Erskine turned over in his bed. He could hear the tapping branch, and the sound of breathing...He could see the outlines of the cot in the darkness. He didn't feel tired and he had been lying there for hours. He had just turned away from the clock, which told him it had just gone one in the morning. Sighing softly, he propped himself up on his elbows, giving a cautionary glance to his wife to make sure he didn't awaken her, and reached out for his crutches. There was movement to his left, and he froze for a second, but it was only Dextra. She was awake. He scooped her out of the cot before she started crying, using a papoose to carry her and move at the same time. He had taken to wearing it when he went to bed to make everything run more smoothly. As he made his way down the hall, he let the baby's fretting wash over him. It was almost calming after all these recent events. She was healthy, she was there, she was still under his care. Ah, now the tiredness was beginning to hit him. He stopped for a moment, feeling a little dizzy. Everything had gotten so bad so fast. He wasn't sleeping or eating properly, the fights with Madame Mist, the threats from the whole war...he couldn't orchestrate anything, either. He was stretched to breaking point. He couldn't concentrate on anything...Mist and Popularity had taken over control and were spearheading the investigation surrounding the deaths of the medical team and the kidnapping of Antonia. Biting his lip, he looked down, meeting Dextra's golden eyes. "You're a lovely girl..." he told her sadly. "You'll always be a lovely girl, and I don't want you to forget that...at the moment, everything's just unpredictable...I can never tell what's going to happen, I can't ensure your protection, or that of your sisters...I can't even tell if Antonia's alive or not any more..." He stopped, almost choking up. "You're my daughter, and I love you, and I always will...I love all three of you, I hate thinking something bad might happen to you, but I've been put in a position where I can't actually do anything..." Dextra shut her eyes, crying. She was hungry. So was he, he thought as he was hit by another wave of dizziness. "I'll do my best to make everything all right..." He promised quietly. "I'll do my very best."
Luca Cascabel was beautiful. She had always been beautiful. Her red hair reached her mid-back. The colour was dark and the strands were thick and healthy. She wore a minimum of make-up on her pale skin, her eyes drawing most attention away with their crystal blue colour. She walked through the Sanctuary, heels clacking loudly against the floor. Unaware he was dead, her worst fear was meeting with Zeus McMooney. They knew each other far too well for her liking. In fact, she would have loved to have been the one to kill his little companion, Ebenezer, and hopefully would be able to. Before she had met those two, she had been married and had four children, three boys and two girls, and she had been a very happy young Mage...her husband had been a mortal and was almost certainly dead by now...her children, she was never sure about them and never would be. As she walked, she could feel the inner beast inside, wanting so badly to get out, break free. She hated the feeling the serum gave her. Unfortunately, she needed it tonight. She hurried up a little, biting her lip. She needed to find him really badly. She caught a flash of elder robes turning a corner ahead and ran as best she could, catching up to Popularity. "Elder!" She yelled out. He stopped and turned to face her, arching a questioning eyebrow. "I...I need to talk to Grand Mage Ravel...I know it's really late, but it's really important...what I have to say concerns his daughter...the one that's gone missing."
The next thing she knew, she was being dragged along the halls by her wrist, led to a certain room while Elder Popularity knocked heavily on the door. After a while, crying started up, then Elder Mist opened the door, glaring. She wasn't wearing her veil, and Luca frowned. She had imagined something totally different. There was an odd sound to one side of them, like someone on crutches coming near...they turned and there stood Ravel. Luca swallowed nervously as Mist asked what this was about. "I...I have information concerning the whereabouts of the kidnapped infant...your kidnapped infant..."
Ravel suddenly seemed more alert. "You know where she is?"
"No, but I know who took her...his name was Destiny...Pixie Destiny...he's a known associate of Esra Sunshine..."
