o=)-----------Three Months since Monroe headed to the Dome---------(=o
Monroe had returned home from his training at the Dome about two months earlier. The Quincy had discovered what he truly was and his goal. Minding the fact that the dark clad man had a sense of reality. The Technological Quincy knew that his family needed money. The best way to go about that goal was by using his talents as a spiritual hunter to destroy rogue spirits with his powers. However, in Rubato, these were few and farbetween, so the sword Quincy found himself spending a lot of time at home.
For Monroe, life had become more about home things than battles and excitement, as it had once been about. Monroe had learned to cook, and clean, and rewire his house, and any number of other household skills. After a long life of combat, the Quincy could finally boast some practical skills in a home. Actually, at that very moment, the dark clad man was cooking dinner for his house.
After rewiring the whole house over a week to make the building a multiple circuit home, due to Alex's power of lightning, to stop the short circuiting and explosions caused by them. In his first week home, Monroe had chipped of more burnt and charred flesh than he imagined a human being should have been able to. Now that the building was better wired to prevent power surges, everything was working at maximum capacity.
Still, as Monroe cut up the vegetables, he found himself thinking about other things. The Quincy clenched his hand around the handle of his knife and felt the wooden handle splinter a little bit. With a powerful chop, the dark clad man heard a voice speak up to him. The voice was none other than the young woman living in his home, Alex.
"Monroe, are you okay?" she asked, smiling a little bit. Since Tracey and Monroe had found Alex at the Temple of the Sun, she had been living their with the two of them. Although she was a nice girl, Monroe knew she could be a handful from time to time. "I'm fine." Monroe's response was a fake kind of happy that really kind of bothered him to use on her. Still, the dark clad man couldn't help but think about another fight with Zachary. After all, the two were now one and one. The time had come to settle their rivalry.
Monroe would talk to Tracey about after dinner.
The ice innate looked at himself in a kind of mirror made of ice and smiled. He was wearing the same clothing he had to Zorlo and Selene's wedding. They were still as nice looking as when Zorlo had bought them for Zachary. The ice mage sighed slightly as he thought about it, but quickly shook himself a bit and forced a smile. Tonight was about him and Arietta. After all, he was taking her out to dinner for their three month anniversary.
The red haired boy looked behind him at the box laying on his bed. The Ice Elemental moved towards the box and picked it up, smiling as he thought about what was inside. Omar had outdone himself. After a long while of work, the blacksmith had finally created something that made the ice warrior proud to give to his girlfriend. After all, it had been those weapons that had convinced Zachary to become Omar's apprentice.
The apprentice blacksmith picked up the box and smiled at himself as he took another look in the mirror. "Time to go," he muttered to himself happily as he walked out the entrance of his cave and off towards Blancwood. After all, that's where Zachary planned to meet his girlfriend for dinner. This was bound to be a good night.
OoC: Good posts come to those who wait. : P Or, more accurately, long ones. X3 (I know, good post =/= long.)
Not long after Monroe had left, her researches about Alex's origins had come to a conclusion. It was, simultaneously, the best and worst possible answer she could have imagined--at first she was in disbelief, but then...thinking back over that first moment that she had seen the girl's face, when the resemblance was so striking...she had to chide herself for not figuring it out much sooner. She wondered if the girl's family, and much family she did indeed have, knew anything about her...
It had been eight years ago. Galliard Madrigal was still in prison, where he had been for five years then, cut off from the happenings of his family. He never got to see or prevent Vivace Madrigal, his eldest daughter, from taking charge of the household then; nor did he get to stop Anton Dionne, the man he'd tried to keep apart from her, and the very person who'd landed him in prison, from stepping in. Even with Galliard out of the way, they had to elope, so the police and the other Madrigals' eyes could not follow them. From then on, Vivace would send her other sisters on assignments far from the house, or disappear at times herself. This was the situation Alessandra Dionne was born into. She and a...the documents here were unclear, Tracey found, but possibly another sister were kept with their father Anton as infants, visited as often as possible by their mother, and they knew nothing of their aunts or grandparents.
This continued until Alessandra was four. Her father had to disappear then, as he was being hounded by Cernilian scientists who wanted to study and take advantage of his abilities. Vivace was too involved in her criminal empire to take the girl in, and if her sisters knew of her marriage to Dionne, everything would be ruined. Alessandra was let out onto the streets. The documents no longer mentioned a sibling.
A year later, Anton Dionne, wearing the appearance of an enemy soldier by the name of Paris Valentia, died in the war between Cernilia and Blancwood. His daughter Alessandra was a five-year old wanderer in the desert, gathering whatever food, water, and clothing she could from anyone who took pity on her. By this time, she had met the Spirit of Lightning, who had appeared to her, as many Spirits will to their gypsies, once to give her light and guidance on a particularly dark evening when she was lost. Magic was mentioned, and now and again, she could feel electricity arcing between her fingertips.
Time flowed on like a river, getting slowed by the usual bumps and obstacles.
