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A Fair Warning [Solo]

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#1Fiammetta Barone 

on Tue Dec 26, 2017 6:00 am

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Fiammetta Barone



She never got tired of waking up next to her. It remained, and would forever remain, her favourite way to start off the day. And for an early riser like her, who savoured the glow of early morning, and enjoyed a nice morning jog, it meant a lot that she’d rather remain in the bed for hours, simply admiring the peaceful look on her sleeping lover’s face. Fiammetta Barone found herself smiling uncontrollably as she did just that, in the early hours of the morning after Christmas Day, in the home she was raised in. It was, put simply, pure bliss. It marked one of the only times in which Fia could truly say her life was going perfectly.

Of course, that would change sooner than she thought.

A groan escaped Fia as she shifted slightly in the small bed, careful not to wake the sleeping princess. Sunlight was only just starting to creep its way in, meaning Fia had woken up earlier than usual. The hazel-eyed girl brushed messy hair out of her vision, glancing around her old room. It was nostalgic, being back there after so long, and had made her feelings about going on this journey with Esperia somewhat… Bittersweet. It was ironic, the best way for her to help her family was to leave it, if only temporarily. A mix of concern and sadness had her feeling uncertain about the idea from the start.

But, fortunately, she’d come to learn they were managing on their own, with the help of her younger siblings and the former head caretaker. Claramond was more than capable of keeping things together, while Salvatore, Santo and Leonarda had all stepped up to take on other responsibilities for her. It made Fia proud, seeing them really come into their own in her and Baldo’s absence.

With a stretch that squeezed out any remaining tension in her body, Fia departed from the bed, once again careful to not wake a sleeping Esperia. It was still very early, after all, and Fia wanted to see how she might help Claramond tend to the kids as they woke up. A sort of last gift to the orphanage before she and Esperia set off for new lands. And, admittedly, a way for her to further show off to her girlfriend her natural maternal capabilities. Perhaps helping Claramond with breakfast would succeed in doing just that.

After throwing on some loose pants and one of her signature jackets, and with one last look to her peacefully sleeping lover, Fia began downstairs, past the rooms of children who were doubtless sleeping heavily after long nights of enjoying their Christmas presents. Quietly, she navigated familiar hallways towards the kitchen, where she hoped to find Claramond already preparing breakfast for all the little ones. And while she did find Claramond there, Fia was quite surprised to see breakfast had already been prepared in advance, sitting warm on the benchtop.

Claramond, meanwhile, was sitting at that same bench, turned around to acknowledge Fia with a cup of eggnog in her hand. With a slightly confused look, Fia raised a wave in greeting. ”Hey Clara. Whatchu doin’ up so early?” She queried, nodding toward the already prepared meals. The blue-haired maid rested her cup back down, her features graceful as ever, but with a certain unique seriousness to them that was a bit unsettling to Fia. It seemed like something was wrong.

”Actually, Fiammetta.” The maid uttered softly. ”I was hoping to get a chance to speak to you. There’s… Something we need to talk about.”

WC: 594

#2Fiammetta Barone 

on Tue Dec 26, 2017 6:20 am

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Fiammetta Barone



An eyebrow was raised by the Barone girl at Claramond’s statements. The maid had always been a serious sort, typical of someone of her occupation. She maintained a dignified air in everything she did, an almost unreadable façade that gave the impression she always knew what she was doing. But in rare occasions, the raw reality underneath could be seen. A kind of cold cruelty and fear lay deep in Claramond’s eyes, a seriousness that Fia saw as the maid spoke to her. It told her, in no uncertain terms, that something was up.

”Aight.” Fia would utter simply, matching Clara’s serious and stern tone. The normally fiery and untameable temper of the hazel-eyed girl was suddenly cooled, tempered and solid like steel in the face of this new subject matter. As energetic and free as she was, when it came to family matters – and Clara was family – Fia spared no effort, and took it all seriously.

Claramond gestured lightly for Fia to take a seat beside her, where her own cup of eggnog awaited.  The steam punk grinned lightly at the sight, not just for the delicious beverage in front of her, but also in response to the tireless diligence of Clara. She was a handywoman unlike any other, who always seemed to have everything planned down to the letter. Then again, that also made Fia even more worried about whatever it was that had Claramond so worried.

Fia gingerly took her seat beside the silent maid, who turned back forward as they each sipped from their respective cups. An awkward little dance, but then again, social interaction was neither of their strong points. As she set the beverage down, breathing a sigh and savouring the taste, Fia turned to Claramond and finally posed the question. ”So what’s up Clara? Ya got me worried here.” She’d utter with faux confidence, her expression souring a little as a thought entered her mind. ”Hey, this doesn’t… Have somethin’ to do with Ori, does it?”

A soft shaking of the head by Claramond alleviate Fia’s brief surge of fear and worry. Ever since hearing about her sister’s disappearance, she’d been worried sick about what might’ve happened, in spite of what was probably the truth. Like Sal and Santo had pointed out, Orianna had run away in the past, and given recent circumstances there was every chance she’d fled yet again. But Fia wasn’t quite content with that explanation, likely though it may have been, so had and would continue to be concerned for her dear sibling’s safety.

But, although she was incredibly happy to hear there was no more bad news on Ori, the question of what was wrong still remained unanswered, even when Clara spoke up again. ”At least… I don’t think so. No, certainly not. She wouldn’t…” Claramond muttered to herself for a few moments, before turning back up to look at a very confused Fia. The maid let out a sigh, clearly having trouble finding the words to say what she wanted. Fia was atypically patient, deciding to just let Clara find her own feet.

”Sorry, I… There’s not really any way to explain this without going through the whole story.” Claramond explained softly, while Fia remained an attentive listener. ”I’ll just say it outright. There’s someone looking for you.”

