behind the group and still carrying Ron. "I thought I sent you girls into the shelter." He looked at the kids gathered before him. "Would someone mind explaining to me what exactly's going on here?" He asked sternly.
Feelingly slightly less courageous when faced with disapproval from both Marceline and Arthur, Loveline's justified their actions more meekly. "We were just helping you... We're all strong, we could definitely help you out, especially since the bad guys came inside while you were all busy outside!"
"And this was HER idea, not mine," Kate said while poking Loveline in the forehead.
"H-hey! We didn't make you come with us!" Love said.
Arthur sighed. "Girls, listen, I know you're strong and capable, but you're still too young to go up against an army. I know combat experience is useful for you all considering how dangerous the Hidden World is in general and I want to give you that, but you shouldn't bite off more than you can chew. Alright, I'm gonna forgive you this time. Even those of you who don't think they should be blamed for going along with it. But..." He looked at Kate and Cosmina. "Let's try not to mention this to your mom if we don't have to. She hates me enough already and I'm starting to think she might have a point here."
He then finally noticed Jenifer passed out on the ground. He recognized her as the woman from the plane. "Hey, is she okay? What happened?"
"Well, uh, we were suddenly attacked by some guys and she protected us. But she got hurt and some other stuff happened and now she's unconscious." Love said, somewhat embellishing the truth.
"She helped you girls out? Guess we're gonna need to thank her then. But first we need to make sure she's okay." Arthur made two stretchers out of ice, placing Ron on one, then picking Jen up and placing her on the other. "Marceline, you're hurt too. We need to get to the infirmary right away to get you lot patched up. You girls seem alright. Go directly to the shelter now. D I R E C T L Y. If I catch you outside again, I'm not gonna be as forgiving."
Ron was stirring. He didn’t know how long he had been out. His armor had dissolved back into his body, freeing up nanobots to fight the poison and heal his wounds. They were pretty close to done. He really needed to pee, but that was a good sign. Meant they had filtered the venom through his kidneys already. He really didn’t want to get up though. He was comfortable. Whoever the dude holding him was, he had a nice build. Lean arms under Ron, sturdy chest to lean into. “Heeeeeey.” He mumbled as his eyes opened. It took him a second to put together that he was being held by the kid who hired them.
“Oh. Put me down.” He struggled out of Arthur’s grip, only to topple the moment his feet touched the ground. “I’m fine.” He moaned from the floor. Marceline glared down at him. “Get me a separate room from this dumbass.” She said, thinking about kicking him but not actually following through. He had broken himself badly enough already. She took a glance at her sister. Cosmina was perfectly silent, walking along with her eyes on her feet.
Marceline just nodded. If she didn’t feel like shit for this, she wouldn’t learn. “Move, kid.” She shoved her sister forth and paused. Jenifer lay still on the ground, body slowly returning to a human form as the power of her potion took hold. “It’s your lucky day, bitch. I don’t need to break your legs.” She grumbled, kneeling to lift Jenifer and take her to the infirmary.
Vladimir noticed the masked woman and the transformed Haruko, so he was out of suspects, he teleported to get closer and in the moment the tornado was formed, with his own magic he formed another one to fight it back. At the same time he summoned pentagrams to allow Yamiko to step on them and get closer to the woman, the other pentagrams formed near the flames to protect her against it. As he left the tornados fight one another, he focused on the woman as well. With spear ready he charged it with electricity and swung it against her.
The lack of response from the woman made Yamiko drum her fingers across her arm with impatience. “What, think you’re too good to speak to me?! Oh I have just the ways to make people squeal…” Yamiko stared at the approaching talismans, flicking her wrist to try knocking them aside with two knife constructs, but they exploded into flames and created a fire tornado around herself. A long, toothy grin spread across the demonic idol’s face when she saw Vlad making his own tornado to counteract the woman’s.
“Myyyyyy, aren’t you a gentleman? But you can get those dirty thoughts out of your head, old man. I don’t do fossils!” She cackled as the fire raged around her. Red eyes now locked upon the masked woman, Yamiko pointed her head downward and shot her body down like a bullet toward her, summoning a massive two handed maroon axe and holding it to the side. “My turn, BITCH!” She yelled, swinging the axe toward the woman’s chest, aiming to cleave her in half. Regardless of the outcome, Yamiko would follow up by summoning a wall of knives to her right and sending them all forward to skewer the woman.
