This took awhile. And for those that are still with me. The next chapter might take longer. I'm experimenting if I should lower my word count to keep pace and lessen the squirreling of story points. Things added will be used later, but I'm debating if they come in too soon or I delve too deeply into it. I'm not sure right now.
But, Enjoy the chapter and I'll see you next time. Hopefully with a chapter that is of higher quality. My hand won't put down what I have in my head on command.
"No, no no no no. Nothing but a failure. What did I do wrong?"
She tried, but couldn't speak a word. Grunts and weak growls were all she could do, tightly bound on a cold flat table. Dim lighting emitted a warm yet deceptively inviting glow to the dark room. Chains grated at her ears, while chafing metal strips dug into her wrists and ankles, keeping her from getting up.
What really felt odd to her was how she felt throughout all of it. Nothing; her emotions, her sense of personal thought, everything was gone. She didn't feel disturbed by the room or her situation, the man whose face was overshadowed by darkness emitted no response, nothing but disdain from within herself either.
"Fiend, an Ogre. An abomination that shouldn't exist." The spark from a whetstone showed her the shine of a blade, a finger gracing the edge to check its sharpness. She could feel the man look at her with fear and disgust. "And I'm going to fix this mistake I made."
She thrashed to say something, anything at all, but her body failed to respond.
"The disassembly will be quick." His voice came through the gnawing of flesh once his bade bit into one of her arms, but... there was no pain. It looked as if the man held zero guilt or shame for his act, but he just wasn't going to put up with her staring while he cut her open. He subsequently drew a piece of cloth to drape over her face.
The sounds of a metal saw or knife dug into her flesh, with the uncomfortable numbness that could only come from a painkiller. The sounds coming off the tools being used felt as if the man didn't care for (or wasn't aware of) any delicacy in his work. Every happened so quickly, especially since she lost any hint of muscle control, and her breathing grew harder and harder to handle. A thunk and a following thick plop hit the ground below her twice, before her consciousness faded.
She didn't know how much time passed when half her vision reappeared, revealing soft waves of water from a lake lapping at her face. Mouse sized pricks rippled along the surface of the water, leading her gaze to pieces of body parts drenched in mud. Without knowing it, the pieces moved without any command from her, as if by instinct they crawled along the ground, squirming closer and closer to her.
In a blink of an eye she could feel her head on her shoulders again. Kneeling from weakness, she looked up to a nighttime panorama crowned by a moon unbroken and pure, a wide expanse of a vivid starry night. Feeling tore her gaze from the view to the pool of water at her knees.
What met her eyes wasn't her own visage, but the face of a mournful Berserker. With tears slowly running down her cheeks, she roared a bestial sound.
Amber bolted up from the bed with a heavy gasp, feeling the cold sweat rushing down her back. She willed herself to take deep breaths, until the only thing left of the nightmare were slight tremors in her hands.
That was... She recalled the events she just experienced. Her mind was silent, the other souls choosing not to speak or interrupt this time. Each one was oddly still, or giving off a respectful aura.
Berserker. That was...
The soul nodded in her mind. An image of her appeared, sitting by a tree overlooking the meeting table on the dry waterfall cliff.
Your past? How can I...
I'll explain it for ya, Master
Lancer... Alright. Give it to me straight.
Amber mentally said, opening the door of her guest room. A quick march to the nearest bathroom allowed her to wash up, dealing with the cold sweat she unwittingly brought upon. The clock read just barely first light with the Arc family manor, silent from all the noise and commotion from yesterday. In a way she was grateful for the quiet.
We figured since our situation wasn't common, it wouldn't happen because there's so many of us. But I guess it ended up stronger than usual. That, and normally we're in that 'mind zone' whenever you sleep.
So seeing into Berserker's past is supposed to be normal?
For Masters, yeah,
Lancer agreed. The soft rushing water ran down her face, trickling droplets into the sink below her just as he continued. Normally Servants and Masters have a mental connection between 'em, so we can see visions of each other's past as dreams. That means I can see yours and you can see mine. Even if some of us are private or don't want to talk about our pasts, we can't reject the dreams.
Amber took a deep breath. So... How did you know about the dream?
That's the... Weird part. Well, more weird than usual. It wasn't just you that saw that vision.
We all did. It's as if we as a whole are connected.
Tis not surprising. We shared our souls to fill up Master's gaps. Such repercussions are in order.
Amber mumbled to steady herself. Learning something new about her situation was her goal, so no complaining or anything since she asked for all of this. She found Berserker again in her mind once she closed her eyes, and this time the girl stared back at her, waiting. Names appeared in her(?) memory.
