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No title.
(2013-04-04 - 2013-04-05)
No description.
Zargabaath Riku sits in the gloom of a darkened apartment. He has drawn the shutters and clocked out as much light as possible coming from the window, from the door. He sits on the floor with multiple sheets of paper arranged around him wedged in the gaping mouths of books forming a small arc behind him. A single candle on a long stand is on the floor in front of his crossed legs. A tunnel of dark red wax streams down to the metallic base, cooling there as Riku continues to passively stare into the flame.

Every inch of him ached. From scalp to toenails, every inch was lodging a complaint with the management. Once he had returned from the search party he had laid into the practice dummies until he had nearly collapsed in exhaustion, finding refuge in nightmare and unconsciousness until waking late in the evening of the next day.

Riku looked down at the ivory token in his hand, turning it over and over in his fingers as he stared into the candle. It began to sicken, turning a poisonous bluish purple that threw ashen light across the walls and made the shadows twist and shudder around him.

The teenager slowly brought a hand up, passing it through the flame which returned to a cheerful yellow and let life back into the silent reaches of the room. He flexed his fingers and let his hand slowly drop back onto his lap, expression thoughtful.

Riku brought a knee up, studying the handwriting on another missive from the 9th bureau, who had been quietly in an uproar ever since Judge Magister Gabranths disappearance. It was funny.. for a bureau that was supposed to be the intelligence arm of the empire, they didnt act very smart or know very much.

He traced the loops and scrawls of the signatures as something to do in the idle hours of the evening stretching out before him that didnt involve searching. He didnt want to even think about it right now. He would get around to thinking about it later. He fed the results into the candle flame one at a time, each mimicry burning up as floating away, glowing embers that went cold long before they reached the floor again.

He had come here looking for a place to belong. Fought and flailed into a position he could claim but would have to struggle with and fight for. Watched how they moved, how they acted. What was said. What wasnt said. How nobody talked of Lower Archades. How everyone talked of House Solidor and the Judge Magisters and.. it had made sense at the time. It was a place to leave his mistakes behind.

Hed only made room in his head for a place to rest, for a place to hide until he was strong enough to move on and somehow... somehow he had gotten sucked in so deep he couldnt find the surface anymore. He genuinely liked Archades for all of its gleaming metal and stone. Despite its sneering nobility and tangled complications, besides the whispers and the cutting looks he had been surrounded by good people. Honest people who had accepted him. Some, who had accepted everything he could throw at them. Some who had snickered behind his back because he wanted to be like those they respected.

Riku smiles very slightly at that. There is a flicker of cold, unyielding rage behind the smile at the embarrassment, the searing anger still sluggishly spitting every so often in the cold ashes of his temper. But looking at it from another way, in a distant sort of way, it was funny. Just as the increasingly elaborate plans to hijack Judge Magister Zargabaath had been silly.

He looked down and turned over and over the ivory token in his hand. He stared at it, wondering if he should have chosen the other path but.. he chose this one for the right reasons. He loops it around his neck and leaves it there, on top of the shirt. Riku looked down at the missives. He wondered what would happen to him when they eventually gave up the search and Judge Magister Zargabaath went back to his ship.

Maybe he would.. just get lost in the shuffle.

He was starting to learn that, to wrap his mind around that fact.

In a big city.. or a big desert.. There are a million ways to disappear.

Riku stared into the flame, somewhat startled to realize that it had melted down quite a bit in-between one blink and the next. He frowned at the candle, reaching out to snuff it as he pulled himself to his feet. His legs had gone to sleep and he stumbled about for a moment throwing his duster over his shoulders as he walked out of the apartment.

He took out a paper from his pocket. It was a message that although he could train freely with any group, he had to choose one before he was officially complete with cadet training.

Maybe.. he needed some advice as to what to do now.

He needed an excuse to talk to someone anyway. To keep from slipping sideways and allowing days to pass in an eye blink and to never really know if where he went to sleep would be where he woke up. It could even be morning now. He could have stared in that dark room all night. He wasnt sure anymore. He needed something to anchor him, and if it was not to be the candle.. then he would bother someone else.

Quietly, he makes a few inquiries as to where Judge Magister Zargabaath would be and then makes his way there without haste. He looks down at the missive, and then stuck it back in his pocket.
Zargabaath To say that Judge Magister Zargabaath was shaken after the events that had transpired yesterday would be an understatement. The Dark Knight had left a deep impression even on the Judge of Reason, and it is certainly not an experience he would like to repeat ever again.

