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[Cradle] What's A Cradle Without The Child?

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What did he want? What was he even supposed to ask? 'Sorry you're mourning but can you think of any place a child murderer would take that child?' the mental voice asked with a twisted grin. Fain felt like a rather big fool in this moment. 

"I'm-" he started, biting back his apology, pride not allowing it. "I wanted to see where...Abbot said he liked to go." he mumbled, pulling out the pendant and looking down at it in the palm of his pale hand. "It's a rather foolish mentality." he muttered, looking up to the man and taking in the information he said. 

As if that didn't tell him what he already knew. The situation was bad. Great.

However the fact it just happened in the morning gave Fain a bit more hope. He had simply assumed the child had gotten kidnapped in the late hours of the night instead. Perhaps time was more of the essence than he thought.

Fain moved up to the dock as well to stand parallel with the sitting man. 

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"You must not have known him well if you have to ask that" He said with a bittersweet smirk "When it came to Abbot...it was all about his father....and the ocean" He said "There was nothing more he liked; Had that same glint in his eye Maris had...a love for adventure...almost a lust if anything. What awaits that big blue gem out there" He said looking at Fain as he stood parallel to him "I was Maris' navigator in his old privateer days....I loved that man like he was my brother....his family too" He said looking at the pendent in Fain's hand, then to his arm "That's his pendent....Where did you get that?" He asked "Did Abbot give it to you? It wasn't with Maris' stuff after he...." The man sighing "That is the symbol ol' Maris crew 'The StormClaws'....We all made it a symbol of freedom and exploration. He must of given it to Abbot" He said shaking his head "If your looking for answers....I couldn't tell you much. When Maris became a family man...he left his old life behind so I don't know where Abbot could of gone or even who took him....if it was that crazy runnin around or someone after the family, however Abbot did often go into the shack Maris had abandoned when he moved into the city...used it as his own little world when he came down here....maybe there is something there that could help ya" He said pointing passed the docks where the ocean touched the land. An aged shack stood at it's cusp with the same symbol painted on it that rested in Fain's hand...perhaps Abbot left something behind that could aid in Fain's search. It was a long shot, but it had to be worth a try.
It's entrance wasn't much, just wooden door with a small broken window and a signpost 
'PIRATES ONLY!'
It looked as though it was painted on by a child...likely Abbot's doing. Fain could have breathed on the door and it would of easily swung open. The boy never knowing how to properly keep it closed. It's interior a cluttered mess of everything you could possibly find around here....like a collection of everything lost and found
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On the surface Fain would find nothing really of value; broken crates, barrels, fishnets, 'borrowed' crystals and items that must of fell from a mineral ship and found it's way on shore. Only the light from outside filtering into the small house so Fain would have to light something if he wanted to see if there were any further clues.

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He bit back a rebuttal, his teeth biting momentarily into his tongue. The man was right, he didn't know Abbot well. He met the child once, and yet their conversation was probably one of the most genuine encounters Fain had all year. He inhaled slightly, the salty air dancing around his sense.His hand clutched the pendant tight when he was asked how he acquired it. 

"He gave it to me-Abbot. I...wouldn't know why." Fain murmured, thinking back to their talk. Flashes of crayons and shy smiles made their way into his mind and he shook his head. 

Sentiment. 

When he was lead to the clubhouse Fain paused. Not just a pause, he practically froze in his boots in fact, irrational fear welling up inside him. Not because he felt in danger, but because this was a children's sanctuary. Abbot's place where he probably poured ounces of love and effort into. Where he stored little treasure that made him happy and felt like this was his home away from home. Fain didn't know if he could properly detach himself emotionally from the situation if he walked inside.

"I apologize, it is rude of me to have not properly introduced myself." he blurted, turning to the man. "Fain Locke." he said, giving a bow of his noble head, but making no point to present a handshake to the man. "I appreciate your assistance."

He pushed the clubhouse door open after that, barely aware of the man behind him now, his eyes flicking around the room rapidly for information. There wasn't much to see that wasn't obvious, but it was a bit more difficult to evaluate with such shoddy lighting. His eyes fell onto the lantern that was hanging on the right side of the room, hoping there'd still be oil in it. He moved inside, inhaling softly and reaching up to touch the knob. 

'You're asking to get yourself blown up you imbecile.' the voice teased in his head. 'Wicket could be anywhere you know, he could have easily tampered with something in here.'

Fain ignored that trail of thought, turning the knob to turn on the lantern.