Eve? The girl violently shook her head at that. A throaty growl was all that hint she gave Amber to never use that name again. Mary?
Again, the girl shook her head, denying the name. The man first called her that when she was... born. Amber frowned; there was only one left, and it didn't have anything to do with the girl. Nothing but a piece of the man's last name.
The girl nodded this time, pulling her knees up to press against her chest. That was her name. Amber had only seen a fraction of the soul's past, and worried about the next occasion. She sighed. I will be looking at your histories too, won't I?
The other souls said nothing, but it was clear this was everything she needed her to know. Maybe the next dream would be as vivid and real as Fran's, maybe not, but she rather doubted that. Things hadn't been that simple for a while.
Wait a second... When did Fran get a egg capsule on her belt?
"Oh my, awake already?"
The voice belonged to Myra Arc, the woman she was introduced to last night, one of many that lived in this temporary abode. Amber blinked in confusion and took a look around, abruptly realizing where she found herself. She didn't even notice where she went to wash up, standing in the middle of the kitchen, a cozy little room that probably had a lot of traffic if being in the middle of the building was any indication.
Myra gestured for her to take a seat at the table, taking a moment to light a few candles dotted around the room, as the windowsill darkened ominously. With a quick glance, Amber saw that the clock read just before first light. The mother figure of the home poured a steaming cup of tea for her and nodded at her guest seating herself, pointing to a nearby room. "The girls are still asleep, and the boys took your friend to the office."
She nodded, taking a sip from the proffered cup. It wasn't long before she heard a clamoring passing through the office door; the muffled roars of Ciaran Arc (Keer'awn Lancer stressed), the nearly century year old man, easily vibrated through the wood flooring, courtesy of a healthy addition of Aura. Myra giggled just as her husband, Veillantif responded with equal intelligible fervor. She sighed, it must have been quite an event in there. A part of her wondered how often the men were this rowdy, the girl assuming it had to be often if nobody else was wandering about.
The pair took in the silence for a few minutes, both taking measured sips of their drinks. It was an uncomfortable silence, one that left Amber feeling awkward. She didn't know anyone here, and it didn't look like that fact would change anytime soon. It wasn't like she could just introduce herself and start conversing as if they were old friends. Things weren't that simple, they hadn't been for quite a while now. She counted herself lucky that the Arcs let her stay at their home overnight after yesterday's little incident.
"Now that we're alone." Suddenly the room felt a tad bit different than usual. A bit colder, a bit more dangerous. Amber narrowed her eyes at the older woman, noting a faint glow of Aura surrounding Myra just as the kindly smile she wore turned a bit feral. "Why don't you quit the act, hon?"
Amber froze, the mug in her hand halting mid sip before a soul placed it to her lips. Inwardly Caster smiled, but it was a stiff one. She restrained a growl from Berserker, as a tug of jolting electricity danced across one of her arms. A hiss left her instead, dropping the mug to cover up the power brimming at the edge of her proverbial lid. Many of the egos in her mind gave off a scary vibe, as if a button was pushed that wasn't supposed to be. She tried her best to calm them down, it wasn't like the woman could harm them... Probably.
The room went quiet, spilled tea bubbling over the edge as it steamed, dripping down the sides to stain the table. With even realizing it, Amber loosened her grip and stared at the darkened bruise faded into her skin. Almost imperceptible lighting danced along her fingertips in waiting. Immediately the soft clamor of a hilt reached her ears, and with it a long knife landed on the table across from her. Myra stared long with a soft expression, unfazed by the blade which seemed to appear out of thin air.
"That's a lot of Aura. It's almost like you don't have any control over it." the woman observed, she pointed upstairs to explain. "I felt it when you were sleeping."
"The others?" Amber gritted out after a bit of hesitance. "...complicated."
"I bet." Myra said with a sigh. The older woman rubbed her arms and neck, distinctively pointing out where her scars were, a question at the tip of her tongue. "I'm guessing it has to do with those."
"How?" Amber only just stopped herself from growling at the woman.
"I'm Aura sensitive, not a lot of people have that quality. It's the entire basis of how Aura scanners were invented." Myra shook her head at the sudden tangent. "Think of your body as a container. A mug like this with a lid on it. Everyone's different so their container's are different sizes, You..." The woman pointed at her. "You're like a water reservoir with cracks spilling down the drains."
Is that true? The souls figured it was the perfect time to add their own thoughts. The ones usually vocal, like Rider and Lancer, looked away, while Caster snickered to the point of annoyance. Archer mumbled the words 'cowards' while Assassin simply nodded at her.
"Or to be specific, we all know Aura regenerates with food and rest. So if everyone is a furnace, you're a wildfire." Amber's attention broke off when she spoke. She felt a rigorous set of nods and grunts from Berserker as Myra continued. "I'm honestly surprised you got here without a single Grimm following you to the village."