But it will. That 'man', if he is human at all, knows his name. Knows his allegiance. It will only be a matter of time.

They had lost the behemoth, but had found an Archadian Judge survivor instead. The Judge had basically collaborated what the initial victims had stated before, so there was no information available there. Further searches tracked the behemoth exactly where the Desert Eye claimed the teleportation had occurred, and in fact the measure of magickal energy left in the area indicating a huge teleportation spell was confirmed.

So they have now returned to square one.

Judge Magister Zargabaath had retired to his office some time ago, and it is to this office that Riku is directed. The first thing the boy would notice upon entering is the Judge of Reason's armor hanging on a rack designed to hold it. The second would be that Zargabaath is sitting on the ground, wearing middle-to-low-class Archadian clothing with no shirt on, exposing time-worn scars across his torso and shoulders. His legs are crossed, arms resting on his thighs and fingers intertwined over his solar-plexus. His back is straight, his shoulders relaxed, and his head held high--but his eyes are closed and his expression without emotion.

There is no reaction to the presence of another. Tension is in the air originating from Zargabaath, yes, but there is nothing to indicate rejection nor even a feeling of 'why are you here'. It feels more like someone simply trying to decompress through sheer force of will without violently imploding or exploding.
Zargabaath Riku stands in the doorway for a few moments as he takes in the situation. He looks at the armor, then around the room and finally to the judge of reason sitting. He looks down the hallway for a moment, eyes clouding as he registers a moment of frustration and awkwardness. "Your honor?" is spoken in a whisper and almost perfunctory,

What he should do is go. Refuse to disturb the tense aura of decompressing silence and return to his room. What he does instead is quietly close the door to the office. He does not step inside more than a step because he has not been invited and right now, painfully, he doesnt want to do something stupid.

Well.. more than he already has, anyways. He should go and seek elsewhere. He should keep searching. Keep moving.

After all. There was no telling when they were going to go up in smoke as well.

Riku kneels down next to the door so that if anyone comes in, he will not be in the way. His muscles shriek to be forced into a sitting position again but he sits down with his back against the wall. The thoughts go around and around in his head and he just closes his eyes against them and waits to be questioned. Waits for the world to make sense again.

He lets go, just a little, for just a few moments.. not exactly falling asleep but the aura of awareness leaving as though trickling away through a cracked gourd. He had to believe he was safe here, but they werent. Nobody was safe.. and he just needed to wait.. and be calm.. and not slip. Not slip over the other edge.
Zargabaath Judge Magister Zargabaath's eyes open upon his title being invoked, though the light coming in from the window directly behind him has cast his face in shadow and thus hides it. It also hides his brow furrowing as he watches Riku basically sit down and very nearly curl up into a ball next to the door.

No. No, this shall not do.

Silently, with barely a rustle of cloth rubbing against itself, Zargabaath unfolds from his meditative position to stand on his feet. He pauses for a moment, mentally appraising the situation, then his jaw sets in contemplation. How easy it is to forget that a boy not yet on the edge of being a man is still a child yet, complete with childish fears--and perhaps justifiably so, all things considered.

He made that mistake with Judge Ffamran years ago, and he will not repeat it now.

As silent as a feline's velvet paws, the Judge of Reason approaches Riku without letting his shadow fall upon the boy and kneels beside him, blocking the door. He gently clasps Riku's shoulder with one hand in a firm, supportive grip as if anchoring a lifeline to a drifting boat. There are no questions, no demands. Just a low, but genuinely empathetic, rumble from the heart, "I am sorry, Riku."
Zargabaath Riku does not come back to himself for some time, lost in a curious fugue state that leaves his body conscious and breathing but utterly detached from the life going on around him. He speaks tonelessly, his eyes not recognizing Zargabaath as he tilts his head upwards.

"Its not anyones fault. Monsters eat people. I should know this." He doesnt smile but there is a tic that denotes that he would at this point if he were truly awake. "And you do. Will warned me, you know. This is no life for children." there would be a note of riled scorn there, but again, there is only the place marker there made by this echo that walks and talks but whose heart has withdrawn almost completely. The faintest snort.