The documents were very vague now. As of the last year, all that could be confirmed of Alessandra Dionne was that some townspeople had seen a child wandering the deserts on clearer days. But she was here now, under a roof and in a safe home, and DNA tests had proven her to be the eight-year old daughter of Anton Dionne and his wife Vivace. She had been nicknamed "Alex", and given her own bedroom, and bought lots of clothing and other things--whatever Tracey could afford on a salary that was also going towards a house, car, and other bills.
When Monroe returned home, he and Alex built a bond slowly. It was...shaky, at first. Explosive, you could say. But now she often seemed to feel closer to him than she did with Tracey...
The smell of dinner wafted in from the kitchen. It hinted that quite a lot of food was being cooked for this particular meal--Tracey deduced that Monroe, if his past behavior could be any indication, seemed to have something he needed to talk to her about.
"Have a nice dinner," was all Cadenza had said to her that evening when she had gone to get ready. It almost sounded like acceptance, if she didn't know any better. Her sister had never been comfortable with the idea of her dating Zach before, so she couldn't imagine that'd change now...
Still, that wasn't the important thing now. Tonight was her anniversary with Zach, and it was going to be a special night...
Arietta checked her bag to make sure she'd put her present for him away there, gave her hair one last look in the mirror in the foyer, and headed out. The wind carried her away towards Blancwood.
"It was raining on that day," Monroe said to Alex.
"Rain? Where?" she asked, looking at him excitedly.
"It was raining where I left on the day I returned here. I know it doesn't rain in Rubato. Hasn't for over a hundred years, I've heard. If it were so in my power, I'd bring rain... but I can't. This world's logic is different than my world's. In my world, their aren't pesky gods ruling over things like rain."
Alex quirked her eyebrow and looked at him. "But, I don't think the spirits are bad. One helped me once," she told him.
Monroe simply nodded. "I never said they were bad, I just said that they conflict with logic. After all, technology can't exceed the limitless powers of magic. I've accepted that after all this time," he told Alex, smiling at her. "After all, your magic nearly killed me multiple times."
Alex blew a raspberry at that thought. "You were fine," she said with a smile as she looked at him. "So, how's dinner coming?" she asked.
Monroe carried multiple plates onto the dinning room table and smiled at her. "All done."
"Why so much?" Alex asked, looking at the vast amounts of food.
"Well, for one, you're a growing girl. Two, Tracey hasn't eaten in like two days. Three, it gives me a chance to slow Tracey down from running away from the table." Alex simply laughed as the dark clad man moved towards the stairs. "Tracey, time for dinner," he yelled up.
The sand beneath his feet seemed less moving than normal. He hadn't really noticed how far he had gone since he had walked off. His cave was halfway between where he worked and Blancwood. He never told Omar about his living conditions because he knew one truth about Omar: Omar lived a less desirable fashion than Zach did, the ice innate told himself. After all, Omar barely had food and water in his forge most of the time. Still, it was hard to find good food anywhere, even in a port town.
The city limits of Blancwood weren't too far off. With each step, it drew closer, it seemed. Within mere moments that past like seconds, the ice mage entered into the town and slowly walked towards the restaurant he had reserved a place for. Now that Zachary had a bit of money, he could afford to do nice things for the people he cared about. He had sworn he wouldn't become like Zorlo: a person that spent more time away from home than with the people that cared about him. Even if that person seemed limited to one or two now.
As the city lights moved past the red haired youth, he looked at the entrance to the restaurant. He had ambitions of waiting here for Arietta. When she arrived, then he would enter. For now, he kept his present hidden. He wanted to really surprise her. That was his only goal. That, and to make her happy.
OoC: As promised, here's your post. :3 This can start moving along again now.
"Tracey, time for dinner!"
The sleuth put down the files she'd been poring over, and rolled off the bed. Sheets trailed off with her, dragging along pillows onto the floor. The thing had been left completely unmade until Monroe had come home... and now she felt bad about ruining his hard work. She smoothed out the sheets and pillows as best she could and cleared off her papers onto a nightstand before coming down the steps for dinner.
I wonder... if there's still a sister of Alex's roaming about...
The girl was there to pull her along to the kitchen when she'd reached the foyer. She was grinning, with the look that said she was impatient to eat and you'd better not slow her down, and as she tugged on Tracey's shirtsleeve she said, "Hurry up, lady, dinner's gonna get cold."
Dinner's going to get cold...? Monroe did seem to be working really hard on this meal, like he had news. Cases have kept me from eating much lately, but that's only because food is a distraction, and you push yourself more to unravel a puzzle if it's standing between you and some primal urge like that to eat.
But... I can make an exception this time, for him.
The redhead let the girl lead her along to the table, where plates upon plates of food were laid out, with tongs, spoons, and ladles to serve them with. A medley of delicious smells wafted up from the large spread, reminding Tracey just how much she'd missed food the past few days.
"This looks amazing," she told Monroe as he walked over to pull out a chair for her. The detective said it with a smile, but her green eyes also fixed him with a puzzled look that he could easily read. In that glance was a question: what's the news you need to share?