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"You must of meant much to him in the short time you knew him. He always appreciated those who listened to his crazy stories and long winded question because he felt that meant he mattered enough to listen to" He said as he sat up and followed Fain to the cabin "I am Omrik. Didn't know any of this equated much to be visited by a Locke. If you can help find Abbot and bring peace to all this...It should be me thanking you" He said "You'll have to go in alone however....It's bad luck for the rest of the crew to go in there...the sanctuary of a dead captain" He said grimly as he stepped back and let Fain go inside on his own. It wasn't just the darkness that felt shoddy...it was the sound.  It felt like he stepped into a different plane of existence; It wasn't that it was silent, but it felt disconnected. The water rolling from the beach and receding down back into the ocean being muffled through the wood of the cabin feeling as though he were in a snow globe of sorts...in the world, and yet...not. The lantern roared to life a little more powerful then Fain had intended, but with a shift of the knob it calmed into a reliable light source. In the light of the lantern...everything felt different. It felt like a lost and found paradise where Abbot would take things he had found and bring them here. A Sanctuary of everything Abbot found interesting and loved. There were at least a dozen or so pirate maps that he had created and even some he went on himself to make his own adventure. Fain illuminating a small barrel with a sheet over it that acted as a table. It had a picture of him, his dad, and his mom in it together with unlit candles on either side; likely where he would feel the safest when it became night. A makeshift cubby/tent just behind this barrel table and had pictures of all the adventures he dad told him about and it was also where he put the most interesting things he had found. It was all a lot to take in for Fain as emotionally strong as he was...to even see everything the boy he was looking for cared about. The worst thing about it was that there was nothing that yelled out to him 'clue'. It all felt like just a place Abbot stayed and spend a lot of summer days around. It wasn't until Fain moved his lantern in such a way that accidentally knocked over an unseen box that toppled against the wall and tore some of the pictures down. a couple of them floating through the air and landing gracefully on the floor. One of them hung lopsidedly on the corner of a tackle box; What Fain saw couldn't have been a coincidence. It was a crude picture of the ocean with a strange lanky character that had cartoonishly long legs and arms with a mess of scribbled hair and a very....sharp grin that was very plainly drawn out with only a small caption underneath it
'How can he talk with such sharp teeth?'
Was this who Fain thought it was?....   

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Fain didn't know what to make of that, merely staying silent at the small admission of Omrik. As if he could mean something to a child he had just met. And yet...wasn't that the reason he was even here in the first place? Because of Abbot? He tried to not let the 'bad luck' omen get to him, though there was a very real feeling of something that just 'wasn't right' when he was inside this room. 

After lighting the lantern, he reach up on the tip of his toes to unlatch the light and bring it with him. He ran his pale fingertips over some of the maps that Abbot had drawn, feeling the heavy silence settling over the room. He gripped his chin loosely with his thumb and crook of his finger in contemplation as he scanned the walls. Fain could point out heavily detailed reports and stories from his observations. He could weave tales just by a couple pieces of paper or how boxes were stacked in certain ways. But what he couldn't find, was something that was relevant to the current case so therefore, this was all frustratingly useless.

He turned, lantern swinging too hastily and knocked over a box. He startled, backpedaling lightly as the sound seemed loud and thunderous in this strange and quiet room. After his heart stopped thudding, he knelt down to pick up some of the drawings to at least put them on the table in an effort to salvage some. When he lifted himself from the ground, papers clutched in hands his eyes strayed to some of the others that got away.

One in particular caught his attention harshly, his heart suddenly giving a loud thud within his ears.

Other drawings forgotten on the table, Fain turned to face the grinning demon, taking in the triangular tooth grin and caption underneath.  

...What?

Hesitantly, he reached for the picture, picking it up with discontented pale eyes. How could this exist? When was this drawn? Had Wicket been seen before the incident with Abbot's parents? And by Abbot no less? His fingers gripped the paper a bit tighter, wrinkling a bit of the sheet.

But when..whenwhenwhen was this drawn.

The drawing. It didn't look like it was created through an emotional spurt. The drawing though crude, matched a child's skill evenly. It wasn't drawn with harsh hard stroke or a shaky crying hand. There weren't tear drop stains on the paper, there wasn't angry wrinkles. Abbot couldn't have drawn this-

'Of course he couldn't have drawn it after his parents death you idiot, he was at the hospital the entire time!' his internal voice hissed at him in impatience. 'Don't be so sloppy!'

But that just means...it was drawn before the incident. And somehow that didn't make Fain feel any more comforted.

