Tales Post 13 opens with Ameryl and other nobles of Ampersand being rounded up in Ameryl's Manor by a group of bandits led by Kaptin Kwanza. Ameryl debates with herself whether she ought to help these people or allow them to be robbed. She decides she doesn't want to enforce her own sense of morality on others, like Highemperor would do, and allows the robbery to happen. Amongst the nobles, Ameryl realises there are two of Highemperor's wives, including Fantina Clémence Dujardin from Ampersand's richest district of Newsom. When the teenage boy, Oliver, tries to take Gadreel's pendant, the grigori refuses to hand it over. Oliver calls on his guardian, Mr Slick, to force Gadreel but Gadreel refuses to fight. Instead he runs away and Ameryl takes it upon herself to defend him and his escape, much to the horror of sexist socialite Suzanna de Myste. Mr Slick's glove transforms into a cannon and fires at the magic-wielding Ameryl. She doesn't anticipate that the cannon blast would boomerang back around and is taken by surprise.
The Story of Ameryl
A Captive Audience
The assortment of criminals starts herding the nobles of Ampersand into three smaller groups - separating them all out so nobody is unseen - and then they're made to kneel. Most of the women are pushed into one larger group, being seen as the lesser threat by the bandits. Apparently they had enough at least enough research about their target to know the cultural gender roles of the planet. Unfortunately for them they hadn't done enough research to know that Ameryl is amongst their prey.
Ameryl, however, does as she is told. She wonders if she should stop the assailants or not. She certainly could, she believes, but she wonders why she ought to. She would be protecting the valuables of a group of people who have plenty of valuables that they have earnt off of the backs of the incredibly poor paupers on the upper tiers of the city. Perhaps it was justice that their wealth would be taken away this day.
But there is also the question of morality and honour. Are these qualities even important, after all; Nothing matters. Ought these brigands be allowed to get away with their crime? The nobles perhaps deserved to be robbed, but do these people deserve the rewards of the robbing? She doubts it. But if she were to stop them, should she not also stop the injustice being committed against all of the downtrodden of this world?
When would it end?
Enforcing her own sense of morality upon all these people, believing her own morality to be superior. She could help these people...
Woman: "If Highemperor were here..."
Ameryl turns her head, slowly, to stare incredulously at this stranger. It was almost like the word 'Highemperor' was an accusation. Enforce her will, her morality and judgement, upon the world and become just like Highemperor.
The woman is quite short and has pale, white skin that is complimented by gentle, red-rose cheeks. Her nose is small and dainty but her eyes are wide and young. Her hair is golden blonde and very long, worn straight with nary a kink or curl. The fringe is parted off-centre and shorter than the rest of her hair, cut just low of her chin. Within that carefully maintained silk carpet are flowers, tethered to a headband hidden under the layers of hair, that are freshly picked and probably coated in preservatives to keep them looking alive. Each day worn must cost the lives of dozens of unfortunate flowers. They're pink-to-white geraniums, clutched tightly into two large bunches on either side of her head. At the back of her head an oversized red bow is perched. She wears a high-collared shell top that's coloured mimi pink around the shoulders with a gradual change to white at the bottom.
Ameryl can't help but notice she has incredibly oversized breasts, considering how short she is, and they're adorned with a layer of pale gold lace and jewellery, which rests there rather than hangs. From the back of her hands to her elbows are gold, bejewelled armbands with soft linked chains and tiny pink tourmaline gemstones, with a faint green haze around the pink, hanging from each chain.
Her skirt is the inverse colour scheme of the top, starting white at the waist and gradually descending into pink - though this time a slightly darker shade of pink at the very hem than mimi pink. The skirt has an unusual twist to the pleat, so that it spirals around the legs instead of falling straight. Most unseemly for the majority of Ampersand nobles, the woman's feet can be seen from beneath the skirt where she's wearing pink greek shoes with very high heels (which Ameryl realises must mean she's even shorter than she initially saw).
