A/N: Happy Halloween guys! This was my lame lame surprise xD.
Unknown Time After Departure
"Is everyone here now?Can we start?"
The calm voice rings out across the mostly empty school field. At 12.00 Midnight, the back field of Abraham High School is playing host to an odd and powerful collection of individuals.
On the moonlit fields, a seemingly young male with a white collar shirt and twinkling glasses stands in the center. Surrounding him are a host of different beings: some shadowy, some light, some big, some large. All of them are waiting for the young male to continue speaking.
"Yes, just start already! We don't have all night here!" A booming voice calls light-heartedly. But despite its tone, every individual in that field tenses up. The voice is filled with a magnitude of raw power that resonates with each syllable; it is almost as if the person's very existence eludes to magical might.
"Yes, very well then." The young male pushes up his glasses, and casts a quick magic to enhance his voice.
"Greetings! Thank you all for showing up, for those of you that have! We realize that it is an 'oddity' with-in the Ritus to call an assembly of participants at any time of the festivities. However, we have quite the 'odd' situation on our hands, and we appreciate your understanding in the matter! We realize that you may be giving up valuable information just by showing your presence here, and so we completely agree with the majority of you sending ambassadors, apparitions, or half-entities to obtain the information on your behalf."
The group of individuals look around each other once more. It is hard to get an exact count of the number of people who have showed up. Many of them are just abstract shadows, blending and sifting through the field. One hulking shadow seems to be sitting on mid-air. A large greyhound and various other animals are walking around the field as well. But the group is almost certain they are participants too, what with the way the greyhound is staring intently at the young male. There's even a guy who's invisible, though only the weaker of the group cannot detect him.
In fact, there's only one person amongst the group who actually seems to be there as himself: a teenaged male of about 19. Dressed in a winter jacket, the one thing that stands about him in the moonlit evening is his shocking white hair.
"Get on with it! What are we all here already!" That particular male is the next to speak up, urging on the proceedings. Point of fact, the male has done a rather dangerous thing. Unlike the man who spoke before him, his voice is just a regular voice. Except now he's drawn attention to himself. But if the stares of the shadows and animals phase him, he doesn't show it.
" Yes, very well then. As I was saying, we have an odd situation at hand. One of the 30 participants of the VotumRitus, our most sacred ritual, has broken one of the laws of the competition. The offender has left this city, the designated field of battle."
The field erupts into a buzz of speculation. Though the shadows are enemies to one another, they take this temporary truce-like situation to discuss the revealed information. The animals chatter amongst themselves in some unknown language; no doubt the magus' on the other end of the animal are discussing animatedly among themselves. Finally, a voice from the shadows calls out.
"Who is it?" The voice is quickly joined by a few others.
"Yes Atticus, tell us who it is! Surely someone who's broken a rule doesn't need secrecy!"
"What's their rank!"
"Who are they associated with?"
"And how are you going to punish them?"
The young male named Atticus lets the questions take their course, and then proceeds to answer simply.
"The offender in question is the one ranked 30th: Mark Chen."
More buzz and more chatter. But amongst the conversation, one word emerges with increasing frequency.
To many of them, the name Mark Chen has no other meaning, except as a footnote to one of their most dangerous opponents: the girl ranked 10th.
The girl who is currently not in this field, despite the invitation extended to her.
"Where is that Alistross girl! Is she here?"
"Yes, where has she gone! Does that mean they are no longer contracted! Or did she leave the city as well?"
Atticus has no comment. Apparently giving out information on someone who has not infracted the rules is something he will not do. And the individuals present are in no position to force the information out of him, as of that moment. The only question is how many of them will realize these two things.
"That concludes my introduction to the situation. Now, as this is a serious infraction of Ritusrules, it is the duty of us the 'Historians' to hand out suitable punishment to the offender. We have decided...(a short pause here)...to allow Mark Chen to continue participating in the Ritus should he return to the city before a winner is decided."
More chatter. The tone is increasingly angry now though.
"What are you guys thinking..."
"...how is that punishment!...Going to let him get away with all this!..."
"...Demand a rectification of justice..."
Atticus claps twice, releasing a sonic wave to silence all conversation. Then, he continues.
"However, we have created two stipulations that we believe you will all find fair. Mark Chen will only be considered a viable participant, if, at the moment of his return, there are still at least 9 additional competitors in the Ritus (not including him). In addition, we will give out one bottle of dragon scale elixir to the party that kills Mark Chen."
The last sentence gave way to complete silence in the group. No one could believe what they had just heard.