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This realization was almost a slap to the face as it showed the gravity of an already crippling situation. Wicket had visited Abbot before he had taken his parents away so brutally. was Abbot the only one Wicket did this to or had Fain found something Jhadre hadn't? An extra step in Wicket' tapestry of vile monstrosity? Did the other children whom were missing see his paled face before suffering his psychosis? It was a great deal to take in for the moment, but with time Fain would be able to take hold of his emotions and establish all this into logical thought. There were unfortunately no further pictures that emboldened this piece of evidence, but when the barrel had fallen over. It had revealed a small cubby space that looked almost cozy as it had blankets around the floor and a large pillow against the wall. Fain's eyes catching what appeared to be something underneath one of the blankets. It was soon discovered that it was A ratty little journey with loose papers inside.
Abbot must of found it and decided to write for fun. The pages were rough and sometimes hard to read, and they didn't have any dates; But they read as such:

'Wow! Today was so fun! Me and dad went to the markitplace today and looked around at all the cool places they had! There was so many people I thogt I was going to lose dad! He told me that we were getting something for Mom today! Something super specil he called it an annaversty gift! He got the prettiest necklice in the whole store for her! He was talking for too long so I started to look around the store! There was A lot of old stuff there and it smelled funny! I met a funny looking man next to the toys! He said he would buy me one! Today was great!'

'Mom makes the best food! She is the best mom ever! I couldn't eat all my food so I asked if I could take it to the lonly animals outside and she said just be careful. I was feeding a doggy when I saw the funny looking man again! he was sitting next to a tree! He looked sad cause his eyes kept staring into my house! Maybe he didn't have a home? I gave him the rest of the food and he thanked me! Told me I was specil and that he would get me the best gift ever! Mom thinks he is my imigenry friend'

'I love my cabin! Dad said I could keep it so long as I was careful! It used to be dads but now its mine. I bring all the stuff I find from the ocean here. Everyone is really nice too! Omie brought me some cooked fish and its so good I ate it all up really quick! I couldnt sleep cuz the oceon was super loud tonite. I saw the fiunny man again standing on the beach! He has sharp teeth I hope that doesnt hurt him. He was cold and shivering so I let him into the warm of the cabin! He was super nice he had a lot of stories said that he was a traveler who looked for specil kids like me! He said that he has a farm where the crazy trees grow tallest and he said that is where all the specil kids go! He sounds really  cool. He said he would ask my mommy tomorrow if I could come over'


Those were the only exerpts that ever mentioned....a funny man with sharp teeth, and upon reading them the lantern had gone out as a strong gust of salty wind blew through the cabin. A sense of dread suddenly looming over Fain as he felt the darkness was beginning to play tricks on him
"When I was a child....I used to be afraid of ghosts" Spoke a terrible voice of what felt like gentle insanity "I used to crawl into bed and shiver and shake, afraid of the monsters within the dark; So much so that I would piss myself and cry. It was pitiful really....until I had finally slayed those terrible birth givers of mine...then all my fear was gone. It wasn't ghosts I feared.....but people. The demons within them. Of greed
Neglect. I'm saving him you know....all of them
The world has become too black and white....no color
I am merely unlocked the artist within them all"
A laugh of calm sinister pleasure wringing it's way along Fain's mind
"I drove Jhadre to his limits and that was before I had these wonderful abilities! Let this go Mr.....Locke~ It's not worth your sanity is it?
Not worth.....Valenstein I hope?~ Or any of those loved ones who meet my criteria of greed and corruption so absolute~
It will do my heart A world of good
To see you in a box of wood~"


The feeling of that cold pressure suddenly left. It seemed Wicket had come here for a reason and found Fain by accident; Potentially trying to cover up his tracks? Whatever it may have been as Fain now stood in complete darkness with the potential threat surrounding him.....this only made things more dire
 

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That small entrance encouraged him, Fain kneeling down and locating the small space and journal. He flipped through the paged, speed reading dexterously through the dates and summaries. Wicket somehow made an appearance in all three entries. He could feel his jaw clench, his teeth grinding against each other in frustration as he read each encounter. Ignored. Played off. Imaginary. Fain closed his eyes for a moment, and just for a moment, cursed Abbot's parents for not paying proper attention to their child. They should have seen him, they should have seen the tall crooked man with hungry eyes watching their child.

'But they didn't, and they were punished. Rightfully so. They play a happy little game, look like a happy little family...but they neglected their child maybe without even realizing it. How could they have missed Wicket three times? THREE. Fain.' his mind hissed. 'Who just lets their child go out on their own? Who lets their child be alone in the dark of the night on the docks where anyone can pass by? We understand the feeling of neglect.'

Fain ignored the voice.