There's an air of timid arrogance to the young woman. The arrogance that comes from relying on someone else's immense strength and not her own. She wants to assert it but in unable or too afraid to do so.
Ameryl recognises it. She must be an intimate of Highemperor.
Ameryl: "I suppose Highemperor has so many women, the chances of running into at least one should probably be pretty high..."
The woman's large, green eyes turn to look at Ameryl, noticing her for the first time. She blinks, trying to process whether she's being insulted or not, before resorting to pleasantries; the default for these Ampersand nobles.
She points a finger, as though including Ameryl in some inside information.
Fantina: "That's on the lowest tier of Ampersand. The lowest."
She gives Ameryl a look of immodest modesty that was simultaneously expecting praise yet telling Ameryl that praise is sincerely unnecessary with complete lack of that sincerity. Ameryl looks at the woman for a brief second and then just turns away.
There's a long silence and Ameryl feels the woman's eyes burning holes in the back of her head while Ameryl studies the bandits, who have already started snatching necklaces and watches to put into sacks. The leader, the creepy-skeleton guy, is prancing around the room and filling up a box with a great many things he finds. The box evidently has some kind of dimensional warping on it since it never gets any heavier, despite him throwing a whole horde of goods into it.
Fantina: "I am wife of Highemperor himself. The highest of highnesses, you know?"
Fantina practically gasps this and Ameryl rolls her eyes.
Ameryl: "Waifu and a fangirl? You know you're like a walking definition of objectification? Is there anything to your existence beyond being wife to Highemperor?"
Fantina starts to say something but stops. Clearly she couldn't think of anything else.
Ameryl scans the other captives and spots Gadreel, kneeling down between the two fattest men in the room like a couple of suns with a single, lonely planet pressed between them. Gadreel is wearing a 'quite amused' expression on his face, but from her angle Ameryl can see his back. In his upper garment there are two slits at the back from which she spies a slight haze of energy. It looks like it could be magic but she doesn't sense it. If it's not magic, she doesn't know what the energy is and certainly no idea why its escaping glands in his back.
As she's looking at him he glances back and locks eyes with her. He gives her a roguish smirk and a wink.
Is she being flirted with? She has been so long removed from any 'normal' prospects of a relationship that she has no idea.
Fantina: "I think there is no higher calling than being wife to the Highemperor anyway."
Second Woman: "Hush, Fantina, you are going to get us into trouble. Please don't draw attention--"
Fantina: "They dare not lay a finger on the wife of--!"
Kwanza: "Oi! Shaddap ya pompous prig! Someone point a gun in the face of that chatterbox, will ya!"
Fantina finally manages to quieten just as her friend had requested. Ameryl watches as Kaptin Kwanza topples an old grandfather clock over and it clangs with a great cacophony against the dimensional box. He starts tipping it over, top first, into the box with a great deal of struggling. Ameryl shakes her head with a mixture of pity and annoyance at the pathetic display.
Marianne de Myste: "Miss Ameryl, what will become of us?"
Marianne pauses before she responds to that.
Marianne de Myste: "Do you mean that literally or in the philosophical sense of your religion?"
Ameryl chuckles a little at that.
Ameryl: "I meant literally this time. They take what they want and go."
Suzanna de Myste: "But--! They'll take everything!"
Ameryl: "Nothing you can't afford to replace."
Suzanna de Myste: "But--! But--!"
There's a sudden horrifying clattering of gongs and broken mechanics as the grandfather clock finally falls into the box. Everyone jumps with sudden fright, including Kwanza himself, who peeks back into the box as the destruction he'd wrought. He glances up at everyone from the scene;
Kaptin Kwanza: "Whoops?"
He shrugs and shoves the box over to the next thing in his path, a bookshelf. He snatches the first book and waggles it at the noble audience, who are now captivated with his thieving.
Kaptin Kwanza: "Any of these worth anything?"
The nobles all look at Ameryl, owner of the house. Ameryl groans at her sudden exposure. Kwanza looks straight at her, his eyeless sockets black and empty.