Just when the situation seemed to be calming down, the billionaire owner of this place decided to show up. Kate glanced over at him, listening silently to the others explain the situation and Arthur’s response. “If you say so. Pretty sure mom is gonna find out somehow either way.” Kate shrugged her shoulders. As the group made their way back, Kate held out her palms toward the group.
“Soooooo...I can do a little healing if ya want. Mend tissue and that stuff. Just an offer.” She stated, looking around at the people around. What the heck was out there doing this much damage?
Arthur put Ron down when he demanded so. "You don't look fine," he commented about the man splayed on the floor. "I can give you a shoulder to lean on if you want. Or a stretcher. I can't leave you lying on the floor here." Either way, Arthur wouldn't be taking no for an answer. He needed these people in tip-top shape for the evening.
"Thanks for the offer," he told Kate, "but you're in the bunker right now." He messed up her hair. "Don't worry, we can handle this. Besides, it seems like this whole clash is pretty much over."
Arthur looked out the window, Love and Hazel following his gaze. The attacking mobsters were already in full retreat. Realizing perhaps this would be a good idea to help the younglings with their work ethic, he proposed an idea to Kate. "Actually, if your mom doesn't mind, I think you could help us patch up the hotel before the guests can come back. After we make sure it's really safe. With compensation, of course." --- Yamiko and Vlad joined forces to nullify the miko's fire tornado. She wasn't expecting that, however, Yamiko played right into her hand. The talisman she'd hidden under the snow before activated when Yamiko charged her, raising a protective barrier around the corrupted magical girl. It was more of a prison really. She'd planted 3 of those talismans around her to trap Yamiko, Ron, and Vlad when they got closer as a way of buying time. However, she shikigami did really well in distracting them, the gangster forces already managed a nearly full retreat.
The corner of her face that could be seen under the broken mask curled into a smile and she saluted the two that finally got to her. She pulled out another talisman and ripped it in two, disappeared into thin air as she did so. The paper animals, or what was left of them, followed suit.
The resort went quiet finally. The mess inside and the disaster outside were the only evidence of the fight that went on. Repairing it with magic would take a couple of hours, but afterward, the guests could finally spend some time enjoying themselves. The fighting group as well, a nice break before the final fight.
“I can walk.” Ron groaned. “Get me soda. Doesn’t matter what kind, I need the sugar and the metal. Other food too. Anything will do, but I’m gonna need protein in particular.” He managed to stand and limp along, supporting himself by the wall. Like hell he was gonna rely on anybody else. “I also want food!” Marceline said, skipping ahead to glance at the kitchen area. “...shit. I can wait.” She turned from the half-eaten corpses laying near the kitchen’s entrance. Her hand clapped down over Cosmina’s eyes by sheer instinct. “Marcy?” Her sister asked. “Shut up, you don’t wanna see this.” Marceline nudged her down the hallway. She was too tired to be angry, now. But when she rested, she knew it would come boiling back up. These people would have hurt Cosmina. They were so lucky somebody else got to them first.
“...are you fucking with me?!” Yamiko asked in frustration, seeing the woman disappear along with seemingly the rest of the soldiers. The look of disappointment on her face was clear. “Uuuuuuuuuugh! Whatever, I’m tired of this shit anyway. Bye bye, flasher~” Yamiko waved Vlad on, briefly erupting into white light and reappearing again as Haruko. The seamstress took a step forward in dizziness, trying to see what was going on.
Looking around, Haruko saw the wasteland of bullets and snow before her. “Soooo...I uh, guess I missed all the action?” She asked Vlad, giving a small chuckle. Great, Yamiko got out again. At least nobody innocent seemed to be hurt. Waving on, Haruko motioned for both of them to begin making their way back to the resort.