So they would have really brought danger.
Uun. Uuun. Un!
Thy's Aura were contained before thy vision last night. Those Grimm held little care in our presence.
"You look conflicted and you're holding it all in." Myra eyed the office door at the far side of the room. "I'm guessing for some reason that Alex boy doesn't know. I'll keep it safe until you're willing to let it out. Arc's promise."
Amber struggled to figure out what to say, what to do. Despite all her care to keep her secret, this woman saw through her so easily. She ruffled her head, gripping it, hair and all for something for her head to figure out what to do. The utter passive expressions of the other souls was cause to grit her teeth.
Hehehehehe, It's your choice girl. A mortal's will being strangled by the might of fear and ignorance. That's something everyone experiences.
The voice of Assassin murmured mockingly, To look back and feel remorse is turning your cheek away from your own being.
Decisions and actions are to be made by the living. The dead have had their fill. Rider grinned.
Lancer smirked with his spear over his shoulders, Just pick, We'll back you up. It's just like the first I met you eh?
The lightning faded into a dull hum. Without speaking, Amber closed her eyes and switched egos. It'd be best if a different influencing personality, especially the greater range of vocabulary would help in... half lying?
Maybe it'd be best if I explain it out loud, so you can understand it as well. You might have misunderstood how our relationship between Master and Servant in this form works.
A slight intake of breath came from Myra just as she raised her hands to fix her hair, sweeping them back to show of a mismatched pair of brown and scarlet eyes. Unlike before with Berserker's soft and almost shy demeanor; Amber now leaned back, tipping the chair with both arms on the back of her neck. The table were used a leg rest as she smirked.
Myra's attitude evaporated. "What... What just happened?"
She shrugged at the woman's question. Her eyes scanned the window over by an open wall while continuing, "We don't really know ourselves."
"We?" Myra's voice hitched. The woman narrowed her eyes, leaning forward. "No... Who am I talking to?"
"We are Amber." she replied with a raised brow. Maybe using some modern terminology might help. Her mind went back to memory, searching for a glimpse of something nearly everyone with an unlocked Aura contained. "At best, we'd liken it to our semblance."
Is that true? Amber physically shrugged to get the point across.
"That's... I've never heard of a semblance like that. That's only something I'd hear from a novel!" Myra protested, her tone laced by something resembling fear.
Amber chuckled darkly. "Our demeanor changes, so does our attitude. Parts of our personalities have skewed one way or another higher or lower than usual. As you saw, we were timid before. Now confidence overshadows that... But we assure you we're not a threat to you."
A bit of Rider's original gravitas leaked through as she stood up and spun around. "This is entirely Amber."
"Eyes are a window to the soul." the woman murmured, earning an unexpected laugh. With a hum Amber took a long gaze into a nearby mirror, laying a prodding finger to her scarlet eye, followed by an inspection of her hair. Looked like this was going to be a common factor then.
"It's you, but not you." the Arc mother exclaimed, standing up to point. "It's as if all my daughters were put in the same body, and everyone takes turns being in control!"
She shook her head. "But you're wrong. It's all your daughters, but only if all of then were the same daughter."
Amber's pursed her expression while letting the other woman think on it a bit longer, trying to understand what she meant.
"Think of it like a personality disorder." she offered instead.
"But that usually needs some kind of mental trauma..." Myra trailed off, a fist smacked the face of the table, "You-"
"Mama..." In an instant, the long knife left the table to disappear into the woman's jacket. Amber quickly switched back to her quiet demeanor and raised a finger to her lips, growling. She shook her head to fix her hair, peering to the young girl who dragged herself to the kitchen. The youngest twin had a quilt draped over her shoulders, wearing disheveled robe and a tired frown.
Lucine Arc staggered forth, covering a yawn with bags under her eyes. "Where's breakfast?"
"Wait." the mother raised her hands, floored by the sudden change and winced at such a loud noise they made. "It's too early for-"
Large bangs and crashes thudded against the ceiling above them. So began the start of a chain reaction erupted from the formerly peaceful abode; screams and hollers resounded across the hallways, as a chaotic echo of ruffling clothing made the women wince and shiver. The second the first of them jerked into view, all three women knew something was wrong.
"Saff! Adrian, where's Adrian!?" Terra Cotta-Arc screamed hysterically from the doorframe, making her wife groan.
"Calm down honey." Saffron tiredly soothed. Glass broke and doors slammed into the walls instead. Sighing, Myra left her seat to creep along the floor, searching for said baby boy if he crawled along the ground. Without hesitation the missing child instantly became her priority.
