Intermission 1: The Dove's Nest

A low rumble of thunder echoed out among the abandoned streets. The windows that dotted the tall, dark brick buildings were darkened, and a single streetlamp flickered rhythmically to the soft pattering of rain. Among the uniform skyline a spire suddenly jutted up much higher than the other rooftops around it, although the building itself was a squat little thing. It was pushed back at the far end of a narrow cul-de-sac, and seemed to have been erected a long time before the surrounding town, as if the rest of the community had merely popped up around the forgotten structure. Boards were haphazardly nailed against the windows and front door, from which one could hear the whistling of wind through the drafty rooms inside.

A tall, lone, male figure cloaked in a trench coat trudged along the sidewalk, seemingly anxious to get to shelter. He turned up the collar with a shiver and glanced both ways before crossing the empty street and squeezing his way down the alley to the ancient building. The figure paused for a moment, admiring the artwork carved into the side of the exterior stone walls that depicted gracious gods on the upper half, and malicious demons on the bottom. He chuckled to himself as he stretched out his hand to gently trace the figures with his fingertips, which were now wrinkled from walking so long in the rain. A sudden crack of thunder shook him from his trance, and he walked around to the back of the building.

On the other side, it was as if it were a whole different world. Lights shone brightly from every window and streetlamp, and people swarmed the streets, making it nearly impossible for any type of transportation to get through. Women wore flashy dresses with frilly umbrellas that were practically useless, and their men followed suit, faces flushed and giggling like children. Bands with mixtures of instruments one would never dream of sounding good together drunkenly played on every corner, creating a cacophony of sound that drowned out any noise softer than yelling. Every shop had its doors thrust open to the public, creating a never-ending wave of people entering and exiting. However, the back entrance to the spire led into a quiet pub, with its doors closed and only a soft glow emanating from the windows. It seemed quite out of place, with the intricate carvings and completely different architecture style from the whole town surrounding it.

As another flash of lightning stretched across the sky coupled with a crack of thunder, the figure looked up to see an obviously hand carved sign hanging from two rusted chains outside of the door with the words "The Dove's Nest" scrawled across it. He knocked softly before entering, and a little tinkling of a bell rang out signaling his arrival. The barkeeper shouted out his welcome without even looking up. The figure removed his trench coat and hat to place on the coat rack before turning to survey his surroundings inside the pub.

The inside looked like it might have at one point been some sort of preparation or storage room of a church, as it was quite small with poor lighting. Vaulted ceilings stretched up into the darkness, with no sign of them ending. The walls were a mixture of plaster and stone, which wasn't the best material to keep out the moisture from the rain. Buckets were scattered around the place to catch the little droplets that dripped through the holes in the ceiling. The bar itself was small, with only five barstools lined up along it, and there were about eight or so small tables scattered about in no particular fashion, although it looked like no one had ever sat in them. There were multiple hallways that led deeper into the building, although all of them except for the one behind the bar were darkened. There weren't many other customers inside the bar besides himself, only two women. One of the women had long red hair tied tightly in a braid, and sat near the bartender as they quietly conversed. She wore a black trench coat with the collar popped up, which she peered over when the figure entered, causing the black eyepatch over her left eye to become visible.

The other woman was the most beautiful person he had ever seen. She was dressed very finely in a cocktail dress framed beautifully by her long dark brown curls, donned with pearls, and wore very tall high heels. She sat at a table placed at the opposite end of the entrance, so she could see anyone who entered. She also stole a curious glance of him over the newspaper she was casually reading as she sipped her brightly colored drink.

"What can I get for you?" the bartender who looked far too young to be running this kind of establishment asked with a kind smile.

"Surprise me," the figure said with an attempted hidden smile that twisted his mouth a bit unnaturally. The barkeeper sighed and set down the glass and dish rag he was using onto the counter as he began to mix the drink.

"Fin," the woman with the red braid coldly greeted the figure without turning away from her glass of brown liquor that she spun quietly in her hand, the clinking of the chunk of ice echoing throughout the room.

"Christmas," Fin replied with a smirk. "Or do you prefer Detective Lancaster? I've always wondered that. Honestly, Sammy, you should stop letting these sniffers hang around our hideouts." The barkeeper whipped his head around and glared at Fin. "Woah there, it was just a joke. I forget how much you just love your big sister," Fin giggled. Sammy slammed the drink down at the bar and held out his hand expectantly. "Alright, alright. What do you want to know?" Fin conceded.

"What is The Bootstraps' next move?" Sammy asked as he tenderly traced the edge of the glass with one of his fingertips.

"Okay, fair enough. We got a call that things didn't go as planned last time, and we have to go fix it. Apparently we weren't supposed to dump a certain body out in the woods, and now we have to go get it. Happy?" Fin held out his hand as if to make a peace offering. Only after making him wait for a moment, Sammy shook it and handed Fin his drink. Fin grabbed a newspaper from the pile sitting on the bar and plopped down at a table near the other woman.

Fin knew he only had to wait a moment for an additional expected guest to arrive before Sammy called out, "Get out of the doorframe, you creep. You're scaring away the customers."

A familiar chuckle echoed throughout the room from a set of pearly white teeth, ones that somehow gleamed even in the darkness, as the silhouette of a man leaning against the wall of one of the empty hallways became slowly defined. "Aw, come on Sammy boy. I know you've been anxiously awaiting a visit from me."

"The usual, Deuces?" Sammy asked, not responding to Deuces' sly comment. He nodded as he moved across the room and plopped into the barstool next to the woman with the red braid, who shifted slightly away in response.

"Have you dug up anything good these days, Detective?" Deuces asked as he leaned back in his seat.

"That's classified information," she said in a bored tone, as if this wasn't the first time she had to give that answer to him.