An audible groan could be heard coming from Kate when Arthur messed with her hair, followed by her hand swatting it away. “Don’t touch my hair. But sure, I can fix stuff. Just tell me where to go after you made sure stuff is...safe, I guess.” Kate didn’t seem to care about that step. Glancing over to Cosmina being shunted around by Marceline, Kate rolled her eyes. That nerd was going to get herself hurt here. Seeing that everyone was busy, Kate grabbed a nearby chair and leaned back against the wall, opening her phone to check her messages.
Vladimir didn't knew how to properly hide the fact that the sudden change in Haruko surprised him, he raised his eyebrows at first just to look away and sigh - At least a part of it... This seems to not be over yet.. - He said as he walked to the resort as well. He needed a drink... maybe take his pills and make sure Maitheas was behaving in his room... Somehow he was already expecting a mess.
Kate was in her rebellious teenager phase already, or at least it seemed that way to Arthur. They grow up so fast… “Well, stick with us for now, that’s the safest place for you. Where you’re going afterwards… That depends on your mom.”
Turning from Kate, the next person whose needs needed tending to was Ron. “Right, soda should be…” He walked into the kitchen and saw the same mess Marceline had. “Uh, I’ll go grab that. And while I’m doing that... “ He took out his phone and called the cleaning crew for the resort. They needed to start getting the resort back in shape. Clearing bodies, fixing any damage made to it, and similar things. With those arrangements made, he rushed over and grabbed a few sodas for Ron. “We’ll get you some proper food as soon as the resort is back in shape. With magic, it should be done in under an hour.”
Since Marceline wasn’t gonna let Cosmina see the inside (nor would Haruko approve of it, despite the fact that the Doll had seen far worse in Marika’s “care”), Loveline hit it with her illusions. They probably didn’t affect her antennas, though Loveline wasn’t entirely sure how to affect those. She didn’t have experience with them herself. Maybe she should… It should be a very interesting sensation. Regardless.
“Cos, Kate, wanna go into the safe zone for a bit now? The movie’s probably almost done, but there are tons of consoles and video games down there. We can have a blast while they fix this place up.”
Finally, Valery Cygnus looked over the carnage outside. It was a costly battle, mostly for the enemy. They got a few shots in on the resort, but the wards protecting it prevented any real damage. Arthur wanted the resort to be as safe as possible, and he clearly managed it, even it somehow hadn’t occurred to him to get better windows. Ah well. At least all of his companions seemed to still be alive. There were two of them now. Val dashed over to them and gave them both a pat on the back.
“You did well. I’m impressed. I definitely wasn’t expecting such a savage showing from someone of your stature and disposition,” she told Haruko. “You as well,” she told Vlad, “You were particularly impressive. Strong despite seeming so decrepit. I need to get to know you a lot better.” She winked at the paladin.
A couple of hours later
The resort was back in operation. Anyone who wasn’t present for the battle would never know it happened. Not a single hole, shard of glass, or speck of blood could be found anywhere and the guests were now milling about like usual, having thoroughly enjoyed the movie they’d watched in the safe room.
Vlad had been reunited with his owl, who was taken underground by an animal-loving guard to avoid scaring the poor animal. Jen was recovering in the infirmary. Arthur and Haruko were nearby, with the latter probably berating the former in hopefully a hushed enough voice not to wake up the patient. Love and Hazel were outside, having dragged Cosmina and Kate out with them to play in the snow before they were probably sent back to the safety of their own home. Ron and Marceline had a chance to eat if they so wanted to.
There was peace for the moment and everyone could do whatever they felt like doing in the snowy paradise. Relaxation was important. Relaxation before the main assault tonight.
“Whatever.” Ron grabbed the sodas and collapsed into the closest booth. “This will have to do for now.” He bit the top off of one can before pouring it down his throat. Marceline came back from marching Cosmina out to take another look. “I’d help clean up, but I really should get the bitch to the infirmary and get my fingers put back on.” She patted Jenifer and took her off, sighing. Cosmina was sticking with Kate now, too awkward after Marceline yelled at her to follow her. It was better that way anyway. Nobody should be stuck with Marceline.