Amber watched awkwardly, half being dragged away by a few souls to help find the child, while another grouping chuckled.
"Where's our baby boy?!" Terra shrieked again, loud enough to rattle glass.
Ignoring the situation above, Lucine groaned at the sight of a lack of food on the table and moaned sadly the moment she stared at the clock. With a brush on her long hair, the girl checked along the cupboards. Growling at something, she shoved the box of Pumpkin Pete's cereal in the trash after tasting a few pieces.
Amber leaned back at the sudden impact of a cutting board landing in front of her, followed by a knife and various ingredients.
"Chop." Lucine commanded, setting a stove up with a pan and pot. The girl sent a sharp look at her, whining. "They're gonna panic."
And that's exactly what Amber witnessed.
The morning person of the Arc sisters, Ariele, rushed down the stairs after a slam of doors and the wisps of flying clothing, hopefully landing in a hamper somewhere. In the woman's hands a cone with the words megaphone popped into existence (or was retrieved, it was too fast for Amber to tell which) and in the other snatched the wrist of her twin, barely clad in a set of wet clothes, shouting into her prize, "All hands on deck! We've got a baby to find!"
Thankfully, it wasn't a powered megaphone. Although the rumbling glass Amber heard implied Ariele didn't need one.
"Aaaaaaaah, I'm not ready for this!" Moaned the form of her twin, Evony, rubbing her hair on a towel while she staggered past her. The moment she got out of her sister's grasp and planted her butt on a seat, her head thumped onto the cool table, followed by a relaxed sigh. At least until a loud crash from the living room made the girl bolt from her seat.
"Clear the deck! Look everywhere!" Everyone winced at the sight of a lounge chair overturned by a window.
"Don't run in the hallway!" shouted Myra.
A voice from upstairs hollered, "Everyone shut up! I'm in the middle of taking out a boss, zero damage, no deaths."
Amber raised a brow at the sole sister busy cooking when another door slammed open, followed by a shriek from it's occupant. Multiple footsteps thundered above all the way to the stairs leading down to the kitchen.
"I'm pressing ya into service! Turn off those video games and toe the line!"
"You lied about doing your Dust-net job!"
If Amber was of weaker constitution, she would be floored by the dizzying display of various blondes whipping around the building. The latest of the Arcs whined, "I do moderate and program, that's true! I just... finished it all... really early."
"How much free time did you have then!?" Saffron pushed, rightfully so in Archer's opinion. Terra followed it up with faux tears, and the two embraced for some needed effect.
"Shut up! It's not like you don't have a creepy guy trying to woo you every time he sees you!" Stella roared indignantly.
Another Arc revealed herself, looking betrayed, "Why's the Pumpkin Pete's in the trash?!"
Anise didn't care about it too much, filching a smack from Lucine's grip after trying to poke at some kinda sauce, or whatever it was. Her twin, the sorta nice Cassia, meandered around kitchen mumbling 'coffee' over and over again.
"Adrian! Adrian! Honey, where are you?" Terra wailed like a... well like a first time mom.
"He's not crying so that's a good thing?" Saffron suggested with a shrug.
"He coulda gotten out of the house, Saff!" she snarled right back.
"How old is he, one!?" Anise gave an offended expression, "You really think we're that stupid to leave doors open?"
"He's a really smart boy." Myra admired. A hand was placed on her cheek, positively glowing with pride at her grandson.
"Arc blood! Already got his sea legs!" Ariele poked her head in. "We're gonna get him to know the ropes when he's eight!"
"Please, stop with the sailor speak." Evony groaned, finishing up on repairing the chaos her twin blazed through. "It was normal back in the old days but this isn't the Great War."
"But siiiiiis!" she whined, "We gotta play the stereotype for the idiots!"
"But we're at home..." Evony pointed out.
Amber noticed Lucine suddenly freeze. The girl turned the oven off before holding her palm up. Slowly, she moved her thumb to her middle finger.
Everyone winced hard, with most of them finding a rail or something to hold them in place. Amber herself staggered, peripherally aware of the knife clattering to the floor. The crowd of noisemakers hissed and rubbed their ears, immediately quieting down.
"What was that for?!" Ariele snapped angrily.
"Ahhhh! I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Cassia apologized quickly, her voice shrill.
"Saff, hold me!" Terra leaped onto her spouse, nearly bowling the pair to the floor.
"Oh." Amber blinked a few times when the offending girl stared at her. For a second Lucine felt like Berserker, but more... calm?
"Lu? Lulu, please."
"You already know don't you?"
"Where is he? Lucine, is Adrian alright?"