The wind rode over the dunes, across the Pé del Fuego's sands that still shimmered in the night with their heat, and into the tree-lined streets of Blancwood, entering as a cool breeze that ruffled curtains and gently shook branches. Then it landed with a sound like high-heels clopping on stone, because it was, in fact, landing in the form of someone wearing high-heels upon the stone street.
Arietta Madrigal straightened up her hair with a compact from her purse, and then set off down the alley, a smile on her face and a song in her head. It'd be just a few more minutes before she arrived at the restaurant, and this wonderful evening could begin.
Dinner seemed to pass quicker than Monroe had thought it would, and before long, the dining room was completely silent. Alex headed off to bed to go get some sleep, mostly on the earlier request of Monroe. This left the Quincy and the detective downstairs. Tracey had been eating unusually slowly, so by the time that the dark clad man and Alex had finished, Monroe had time to clean the dishes before the red haired woman finished. Monroe guessed she knew that he wanted to tell her something, and he couldn't but oblige her.
"Tracey..." Monroe spoke up after a few moments of silence. He looked at her and smiled as he placed a clean dish back into the cabinet it had come from. Monroe had found all of the finest and sturdiest materials from all over the worlds he had been to in order to rebuild the house they now owned and make it nicer. It had even been a nice way to test out some of his newest inventions and test their uses. That was why his house had wood and a massive water system that could function in even the desert. Still, it wasn't something he could use over a wide area, but for just his house it worked.
It was quiet for a few moments again, but the former bounty hunter did continue his thought. "While I was training in the Dome... I found something. Something of good interest, actually. A door to a realm that had been long lost, moved into the Dome. Since... after last time Zachary and I fought, nothing has been settled. I plan to... challenge him to meet me there, in this place where he'll be able to fight at full strength, and finally settle things. I just wanted to make sure you knew, ya know... just in case of... well... worst case scenario," he told her, trying to keep a semblance of a smile as he raised his eyes to look at her. Now it was up to her what happened next.
o=)---------- Blancwood -----------(=o
"Well, that was enjoyable," Zachary said to himself with a confident smile as he walked out of the back alley of a nearby building. What he had left was a few human icicles for the police to find. Lucky for the perpetrators, Zachary had made sure to not freeze their heads. At least they had a chance of living. After all, dealing with muggers was best done with a little bit of stride. Or, in this case, freezing them in place worked fine.
As the sand scattered underneath the ice innate's feet, he could feel himself getting more and more nervous. After all, he had two things he wanted to give Arietta tonight. One was her present, the second was a secret that he had spent time working when he wasn't in Omar's forge to finally get to work. Now, as Zachary walked back towards the restaurant, he held the box tightly against his chest and sighed. Almost there. Almost there.
Time wasn't one of those things that Zachary took for granted by any means of the imagination. He knew that if he wasn't there when she arrived, she would be mad. She wouldn't show it, but he had a feeling that her being late and him being late were too different things entirely. Those punks had nabbed his present and ran nearly three blocks with it before he had stopped them cold. So, all that left was the walk back towards the restaurant. He was already most of the way there. Still, he was too excited and nervous to walk, so, he burst off running. He had to meet her there and not make her wait!
Tracey thoughtfully pushed a bow-tie noodle around in the last of the sauce on her plate, listening to Monroe's words. He sure knew how to get someone comfortable with a big meal before dropping a bomb...
"I just wanted to make sure you knew, ya know... just in case of... well... worst case scenario," he finished, and she could feel his gaze on her as he smiled up at her.
She put her fork down, dabbing at her mouth a little with a napkin, and then folded her hands in her lap and looked at him. "You... should have known, from the moment you said what your plans were, that I'd want to be there to back you up," she told him sincerely, and a small smile lit up her freckled face. "I've been working really hard while you were away to get used to all my new gadgets and weaponry... I would never miss this chance now to put that practice to good use and help you."
The detective realized that sometimes she could be a little oblivious towards Monroe's problems, but... she had her redeeming qualities too. Her loyalty in any tough situation was one of them.
The wind outside the Sicilian Grille was cold, and Arietta found herself wishing she'd brought a jacket. Any other one of her sisters would have been upset right now, she thought, if they had been made to wait. Algretta would have never came. Luminari would be intensely but quietly angry. Cadenza would've flat-out left, most likely. But here she was, trying to stay balanced in her new high heels and clutching Zach's gift and her purse tightly in her hand, and just trying to stay warm and upbeat.
Monroe smiled at Tracey, keeping back how happy he was to hear her say that. After all, if he showed too much happiness right now, and Cadenza showed up, whatever plans were in place now would vanish. "Thanks, Tracey," he told her, smiling at her as he moved closer to her. The Quincy knelt next to the detective and hugged her. "Thank you so much. After all, if I didn't return, I wouldn't want you and Alex to suffer me not being here."
"Are you going to kiss her already, or just stand around, being mushy?" Alex asked him him as she sat on the stairs, watching them.