He made note of Abbot's information. The special trees, the farm. The timeline. It was recent. Time was of the essence.

Clutching the pages, he stood up. The lantern went out with a hush, Fain freezing up in light surprise. Something felt wrong, much too wrong, Fain felt too aware of his own breathing, a sound of heavy silence. The voice that lulled him into the darkness wasn't unknown. It couldn't be anyone else but Wicket. He remained silent, too shocked to even find the words if he had them. The low threats towards himself didn't do much, he knew how much Wicket liked to play with others. Jhadre, the previous detective was a clear indicator of that.

But the mention of Valenstein had him furrowing his brows. Valenstein? The man wasn't corrupted surely. Valenstein as annoying as he was held himself to rather high standards. However....he had high tastes as well. Money was always something Valenstein seemed to have a strange fixation on. Working with Richard couldn't be a clean job no matter how it seemed to appear. Valenstein was judgmental and slightly prejudiced.

'Why should it matter? Are you honestly going to choose Valenstein over a case? Over something that has finally given you that spark again? The will to continue?'

Couldn't he have both? Make sure the man was safe and continue the case?

'No.'

Yes.

"Wicket.." he breathed, voice a simple whisper. But the presence had left.

Why had he wanted to talk to him in the first place? Reason couldn't be used on criminals, logic couldn't move someone who doesn't think rationally. But there were reasons behind Wicket's madness. Reasons that Fain might have understood and perhaps...agreed with to some extent. 

To some.

But that is the reason they were on opposing sides after all.

He inhaled, sucking in the salty sea air and filling his lungs with needed oxygen, shoving the entries in his coat pocket. He needed to go to the farm...or perhaps he'd pay Valenstein a visit first.

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Valenstein despised the slums and not for the reasons most nobles or even wizards of his status would. He understood their situations almost better than anybody who lived in the inner circles because he grew up in the slums and fought, scratched, clawed, and blasted his way to where he was. He despised it here because unlike him who wanted nothing more then the best out of life.....these fools were fine with living in their own filth and misery. He couldn't understand how anyone could be content with scraping by and not working their hardest to seek perfection out of life. He would never sink back into these slums. Never. Guards had insisted on escorting him to the contact due to it usually being unwise for an noble or higher class individual to even step foot within the Cat's Cradle. Valenstein was A great deal of things, and even had a taste for the more...masculine side of romance, but he had studied magic and managed to even impress The Magistrate with his magical prowess...He could handle most that was thrown at him....granted it was clean of course. Valenstein rubbing his cuff's fabric as his magenta gaze illuminated as he looked around the crowded alleyways he had to weave through; his eyes catching a few gazes, but nothing that would cause trouble...yet. His destination taking him to the cesspool called 'Ouroboros'. A club filled with every vice and sin that could you could think of and even some you wouldn't want to. Valenstein sighing as he shook his head "Oh how I loathe this place" He said as he moved toward the tacky entrance where a bouncer was seen...however it wasn't the bouncer Valenstein was accustomed to. He actually liked the tin man, where was the rustic individual? "Identification" A solid voice was heard. Valenstein smiling as he snapped his fingers and presented his proper identification. Magic wasn't allowed passed the doors, and while Valenstein hated following the rules of the glorified snake that ran this place...His identification spoke true as he was allowed entry. "If you don't mind me asking; what happened to Mr. Rhineheart?" He asked
"Oh..uh you mean the last bouncer? He up and left about Six months ago....guess he couldn't cut it or moved on"
Valenstein rubbed a finger over his own cheek in thought as he thanked the man and headed inside....Six months ago? Why? He left this line of personal thought fade for the time being as his ears were assaulted with Club music.