The girl raised a brow with a hand planted on her hip. She strode to table and dropped a plate of fresh flat breads, before pointing at the door. "Overreacting."
Everyone stayed quiet, watching the girl move to the closed entrance of the household's den. Rumbling and voices kept going and going, isolated from the rest of house. Amber followed, just like everyone else to lean close to the wood. With a click and a soft push, a warm glow shined against her face.
And there he was; Sitting like a king on a throne made from Alex's mantle that wrapped all around him. The baby's hands moved up and down in rhythm, with pudgy little fingers spread wide. "Yah!"
"You're going to pay for what you've done!"
What the gathered women saw was not what they imagined. On one side was Adrian in his comfy front row seat, and on the other held all the men of the house behind a thin drape hung from some wires attached to the ceiling. A bright flame had cast shadow puppets of a miniature man holding a sword, kneeling on the ground while facing a giant castle dragon thing floating above the clouds. Veillantif Arc was acting as the 'hero' of this play that had so much production value.
"The troops down south have already been incinerated!"
And it showed with the flailing arms and moving flaps of Alex; Smoke and wispy vapor flowed around the drapery and traveled all over the room as he simulated wind, cold, and heat. His actions warmed the room so much that a constant breeze smacked all of them when they opened the door.
"Not good. We don't have the huntsmen to break though the flying castle." A smaller, thinner shadow puppet shouted in the distance.
The guy also played the role of supporting characters. Narrator too.
"Not to mention that Wyvern attached to it like a second skin." The voice of Ciaran responded almost pitifully to act like a wounded soldier. The elderly man quickly crossed his arms and showed a menacing smile. It wasn't hard to guess the man played the villain and secondary characters.
"Hahahaha! Foolish heroes! Fall under the weight of eternity and let your lives slip through your grasp like the rain pouring down. Nothing can stop the Grimm!"
Evony whispered. "Gramps is so hammy."
Her twin whooped with her fist, and the man whipped his head at them and motioned a few fingers zipping his lips. Anise and Ariele rubbed the back of their necks.
"And so the mastermind of the war appeared. It wasn't a man, but the dragon itself! He revealed his thousand year old plan for all to hear in hopes the mortals below would embrace it." Alex warned menacingly.
Ciaran immediately responded for the hero. "This isn't salvation! It's just your own twisted views corrupted by the negative energy."
The villain looked like it was frowning, pitying the hero. "What do you creatures do in the years of your existence? Constantly living at the edge of war, poverty, slavery and death? What is it worth when your kingdoms fall within the next few generations only to start of the flames of chaos once again? Your existence is meaningless! And so I deem you worthless. I will start again. Your lives will be the foundation. The fertilizer for a new humanity!"
The wyvern puppet opened its mouth to reveal a growing orb of energy.
"It's shooting a laser!" A shadow puppet screamed. Everyone watched with bated breath, particularly the souls in Amber's head put forward their undivided attention. Some appeared to enjoy the spectacle, while others screamed and yelled things like 'dodge, charge forward, or hold it down with a shield wall.'
A dark and void filled beam flashed out of the muzzle. The hero of the play screamed as he raised his blade into a waiting stance. The laser covered the entire screen, hero and all.
Just then, itty bitty feather shaped shadows fell down the screen. "Caw!"
The screen immediately cut into the image of a dilapidated throne room. A small but firm man with a crown over his head motioned, as if he was sighing a message.
"The king of Vytal, Charlemagne, had always felt a foreboding shadow looming over him. He didn't know what it was, nor did he have an inkling when it would happen. A day from his eighteenth birthday, the night of coronation, or the moment he died of old age." Alex took on a narrator role, voice ominous.
"That was until he met a traveling man when he was on his final days as prince." Ciaran did the same with a bit more hope, the image of a young prince in front of a small campfire across a hooded being appearing.
"Your fears are warranted. Said the hooded figure. 'It will not appear soon. There will not be any warning, or at least the kind you're familiar with. When the year of Vytal's lowest points in its life, where droughts and famine ran without resistance; on the nights where men, women, and children succumb to sickness and plague. A month before the near unopposed rebellion within your circles, and the masses march in droves to your throne room; Your fears will be shown clearly to you.' Despite the protests and shouting of his subjects, Charlemagne took the warning to heart."
"At the mere age of thirty eight, the King witnessed his destroyed and empty castle. But instead of crying out, he stared up at the sky and smiled. He sent one of his paladins to the final battle, one that might make or break his recovering kingdom forever."
"I finally made it!" The hero gasped as another figure pulled him up and set him down on a mount. "Geez that King of mine is pulling all the stops. Guess that means he believes in you."