Ameryl: "Probably not. People don't buy books to actually read here, just fill a shelf to look impressive. They could all be books on goat taming for all anyone knows."
Kwanza's skull twists into a grin. More of a grin, anyway, since skulls usually look to be grinning.
Kaptin Kwanza: "You're a cocky one, ain't ya? Ain't she, boyos?"
A series of unimpressed 'ayes' are murmured by the other bandits. Attention now drawn on her, Ameryl starts to think she's going to wind up in a fight after all. So much for doing nothing. The bandit leader strides over to her, tilting his head to get a good look at her. He can probably sense she's not like the rest of the people here.
Ameryl: "Just being honest."
Kaptin Kwanza stands before her, where she kneels and averts his eyes. He look at the book and reads the title;
Kaptin Kwanza: "The Exciting World of Peanuts..."
He glances from the book to Ameryl and back at the book.
Kaptin Kwanza: "Alright, I get you just put random books on the shelves but this one? Seriously? Who even writes this crap?"
He checks the name of the author.
Suzanna de Myste: "Mr Pirate, I must insist that you release us! Making us kneel upon the floor is most unbecoming! We look like a room full of scullery maids!"
Marianne de Myste: "It'd be a lot of very finely dressed scullery maids..."
Ameryl: "Suzanna, you should be silent."
Kaptin Kwanza: "Noooo, no, no! It's just fine if the pretty, young thing wants to say somethin'! We're aaaaall ears, ain't we chaps?"
The bandits once again gave a series of gruff 'ayes'. Kwanza walks around Ameryl and stands over Suzanna.
Suzanna de Myste: "Well, your behaviour thus far has been repugnant! I say again, repugnant! You ask too much of us! You know that ladies have a delicate constitution? Even the gentlemen must be in dire straits, try to imagine how we ladies must feel! You simply must release us and be on your way! The High Imperial authorities must already be en route so you ought to comply with their requirements on your way out."
Kaptin Kwanza gives her a mock pitying smile (albeit hard to tell without face muscles) and beckons that she should rise to her feet.
Kaptin Kwanza: "C'mon on up if you feel degraded down there. You're right. A lady shouldn't be treated like this."
Suzanna actually accepts his offered hand and rises to her feet as gracefully as she could muster. Ameryl winces, knowing that the pirate is about to teach the girl a true lesson in humility. Ameryl could, of course, help spare the dimwit of such a disgrace but, in all honesty, Ameryl thinks Suzanna could use a shock to snap her out of ignorance.
Suzanna de Myste: "Thank you, Captain. I-- OOF!"
Kwanza gives her a good shove and Suzanna staggers back before toppling over one of Highemperor's wives. She then lands, sprawled, most ungracefully, upon the floor. She wails with the sudden fright and the pain she feels in her elbows. She looks up at Kwanza, utterly betrayed.
Suzanna de Myste: "You-- brute!"
Kaptin Kwanza: "Sorry, I guess you ain't no lady t'me."
Having fulfilled his own sense of justice he turns on the downed woman to the rest of the group.
Kaptin Kwanza: "Anyone else feel like standin' up? I don't care what you look like or how you feel. You're down there so we can see what ya'll're up to. So jus' lump it til we're done nicking your crap. After that, you can get back to sneering at paupers and abusing your hired help."
Ameryl is satisfied enough with the results. Kwanza wasn't so nearly as rough with Suzanna as she had expected. A meagre shove might be enough to wake the girl up, but it may actually make her manners worse. Kwanza tosses the the book about peanuts onto the floor and goes off to collect his box.
Kaptin Kwanza: "One thing the idiot girl got right is that the authorities'll be down here soon. We'd better skedaddle before that 'appens. I don't fancy blastin' my way outta here. Slick!"
Mr Slick: "Mister Slick."
Kaptin Kwanza: "Don't you start givin' me the airs and graces too, dammit! Get everythin' together, we're outta 'ere--"
Mr Slick: "Time to go. Everything you have, get it by the door immediately. Oliver, you too."