While the Cat's Cradle was home to the bottom of Cradle's barrel....Ouroboros was where the parasites that fed off the bottom of every barrel in the world thrived....He had made it very clear in the past that he despised the underway and the 'freedom' of chaos they seemed to allow due to simply being 'supernatural' beings. Ourorboros had a very unique way of keeping mortals in the dark about any of their 'unique' customers and patrons. The club having two layers where the beings of this plane and those from the underway would enter and be in two different planes of existence at the same time. Those attuned to the Underway and have tasted it's environments would be able to see it's layer. Vampires, and other creatures of the dark that werent of the mortal plane having the ability to phase between these layers. Valenstein weaving through the partying crowds and ignoring the euphoric smells and tickles to his neck as he could feel the visages of the other plane and their embroiled parties beyond mortal senses. He was in no partying mood. Valenstein mounting the stairs that lead to the office and already...he knew she felt his presence as they met at the open door of her office. Magenta eyes blazing against sickly yellow ones that dared to...slit it's pupils "Mr. Stalonious" She said with a click of her teeth "What a surprise. I'm surprised you didn't break your legs falling from your high horse all the way down here~" She said with venom. Valenstein squinting slightly "Yes well It would be easier for me to come down to your level then you have to clean up your Elvira act and crawl up to mine" He snapped back
"I am in no gaming mood Gilandriel" he said "I am here under Cradle Authority looking for a fugitive whom is a main suspect in a kidnapping" He said as he shoulder checked her as he moved into her office. Gilandriel grinning as she turned toward him "Oh so Ive' heard...It's quite tragic~" She said, her mock sadness almost sickening "What do I have to do with that? You think I would harbor a fugitive?" She asked
"I very much do, but he isn't another one of your mindless drones wooed by your cheap hallows eve outfits. He is smarter then we accounted for...Where is Iscariate? I was told that he saw someone matching the description of Wicket" Valenstein said. Gilandriel moving backward as though she were floating. Valenstein hated how unnatural her movement was, but when you reeked of failed Horadric magic...he couldn't expect anything else. Her form leaning on his shoulder as her lips were directed at his ear "I would make you pay, but I can see you are in not a playful mood~ He is in the bloodworks. Go passed the stage...they'll let you through" She said as Valenstein immediately moved toward the exit "But remember Valenstein....not all snakes attack from the grass~" She said as he left her office

The Bloodworks were where demons, sentient monsters, and all underworld filth could congregate and test their prowess for money and fame. Valenstein already smelling the parade of sweat, blood, and intoxication. The sounds of cheering near deafening as he stepped into a large circular room where their were bleaches hugging the walls for those to watch, wait, and enjoy themselves. The Middle having A proper arena with ropes and even a system that could make things more interesting: Cages, spikes, live animals, negate powers, and even traps. Valenstein rolling his eyes as he saw the brute of a vampire in the middle of the arena, fighting a half giant of some sort it seemed. It seemed they were about halfway through the fight so Valenstein decided to take a seat.
There was a powerful thrust that cracked through the air as the half giant struck Iscariate in the shoulder. The vampire sliding back on his heels before shrugging off the strike and burning with rage as his eyes glowed like the pits of hell "Alright you big son of a bitch; That was good. I'll show you how to really punch huh?"
Iscariate lowering himself down as her put his arms up in a block as he started to charge forward, weaving from left to right. The giant never seeing too many boxing moves and thus didn't know how react as he aimed a heavy right hook as soon as Iscariate weaved left. The vampire seeing his opportunity as he spun around on his heels as he outstretched his fist and flexed his arms to bring A debilitating elbow cracking across the exposed face of the giant; causing him to fly backwards into the ropes and crumple into a pile of knocked out defeat. The unofficial referee quickly checking his pulse and then seeing if he could fight before calling the match "We have a victor! Give it up for Iscariate Lichthammer!" He called and garnered a myriad of bass heavy cheers as Iscariate pumped both fists into the air 
"What a buffoon" Valenstein said with a snort

Fain was left with ultimately two options. Head to where Valenstein was or pursue this farm that has been mentioned quite frequently
What would Fain do?

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The farm it was. There was unfortunately no way around this issue, he needed to get to the farm as soon as possible, it hadn't even been a day yet since Abbot was kidnapped. Surely...surely there was something. And yet, that was Wicket's voice. He knew where Fain was. He must have known Fain had found something, enough of a clue to be there. But did Wicket know what Fain had discovered? Did the gruesome man know Fain figured it out and was on his way? 

He shook his head, pushing open the flimsy door and pulling his red coat collar up close to him. He pulled out his phone, a small emotional need had taken a hold of him to call Valenstein. Some things couldn't be helped he supposed. He readjusted his black silken gloves before pressing some of his fingertips on the screen, and pulling them outwards. A small magitech square appeared, Fain quickly cycling through the contacts with his finger so quickly they hadn't even shown up before he was dialing. The holo square disappeared and he placed the phone up to his ear, leaning his cheek on the receiver as he dialed Valenstein.

He was confident the man would pick up. Valenstein would never ignore a call for him. Never. Fain couldn't even remember a time he actually called the man, but was grateful Valenstein had insisted on giving him his number so long ago. He supposed he might have even been embarrassed for calling, but it wasn't about emotions. His footsteps thudded on the dock wood softly as he made his way back to Cradle's inner area. He needed to catch a carriage.

'It's everything about emotions. If you weren't so nervous you wouldn't be calling him in the first place. He can take care of himself!'