"Yes, yes, that was my plan originally... but uh... you see..." Monroe found himself responding, almost casting an annoyed glare at Alex, not that she didn't cast an equal glare back for the hell of it. "I was waiting for the right moment."
"You sure do make things complex, you know. Now then, don't you have food to be cooking for me before you leave in case you two don't come back for a while?"
"Yes, your majesty," the dark clad man responded as he gave Tracey a quick kiss before getting up and starting cooking. "We'll leave tomorrow, Tracey. After all, not much we can get done tonight... except for my invitation to be sent out to Zach, but I'll do that later. Don't want to totally ruin his night."
Dust and sand scattered under his feet as he arrived back at the spot, nearly collapsing after rushing their with all speed. Arietta looked at the red haired boy for a moment before kneeling down and helping him to sit up, as to make sure he didn't choke on sand. "Uh... Zachary, are you okay?" she asked, looking at his rather pale, sweat covered and exhausted person.
It was at this moment that the ice innate recalled two things about Arietta. One, he was lucky that she wasn't one of the other three sisters, since all of them would probably have been worse. Knowing that cantankerous lump Algretta, she wouldn't have come at all. Knowing that odd, staring person Luminari, she would have just stared at him blankly and made him feel worse. As for Cadenza, that was an easy enough one. She would have left. That didn't take any thought. After all, she had dated that idiot Johnny Bones.
"I'm... sorry," he muttered with a cough as he looked at her. "Some guys tried to steal your present... so I had to track them down, punish them, and get it back... Wish it hadn't taken so long..." he told her, forcing a smile as he slowly stood up and dusted himself off. Arietta followed in suit and brushed herself off. "Ready for dinner?" he asked her, smiling as he opened the door for her. I just need to keep my surprises for the end of the night. Hopefully that'll make it up to her. At least that thought had a rewarding notion to it.
Alex fidgeted restlessly in her wooden chair in the kitchen. She was watching Monroe as he cooked, and enjoying the smells of food, but she wasn't really paying attention to all the stirring of pots and clanging of lids. They were just something to fix her gaze on for the time being. While Monroe had been away, and Tracey had been busy with work, she'd had some time to think since coming to the city. Living in Rancha Rosa was very different from the desert, she'd decided, for many obvious reasons--but the main one was, she found, the presence of all these other magic-users. All these other gypsies. She couldn't remember sensing them before, when she was wandering the ruins or when she came into small towns to beg for food... but now there were some... strong presences here and there that she noticed.
Her hands felt cool and clammy every time she felt one of these presences. Sparks arced from her fingertips... she wondered why magic reacted this way to other magic. Did it mean something?
Alex sighed. As great and as generous as they were, neither Monroe nor Tracey could really answer her questions. They relied on technology mainly--not magic. They didn't understand what was going on the way a person who'd experienced it could...
Sometimes, the girl wished she had another, older gypsy to turn to. Even in a full house, it got to be lonely...
Arietta treated Zach with an affectionate smile, "I was worried about you, you know... but I'm glad you're here okay now." She slipped her hand into his once they'd stepped through the door, and gave it a gentle squeeze, adding, "I had better luck bringing your present here--but you're going to have to wait until after dinner for it too."
OoC: Forgive me if this post doesn't make much sense--we've got construction guys working here and it's hard to concentrate. @_____@
Zachary laughed at her statement and smiled at her. The two entered the building before Zachary felt the need to respond, mostly due to the public atmosphere. "Well, the reason your present was so protected is that you're a member of the-" he found himself talking before she muffled him with her hand.
"I'm a gypsy, I know that. You don't need to tell everyone," she said, relatively quickly to stop the muffled, resisting Zach from being able to talk.
It took a moment, but the ice innate realized what she was doing. "Sorry," he whispered to her when he found himself free. He had forgotten that only 'denza was a free person. The waiter, despite being a bit confused as to what was going on, lead the two off towards their table and seated them. Before long, the two had ordered their food and drinks. As the food drew close, the ice innate thought about his presents. Both of them. The known one, and the hidden one that he'd been keeping to himself and working on.
As the food arrived, Zachary smiled and shifted himself, sliding the present he had Omar make for him towards Arietta. "Here you were. Your present," he told her, smiling. "Well, anyway, half of it," he told her, smiling wider. He'd keep the second half completely under wraps until after dinner.
Alex lay back in bed, staring up at the glow-in-the-dark stars Monroe had put up for her on her ceiling. The glow, he hadn't realized, had faded weeks ago, but she kept recharging the decorations by enchanting them with little bits of her magic... they were prettier like this, she thought. Sometimes they would glow more brightly, and she wouldn't understand why... they'd turn colors, like purple or blue. Tonight they were this vivid violet color... and she felt cold again. Her hair was standing up with the static in her body.
Someone was around with magic. And she wanted to find out who.
She got up from her bed, and went to her dresser, where she'd hidden the sheets she tied together for just such an event. The girl struggled to open the window, and then lowered the rope of blankets to the ground a floor below, securing the other end to the leg of her wooden bed. Alex gave it a quick tug to test that it was safe, and then started climbing down out the window...