Out from the skies appeared the shadow of a flying eagle, with the lower half that of a horse. On top of it's harness rode a paladin carrying a lance, and behind him was the hero holding on for dear life. They bypassed the laser beams and flew directly to the head of the wyvern, dodging fireballs, Grimm spikes, and energy lances along the way.
But before they were able to get close enough, the wyvern called out for nearby Nevermore for assistance. The flying creature's wings were damaged along the way, and they seemed to be falling to the ground.
Adrian shook his tiny little fists, looking in fear. "Naaah!"
"We're too heavy. It's a bit cliche but we'll handle this. Go on ahead." The Paladin said fearlessly.
The hero nodded and prepared to jump. "Right."
"Give em a big bash to the head, Seigfried!" the Paladin laughed.
When the hero jumped, heat and vapor condensed around the room. His sword glowed brightly, and shadowy flames surrounded the blade until it reached a hundred times it's length. Ciaran voiced out a roar of 'noooo' when Veillantif screamed his attack.
In a flash the scene vanished, and all the props used by the men were picked up off the ground. They removed the drapes from their hanging grounds as everyone erupted into applause. Adrian giggled and waved his arms about for his opinion on the play.
Ciaran looked at them a bit shocked. Pointing at the group as he spoke, "Kids! We have guests!"
Amber gave a once over at the other women; true to the father's words, everyone except for Myra and Lucine didn't have anything on but an oversized shirt.
Evony raised her hand up very quickly, looking bored. "I'm exempt, had to take a shower."
Rather than dismissing the issue, everybody switched their irritation to her.
"That's even worse!"
"Yeah, Evo! Coulda put on some pants!"
"Ariele." she said, as if that were the answer to everything.
The girl in question threw her hands up in the air indignantly. "Don't blame this on me!"
"What? It's just one guy~" Cassia said, rolling her eyes on how normal everything was going. The twin quickly followed her up with a smirk. "And he's completely unfazed."
Stella rushed up to his face, eyes wide. "Are you gay?"
The response was only a pinch of his nose, rubbing his eyes followed by a sigh. The Arc women found a chance to look hurt by his lack of a suitable response.
"What? We're not good enough?!"
"Oh Adrian!" Terra picked him up into a hug, putting a halt to the drama. "We were looking all over for you."
"So that's was the all the commotion back there. Saffy, You need to keep an eye on your boy. Kids at that age can get too curious." Evony lectured dismissively.
"Adrian, what's wrong? We were too loud?" Anise said worriedly.
"What's that he got in his hand?" Saffron asked, bringing herself closer to the two. She tilted her head at something Adrian was hiding. "A feather?"
As expected, the baby refused to hand over the bright object caught in his grip. Legs kicked whenever a hand got close enough to almost grasp the feather, making the chore that much more difficult.
"Come on Adrian. Let mommy see that feather. Where'd you get it?" Saffron tried a lighter tone, evidently trying to get the baby to let his guard down. A loud whine was her clue that it wasn't working.
"He's crying because we weren't finished." Alex called out from near a coat rack. As he put on his jacket, he retrieved a comical looking hat from a peg to put on, and he strode towards the trio. The man then leaned slightly low to the baby's eye level, smiled a bit while he held up the hat, after putting a hand through it to show it was empty.
"Did you like Mr. Hippogriff?" he asked in a gentle tone.
"Is that what it was?" the man put a finger to his lips for the mother to stay quiet. "I know you were hoping to meet him weren't you? But it looks like he won't able to. It's going to take a long time for Mr. Hippogriff to heal up from that battle. He was hurt so badly he left the kingdom into the portal on the other side of the world."
The baby started to tear up at that.
"But before he left, Mr. Hippogriff had a great idea." Alex said, putting the right in front of the baby. "Why don't you put his feather in the hat?" With a few sprinkles of glossy dust and a flap, he continued. "Despite the need for Mr. Hippogriff to rest in the reverse side of the world, he thinks this will be able to protect you for the time being."
Amber blinked, amazed at how easily he was able to entrance this child.
"One day the reverse side will connect with the original layer. That day, the great Flock of Hippogriff will appear once again, much like other legendary creatures." He pushed the hat to the baby and made him put his hand in it.
Adrian had a serious expression while grasping whatever was in the hat. Tiny little arms shook and trembled as the baby grunted in effort. With a pop, a big fluffy mane and a yellow beak came out of the hat, revealing a plushie the size of a teddy bear. "Do you think you can wait for that day?"
"Yah!" Adrian's eyes sparkled and hugged the plushie of a hippogriff, bubbling incoherently as he rubbed his head on the toy's neck.
Awwwwww. Multiple souls laughed when the girls cooed at the action.