"Pretty much everybody is that if your over three hundred...Im sorry, your honor. I am a little.. tired. Forgive my rambling." Riku mechanically brings out the missive. "..I dont think I can stand 9th right now, your honor. No insult meant to them. Ive just been... shuffled aside while they sort things out. So, I am hoping you will take me?"

Riku has not looked at the Judge Magister or the supporting hand with the same intensity you would not focus on a hammer about to descend on a fragile vase. You know the shatter is coming, but you can't bear to watch. So his dull and deadened eyes look at the ceiling instead.
Zargabaath Judge Magister Zargabaath's brow furrows ever deeper the longer he listens to Riku, the more he watches the lack of anything on the boy's expression. So when the missive is presented, the Judge of Reason does, indeed take it with his free hand but does not even look at it.

Instead, he pulls Riku into a hug. A comforting embrace that wordlessly screams protection and safety and strength. There is no hammer here. Instead, the fragile vase has been gently placed onto an all-enveloping soft pillow.

"Gabranth is not dead, Riku." Zargabaath's voice is calm. Warm. Steady. Strong. Full of honesty and belief in his own words, willing Riku to snap out of it and truly listen to him. There are no lies or half-truths here, no matter how hard one could search for them. "And I will not stop searching for him. To take to the skies is not to admit defeat, but to gain a new perspective."

The missive crumples in his hand for a moment before it falls free to the ground. He doesn't need it. "Do not speak of yourself as if you are unwanted or a burden, because you are most certainly neither. I would be honored if you joined the 12th Fleet." He chuckles softly. "And I am currently neither on-duty nor in my armor, so my title is quite unnecessary. 'Zarg' would be sufficient for the moment, I think."
Riku Riku is apparantly very easy to read by a Judge Magister. In both cases, he'd attempted to run away, to PUSH away, and only gotten this sort of response.

His shields have never fully recovered since he laid everything bare to Gabranth and so they go down with the expected smash. Because there are hammers, and then there are hammers, even with pillows attached.

A dangerous yellow gleam swims across his eyes as he stiffens in the embrace and his entire body tenses as if coiling to strike. Surely something that hurt so much had to be an attack, and he knew how to deal with an attack. The snarl rises in his throat and dies away in mid utterance as the darkness is simply burned away and Riku leans into the Judge Magister, head resting on their shoulder face buried in it as he snorts out an explosive bark of a chuckle. "Yeah..." his voice rasps thickly "..yeah. I know. I've been sleepwalking through one stupid idea after another for days."

Riku snorts again and coughs, face dripping yet again and the embarrassment is even worse than the first time with no avenue of escape this time except teleporting away. He doesn't think he could muster up the focus, or if he did, end up several worlds away upside down over a cliff or something. "What.. do you people want?" he asks with wondering chagrin. It's a rhetorical question at best. "At least I can understand /Gabranth/ pushing my buttons. He's practically a mirror image." he laughs, although he cuts it off short when it becomes a sob.

He raises his head just enough to thunk it against Zargabaath's shoulder again, the only available surface for which to express a prolonged and infinite amount of chagrin. "I'd like that.." he eventually admits to the last statement. " long as I can get back at those punks for laughing at me. They need to pay dearly." he makes another snorting laugh that tapers down into another groan, hysteria let out of his system like escaping steam.
Zargabaath Judge Magister Zargabaath just lets Riku bury his face in his shoulder, ignoring how sopping wet the scarred skin gets very quickly. He does not tighten his embrace nor does he loosen it. The boy's tension is noted, as one would expect with an unexpected action, and though the scars on his face ache he does not flinch nor indicate anything at all about it.

He does, however, smile as life returns to Riku's voice the more he speaks. There we go.

"You have nothing to be embarassed about, Riku." Yes, the Judge of Reason is very perceptive, especially when chagrin practically drips from Riku's voice like tears from his face. "I am always available to talk to, to vent at, to simply be. Dynast-King knows you have needed this for some time, indeed." After all, Riku was not doing well in the desert the other day due to more reasons than simply heat stroke.

He does not force Riku to lift his head to look at him, just being the literal if not simply figurative barrier to protect him from the world right now. "'Those punks'? Laughing at you?" He tries to not laugh, but a lightened tone is clear in his voice all the same. "May I ask what happened, exactly?"
Riku "noo.. no comment, your honor." Riku chuckles and disengages before he melts, his head throbbing from the close proximity to light he has to focus to stop seeing. It was getting harder to NOT see these things, and that's just all sorts of bad in a city full of people. "I'm sorry. I.. " he snorts.

