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Night 56: M11 - M20 Hallway
The slow burn of nostalgia
spandexorgtfo wrote in damned

There had been no orders from Sora as far as Kratos was aware of; it gave him cause to worry only because he tended to do poorly without some sort of direction or objective. This might have persuaded him to indeed take the night off again, but he had by some miracle managed to finish all of his dinner, and it had granted him enough - or at least, the illusion of enough energy for him to completely abandon the idea of erring gratuitously on the side of caution.

By the time the door unlocked, he was already gently sliding the broadsword into the holster at his hip, adjusting it until it sat comfortably. The positioning was slightly different than he was accustomed to, but overall, it seemed to be working nicely - and left him with a hand free, as well. Granted, his speed was also because he had chosen to not wear his usual outfit: the tight fit of the fabric was difficult to manage in his condition. It was really in times like these that he almost wished for his Cruxis uniform despite all of its unnecessary belts and buckles: he didn't mind continuing to wear the Institute's uniform, but wearing his own clothes put him more at ease.

He still had no idea what he was going to be doing this night, but mercenaries by their nature needed to be flexible about those sorts of things; if he was going to continue to use that story, he might as well play the part properly once in a while. So, if some work came his way and had sufficient benefit, so long as it seemed less strenuous than what he'd usually been doing for the past week or so, he would accept it. Otherwise, at least he'd get the chance to stretch his legs for a bit before heading back inside.

Casting a swift glance back at his roommate, Kratos gave Kenshin a curt nod as per usual before leaving stiffly.

[to here]

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When the doors clicked open without the usual announcement, Gren frowned a little and finally uncurled himself from his hunched position on the bed.

"That can't be a good sign."

As much as he would have liked to simply curl up and stay there for the duration of the night, he'd promised to meet Leela. Besides, he knew that the last thing he needed now was to isolate himself. It wasn't going to help matters in the slightest. So he forced himself to get up and go through his box until he'd collected his flashlight, radio, and a bottle of painkillers he'd salvaged from the ruins their second night out. They wouldn't get rid of all of his symptoms, but it would probably make the night more bearable.

And then it was time to change--as much as he didn't care to be in uniform again, the clothes were sturdier, which was what mattered. Finally, he grabbed the shovel from where it had been left and headed for the door, glancing back at his roommate as he did so. "Take care of yourself out there, okay?"

[To here.]

Edited at 2011-05-31 02:32 am (UTC)

Edgar acknowledged Gren's exit with a nod. "You do the same." The previous night had been rough on both of them; he hoped Gren would at least find the answers he was looking for, and with as little trouble as possible. The latter was unlikely. Somehow, the lack of a nightly announcement was more foreboding than when the staff teased the patients with a hint of what was to come.

Alone in the room, Edgar took a moment to assess himself. He still felt fatigued from the day, and the heat in his chest had been worse since the doors unlocked, rising again to a level just skirting his tolerance. He undid the top few buttons of his shirt and rolled up his sleeves, attempting to give his skin some breathing room, then headed for the desk, downing the entire glass of water that accompanied his meal. It did little to quell the sweltering feeling coming from within his own body.

He ran a hand through his hair, the perspiration causing strands to stick to his fingers. He supposed it was the night itself- surely those with magic had it sealed during the day, or someone with less sense would have tried something ill-planned against the nurses shortly after their arrival. If, during the night, that seal was released... His teeth gritted together at the realization that he might be feeling the oppressing heat every night from then on. Well, all the more reason to learn to adjust as quickly as possible: magic would be useful, and those watching to see his reaction (how he might let it overwhelm him, she'd said- he felt his blood boil as he recalled the doctor's steely tone) would not have the pleasure of seeing him fall.

It wasn't in Edgar's nature to let others have all the fun, but he was going to have to save his for another night. He left his collection of tools and inventions gathered around the box for now, knowing he was, regrettably, too exhausted to lug any of them further than a few rooms. He decided on the shovel, but would leave the doctor's coat for the night. The shovel, while it wasn't a proper weapon, would have to do. As for magic... he wasn't sure he was capable of using it yet, but if he was, he'd have to wait until he was well enough to try it. In his ill state, he was certain he'd either leave himself completely spent, or unconscious from the effort. The sleep study had been enough humiliation; the last thing he needed was for Lunge and Ryuuzaki to find him lying on the floor, no monster in sight and his room possibly on fire.