Jenifer’s eyes cracked open. It was difficult to place herself. This wasn’t her room at the hotel. No, she wouldn’t be sleeping in her clothes, and she had already gone to work, she was sure. It took a moment for her memory to become clear. She was… shot! Her body groaned as she sat up, pulling up the gown that covered her to feel her thigh. There was little more than a little mark like a cigarette burn where the bullet had passed through. Even her healing wasn’t that fast. Either she was out for days or magic was involved. Her transformation would help, but not that much.
Her transformation… that got her thinking. She could remember, vaguely, what she did in her lycan form, but it was filtered through the dim mind of her beastly alter ego. She had hurt people. The person who shot her. Her stomach churned at the thought of what she had done to him. Even if he deserved it, the idea that she had lost control, tried to eat another human being. She only had a moment’s notice to jump out of her bed, running over to the trash can to lose her guts in it. If she had any of that man in her stomach, she didn’t anymore. Breathing deep, she flopped back onto the bed, thinking about the other person she fought. Who was she? She seemed to have won that fight. But Jenifer still bit her, carving her fingers clean off. Bile rose in her throat again, but she managed to push it down. She didn’t swallow any fingers. She knew that for sure. She was fine. No fingers. No fingers in her stomach. She ran to the trash can again.
“Couldn’t even beat origami, huh?” Marceline smiled as she shoved three ravioli into her mouth. “It was magic origami and I DID beat it, thank you very much. Chopped it into bits and burned what was left in my engines.” Ron emphatically gestured with his fork before swirling up half a plate’s worth of spaghetti and guzzling it down. “So much effort for paper. I beat the shit out of a werewolf. Check it out, I got my fingers magiced back on.” Marceline wiggled one hand’s fingers, showing off the thin lines that could be seen alongside the stitches if one looked closely enough.
D-Decrepit? - That was a low blow to his confidence, at the point of not even noticing the wink from Valery. He knew he was thin, underweight, his hair turning whiter with each day and annoying wrinkles at the side of his eyes. The form of his eyes didn't help, it always gave a sensation of being extremely miserable, tired and sad... well... that wasn't a lie but still - T-This is just residual... homeless..hood? - He mumbled very softly as he walked inside.
After being told Maitheas was underground, Vladimir thanked immensely the guard and apologized for all the prior troubles both caused, and in case Maitheas behaved badly while he was gone. The owl was perfectly fine,as if these kind of situations were just a daily routine, it was just a troublemaker when it wanted.
It didn't take long for Vladimir to return, he wasn't sure what to do yet. Maitheas was in top of his head, watching everything around them, it seemed it didn't want to cause troubles to its already stressed owner, it wasn't going to be that much of a jerk. The paladin wondered if it was better for him to check out for the injured... but the personal was extremely good, at least that's what he thought.
He still had to regain energy after such a difficult battle, sleeping wouldn't be enough and he- Dammit! He forgot to take his medicine! So it was done, he went to eat something, take his pills and better.
Haruko didn’t appreciate the comment Val made about her being ‘savage’, frowning at the employee. “I will have you know that was NOT me out there, ok? Thank you.” She commented, straightening her jacket and marching forward. Arthur was going to be given hell for everything going on tonight.
After she was done explaining her position to Arthur, Haruko got her children from Loveline and Hazel, Kate letting out a sigh at this vacation having gone completely to hell. The trio soon found themselves at the hotel’s teleport station, Haruko messing with the dials.
“I’m sorry this has kind of been ruined. I’ll take you both somewhere else to ski, ok? Maybe Vaalstand, I hear they have actual ice giants helping out there!” Haruko tried to keep things positive.
“Aw, whaaaaat!?” Cosmina cried. “Come on, we were fine here, right Kate? We even helped stop the werewolf!” Cosmina tugged on her sister’s sleeve. Kate rolled her eyes and pulled her arm away from Cosmina’s.
“And just what are YOU going to do once they come back even stronger? Go along with those two again?” Kate motioned her head back toward the hallway. “You wouldn’t stand a chance, Cos.” She stated.
“Totally would!” Cosmina said, but she trembled. Her hand grabbed the arm across from it and she looked down at the snow. “I uh… sorry Mom. I just… I know you’re mad at Arthur and I thought if you knew I was okay you would be less mad. Are you… still gonna be friends with him?”