Fain didn't want to leave that to chance, for he had seen Wicket surpass chance. 

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"Well I mean it's good to see you too I suppose Iscariate" Valenstein said as he leaned back in his chair. Iscariate using some of his winnings to pay for a private room so him and Valenstein could talk "Yea Yea, we've never seen eye to eye, but at least you back it up with being more than just a rich asshat. I wish I could shoot fiery death from my fingers is all I am saying" Iscariate said with a laugh. Valenstein smirking "It wasn't easy I assure, and it's not all that you see in comics." He said
"I saw him Val; I saw the sick bastard everyone has been freaking out about....Wicket" Iscariate said leaning forward
Valenstein reciprocating the action "Are you sure it was him?"
"Dude....I could smell the batshit crazy before I even saw him"
Valenstein' phone suddenly going off in his cloak; his fingers illuminating as it floated to his hand "Fain?" He asked, feeling the cold grasp of worry. He never called Valenstein....not unless something was wrong
"Fain?....Locke?...I wonder how his brother is doing..." Iscariate said in his glass as he took a drink

Fain hearing Valenstein's worried voice admissed the muffled sound of music and the slowly-getting-drunk-off-his-ass vampire talking 'An 8 foot mountain of pure' something or other "Fain? What's wrong? are you okay? Are you hurt? I can be there in minutes if I need to!" Valenstein said through the phone; He meant it too. His hand already starting to create a teleportation sigil

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Ah right, what to say on the phone. 

"Valenstein." he started, opening his mouth and pausing. How would he approach this? Valenstein was prone to...worrying. "Hello." he blurted, closing his eyes immediately after in a grimace.

'What a smooth talker. You idiot.'

Yes.

"I'm not hurt. I just wished to call you." Fain started, trying to recover, hearing the man's worried voice. "I simply wanted to make sure you were not meddling around in things. And that you were safe." he said, stressing on the word safe, hoping Valenstein would get the hint that he should go home, preferably talk to Richard about his safety. "There is a criminal on the loose after all, it would not be wise to be running around...particularly since he is around. At large." he continued, internally cringing at the way he was talking.

It needed to be done like this though. If Wicket somehow didn't know that Fain was on his way to the farm, then Fain didn't want to give anything away. Who knew what eyes were watching, what ears were listening. 

If anything this might upset the man as Valenstein told Fain first to not go looking around. But what the man didn't know wouldn't hurt him..or so Fain had hoped.

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"Hello? HELLO? Is that all you have to say? You in the entirety that I have known you and given you my number, have never called me. There is a mad man on the loose killing and stealing children not to mention I know you had some form of run in with something involved in this madness so I am already biting my tongue in absolute worry on what you are getting into...and you call me which you NEVER do by the way....and say hello?" He asked rubbing his face with frustration. Valenstein' pointing a glowing finger at the laughing vampire across from him whom stifled his laughter post haste; The overly dramatic wizard sighed relief "Well at least you aren't hurt" He said "What can I help you with?" He asked, his tone becoming much kinder. Valenstein furrowing his brows as Fain spoke to him about safety....stressing the word safe specifically. Fain was never too emotionally invested in anything and he had seen him pass out on occasion when things would get too heated so for him to stress the word safe with such profound.....worry....It was off putting. Was he implying that he wasn't safe? But he was in a situation where he couldn't be honest?....a kidnapping? It didn't make sense as to why he would call him of all people then. Was he then implying he wanted Valenstein safe?....it almost made his heart flutter at the prospect. "Well with your brother being rather...disconnected from this situation I figured I was more than capable of handling this situation. Would you rather I be home like a housewife?" He asked with an arc of his eyebrow
Maybe his housewife

"You may have bitch slapped me and are a hotshot magic tosser, but if 'waist-high' is talking about safety you should know Val.....I probably should of told you, but I thought you would know....I didn't just smell his psychosis....I smelled elder blood in him...He didn't get out of that prison through an escape route...whether he was one before he was put there or has some high friends in high places.....That psychopath my fine skin friend....is a vampire. One who was turned by an elder" Iscariate taking another drink from his glass before Valenstein slammed a fist down on the table "WHAT?!"
"Uh, Yea I thought-"
"He is a VAMPIRE?" Valenstein barked out "Im sorry Fain I have to go. Fain Locke....I want you to stay indoors, do you hear me?" He asked before slamming the phone closed and rose up from his chair "Your coming with me. I want you to tell me everything you smelled about him" He seethed as Iscariate arced an eyebrow, but knew it wasn't wise to argue with Valenstein when he was this angry.