The man rolled his eyes from it and coughed. "Now that the show's over, can we get to breakfast?"
"No Alex! We, are going to work!" proclaimed Veilantif, the collected Arc children openly recoiling at his bold claim. All the girls covered their heads, trying to look small when a knife sunk itself halfway into the door frame.
When several girls parted to allow her entrance, Myra had a very creepy smile. "Dear, don't you think we should eat as a family?"
At once the Arc father froze. "Y-Yes?"
Amber felt like she shouldn't be here to witness this.
"Then why don't you explain to us why you've been so busy with 'construction work' recently? So much so that you've forgotten all about our agreement?" Myra continued sweetly. Inside her mind half the souls were yelling at her to fight, and the other half were screaming 'run!'
"Well, I wanted it to be a surprise." the father defended awkwardly, looking to the younger man hopefully, but only earned a turned cheek. He frowned and looked for his father. "Dad?"
"You're old enough to handle this." Ciaran shrugged.
The knife was quickly yanked out from the door (Amber noted uneasily several other gouges like it) and the mother dragged her husband to the kitchen. "At the table, dear."
"And that's why I've been so busy." Veilantif said, clearing away the table to wash up. The family had some sort of system where they took turns with cleaning; this time Alex was roped into helping with the dishes, while Amber was given the freedom to sit back and relax, courtesy of Myra's simmering anger.
The people of the village were working on expansive new windmills, based on some radical designs thrown away by the Atlas Council. Something along the lines of reducing need for Dust consumption, added with the year long workload to revamp the village's infrastructure.
"That is also the reason why I wanted Alex to stay even after Jaune left on his own." Alex nodded when the man continued, shrugging defeatedly at the disappointment.
The suited man asked, "Have figured out what you were gonna do?"
"Evo and I are gonna sail to Vale! Give him a smack or two!" The sounds of Ariele's hands hitting each other were added for emphasis.
"Your father and grandfather persuaded me to accept him as a student." Alex said with a frown. "I'm unsure as how this is going to occur. Beacon most certainly already has it handled. I feel I'd be unneeded."
The room was suddenly filled with mock laughter. Even Saffron covered her giggle. He, Terra, and Amber looked at them, confused.
"Hah! No way. Beacon's a horrible school! Tell em Evo!" Ariele shoved her twin for encouragement.
The girl nodded with a frown, lips pursed like she just ate something disgusting. "Administrative negligence, normalized discrimination, and teaching partisanship. This further emphasizes a lack of student and faculty cooperation. And finally, limited subject knowledge."
Amber was taken aback by the expression Evony adopted when she talked about the school. Her frown was more than simple dislike, there was something like professional disgust in her eyes.
The grandfather crossed his arms, nodding. "I'd personally have felt better off if he ran to Atlas."
"Don't you like Vale? Not to mention Atlas?" the darker toned woman asked carefully.
The old man shook his head. "Sorry, Terra. It's just that the Arc family and Domremy as a whole has disagreed with Vale ever since our King abdicated."
The dull ache of pain grew into her chest; Shielder looked on with a regretful expression, while Lancer nodded with a firm look for some reason. Even Assassin turned glum at his somber tone.
Evony bolted to her feet, seething. "Not to mention how they treat the Faunus! The rebellion didn't help Domremys' relationship with them, considering how seventy percent of our six thousand population are Faunus."
"We and many other former noble families were stuck between a rock and a hard place ever since the beginning. Some like the Winchesters had to kneel to the Council. Now..." Myra explained with a soft expression.
"They're nothing but shadows of their former selves." Veilantif shook his head when he spoke.
"Overall, we don't hate the current generation, we like them in fact. We just don't have good history with the ones that commanded the Council." Ciaran said to Terra, who nodded thoughtfully.
The father sighed, turning over to the twins, Evony and Ariele. "Can't complain now. It was our fault for keeping everything a secret from Jaune. Still, can you girls give him some time alright? Don't you remember, we have a festival to worry about."
"That's right!" Cassia said, her excitement spreading to her siblings.
Amber tilted her head, "...Festival?"
"Yes, Amber. It's Midsummer. The Estival Solstice, you've never experienced one?" Myra asked.
When she shook her head, they looked for Terra's response. The moment she also said no, most of the twins started clamoring about how it would be a great time to get them into the festive mood.
Alex frowned at them, pinching the bridge of his nose as Ciaran bellowed. "Argh, another reason to hate the current administration. They threw away our traditions! Holidays that spanned for a thousand years!"
Alex chimed in just as the men started to drag him out of the room. "The reason for the holiday is long and it'll be explained when it starts. So, just think of it as everyone in the village cooks food, plays games, and dances to music around a big bonfire."