Mr Slick gestures to a teenage boy who's wearing a pair of worn dungarees, bottle-lens glasses and has quite long, lank and greasy hair. His face is riddled with acne and he's been making a valiant attempt to grow some fluff upon his jaw that has resulted in a mottled set of blonde wisps around his chin and his sideburns. The boy, prompted by his master's dominance over the situation, arrogantly grins at the cowering nobles. He quickly starts snatching any remaining necklaces from around necks, giving them a solid yank to break the chains. When he reaches out to take a necklace from Gadreel, however, the self-professed spy jerks away and puts a hand on his necklace.
Gadreel: "Sorry lad, I can't let you take this. It's not worth anything, it's not gold or anything. It's just a memento for myself."
Oliver frowns, angry that someone would stop him and speak to him so condescendingly. He's no 'lad', he's a badass villain now!
Oliver: "Don't care, chump. Hand it over."
Gadreel winces, knowing that he's causing a scene and doesn't want to.
Gadreel: "I really can't allow it. Your boss won't mind. He seems the pragmatic type. And you're on your way out."
He looks beyond Oliver towards the other bandits who were taking their haul out of the manor. Only a couple of them were left to keep their weapons fixated upon the group.
From where Ameryl is stationed, she wonders what Gadreel could be thinking. Is the necklace really worth prompting this kind of fight? He may not get injured himself, but there are a lot of other people that the bandits could target or even just get caught in the cross fire.
Oliver turns, red-faced and angry, from Gadreel and runs to Mr Slick, who is standing at the door.
Oliver: "Mr Slick! This guy is defying us! We should kill him!"
He points over to the offender and Gadreel rolls his eyes, knowing what is to come. Instead of waiting for it, he gets to his feet, Mr Slick narrows his black-coloured eyes. His entire mask seems to mould around his eyes so that they are just as expressive as if they were his real eyes. The two horns of his mask jut up from his head on either side of his thick, spiked hair. The mask itself is made of a kind of thick, but pliable plastic material and has a matt-shine to it. The mask is cut short at the chin, revealing the white-skinned and clean-shaven human jaw. When Mr Slick realises it's fight time, his mouth slips into an enormous, but menacing, toothy grin.
Mr Slick: "It looks like someone finally grew a spine!"
Oliver: "Teach 'em who's boss, boss!"
Mr Slick: "Get everyone else out of here, Oliver. I'll deal with this fool."
Gadreel: "Deal with me? I'm sorry to tell you that I won't actually be sticking around for you to do any dealing with me..."
Mr Slick pauses in his approach.
Mr Slick: "So you won't fight?"
Oliver: "So you will hand over that pendant?"
There's a moment of confused silence before Mr Slick speaks very slowly;
Mr Slick: "You're two options are; give us the pendant and get back on your knees or I slap the living daylights out of you."
Gadreel: "Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. Let me think about this one."
Oliver: "He's taking the piss, boss!"
Mr Slick: "OLIVER! Watch your language!"
Mr Slick reaches Gadreel and grins down at the gaunt man, his expressive eye slits wide with mania.
Mr Slick: "What'll it be?"
Gadreel: "I choose option number three."
Mr Slick: "There is no option three, fool!"
Gadreel: "Sure there is!"
He turns and runs off.
Mr Slick is dumbstruck, not having expected that one. Even the captives are all surprised and crane their heads to watch Gadreel legging it out of the room. Ameryl feels most embarrassed but she knows that the other men are simply too afraid for their reputations to stoop to such cowardice, no matter how much they'd like to go running off too. It would take too much courage to show such cowardice.
Marianne de Myste: "I can't believe he just scarpered!"
Fantina: "I thought the enigmatic rogues were supposed to be brave vagabonds. So much for romantic fiction, I guess. My husband would never flee like that."
Ameryl: "From what I have come to understand about Highemperor is that he has done plenty of running away in his lifetime. He might have found himself settled now, but that wasn't always the case."
Ameryl: "It's true. Whether running from danger, from his past, from his gods or even from himself and his own deeds. He has run. And one day he will find himself running again, I don't doubt."