Haruko paused at this question. There was a part of her that wanted to say no, to break off this friendship entirely for how stupid and reckless Arthur had been...but they had also been friends for a long time. Could she simply break something off like that?
“Let’s just say we won’t be inviting him to any gatherings for a while, until I decide my answer, ok?” Haruko tried to put it as nicely as possible, setting the teleport gate to the one closest to their house.
“...okay.” Cosmina sniffed. “Can Love and Hazel still come over?” She hesitated by the gate. Kate had already stepped in and was leaning against the back of the teleporter.
“Of course they can, Cosmina.” Haruko gave a friendly smile. “This is just between me and Arthur, you two don’t have to suffer for it. Now, if I’m not home by dark, remember to get to bed on time Kate! And make sure Cosmina doesn’t throw any wild parties, please.”
Kate let out a groan, but waved when Haruko pressed the button to teleport the both of them off this forsaken mountain resort. Cosmina half-smiled and joined her sister in waving before they both vanished.
Arthur snapped his fingers nervously, staring at a floating piece of ice that changed shape in rhythm with the snapping. He let out an exasperated sigh. “Fuuuuuck.” The invasion let him distract himself for a while, but that was over now. He really fucked up. He figured this would be a neat vacation for everyone, with added asskicking and good deed doing to spice it up, and now he was on thin ice with Haruko. Or would a thin lava cover be more fitting for him? Regardless, it was bad. He needs to figure out a way to make up for this fuck-up. But that will take time. There are other matters he has to attend to right now.
Making the ice disappear, he went over to the infirmary door and knocked politely before going inside. Good, she was back on her feet again. Figuratively speaking. Jen hastily grabbed up kleenex to wipe her face before turning. “Oh! Sir! I, uh.” She didn’t mind the fact she was in a sheer gown overmuch, but she was damp all over with sweat, her hair a mass in her face.
“Are you okay? Should I call the nurse?” Arthur offered. “I’ve got more tissues if you need them.”
“If you don’t mind me asking, sir, I could actually use some damp towels.” Jen tried to get her hair out of her face and failed when it stuck to her wet skin.
“Hah, of course I don’t mind.” Arthur said, going to fetch the towels. “My daughters said you helped them out when they were in a bind. I owe you more than some towels.”
“I’m not sure I did, but I’m glad they’re okay.” Jenifer looked around the room for a place of privacy, but there really wasn’t any. “Please hand them through the door.” She asked and Arthur did so. She was glad to discard the sticky gown, quickly running the towels over her body until she didn’t make her own nose wrinkle. Her own clothes were on the counter, and she wiggled back into them as quickly as she could so as not to make Arthur wait. Damn. She still looked rough. No makeup, hadn’t shaved. She gave visible hairs a quick yank and wiped her face again to quell the sting before emerging.
“Thank you for that, sir. Now tell me, why was I attacked by gunmen in your hotel?” Sweet southern charm vanished, and Jenifer set her lips in a stubborn pout that wasn’t quite as cute when she leaned over him, looking like she might hit him if she didn’t like the answer.
Arthur wasn’t sure how he was supposed to feel about attempted intimidation from one of his employees, especially one that was just in a hospital bed. But that too was his fault. Man, he really fucked up with this plan… “Well, you see…” He started. “It turns out child traffickers don’t like it when you interrupt their child trafficking. They retaliated harder than expected. Though all the guests and staff were supposed to be sent to the safe room, it seems you somehow slipped through. That seems to be a strange habit of yours.” He remembered how she ended up on the wrong plane when they were traveling here. “But I suppose that’s just destiny when you’re part of the hidden world.”
“Child… what?” Jenifer blinked and her hard exterior was totally broken. “I’m not gonna believe that just on your word… but I’m glad you didn’t waffle there. Actually answered that question.”
“Hm, I can’t exactly show you the kids. Privacy and safety, I’m sure you understand. But I can take you to the guys who helped. They can vouch for me.” Who would be good for that? Usually he’d say Haruko, but… Maybe steer clear of her for now, if he wants to show his good side. “Right, I think Marceline said she’d be at the bar.”
"The bar? Am I still on duty, sir?” Jenifer half-smiled.