Fain was left hung up on the other now with a terrifying bit of information, and off to look for the farmhouse of a serial killer who was now identified as a vampire. He had to trust Valenstein wouldn't do anything foolish and simply carry on with his task. The situation seeming to became more toxic to his health with every new clue.

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Fain found himself at a loss for words in the most infuriating kind of way, clenching his jaw in agitation at being cut off and then lectured. He paused, putting fingers to the bridge of his nose and pressing lightly. He was developing a headache.

"I-" he tried but his words were immediately clipped by Valenstein.

His anger simmered more at the question. If Fain himself was expected to stay inside and be safe all the time, why was it not also applicable to Valenstein? And here Fain had hoped the man would be touched by his concern. He could feel himself gritting his teeth, the anger only rising when he didn't get to say his piece. And when the time came that Valenstein 'did' ask what was going on, the man seemingly was whisked away into a lovely little distraction called panic.

Vampire.

His eyes slipped shut on their own accord, Fain feeling the vestiges of tired resignation hum through his body. Vampires. Why did it have to be vampires? Elder blood no less. And then he was hung up on. It took everything in his power not to just throw the phone on the ground and smash it with his heeled boot. He exhaled out of his nostrils trying to calm himself down. 

Assess: Based on the new information, would this change his course of destination?

Summary: No.

Well that was that then wasn't it? Vampire or not, time was of the essence. He had to get there as soon as possible, especially if Wicket had been trying to cover his tracks. Abbot might be-there could be a chance from the things that had happened just now, that Abbot's life might still be salvageable. Fain's knuckles turned white as he gripped the phone tightly in anger before wrenching it away from his face and back into his red coat pocket. 

'Worthless all of them. This is the thanks you get for wanting to make sure he's safe. What a waste of time!' mentality hissed.

A small bitter part of him agreed. A very small part.

He trudged on.

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The situation had altered in Valenstein' eyes. It had gone from a dangerous situation for those whocould not defend themselves to anyone and everyone having a risk to their life. Valenstein knew that Fain had something important to say lest he wouldn't have called him.....but that foolish man was also up to something because he heard the ocean  in the background of the call. He was no fool; The observatory was nowhere near an ocean, and he knew Fain well enough to know that he was involved somehow. Wicket being a vampire; one with his sick and twisted views tied around violent tendencies was beyond dangerous for anyone to be out right now. He had to do something with this new information.....He had to keep Fain safe.
That was the only reason why he found himself sprinting toward The Magistrate' Castle. This was a matter he needed to hear personally. Valenstein dragging Iscariate through security after security before finally running up the steps of The Castle in alarm

  It was an unfortunate realization that the easiest aspect of this quest he was going on was getting a hold of the carriage. Supplies and emergency equipment being provided as He found himself on his way to this supposed farm of Wicket's.... He had managed to narrow it down to three forest locations. The only three locations where this type of tree was located....It was his best bet. Cradle was a beautiful place that was otherwise a progressive handler in beauty and technology....but outside it's borders....out into the Wilds of Terrenus...It was far more dangerous as it was beautiful in it's natural state. A pale light shimmering through the thick trees of the glade he was passing through. The sun having a strange affect as it filtered through the dew in the forest. The light enamoring Fain and making his already paled skin glow. Fain getting a small break from all his troubles as the world surrounded him in a peaceful mirage of tranquility. It took most of the night to finally see the twilight of the forest pass him by as he made it to a small glade. The moon bidding farewell as it lowered into the horizon of dawn. It was going to be a long journey and if Abbot had any chance....It would be from Fain's perseverance. 
fantasy-forest-hd.jpg

There came a startling sound of crashing trees and splitting limbs from the forest he had just left behind; the sound of movement causing Fain to look back and he would catch a glimpse of something large.....Something was following him. It was best to get moving. The horses starting to gallop as they moved through the glade.
There came a deafening eruption of wood as Fain registered that the back of the cart had been ripped open.....by a monstrous beast.
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It was a Bahl Tiger....367 pounds of pure muscle and bone. It's paw nearly 12 inches wide as it swiped through the cart. Fain being flung from the cart as the horses were spooked and charged forth into the dark....leaving Fain behind. Fain landing roughly in a tall patch of grass as the glowing eyes of the tiger were seen trashing the cart into splinters.
What was going on?
Perhaps Fain should have been better prepared....