"I /observe/ situations very closely, your honor. Sometimes, I don't know I'm doing it. I'm.. distracted." he snorts. " When those around you are likely to have short tempers and long reaches and streaks of cruelty, you learn to be quiet, and to listen, and to disguise your actions." he coughs. "Your.. your.. crewmembers are.. amused by this fact, sometimes."

Riku leans up against the wall, one leg still pulled up to his chest. He puts a hand on the ivory token on his chest, grasping it loosely as he bangs his head lightly against the wall. "..ugh. Gods I'm tired. I haven't slept since.." he shakes his head.

" That's not right. I slept VERY well whenever I was there. She used that to gently /discourage/ me from straying too long."
Zargabaath Zargabaath releases the hug as Riku pulls back, leaning back himself to rest on his heels. Upon the explaination about his men and the 'laughing', he just smiles kindly. "That sounds similar to what I have done many times in the past, though admittedly not for the same reasons. Perhaps they are not laughing /at/ you, but are more amused at the similarities they happen to see /in/ you."

He closes his eyes for a moment, taking just a brief moment to listen, to evaluate without judgement, to recenter himself. Riku would probably pick up a slight lessening of light back to more normal levels because of this, though Zargabaath would not understand it the same way.

'Her'? 'There'? He would ask, but his instincts tell him that is probably not wise. Riku would be more specific if he wanted to be.

He takes a handkerchief from a back pocket and wordlessly offers it to Riku. "Is there anything I can arrange that would help you?" Though he may not understand Riku's situation fully, it's at least clear that wherever 'there' is, Riku does not want to go back.
Riku Riku looks over at Zarg with a raised eyebrow of cheerful scorn. He doesn't even /dignify/ that with a response considering the events here. He raises a hand, grinding a palm into his face and wiping his eyes with quick strokes. The aura of darkness crackles in and out like radio static, rising and falling like the tides.

"No. I mean.. not now. We've got to find Gabranth. After then..?" he shakes his head. "The man you met today is.." he grimaces. "like looking into an abyss. But there are still those out there.. who are much worse. Who I worked for when.." he sighs. "..when I thought I didn't have any other choice. I'll.." he snorts.

"I'll tell this story when this is settled. I.. really only want to tell it the once." he very slowly starts to get onto his feet.
Zargabaath Zargabaath nods once and rises as well, using the handkerchief to wipe off his shoulder almost as an afterthought. No need to make the boy feel chagrined all over again if he can help it. "That would be putting it mildly... and others worse still?" His abdomen almost physically tightens as his stomach feels like it clenches to stone, the raw and fresh memory of that Dark Knight causing his eyes to narrow. "Truly, these are dangerous times."

He holds his hands out to the sides slightly in a gesture indicating acceptance. "But you make a valid point. Such dark tales can wait until we find that ill-mannered Judge of Ambition." He rumbles deeply despite a smirk tugging at the corners of his mouth. "Making us worry, that brat."
Riku Riku snorts. "And thrash him to an inch of his bloody life, to use some local words of choice." he straightens up, shaking his head as he has to steady himself on the wall to keep from falling over.

He stares at the judge magister and then turns his head down and away, rubbing the back of his neck. "Good.. night. I think. Or.. morning, Zarg." he coughs a bit on saying that as if he choked on it for a moment.

He glares at the Judge of Reason as he leans against the wall in a silent 'Can I go now, please?'
Zargabaath Zargabaath barks a laugh of his own at the 'colorful language'. "Indeed."

He waves a hand carelessly at Riku's glare, understanding its baleful but ultimately benign intent. Or at least, so it seems. "No need to give me such a look. 'Tis hardly an official meeting tonight, after all, and I highly doubt you wish to sleep here." He smirks good naturedly. "Therefore. Good night, Riku."
Riku Riku grumbles, but there is no heat or hidden teeth behind the cursing as he moves past the Judge of Reason and closes the door behind him. He lingers for a moment and thumps his head very gently on the door, eyes closed in the 'yep.. i am an /idiot/' pose that he's adopted so often since living here. He takes in a shaky breath, lets it out and draws a hand over his face.

He orients hismelf quickly and moves quickly away down the corridor.

This scene contained 15 poses. The players who were present were: Riku, Zargabaath