Most women would have expected or at least wanted to be looking down at a pair of earrings at this moment, on their anniversary. But not Arietta. When she saw the two short swords Zachary held out before her, one alabaster white, and the other jet black, she thought she had never seen such beautifully-crafted things in all her life. She let out a little gasp, and picked up each blade slowly in her hands, marveling at how the light played off their surfaces.
When she looked back up at Zach's expectant face, she gave a little squeal of joy. "Zach, they're gorgeous! I don't think I've ever been given such beautiful gifts! Omar must've slaved for days over these!"
The woman got up from her chair, and threw her arms around her boyfriend, showering his cheek with little, gleeful kisses. "Thank you, thank you, thank you! Eee, muchas gracias, dear! I will treasure them!"
"Nice night, isn't it?" Monroe asked Alex as he looked at her from his perch on top of a lamppost. The Quincy looked at the full moon and sighed contentedly. "A night like this is perfect to be outside, isn't it? After all, Tracey's asleep, and I'm supposed to be too. However, I have something more pressing to take care of. do you want to join me?" the dark clad man asked.
"It truly is a beautiful night," he repeated again as he looked up from the girl onto the moon.
o=)---------- Blancwood ---------(=o
Elsewhere, another pair of people stared at the moon. Even if it was from a skylight in the restaurant, the moon now shone brightly upon their table. Zachary was still recovering from the barrage of kisses, trying to become reoriented as to what was going on. Zachary laughed nervously a bit as he smiled at her. "Well, that's only part one of my present, but I'm happy you like it. And those took Master Omar a little while, since he had to use special metals that some anonymous note told me where to find. The black one is an effective magic repellant and the white one amplifies magic. Or so I read."
Arietta just smiled as she slid a small box to the ice innate. He opened the box and looked inside at the contents, finding a small pendant and looking at it. "What's this?" he asked Arietta, feeling like he had seen it somewhere before.
"It was my mother's. It carries the power to protect the person holding it thanks to all of the gypsy magic that has been given to it over the many years. Hopefully it will bring you protection when you're faced with great danger. Just think of me, and maybe it will save your life," Arietta said jokingly.
Zachary stared at the magical item and smiled at Arietta greatly. "Thank you so much. After all, with this, I now know you're always with me. I feel like I can stand up to anything now. But first, you need to see the second half of my gift," Zachary told her has he grabbed her hand like an excited school boy and dragged her outside.
"The moon's so full here," Zach stated in awe as he stared at the moon for a moment. "It's a good night..." he stated, recalling one of the things that both Monroe and Zorlo said, now seeming, excessively. "The kind of night that's ideal for battle..." The red haired boy looked back at the gypsy and shook his head, gathering himself up. "Now 'denza told me there hasn't been snow here for some long period of time, so I figured..." Zachary stopped himself as he looked at the sky and drew his sword.
Great magical energy gathered into his sword as the cold night grew even colder. Reaching the closest to freezing of water Zach could make it. With a powerful heave, the red haired warrior sent a ball of ice magic cascading into the sky. With a great blast, snow began to fall from makeshift clouds. The snow that fell was the purest white Zachary had ever seen, and he couldn't help but smile at making it snow in the desert, even if it was only for a short while.
"You know, making snow in the desert isn't a good idea. You might throw off the weather pattern here," a familiar voice sounded as the red haired boy turned suddenly. "After all, wouldn't want to accidentally kill anyone because you're stupid?" the man asked.
"Monroe... I haven't seen you since the wedding... where have you been?" Zachary asked, his hands shaking with anger and fury. "And how dare you ruin my night!"
The Quincy scoffed at these statements. "Those are none of my concern," the dark clad man stated as he jumped down and placed Alex down next to him. The former bounty hunter looked at Arietta and shifted his glance back to Zachary. "I figured that my little friend here, Alex, should meet a gypsy that might help her with her anxiety caused by her magic. As for you," he said, pointing at Zachary, "You and I have a score to settle." With a quick flick, the dark clad man passed Zachary a folded piece of paper and stepped back. "That is a map to where we shall settle our fight in the Dome. This will be it. One of us won't be leaving this time... and I'm sure it will be you," Monroe stated firmly.
Zachary's eyes went wide as he stared at the name of the battlefield. "You intend to fight me in the Realm of Ice, the former home of Mobius, the king of Ice? You're out of your mind Monroe, however, finishing this quarrel their seems only fitting."
"It does indeed," the Quincy stated as he looked at Arietta. "How about you and Alex take a walk, I'm sure she has many questions for you. Anyway, myself and mop top here won't do anything too bad before tomorrow. That's when we'll end this!" Monroe stated firmly with a smile. He then looked at Alex and his demeanor slightly changed. "Alex, be careful, okay? And meet me here when you want to go home. After all, if I don't come home with you, Tracey will probably strangle me to death."
Alex couldn't stop looking at her face. There was... something about her... she... she looked a little like her Mom did, the few times she remembered seeing her. Vivace Madrigal had been a beautiful woman, with lively eyes and curly hair... this lady had some of those same traits.