Memphis wasn't entirely sure how he'd come to be in Texas. He was walking down a busy road, not yet noticed by the two men sat on the edge. There was a man with a tan from his long life in the same place, eating a small pot of four bean salad. He had mousy brown hair, wavy but Mem wouldn't say curly. It was curlier than that of the detective at least. He had square glasses with purple and white frames. He had a thin, pinched face with a wart on his chin and the almost shapeless suit he wore gave unnecessary volume to his figure, masking his muscle and tattoo work and making him seem overweight. He was never looked at twice by girls, not when accompanied by his friend. The second man wore sunglasses and shorts, no shirt. He had dark skin and was soaking in the sun, head tilted back, jet black hair swept back in a French plait. He was rather dashing, and rather muscular. He licked his lips in a sexual way and his lighter skinned companion scowled at him.
"You got my text." Memphis commented once he came in earshot.
The first man jumped and looked up at the Boston detective, squinting against the sunlight. "Well if it ain't ol' Heatwave..." he muttered, evidently having had no idea who had sent him the 'urgent' message.
Memphis gave a curt nod. "Long time no see, Xerxes."
Xerxes gave a slight smile. The dark-skinned mage peered at the detective over his sunglasses and frowned.
"Nemo, where's your shirt?"
"I'm trying to attract a mate." He replied sarcastically, jerking his thumb over his shoulder, where a group of young mortal girls were giggling in an irritating way. Speaking of young mortal girls...
"Pregnant. How's River?"
Memphis hesitated. "That's why I wanted to talk to you two..."
"This can't be good..." Xerxes muttered. Memphis had known Xerxes Bloggs and Nemo Fumes for a fair while. They had been friends of Bernard's once upon a time...in fact, they had been encouraging his affair with the German girl, Rabe.
Memphis took a deep breath. "What do you know about remnants?"
Xerxes frowned. "I'm a bit of an expert..."
"There's something up with this one..."
"How long's it been bonded to her?"
"Since before we met...she had no clue it was in her...it was like the Remnant had no power, nothing, no access...is that possible?"
He hesitated. "You know about the war going on?"
Xerxes nodded. "I've heard a few snippets, few bits and pieces, but you know me, I tend to stay away from the gossip circles."
Nemo just looked confused. "There's a war?"
Memphis smirked. "You don't know about Bernard or Amadeus or Isaac?"
"Doesn't matter, he's dead."
Xerxes looked horrified. "Is Bernard dead too?"
Memphis nodded. "Melantha's fine, though...it was her who suggested you to me."
"She's your sister, isn't she? She told me that was why you and Bernard fell out..." The detective took a seat beside Nemo, chewing on a fingernail.
Nemo recognised this way of acting. Memphis was purposely avoiding talking about the war. "What about this war, Mem?"
There was another hesitation. "Mevolent's back...you've heard of Mevolent, haven't you Fumes?"
He nodded. He was considerably younger than the others.
"He's got River. He wants her for something. I haven't the slightest clue what...I want her back."
The two Texans exchanged worried looks. "You want to...what?" Xerxes asked, voice climbing in pitch.
"I don't quite know yet. I want to mount a rescue mission."
"For a Remnant..."
"She's more than that to me. I was told this was the sort of thing you two did a lot of."
"Back when we had Isaac and Felicity with us, and never anything against Mevolent..."
Memphis arched an eyebrow. "You had a reputation during the war for sneaking in and out of that base of operations unnoticed...you helped rescue a Dead Men member by sneaking The Torment in once."
"Ever think the stories about me might be exaggerated?"
"Once or twice."
"...I wish they were..." With a sigh, he got to his feet. "They got your wife, they killed Binding and Sult...and the things they've done to our Elders Council...I'm surprised we weren't called in to action earlier."
Nemo looked at the floor. "That's my fault...I prefer to be a nobody..."
Xerxes scowled at him again. "Dipshit." He spat on his hand and shook Memphis'. Nemo pulled a face and got up, pulling his shirt back on.
((...The Ravel stuff, I had no plan for it until I invented Luca about an hour ago...heck, she even becomes the snake...so sorry for torturing Ravel like that...unless you don't like him any more, in which case, yey torture...Now I have a problem...I think Xerxes would be perfect if coupled with Felicity Insouciant...Mortis' sister...I really want that to happen, but there is no universe in existence in which she's alive...))