“Only if you keep calling me sir. Arthur’s fine.” He smiled back.
“Alright then, Arthur. Let us visit the bar.” She led the way, knowing the kitchen. It wasn’t far, just a minute’s walk, and it was soon in view. Marceline sat alone at the bar, a few glasses already at her side while she waved for another. Arthur suddenly questioned if maybe he didn't pick the best person for the interrogation. Maybe he should've taken Jenifer to Vlad...
“And I shouldn’t, right? But like, fuck. Fuck today. Fucking fuckers. I didn’t, I couldn’t stay out there, you get me? They had flamethrowers. Fucking, you know, I’m not a coward.” She was babbling to the bartender.
“She’s a bit drunk for a source. Wait, did she mention flamethrowers?” Jen glanced at Arthur.
“Yeah, flamethrowers and rocket launchers and superpowers,” he said, distracted by Marceline’s state. “You’re right though, she’s quite drunk. And from what I know, she’s trying to stop doing that. Let’s have a chat with her, okay?”
“Oh no, a relapse?” Jenifer sat down next to Marceline. “Uh… hello. Mind if I drink? I heard you’re trying not to.”
“Trying. Failing.” Marceline downed another half a cocktail. “What the fuck do you care? Drink away.”
“One mai tai, then.” Jenifer asked the bartender and sighed. That would probably put a dent in her pocketbook… but she needed it. “I just wanted to know something about what happened here. Arthur told me some things, but well, I wanted another source.”
“You don’t trust Arthur but you trust me? You’re fucked up. Or just stupid. Another of these things!” Marceline waved her glass at the bartender.
“Alright, no need to be rude to anybody, sugar. Especially not the bartender. He’s already up late looking out for you.” Jenifer put a hand on Marceline’s, noticing it was cold in the second before she yanked it away. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to intrude.”
“Don’t touch me and shut up. I’ll tell you what happened. Arthur got us all warmed up with a nice vacation and then had us go fight some kiddy diddlers when we were too ingratiated to say no. And like… I wouldn’t have said no anyway. Fuck ‘em, right?” Marceline put her head on the counter and closed her eye. “Just… when they came here for revenge, they had flamethrowers. And I don’t like ‘em. I could have… whatever, you got what you wanted, fuck off, alright?”
“Okay, thank you.” Jen was glum as she retreated from the bar back to Arthur. “I… believe you. But now I’m worried about her. I wanna help her, cause she’s hurting, and she ain’t allowed to hurt for trying to do good.”
Huh, he wasn’t expecting her to suddenly have an american accent. A southern one, specifically. But he pretended not to have noticed. “We agree there. I don’t really have experience with alcoholics though so I’m not sure how to help exactly. Any ideas?”
“Never coped with alcohol, just other things. But I had a counselor, so I know a little about this.”
“I could have the barkeep cut her off, but I don’t think she’ll be pleased by that option,” Arthur offered.
“Nah, do it. Short term problem. We’ll talk her down after.”
“Here goes nothing.” Arthur went over to the bar, put a hand between Marceline and her next glass. “I think she’s had enough for today. “ The barkeeper nodded and took away the glass.
“What the fuck!?” Marceline turned to glare at Arthur, but Jenifer got in the way.
“You’re hurting yourself.” She said.
“You’re going to regret this later, I’m sure.” Arthur added. “Hate me now if you want. But flamethrowers or not, I owe you a lot now. Stopping you from hating yourself isn’t gonna make up for it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.”
“You owe me extra for the flamethrowers.” Marceline complained. “I close my eye and I see fire and I can’t stop seeing it! What the hell else is there for me but to drink until I pass out!? It’s the only way I get a fucking break!”
“There’s a kitchen right here, Marceline. The chefs are gone, but with the owner’s permission, I can make you something. We can sit down over a meal and talk about things.” Jenifer said softly.
“And what the fuck makes you think I want to talk to you?” Marceline growled, looking dangerously close to throwing a glass at Jenifer’s head.
“You need to talk to somebody. Stewing in your thoughts isn’t doing you any good.” Jenifer left a pause in the conversation.