Bringing his hands before him, Edgar eyed the sweat that had collected on them from the quick brush with his temple. His eyes were drawn to something beneath his fingernails- dried blood. He clasped his hand lightly, finding his nails lined up perfectly with the small cuts on his palm. Oh yes, from when his hand had balled itself into a fist so tightly that he couldn't release it. Unable to pick the blood out with his nails, he turned to his box. There had to be something in there that could do the job.

Indeed there was: Edgar took a seat at his desk, resting his feet atop it and getting to work with the relic sword, its tiny blade perfect for scraping dried blood from under fingernails. At least it was finding a purpose.

[L and Lunge]

[From here.]

L transfered the flashlight to the hand with the axe. Then, with his knuckles, he rapped lightly on Edgar's door.

And there was Edgar's date for the night, right on time. He returned his feet to the floor, heaving himself from his chair. Though feeling worse than he had in some time, he managed to muster enough manners to answer the door for his visitors, even if he'd not bothered to put the room in some semblance of order. His desk and bed were still littered with his projects, bits and pieces left where the staff had set them rather than having been moved to his wardrobe. He wasn't terribly concerned about leaving them in the open, for a change: they were still likely to backfire on anyone who used them, making for a nice surprise for would-be thieves.

He ran a hand through his hair one more time before pulling the door open, revealing the two men standing on the other side. He greeted them with a nod, stepping aside and motioning with the sword for them to enter. "Ryuuzaki, Lunge. Do come in while I gather a few things for the night."

Closing the door behind them, Edgar turned his attention back to his desk. Setting the relic blade beside his possessions box, he opened his drawer and began sifting through the remains of the radio that lined the bottom for his flashlight. "Any idea on where we'll be headed this evening?"

'Too much indiscretion on the bulletin board'? It sounded as though L had something- or maybe someone- specific in mind with that statement, though who or what he couldn't say just from that. With L's paranoia, he was doubtless far more thorough with the board as a whole than he was with it in general unless there was anything there that caught his eye, particularly now that the military had seemingly lowered the level of censorship.

Whatever the case, 'Lars' was apparently going to go to a meeting without them. It had always been apparent to the inspector that L felt he had reason to be especially vigilant in guarding his identity, and Lunge could hardly object to being careful; it wasn't as though he had anything to lose in agreeing.

"I'll be sure to put up a response," he answered, following the man into the next hallway until they reached Edgar's room- a room which, as the man opened the door for them, he noticed was scattered with things. Odds and ends, mostly metallic, that looked to be deconstructions of the various objects and tools he'd seen around the Institute, though even if pushed Lunge doubted he could guess how they'd once fitted together. An inventor, then? How promising- though it's not a role I'd have naturally put with 'magic user'.

This time, he didn't even have to think about which name to use before speaking; using multiple names was becoming entirely reflexive. "I'm not entirely sure," he answered. "I don't know that the second floor would be particularly useful- I believe we've covered most of that ground. What do you think, Ryuuzaki?"

As Edgar set the blade down, L's gaze followed it, sharpening and lingering on it for a moment.

Where had it come from? It wasn't one of the items from Edgar's box in Patient Possessions, and it seemed out of the ordinary in terms of goods typically found around the Institute. There had been no indication that Edgar had been "sent home" a week earlier in a way that would explain the blade's presence, and at any rate, it looked like a cross between a ceremonial dagger and a glorified letter-opener, rather than like a useful weapon.

He could address that momentarily, after attending to the more pressing question at hand.

"There are a number of rooms on the second floor that I haven't visited yet, but whether or not visiting them is worthwhile is another question. The trouble is that we don't know whether or not we'll even be able to get to them to decide." A repetition of Tuesday evening, when he hadn't been capable of taking on what had confronted him and the night had mostly been wasted, wasn't in his plans. It was impossible to accomplish much on these nocturnal excursions without accepting a certain amount of risk--he was beginning to doubt that they would ever be able to get too much further without being in more direct danger than he liked--but in retrospect, he knew that he was lucky that the evening had only been pointless and not an utter disaster.