"Oh, come on, Detective, it's all in good fun. What kind of information brokerage would this be if you didn't trade information when you came in?" Deuces chuckled as he nudged her ribs gently with his elbow.

"Well, Deuces, what information do you have that's relevant to me?" Detective Lancaster demanded, a cold look glinting in her eyes as she whipped her head around so she was only a few inches from Deuces' face, who leaned back at the sudden proximity before smirking and leaning in as if to kiss her. She smacked him before growling, "Honestly, you are such a pain."

"Wow, Detective, I would have never thought you would flirt so openly like that. Maybe you're finally realizing you have feelings for me?" he smirked as he began to play with her long braid that stretched down her back.

Sammy slammed down Deuces' drink in front of him. "Did you come here for something? Or just to flirt with my big sister?" Sammy grumbled as he glared at Deuces.

"Well, I do have some valuable information for my darling broker in exchange for some seriously important news in return. Plus a message to pass on to my dearest lover, Morgrem." Fin's eyes suddenly flicked from the newspaper he was pretending to be absorbed in to the obnoxious figure at the bar, who had, at this point, leaned so far back in the stool that he was staring at Fin upside down. He grinned and let out a childish giggle before jolting upright again.

"You know how it works. Tell me your information and I'll see if it's equal in value to what you want to know," Sammy muttered as he methodically began wiping another glass.

"Oh please, boy, I was the one who taught you how to be a broker, don't act so cool with me," Deuces rolled his eyes. "But that's unimportant. My news is pretty earthshattering, honestly. Even I was shocked when I saw her. The Boss couldn't believe it, good ol' Seven nearly cried after seeing her." Deuces glanced around with a smirk to see the reaction of his audience. Fin had completely set his paper to the side at this point, the other customer merely lowered hers, and both Sammy and the detective leaned in, eyes wide and eager. "Muiren is currently fighting in the arena. But something's…off. She doesn't remember anything."

"What do you mean, she doesn't remember anything?" Sammy murmured, his eyes growing wide.

"I mean, she doesn't remember her identity, or any of us. That's why Seven nearly cried. She didn't even remember him of all people." Deuces said as he sipped his flamboyantly colored drink, which somehow suited him.

"Wow, yeah, that is uh, earthshattering," Sammy whispered as he became increasingly focused on wiping the glass in his hands.

"So, in return for that bit, I want to know what The Bootstraps' next move is," Deuces said with a smirk.

Sammy furrowed his eyebrows. "Seriously? But you never come here for that kind of information, and you need to be more careful," he murmured as he nervously glanced at Fin and the other customer.

"Come on, Sammy. I know my own risks."

"Alright, alright, fine. I just heard from a confirmed source that their last course of action didn't go as planned, and my source mentioned something about there being a body in the woods they had to recover," Sammy said, making sure to keep his voice low, even though he was clearly audible across the silent bar.

"Good, good. Oh, right, for my sweetheart Morgrem, I have a message for him. Tell him I'm going to fetch Muiren from the arena so she won't die, and she will be delivered to his home for midnight tea right on the dot, so don't be late. Also, be sure to take care of her, okay?" he said with a wink. He glanced over at Fin, who had picked up his paper again, but was crumpled in his fists on either side of the page. A grin spread across Deuces' face as he turned towards the door. "Oh yeah, Sammy, you should stop letting detectives hang around an information broker. I know she's your precious sister, but if you want more customers you're going to have to make that sacrifice. Oh, also, your alcohol isn't complete shit anymore. Keep up the good work," he said with a wave as the bell tinkled to signal his departure, however his figure was long gone before the door clanked shut.

"Hey, Fin, er, Morgrem, I have a message for you," Sammy chuckled as he began to rinse out Deuces' mostly full drink.

"Don't even go there Sammy," Morgrem grumbled as he tried to hide his blushing face behind the paper.

"Wow, who knew you would get so flustered from a little flirting with Deuces," Sammy teased.

"Shut up, Sammy. At least I don't have a thing for my sister," Morgrem growled, his voice dripping with sarcasm. He glanced over at the woman sitting adjacent to him, and saw that she was peering over the edge of the paper at him, expressionless. When their eyes met, she slowly turned her attention back towards her paper.

"I can't believe Deuces is going to make me take care of this girl in the first place. Muiren isn't even my problem. If anything, I should be handing her over, not serving her tea," Morgrem murmured to himself. "Ah, geez, I have to get going anyways. Damn him. First sending me company that shouldn't even be welcome, and now expecting me to get all the way home when I can't even teleport unlike a certain somebody."

"Hey, crazy. Stop whispering to yourself and get going. You wouldn't want to miss seeing your boyfriend, right?" Detective Lancaster winked teasingly.

"That guy is definitely not my boyfriend. Oh, and Sammy, just friendly advice here, you shouldn't let detectives hang around an information broker. It looks bad. You want more customers, right? Take care, kiddo," Morgrem said as he put on his jacket and hat before ducking back out into the rain.

"Hey, sis, don't ever date Deuces or Morgrem, okay? They piss me off," Sammy muttered as he brought the glass Morgrem left on his table behind the bar to clean.

"Oh, please, little bro. Even though they helped us out, I still want to punch both of them in the face," the detective replied, pushing a strand of red hair behind her ear.

"Thank you for the drink, Sammy," the woman said as she stood up from the table and moved towards the exit.

"No problem, Siona. I'm in no position to say this, but please get Muiren back soon," Sammy said quietly.

"Of course, that's the whole point. All of this will be pointless unless we do," Siona said with a sad smile.

Meanwhile, as Muiren's name echoed throughout the colosseum to be the next contender in a fight to the death, Deuces felt a grin tugging at his lips as he whispered to himself, "Oh, my dear Miss Muiren, you will be too much fun."