Alex was so absorbed in her thoughts that she didn't even realize Arietta was staring back at her in the same way.
If I didn't know any better... if Monroe hadn't called her by a different name, I could've sworn this child was Vivace, shrunken down until she was eight-years old... she looks so much like her, it's almost like she's...
"What's your name, Alex?" she said, bending down to be eye-level with the girl and offering her a smile, "Your full name, I mean..."
Alex blinked a little at this question, but... she was now starting to wonder how the woman would react to the answer. "It's... Alessandra Dionne. My mommy's name was Vivace, and my daddy's name was Anton, but... Tracey and Monroe are my parents now." She said these last words defensively, as if she was proud of the fact and didn't want some lady to take her away and change things.
"I... thought so. Alessandra, sweetie... Vivace Madrigal was my older sister. You know what that means, si? That... makes you my niece."
And there it was. The explanation for why this lady looked so... familiar even though they'd never met. The reason she had already felt sort of comfortable around her... this lady was her aunt. And... she was a gypsy, too. Alex could feel her magical presence, like a faint green shimmer in the air. This woman could use magic just like her, but... still, she wasn't the great purplish presence she felt pass by from time to time, a feeling so strong she couldn't even get up to look out her window when it came.
"Come on, walk with me," Arietta said, gently draping an arm over Alex's shoulders, "I think there are some other people you should meet. We'll be back in a little while, boys!"
Monroe couldn't lie: he had been shaken when Alex had called him a parent. He was in shear awe for a few moments as he listened to them talk. So Alex really was related to Cadenza. The fact that was true didn't really faze the Quincy as much as he thought it would have. Then again, he had his suspicions, and they weren't just the hours that Tracey had spent trying to match up exactly who Alex's parents were. Now things were tricky.
Monroe now had a serious decision to make: he could let Arietta walk Alex to their home and meet the rest of the Madrigals; or, he could come along and supervise. After all, if he didn't come home with the young gypsy, he knew that Tracey would kill him. And she wouldn't do it quickly, either. Aside from the fact she liked having Alex around, the dark clad man assumed, this was Tracey's one link to Cadenza. Another chance to get into the Shadow's business. With that notion, Monroe knew this would be problematic.
Well, that and he'd kinda miss the little terror.
Snow continued to fall quietly from the night sky with a few visible clouds forming from the massive blast of frigid cold into the atmosphere above them. The snow, Zachary found, was highly relaxing. He could think out here. As the fact set in that the little girl with Monroe was related to Arietta, a strange feeling clicked in him. The knowledge that, beyond anything else, something felt wrong.
Even so, no matter how disconcerning that matter seemed to be at the moment, something still felt wrong. Why would Monroe knowingly bring a member of 'denza's family into his own? The ice innate didn't ponder it too long as the two found themselves looking at each other while the women walked off.
"How long has it been?" Monroe asked, crossing his arms and looking where the moon had been covered by the clouds snow was coming from.
"And things ended well."
The ice mage shrugged. "I don't know. I'll never see what Z wanted to accomplish, but so long as its done with, its done. That's some good luck, no?" Zachary asked as he rested against a lamp post.
Monroe was quiet for a moment as he began to walk off. "Might as well make sure things are going all right. I need to bring Alex home, after all," Monroe stated as he wandered off.
"That's what I thought," Zach commented as he followed on behind Monroe. After all, if that kid didn't get home, all hell would probably break lose.
There was... snow over Blancwood. Cadenza didn't believe it at first; thought it was a sandstorm turned silvery white by the light of the moon. But when she felt the chilly wind rush by her, up here on the rooftop, she knew what she was seeing was real.
When had she last seen snow here? There had been... one isolated storm, one day, over Blancwood so many years ago... she must've been about seventeen then... Paris had been with her... it was... such a distant memory. Lifetimes away, it felt like.
And she knew there was only one person in the country that could have caused this snow now. So, this was his gift to her... well done, Zach.
As the wind began to blow more strongly, the gypsy could sense her sister coming near. There was her usual perfume's scent on the air... still way too much of it, she thought with a laugh. But together with her presence, there was Zachary and... someone else?
Why are they back home so soon? And who the heck have they brought?
Cadenza landed in the yard with a soft thump! just as she heard the front door close behind Arietta and her guests.
How long had it been? How long had it been since he'd last seen those curly locks and that figure? How long had it been since he felt this level of power out of someone that wasn't Zorlo? How long had it been since this kind of uncontrolled rage had built up inside him until he was about to explode. But what would come next of it?
Monroe looked at the ground and felt his unbridled fury subside into almost nothing but a hint of annoyance. This was the family of his... of Alex. Despite how much he hated to admit it, she deserved to know them. The only thing Monroe was glad for was that Tracey was asleep, because otherwise, things would have gotten... more than awkward. Still, that didn't have anything to do with the now and the then.