Marianne de Myste: "Right now I care more about the escapee of ours than hers, Miss Ameryl."
Fantina: "My husband is no escapee! And he should always be in the foremost of your mind, Lady de Myste, as a subject of his--"
Mr Slick: "Shut the Hell up you lot! Someone chase after that gimp! But not too far! We have to go."
Ameryl: "I suppose if Mr Gadreel is too frightened to take care of himself, I shall have to do it for him."
Suzanna de Msyte, who has been nursing her pride as much as her sore arm, jolts in panic at such words.
Suzanna de Myste: "B-but Miss Ameryl! I've never heard of such a scandalous thing! A woman protecting a man!? Unimaginable! I daresay you would land yourself into a lot of trouble and you'd tarnish his reputation beyond repair!"
She glances back to where he'd run off.
Suzanna de Myste: "More than it already has..."
Ameryl: "In this society, perhaps. But after this little incident, I don't think I'll stay here much longer."
Marianne de Myste stares at Ameryl with wide-eyes.
Marianne de Myste: "You mean you'll leave? But-- I mean--"
Ameryl gets to her feet and Mr Slick, who had been watching out of the door to see where Gadreel had gotten to, turns to look at her. He eyes her for a moment with some curiosity.
Mr Slick: "This is nearly over. You can pee later."
Ameryl rolls her eyes.
Ameryl: "I don't need to use the restroom. I intend to... well to kick your arse from one side of the room to the other!"
The ladies in the room gasp. Except Marianne who giggles.
Mr Slick: "Do you mind!?"
Mr Slick gestures towards Oliver.
Mr Slick: "There's a boy in the room. Watch your language!"
He walks around the group of kneeling nobles who, by this point, have stopped being afraid and have gotten quite entertained by this whole process. Being robbed by ruffians, watching the enigmatic Gadreel run off like a child and the captivating Lady Ameryl stand up and declare war upon a man twice her size - it will definitely going to go down in history as 'an interesting afternoon'.
Suzanna de Myste: "But, Miss Ameryl! What can you do against him?"
In response Ameryl draws aether from the atmosphere into the palm of her hand to create an orb of magical darkness - a globe of blackness. The nobles all stare at the orb with the sudden realisation that a mage has been in their midst all this time.
Mr Slick faces Ameryl, his back straight. His suit is black and red and mostly quite skin-tight, showing the incredible muscles he's worked on across his whole body. While spiked on top, his hair is incredibly long at the back and moulded into dreadlocks that hang down his back like a cat o' nine tails. His boots are integrated into the black on red jumpsuit, making Ameryl wonder how much of a nuisance that getup is to put on in the morning. But while all of that is unusual it was his left glove that was interesting. As though in reply to Ameryl's show of power, Mr Slick displayed the abilities of his own. His hand melted and broke into tiny fragments that whirled around for a moment before reintegrating themselves into the form of a massive cannon. She gets the sudden impression that hand of his is going to prove quite the difficulty.
Ameryl slowly raises her magic-hand and Mr Slick raises his cannon.
The air grows tense as everyone wonders who will fire first.
Kwanza: "Oi! What're you lot playin' at in 'ere!?"
The two combatants don't turn away from each other. They just remain ready. Kwanza waits for a moment.
Kwanza: "Well. I'll leave you to it then."
He exits, dragging his box of stolen loot with him.
Ameryl: "Your boss is gone. You can leave."
Mr Slick: "I think I'd like to leave... over your corpse."
The cannon unleashes two bolts of white, crackling energy that propel at an immense speed from the arm-weapon. They miss her, however, by quite a lot. She almost feels sorry for him. She is about to throw her orb of magic at his face when she notices the cannon seems to be working still, a faint glow around the muzzle. She frowns, thinking to prepare herself for another shot, when she hears a yell;
Fantina: "WATCH OUT BEHIND YOU!"
Ameryl turns just in time to see the two bolts of energy coming straight back at her, drawn by the pull of the cannon.
Ameryl: "Oh bugger!"