“...fish and chips. And Arthur, you can stay too. And I want a desert, chocolate moose!” Marceline almost smiled for a second.
“Absolutely, sugar! It’ll only be a minute now, so pick a seat, you’ve got the whole house to yourself! Help me out, Arthur.” Jenifer walked to the kitchen, waving to her boss as she ordered him to come with her.
“On my way,” Arthur followed the chef, glancing at the bartender to make sure Marceline couldn’t sneak behind to get some booze. “Well, this is progress,” he said when they were in the kitchen. “Especially since she didn’t rip our arms off yet.”
“The night is young, she still has time.” Jenifer grinned as she closed the door. “I don’t actually need help, I just wanted to talk. This isn’t over, is it?”
“Marcy’s drinking?” Arthur asked, confused.
“Your fight with these people. The ones who attacked the hotel.” Jenifer began boiling the oil and prepared some slices of fish. “They’re not done, are they?”
"I'd say it's more like we're not done with them. We stopped their convoy, but now we need to strike at their headquarters." Arthur had a feeling he knew where this was going.
“Then I want to come with you.” Jenifer looked up from the oil. “I’m not just a lycanthrope, I’m a Gateway graduate. I know magic and I can use a weapon. If this is happening, I’m not standing by.”
As he expected. "Hey, I can’t say no when you’re asking so nicely. Especially since you already showed you can fight. Welcome aboard." Walking through the hallways, Haruko’s brow was furrowed as she recounted the events of today. “You have got to be kidding me…” She told herself, thinking of how Arthur had put her kids in danger knowingly. Both of them were safe now, but that left the rest of these kidnappers to deal with. Remembering how Yamiko had already come out, Haruko’s expression darkened. Could she even transform safely at all at this point?
“Hi, Haruko.” Hazel said shyly, snapping the seamstress out of her thoughts. She went looking for Haruko before, but she wasn’t sure what to say now that she was here. Looking up, Haruko’s expression quickly snapped back to her normal pleasant smile.
“Oh, hi Hazel. Did you need something?” The seamstress asked, putting her hands together.
“I wanted… To see how you’re doing. Are you still mad at dad?” Hazel asked. Haruko stared on, considering her response. Hazel shouldn’t get her anger here, but should she really try to lie about this? “I am doing...ok. Both Cosmina and Kate are back home safe now, so I can focus on this fully. How are you holding up with all…” Haruko waved her hand out toward the window, near where the battle took place.
“I’m fine.” Hazel smiled. “Dad is reckless. And sometimes very stupid. But there’s no way he’d let any of us get hurt. I just wanted to let you know… He wouldn’t have let Cosmina and Kate get hurt either. You know he can’t do that.” She said, touching her fingers nervously.
Haruko considered this statement. Sure, Arthur wouldn’t want to hurt her kids...but he’s also a reckless idiot who probably didn’t think about their safety when making this operation. “I want to believe you, Hazel. But I’ll have to figure that out for myself when this is all over. Where is everyone else at, by the way?”
Hazel pulled out a black butterfly and look at it for a second. “Love’s walking around the hotel, near where that strong old magic man is. We’re here. And dad and the others are apparently at the bar. Should we meet up with them?”
“I would say that’s a great idea. Want to walk me there?” Haruko asked, taking one long strike in that direction and looking back at the obsidian girl trying to keep pace with her. Hazel hoped she at least managed to help Haruko calm down a little bit. She didn’t want Haruko being angry at her dad. She wanted her family safe and happy, no matter what.
As Hazel said, Loveline was wandering around the hotel, checking how well it was repaired. With Cos and Kate gone now, she couldn’t exactly hang out with her friends. And since Hazel went off to talk to Haruko, she couldn’t hang out with her sister. It wasn’t like she didn’t want to help Haze, she just thought anything she said could make it worse instead of better. So she just wandered.
And in this wandering, she ran into Vladimir. “Hi!” she said. “You’re that cool paladin. Thanks for helping Arty with this whole problem. I hope you have enough time to have some fun between all these messes.” She smiled sweetly.
“Oh, are you going to eat something?” she asked. “I’ll take you to the restaurant! It’s faster than looking at a map.”