The Quincy had made sure to keep a good distance from the home. After all, the last thing he wanted Alex to see was the two of them have to fight. He wouldn't do something like that. Not in front of her. Any problems the dark clad man had with the gypsy, they'd be settled out of small eyes. Monroe just sighed and moved a little ways away and kept a keen eye on Alex. He'd know where she was, even if he couldn't see her.
Meanwhile, all Zachary could help but do is stare out in the direction of Blancwood. He wasn't sure how it was he knew, but there was still snow there. It could snow there was his main problem. He wished to bring snow to the deepest part of the desert to return the wonderful winter coat of white landscaped he recalled from his room. Hell, anytime before he came to the desert.
Still, that feeling passed quickly as he looked at Cadenza. "Hey," he said to her as he smiled and stepped back from the porch. "Have fun talking to this girl. Apparently she's your niece or something, that's all I've got to say. Anyway, I'll talk to you later. Arietta, have a good night," he told her, reaching his hand out and taking hers, kissing her on the hand, just as Z's book had instructed. It's one of those few times that Z's books come in handy. Understanding this thing called love.
At those words, the young girl had stepped back from the door, and stared up at Cadenza with something like... awe? Recognition? Whatever it was, she looked faint, and electricity arced from her fingertips in little, excited sparks.
My gods... she looks just like... just like...
...Memories flickered through Cadenza's mind... memories she didn't necessarily want to relive; her sisters as children, Vivace standing in that same imperial way as the girl stood now, staring unabashedly at anyone she pleased as if they always had to explain themselves to her; forward, twenty years later, those same dark eyes and that same expressive mouth glaring and scowling down at her weak form slumped against the wall, as the older gypsy's fingers closed around her neck, the heat of her fire magic burning her slowly; then, seconds later... the lifeless figure with the flames in her eyes extinguished, and yet... still a devious smile that she carried along into death as the smoke from Paris' gun curled behind her.
There was, too, traces of him in the girl; the more-ashen complexion of a Cernilian; the more straight, slick hair; some degree of above-average height... these details clearly told her that this was Anton Dionne's daughter, and there was no mistaking it. She hated him, and... she hated her sister, too, for all she'd done... it was almost too much to bear to look at this kid who was a mix of those two together, looking at her with those eyes and making her feel...feel...almost sick?
That was all swept aside for a second, though, when Alex, still a little dazed, made a false step on the porch--this being the Madrigal porch, loaded with traps and hidden dangers--and was about a hair's breadth away from impaling her little foot on a concealed spike. Both Monroe and Cadenza sprang forward for her instantly, the gypsy making it several steps faster, and Cadenza swept Alex up, pulling her away safely just in time before the metal pierced up through the wood.
"You have to be careful!" she yelled to her, setting her down before kicking a spot on the front door that seemed to make the spike recede back into place under the boards. "Be on your guard, this house isn't as ordinary as it seems!"
The girl just stared at her, still startled and confused. Monroe came to place a comforting hand on her shoulder, sidestepping the spike trap easily. When Cadenza saw how this simple gesture calmed her down... was reminded how this was just a young kid standing before her... she exhaled and some of the anger and tenseness seemed to flow out of her.
She took another breath, closed her eyes for a minute, and relaxed. You got a little worked up there... that spike never would have caught either of that girl's parents. Remember that--she is not Vivace, she's not Dionne, she... she couldn't choose who her parents were. You can't blame her for anything they've done. Anytime you forget that...
The woman opened her eyes again, and watched as Monroe led Alex carefully off the porch. The girl was looking back at him with... respect. And love.
...remember that look in her eyes. That kind of gentleness she showed then couldn't have come from either of her parents.
"I'm... ah, sorry about that spike... Vossler, Signorina... someone should've warned you about it."
"Alessandra," Alex piped up quickly.
Cadenza blinked at the sudden answer. "...Excuse me?"
"...My name is Alessandra. Or Alex," she grinned up at Monroe, "for some people 'Alessandra' is hard to say. Erm... thanks for grabbing me before the spike got me... you're... one of my aunts, right?"
"That's right... you... you can call me 'Tia Cadenza'--that's 'Aunt Cadenza' for you in Old Rubatoian. Someone should teach you a little of the language, since... I don't think you'll get any from Vossler over there."
The gypsy could see Monroe struggle to hide a scowl. She had to resist the urge to chuckle at that herself.
"Okay, Tia... um... I had one more question. It was... about your magic? Did you... just start to hide it right now? Because when I first stepped back onto the porch, what I felt from you was... too much for me to even be around..."
"What I give off... flares up at certain times. But right now I'm calm, it's under control. You can learn how to do that, actually..."
OoC: Meh post, and probably drags on too long, but here it is. ^^;;
Monroe tossed his mantle slightly as he turned away from her and couldn't help but feel a little bit less... needed. He would have tried to figure a way to feel less crappie, but he couldn't really find anything. Still, as his mantle floated in the wind, the Quincy stared off and looked at the little girl. Despite his greater pride and deep seated disgust of the woman, the dark clad man repressed his pride and looked at Cadenza. "I need your help, 'denza!" he said, taking a firm and strong tone.