The tiger sniffing the air before the glow of his eyes beamed toward Fain in the grass. The fear almost palpable in the air as growled and licked it's teeth as it marched heavily toward him. Fain's magic could be effective here....if he were thinking clear enough to use it, but it was hard to think when you had a tiger of this immense size suddenly ambush you. It's back legs tensing before leaping toward Fain....So this was how it ended....alone in the woods....to be torn apart by a tiger.....
It turned out fate had a much different plan for Fain as fate came in the form of a sound of ear piercing metal being clashed against. Fain opening his eyes to see a large form in front of him...but it wasn't a tiger.
It was a man
Fain could see that he adorned a long duster that covered his back and touched his heels....A ruddy hat seen before Fain's vision focused on the....metal arm that was gripping the tiger' claw. It roared out of anger before his other gloved hand reached to it's chest and in a heavy set grapple....twisted the beast around and slammed it into the ground. His metal arm keeping it's head shoved into the ground before the mystery man turned his head around and looked at Fain. He looked rough and possessed a grotesque metal jaw. His steely eyes looking at Fain dully "It's not safe out here at night" was all he said before the tiger scrambled up and caused the metal man to stumble as it threw itself into him. "Calm down ya stinkin animal" He grumbled before lurching forward and bear hugging him tightly  and hurling it into the ground. The tiger barking out in pain as his paw as shattered as it smashed into a tree. the beast completely out as The ma Hen turned toward Fain
"Sorry ah wasn't fast enough ta save yer cart. Not as fast as ah used ta be" He said tipping his hat
"Names Wirejaw" He said kneeling in front of Fain "Ya alright? what are ye doing out here?"

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"You know I don't appreciate being interrupted without due warning Valenstein." rang the casual voice of Richard as Valenstein stepped inside to his office. Inside was dim, no lights on, just the natural light coming through the one big window in the back. Richard's grand silhouette blocked most of the light from the window, hands clasped behind his back as he turned around. "That tells me that something important must have happened hm? Perhaps something to do with my...little brother." he inquired with a light tone. 

For as useful as Valenstein was, and nicely as the man followed orders, and threw himself into his job.... 

Valenstein had too much sentiment.

Fain always managed to muddle things up, even without knowing it. This, but of course, was no different. It was honestly...an exceptional issue however Valenstein didn't let such thing interfere with his work...or rather he hadn't..until now.

He sighed, or rather exhaled a bit deeper through his nostrils, indicating a sort of known disappointment. "Go on then." he said with amiable acceptance, sitting down in his office chair that more resembled a throne...

"Tell me what Fain has gotten into this time."


Well, honestly what did he expect? Outside of Cradle, the wilds were not something to be trifled with. As he was flung from the carriage, Fain briefly cursed himself for his haste but at the same time he found himself still not regretting his decision. Time was so important right now, it was of the essence. A child's life hung in the balance after all. 

As he landed on the ground harshly, he felt the breath knocked out of his lungs. Luckily, it seemed he hadn't broken any bones during the fall, though his body and back ached something fierce and he knew his hands and knees had gotten scraped up. That was the least of his worries though as he rolled onto his back slowly, suddenly staring up at bright glowing yellow eyes. The tiger's growl reverberated throughout the woods with a rumble, and Fain desperately tried to reach for the knife in his pea coat pocket. Just as he managed to grab its handle, a massive paw swiped down through the air to rip him to shreds. 

Having tensed up, Fain didn't register what had happened until he heard the angry roars of a hungry best and the rough voice of a man. He snapped his eyes open, forcing himself to lift his head and upper body, leaning on his elbow as he watched the mystery man somehow take down a best twice his size. He managed to get onto his knees before there was silence, Fain starling as the man knelt down by him. He didn't believe for a moment the man's name was actually Wirejaw, but Fain nodded in gratitude nonetheless, trying to control the hammering of his heart.

And try to get over the fact that he almost just died.

"I'm...Fain. Thank you soundly for your assistance Sir Wirejaw." he breathed, voice a bit faint as he shakily held out his scraped hand. Manners should always be implemented regardless of the state of person. "And I am, seeking something." he said vaguely, swallowing down the fear and anxiety that was still pumping through his veins.

This put quite the damper on things, but he wasn't concerned. He hadn't broken or sprained any bones, sure he was a bit shaky as he slowly got to his feet, but he could walk. It couldn't be far now, and if need be, he could just..call the authorities..or Valenstein. 

Maybe.

"I apologize for my lack of polite gratitude, but I must on my way. I can-" he cut himself off, quickly patting down his red peacoat and procuring a small sack that held money and gems inside it, He took a couple of rare gems out, clutching the man's palm quickly and placing them in his palm before turning and making his way through the forest with trembling limbs but determined eyes.
 

Edited by Lady Etude

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