"Did you just say...dragon's elixir? For killing some kid ranked the 30th?" A young female voice asks hesitatingly from the crowd.
"Like, serious, real dragon elixir?" Another voice from the shadows.
"Yes. Real dragon's elixir. A legendary concoction composed of the venom and fang, scale and tail-end, tooth and bone of a dragon, all boiled by a flame lit from the lungs of a elder dragon. The amount of we are giving out will give immortality for an hour, genius for a day, and increased physical health as well as healing all disabilities for life." Atticus smiles as he presents the prize to the crowd gathered, knowing that the majority of them would be entranced by this offer.
After all, with a day's worth of dragon elixir, your chances of winning the Ritus suddenly went way up.
"Well, that's what this meeting is about. Keep those conditions in mind. And we hope you enjoy the rest of the evening." With a flourish and a bow, Atticus turns around and disappears into a portal that appeared at the end of the field.
The shadows quickly disassemble into the darkness. The animals scatter, their minds returned to them by their Magus controllers. With the temporary peace provided by a 'Historian's' presence gone, the individuals who made up the collective group that was on this field become enemies once more.
After the Meeting
All that remains on the field is the young male with the shocking white hair. Hands in his pockets, the male slowly and leisurely makes his way off the field. Taking his time, and whistling a nameless tune, he walks from the back field to the front of the school, and starts on the road to who knows where.
The male slaps at his neck where he just felt a small prick. Feeling an odd protrusion, he pulls away his hand. In his palm is a small, almost imperceptible needle and vial.
"I'm sorry, but I'm afraid you've run out of luck," the charismatic voice of a business man rings out from the darkness.
From around the corner, the figure of Dave Roland strolls into view.
"Out of luck...hehehe. HAHAHA! That's hilarious, it really is." With a menacing smile, the boy with white hair laughs to a joke only he understands.
"Hohoho. You really don't understand what's just happened, do you?" The business man responds in kind with a jovial laugh of his own.
"No, not really. How about you explain it then, old man?"
"Very well," Dave responds, a serene smile still on his face. "You've been injected with a projectile, field-tested weapons version of Clenso-55, our personal "anti-magics" formula. The formula destroys every magical link that your body, mind, and soul has with 'Gaia', thereby making you a completely normal human being. In other words, you can no longer perform magic, making you a sitting duck here, at 1 AM in the morning on a dark street."
As he concludes his explanation of the boy's predicament, Roland uncharacteristically pulls out a gun from his side.
"Why, I could even kill you using such mundane methods as a regular handgun. I don't even need to resort to magic to kill a boy like you." Pointing the gun at the boy, Roland pauses at what he sees.
The boy is standing in front of him, his face still smiling. His hands are back in the pockets of his white winter jacket. Seeing Roland pause, the boy finally replies.
"What's that?" Not comprehending his two words, Roland has to ask.
"This chemical formula of yours...sounds like it's being mass produced in some lab somewhere. Well, what do you think your margin of error is; that is, your defect rate? Even the best car manufacturers in the world have something like a 0.5% defect rate annually. I wonder...what's yours?"
Roland's eyes narrow, trying to decipher what is being said by the boy in front of him. "What are you trying to say?"
The boy lets out a howling laugh that echoes throughout the dark night.
"What I'm saying, old man, is that you hit me with a dud. This little needle here? It didn't do anything to me. A defect. What are the odds eh?" Throwing the needle to the ground, the boy stomps it with vigour. Truthfully, it doesn't seem like anything has changed with the boy.
"A...defect? Are you kidding me? You think I'd believe that? All the products that come out of my labs are personally screened and micro-tested by a team micro-testers! There's no way there are defects!" Roland carefully defends his process.
"So, what you think that there's never been, not even once, since your manufacturing started, that a guy up and went to the washroom, and forgot his place? Or that he was too tired that day to finish the last count? Or that someone mixed a vial here, or a box there. Sure, you might think that your processes can eliminate 99 % of the possible errors, but can you reallybe certain that you've reached 100% defect-free production?" The youth with white hair lays out a compelling argument with arms outstretched in a mocking fashion.
"Heh. You're bluffing. You expect me to believe that out of analmost 100% non-defect rate, I just happen to hit you with the one defect?" Roland raises the gun to body level, and aims at the boy's chest.
"You don't have to believe me." The boy gives an uncaring shrug. He is apparently un-phased by the firearm pointed towards him.
"By the way-did you know that that type of handgun has a chance of misfiring?"