Zachary narrowed his eyes at Monroe as he took a step forwards and crossing his arms, holding a single hand out and pointing at the dark man. "That doesn't matter until we get back from our battle!" the ice innate stated as he smiled at the man.
"I'm not too worried. After all, if my enemy is as weak as you, I don't need to worry. Anyway, Cadenza, I need you to teach Alex how to use her magic because I don't know anything about how this world and its san-logic design works, so if you wouldn't mind, that'd be a great help," he said, keeping himself as strictly business as possible as he turned and began walking off. "Come on, Alex, its time for your bed," he told her, turning back and smiling at her.
Zachary looked at Arietta and smiled at her, feeling a little bit down. "Sorry this night wasn't as good as I had hoped..." he told her, walking off the porch. "Tomorrow," he told her, not looking at her as he stood quietly, "I go off to meet Monroe. I'll come and say good bye before I leave. Don't worry," he said, smiling a small bit as he looked back, tears dripping down his eyes, "I'll be back."
Monroe had left a question in the air to her, but Cadenza couldn't help watching her sister and Zach at that moment, seeing how the boy started to tear up, waiting for Arietta to say something like she knew she would...
She'll always reach out to someone and try being there for them... she can't help it... and... I know how much she cares about him, as weird as it is for me with him seeming like a...a nephew sometimes...? Meh... something like that. Anyway, she'd better agree to look out for him, or the kid's going to get himself killed.
Predictably enough that Cadenza wished she had placed a bet on it, those same thoughts that just passed through her mind voiced themselves in Arietta's next statement. The wind mage stepped forward, laying a hand gently on Zach's shoulder and nudging him back to face her, saying, "I know you'll be back--because I'll be there with you to carry you back, no matter what shape you're in after the fight. You know I can't just sit and worry at home, right my dear?"
Alex's eyes were the only ones not focused on the scene before them. For a brief moment, Cadenza's gaze wandered to hers, and she gave the girl a little nod. "I'll help you learn," she whispered, and couldn't help the small smile that followed.
OoC: All I've got to say is... C'mon, to the four star stop. Don't stop 'till you get enough.
BiC: Zachary smiled widely as he hugged her close and wiped the tears from his eyes. This danger... she'd share it with him. Somehow, he knew that nothing too bad could happen now. All that left was to wait until the next day... well, that and one last thing that popped into Zachary's head.
"You know... Ari, you help me with everything, and when we finish this bit we have to do... I'd like to help you with something you want to. I want to be able to help you fulfill something you want to do. I guess I want to see a dream of yours come true as well," he told her, not quite sure how to phrase what he was saying, but feeling as if it were right. "Anyway, yeah, when we get back, I'm gonna help you fulfill a dream, instead of you helping me all the time."
Monroe looked at Alex and smiled. He held his hand out and she moved towards him and past his hand. He laughed a little and looked at her. "We'd better get home. I'm sure you need to sleep, and again, if you don't come home, Tracey will murder me... in cold blood."
Alex seemed to almost protest by crossing her arms across her chest and taking a firm stance. "I'm not tired!" she protested firmly before yawning suddenly.
"Sure you aren't. Now then, let's go home," he told her, picking the little girl up and turning to the others. "I don't plan to let you leave that battlefield tomorrow, Zachary. Personally, I don't care much for fighting women or Gypsies, but lady, if you stand in my way, you're a problem too. Now then, good night," the dark clad man said as he leapt upwards and headed off. He had to get ready for the next day and the battle to come.
Zachary yawned and looked at Arietta. "I'd better get heading home as well. I'll meet you here tomorrow and we can head off for the Dome tomorrow. After all, we've got to defeat Monroe and probably that annoying red haired woman. I'm still convinced she likes 'denza more than Monroe, though," Zachary stated as if it were common knowledge. Perhaps it might have been, but who ever knew. Zachary always came up with wild ideas, so far as Monroe could recall.
Arietta gave Zach a hug good night, and soon, he too was on his way home from the Madrigals' house. Left standing on the porch were just Cadenza and Arietta, sisters side by side, looking off towards the clouds still hanging over Blancwood, and running over their own thoughts in their minds.
"Vivace... had a daughter," Cadenza said finally, breaking the silence. It was a fact that had been stuck in both of their heads.
"Si, that she did... with Anton Dionne, no less, and none of us had any idea... unless... do you suppose 'gretta knew?"
"If she did, there would be no way to tell... you know how she is. She'd keep it to herself. Was probably holding onto the knowledge to blackmail Viv with later... I still can't believe it."
"Her running off with Dionne was exactly what Pai had tried to prevent... how will he react now, when he meets the girl?"
The younger gypsy shook her head. "I don't know... but, you shouldn't be worrying about that right now. You've got some plans tomorrow, huh? Be careful, Ari..."
"Will you... be around... to help us if we need it?" Arietta was a little surprised by her own question... Cadenza was still considered sort of distanced from the family, even as much as her and their father cared for the woman. They all would repeat that she wasn't to be depended upon.
"I might be... around," the shadow mage said, and then she went into the house, wearing the hint of a smile...