"Our options are limited tonight by several factors--the weather, Edgar's condition, and so on--so I thought the doctors' offices on the other side of the Sun Room might be a reasonable target. I'm still interested in taking a look at the computer system here, although I doubt it will tell us much."

Doyle had been involved in the creation of the Institute, and presumably knew its systems well, or at least an iteration of them. The fact that he had apparently been outside when he'd hacked in might also have been a factor in his success, although if that were the case, it would be unusual. Direct access to the server was preferable, most of the time. However, if the server were within reach, information related to its location would almost certainly be circulating by now, and L hadn't heard even a whisper of it. That suggested that it was kept in a place that the patients couldn't get to, no matter how strong or skilled they were, or that very few people had found it, and they weren't talking.

It went against L's instincts to take these things at face value without testing them--all the stories about the walls, literal and figurative, that he wouldn't be able to breach--but limited time and manpower meant that he had to pick and choose what to address. Information about the facility's history might still be available somewhere in the system, or L might be able to find a way to control some element of the system itself. Both seemed like long shots, especially the latter, but there was no way to know without trying. He'd have to try to do what he could do with no knowledge of the location of the server room. It might be as much as Doyle had done; it might be nothing at all.

"As an alternative, we could attempt to visit the nurses' areas on the second floor, but it would be more dangerous." He sighed, then added, "However, I doubt it's likely to tell us anything about what's happened to them.

"Edgar, I've been meaning to ask you about that knife you were holding a moment ago. Where did you find it?" He segued into the topic as if the answer to his question might be a third choice to consider.

Edited at 2011-06-06 06:45 am (UTC)

Edgar was glad he wasn't facing either visitor at that moment; it allowed him to hide the look of irritation on his face as Ryuuzaki mentioned his condition as a hindrance, despite his being right there. The man had a point, but that didn't make the comment sting any less. Edgar considered that, given the insight into his background as royalty, Ryuuzaki might have thought he'd spent his life in the relative safety of his castle, never trekking across the world and always letting a bodyguard do the fighting for him. He sighed, closing his eyes. It wouldn't be the first time someone thought he was afraid to get his hands dirty.

"I appreciate your concern," he said, glancing over his shoulder, "but I assure you I'm well enough for the evening." The gravel tone of his voice didn't help his argument. "I've been through more taxing territory than anything I've seen here, and in worse condition. I'll survive wherever the night leads us."

He returned his attention to his possessions, finally finding his flashlight and Luxord's radio. "As for the knife, I can't tell you exactly where I found it," he admitted. He grabbed the bag he'd purchased in town, tossing the radio into it. Into the bag also went the items he usually had in the pockets of his jacket: the wrench and screwdriver were joined by the roll of tape he'd taken from the upstairs storage. "Ryuuzaki, I think I've mentioned this to you before- a room that didn't fit with the rest of the building? And the undead creature my roommate and I faced there? It was guarding this."

He shrugged, pulling the strap of the bag over his shoulders before taking said knife in hand and offering it to Ryuuzaki for his perusal. "We were taken there the night the doors were enchanted, warping us all over the institute, so I can't really tell you exactly where we were or how to get back. Do you know something about it?"

Quietly Lunge added 'hacking' to L's constantly growing list of skills; well, that was to be expected from what he'd generally seen as a one-man investigation team. Was it that he had a natural flair for all of these things, or did he simply not quite trust anyone else to get the job done as thoroughly as he would like?

Speaking of skills, yet again he had to wonder if social delicacy was one that he particularly cared about. It seemed that he hadn't felt the need to soften the blow of mentioning Edgar's condition as a 'limitation' (true, perhaps, but I can't imagine his pride is going to take to that lightly) so abruptly, and the result was fairly predictable. Truthfully Lunge couldn't say that he was entirely convinced by Edgar's health, not even after the man's insistence that he was fine, but arguing was only going to be counter-productive at this stage.