The trigger is pulled. But no bullet is released. A small puff of smoke and a cracking sound is released from the cartridge section of the handgun.
"Misfire!" With disbelief in his eyes, Roland stares at the gun in his hand.
The boy in white moves instantly, not wasting even a single moment of this precious distraction. Closing the distance between the two of them, his hand emerges from his coat pocket with a Swiss army knife.
The flip of his finger brings out the cutting, sharp portion of the knife. With a smooth movement, he stabs the knife into Roland's neck.
"Major blood vessel. Score." The boy quickly leaps back to admire his handiwork.
"Gurggrhghg", Unable to react at all, and with blood spewing from his mouth and neck, Dave Roland falls to the floor.
The whole movement, from misfire to death, had taken under 10 seconds. Though the boy hadn't moved at any inhuman speed, his reflexes were certainly not bad. And his ability to manipulate the advantages in the situation were admirable.
Then a curious thing happened: the body of Dave Roland disappeared, crumbling into dust. Even the blood faded, wafting away like sand in the wind.
"Tsk, a dust replicate, really? How lame." Accepting the situation for what it is, the boy with shocking white hair walks over, picks up and pockets his Swiss army knife. Brushing his hands on the sides of his coat, and blowing on them for warmth, he continues his walk down the dimly lit public street. At 1.15 AM in the morning, in the pitch black darkness of a night, the boy calls out a random declaration to nobody.
"What are the odds that he'll try to kill me again before the end of the month, eh?"
In the high-rise building that serves as the Historians' base of operations, a group of Historians greet Atticus upon his return.
"So, how'd the meeting go? Anyone try to bite your head off bud?" That would be Arnold, already lying on the sofa near the center of the room.
"No, it was extraordinarily peaceful, all things considered. You were right by the way, Alistross didn't show up." Taking a much needed breather, Atticus sits down on of the chairs in front of a moniter.
"Well, of course! Who would try anything in front of a Historian?" The giggling of a little girl as she speaks from the beanie chair in the corner. She seems to be reading a sort of gag manga.
"Not to mention the 'prize' we're offering for this whole deal is insane. They must have been drooling at the mouth when you mentioned dragon elixir."
"Indeed, that did seem to light up their appetites. They were much more agreeable with the terms once they figured out what could be in it for them."
"But...you do realize that what you're doing is essentially extending the Ritus, right? After all, the top players will hesitate to start an all-out war now, knowing they have to keep at least 9 competitors alive to claim the dragon elixir."
"I assure you that was not my intention." Atticus gives a curt response. His tone is even and controlled. But...
"Hehehe. Sure you're not playing favourites, Atti?" The little girl's nickname for Atticus comes out from her question.
"Of course not."
"Whatever, let him have his fun. The boy is only ranked the 30th, after all." The voice of an older female, previously unseen in Historian headquarters. A young woman in her early to mid 20s with short auburn hair.
"What harm can he do?"
"Shivs, you ready for your trip?" Arnold's stands up from the couch and walks over.
"How many times do I have to tell you, don't call me that!" The woman gives an irritated glare towards him. However, mixed into it is the hint of a smile.
"Like I said, I just can't stand the fact that your name is 'Shiva' and you're not Indian. It just ain't right."
"My parents migrated here from the Fey lands. They named me after one of the gods of this world to tie down my spirit." The woman fingers the rosary beads around her wrist.
"So this will be like a trip back to the homeland for you, right?" Giving her a light punch on the shoulder, Arnold gives a concerned smile.
"Finding Mark Chen amongst the many dimensions of the Fey is going to be an enormous task. The Night Princess hides her domain with the most impregnable of defences. Without HQ here to relay to, I wouldn't even try it...but seeing as how we have his bio-signature for the Ritus..." The woman gives out an answer completely unrelated to the question.
"Aww, just admit it. You're dying to get a chance to see where your parents were born."
The woman trembles for a second, then flashes a smile. "Alright, yes. There's some of that feeling too."
"Atta girl." With that, Arnold envelops her in a bear hug, and then steps back to allow Atticus to finish his preparations.
Atticus pulls up the keyboard, and punches in a complicated set of instructions. Then in a loud, clear voice, he shouts,
"Boundary Field Persona: Destination FEY 101"
In the center of the room, a crackling blue portal appears from seams in the air. The woman in her early 20s, so recently introduced, quickly takes her leave. Stepping into the portal, she waves backwards to her comrades, and disappears.
"Commencing Operation: Slave Hunt."