"It's fun! We have competitions during and leading up to the main events." Lucine chimed in.
Shielder raised a brow in her head.
"Marksmanship challenges, Wrestling matches."
Lancer cracked his knuckles.
Rider rubbed his hands together.
"And a Hunting competition."
Archer huffed. Internally Amber smiled at everyone's enthusiasm.
Suddenly Anise widened her eyes and gasped. "That's today! Isn't Stella competing!?"
"I got plenty of time! Lucine and I are gonna tear it up!" The girl in question waved it off with a smirk.
Her expression slowly turned panicky when her sister shook her head. "No. I have to help decorating."
"Bu-bu... I need a partner!" she protested while nearly hyperventilating.
"How about it Amber? You wanna try it out?" Saffron offered in her sister's place. After a bit of persuading from the souls, Amber nodded. They thought it would be fun and relaxing. Smiling at her agreement, she pulled out a coat before making her wife do the same. "In the meantime I'm gonna give you the full tour Terra! Amber come with us! You too Alex."
Ciaran and his son stopped her right there. In their grips were Alex's wrists, carrying thick piles of paperwork as the young man got dragged out of the house.
"I'm gonna have to put a stop right here. We're gonna need him for a few things. And we have to decide on how to make the teaching position work with Jaune being at Beacon, and Alex here on the move." Veilantif said gravely. His assistant/lackey appeared okay, but the look in his eyes showed his despair.
"Just do a blog." Stella huffed.
The men halted their dragging when Alex stopped walking, letting him glance curiously. "May I ask what a blog is?"
Even the fathers did a double take at his question. They all looked at him like he was some kind of strange creature from the wilds. "...You don't know?"
The man raised a brow and crossed his arms, after yanking them away from Veilantif's grasp. "Is it something I should?"
Stella looked as if she was having a heart attack, collapsing to the floor like she fainted. The young girl that earned her living off the Dustnet grasped her hair for dear life, pleading while she spun in a circle by their feet. "Do you have a scroll?!"
"I do." Alex confirmed with a frown.
"Hand it here." she bolted to a sitting position to stab her open hand out. Frowning, the man searched through his pockets to pull out an older generation scroll. The girl winced, tears started to form. "There's cracks and chips all over it. There's no power?!"
"When was the last time you used this?" Veilantif asked cautiously.
Alex put a hand to his chin, humming in thought. "Two years ago?"
"AAAAAARGH" Stella flopped back to resume spinning like a top, wailing incomprehensibly. Coughing into a fist, Alex strode up to take the scroll back, but all he met with was a very angry Arc. "Don't. You. Dare."
Just as Amber watched this bizarre event slowly unfold, a hand touched her shoulder. Archer cooed at the fluffy bundle covering Adrian, the child gesturing with the toy hippogriff in his hands. Myra proceeded to shove her, Terra, her wife, and the twins she fought the other day out the door.
"Saff, Take Anise and Cassia with you!" she said unnecessarily, slamming the door shut hard enough to rattle the building.
When five heads swiveled to the blonde, Saffron forcefully perked herself up. "Alrighty, let's go you three! A full exclusive tour of Domremy with yours truly awaits, with special guests Cassia and Anise Arc!"
One of the twins in question scoffed, "Yeah, yeah."
"How about we start at the walls, with a complimentary history lesson?" she said brightly. Saffron started to walk off, pausing with a pointed look until the others started trotting after her.
Terra snapped her fingers, eyes sparkling at her. "How about a cafe?! I have loads of questions for Amber."
Everyone switched to look at her oddly, and she stepped back with a raised brow. What could the mother be wondering?
"Hey... That is Iskandar Waver Velvet right?" Terra asked Amber cautiously.
Saffron answered, confused. "That's what he called himself."
"No seriously. He's the Velvet Renegade, aren't any of you curious?!" she looked at everyone scandalously. Her feet bounced up and down in place, as if she was brimming with energy.
"What's that? A criminal?" Anise questioned first.
Terra grinned. "You don't know?!"
And I'll leave it that. I don't need to say how disappointment I have in some areas I've written.
Don't take any of the 'play part' seriously It's just an easter egg/shade slash fun thing for people that read or watch Fate. That entire play was a butchering of Fate Apocrypha with the added twist of many years o retelling the story over and over and over. There's callouts for Hero mythologies and such. The Knight on the Hippogriff was Astolfo, Seigfried was Seig/Seigfried, and the 'King was Vytal' Charlemange. That's all, don't take that too seriously. But hey, ANyone that knows, knows how the Fate system works. So maybe I'm just messing with you when I said this is not serious.
Anyways. Take care and I'll see you next time.