"A room that didn't fit with the rest of the building..." Lunge tilted his head suddenly, rolling through possibilities. "Ryuuzaki and I encountered something similar on that very night- we were taken to a room with a Sphinx, who was also guarding something. Something very similar."

His eyes fell to where Edgar had placed the miniature sword; the scale of it was nearly identical to that of the shield, the detailing and colouring similar. Almost as if they'd been made to match. He considered his conversation with Dent, and then he smiled a little.

"We found a shield that night- it's roughly the same size." It was perhaps a risk discussing the shield so plainly- he didn't know how much L wanted to tell Edgar about it- but he doubted they would be here at all if it wasn't alright.

As Lunge spoke, L set the long blade on the roommate's desk, then took the knife and examined it by the light of his flashlight.

He hadn't seen the shield since the night they'd won it. Because Monday's procedure had been followed by several days of recovery, which had themselves been followed by Aguilar's takeover of the Institute, the basement in general and the shield in particular had receded in importance and interest. Still, it wasn't hard to recall what the shield had been like in the darkness a week earlier. He could envision it from there: if the knife were laid alongside the shield, it would look like a miniature sword, and the two would probably appear to be a matched pair.

"To be strictly accurate, we won the shield from the Sphinx by answering its riddle. It called it the Coliseum Shield and said that it would be useful in the grand ballroom; Jones told me that there's a place that could fit that description in the basement. Past that, we don't know as much as we'd like to."

He paused, then added, "From the sound of it, the Sphinx's chamber has elements in common with the room you were in. I wasn't able to see any of the area outside of the chamber before we found ourselves in another part of the Institute entirely, but as you said, neither room seemed to fit with the rest of the Institute. When we discussed it before, I couldn't be sure that your room was in the basement. This"--he set the little sword back on Edgar's desk--"seems to support the idea that it was.

"Do we know of anyone acquiring any other items of this nature? If there's anything similar to be found, or won, my guess is that it will be an axe, or a bow... some other kind of small weapon. But these may be the only two. If they were full-size, you could use them together. That isn't the case with the other weapons I can think of."

He let Edgar's protestations of good health pass without comment, and without suggesting a change to a more ambitious plan for the night. It would always be frustrating to lose an ally, no matter how it happened, but his concern wasn't just for Edgar's well-being: it was also for his own survival, and for Lunge's. Edgar might be strong enough to slog out to the ruins or the mines without getting hurt or exhausted, but even if that were the case, there was no guarantee that he'd be much good for anything more strenuous, like fighting off an attack. That weakness put everyone else at risk: people who had to spend too much time defending another member of the group might not be able to defend themselves. That being the case, there was no sense in actively courting a situation where there was a good chance they would be tested. L's memory of the blade slicing into his arm Wednesday night, a hot stinging sensation, returned so vividly that he almost winced.

Instead, he retrieved the brush axe, then put on an expectant expression, his gaze moving from Edgar to Lunge. "If everyone is ready?"

Edited at 2011-06-11 04:34 am (UTC)

Edgar shook his head; though unable to recall any other mention of someone finding similar items, he was grateful to be getting some solid answers regarding the basement for a change. Coliseum, grand ballroom- the room of armor and the sword guarded by the undead beast didn't seem as out of place if the infamous basement contained such elaborate settings.

He took the sword in hand, returning it to his possessions box. The prospect of finding out its purpose was exciting, especially if that brought them any closer to the heart of the institute.

"Every time I've asked about the basement," he said, turning to Lunge and Ryuuzaki, "I've been met with either a reluctance to speak of it, or a flat-out refusal; I'm not even sure of where the entrance is located. I've heard of the ballroom, but not of these objects or how to use them. My guess was that they had to have some significance, or they wouldn't be guarded; however, why some patients work so hard to keep the secrets of this place to themselves, I will never know." He could understand the desire to keep others safe- it was a desire he had, himself- but even he could admit when it became more of a hindrance than a precaution. He wouldn't risk lives that didn't need risking, but there was something to be said for the idiom 'Nothing ventured, nothing gained.'

With his shovel in hand, he opened the door for his companions, following them out.

[To here.]

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