WC: 553

#3Fiammetta Barone 

on Tue Dec 26, 2017 7:10 am

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Fiammetta Barone



Fia had known what to expect about this important and secret conversation. Of course, it wasn’t hard to tell it was something serious, and she’d doubted the generally cold and reserved Claramond would have wanted some private parting words or anything like that. The decision to speak to her in private, however, did make Fia wonder if this was something related to the orphanage or Baldo. Something that was best left unheard by the other, younger orphans. Something that Leonarda or Salvatore or Santo already knew. But what Fia hadn’t expected was a more… Personal topic.

”Huh? Run that by me again?” Fia uttered flatly at Clara’s words, her own eyes wide in confusion. Someone was looking for her? The reveal had just left her with even more questions. Hell, she didn’t even know what to ask first. It just… Didn’t mean anything, at least not yet. Someone was look for her, so what? Why did that make Clara so… Scared…

”I said someone is looking for you.” The maid in question would repeat a bit more harshly, still being awkward and vague but clearly frustrated with her own ability to carry the point across. ”Someone you need to be careful of on your travels. Someone who won’t stop searching. Someone who… Someone we can’t protect you from.” Her words were solemn, laced with concern and terror, with her even placing a hand on Fia’s arm to draw the girl closer and make perfectly clear the severity of this situation.

”Clara. Tell me what the fuck is goin’ on.” Fia stated harshly, her patience starting to run down. Her expression was just as serious, eyes looking around for any other orphans. There were none, and she was starting to see that was part of Claramond’s plan. The atmosphere had gone from mysterious to heavy and dark. Something was up, something dangerous.

”Like I said before. I need to tell you the full story. But you need to promise me something first.” Clara said coldly, leaning back again and taking another sip of eggnog. Her expression returned to its blank and unreadable default, completely brushing over the full story. ”You can’t tell anyone else about this. None of the other orphans know, aside from Leonarda. Not even Santo or Salvatore know this happened, and they can’t know. I’m afraid about what they’ll do.” Fia, though initially calm and composed, was growing more and more infuriated by Clara’s vague words. What was so secret about this, and why? She just wanted answers, she was starting to be afraid herself of whatever ghost had Clara so spooked.

”What about Esperia?” Fia queried blankly, her own expression still serious and solid. Getting angry wasn’t going to help, not with Clara. Though, she couldn’t deny a bit of a growl in her words, part of her own fury seeping through in spite of her attempts to hide it. She was starting to feel a bit looked down on by Clara.

The maid paused a moment, seriously considering Fia’s words before giving a rather simple reaction. ”I’ll leave that up to you.” She uttered blankly.
”Alright.” Fia would say as she leaned back, eggnog cup still in hand. ”So that shit’s sorted. Now, cut the crap and tell me what the actual fuck yer talkin’ about.”

WC: 550

#4Fiammetta Barone 

on Tue Dec 26, 2017 8:01 am

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Fiammetta Barone



TAP…TAP…TAP…


Elsewhere, many miles away, he stalked. Cloaked in nothing but his own fur and cloth trousers, following the light of nothing but the lingering moon, a lone lycan wandered almost aimlessly. Large nostrils flared as he tried again to pick up the scent, to no avail. The man, or rather, thing he was stalking had no scent. Nothing he could distinguish from the soft smell of the early morning fog, anyways. All the lone lycan had to track him by was that consistent tempo. Three beats, without fail, that rang out, some hard material hitting rhythmically against the craggy surroundings, almost like a knocking at his door.

TAP…TAP…TAP…


And there it was again. The tapping, ominous and indescribable, that lulled the lone lycan yet another direction. Wherever his prey was headed, the path there was not a direct one. Perhaps they were aware of the stalker on their trail, trying to throw them off, even. That, or just pull them closer in. Regardless, the lone lycan continued to follow.

~~~~~~~~~~

Claramond was entirely unfazed by Fia’s entirely evident impatience. Not that the steam punk had expected her to get scared or hastened or anything. Claramond was several times tougher an scarier than her, after all, in spite of her delicate nature. The blue haired maid just set her cup of eggnog down, gentle rested her hands on her lap, and began her retelling of these apparently vital events.

”The relevant events transpired exactly… 17 days ago.” The maid began, as methodical and price as ever, while Fia sat listening silently, only moving to sip her eggnog every now and then. Otherwise, she was atypically quiet and still, hellbent on learning what the hell was going on and how it would affect her future. Only small queries would be asked every now and then, with Fia trusting Clara completely to deliver the entirety of the truth.

”It was late at night, hence why only Leonarda and myself are aware of this… Encounter. I happened to be assisting her with her… training… at the time. Outside the front of the building.” Claramond continued to explain, shifting a bit uncomfortably at the mention of Leo’s training. Fia knee exactly why that was, but figured there was no point in mentioning it now, in spite of her feelings on the matter. ”I’d say it was but moments before midnight when we heard it. Someone was approaching the house, we heard them along the front path. Not their footsteps, mind you. There was just this… Tapping. A walking cane. That was all we heard. Just the cane” Claramond went through every detail, before looking to Fia expectantly.

”Ya mean… His footsteps were silent or some shit?” Fia questioned. An odd question, perhaps, but there were rumours of such an attribute being a capability of various races or magics. That, and Fia knew that if there had been footsteps, the keen senses of Claramond  would’ve certainly picked them up.

”Yes, I believe that to be the case. Nonetheless, it caught our attention. Not only was it odd for someone to be approaching the orphanage so late…” Clara’s eyes turned cold, angry even. Fia was already beginning to put 2 and 2 together.

”But it was also clear to us that the tapping of his cane was an intentional sound. Designed to get our attention, and lure us in.”

WC: 563

#5Fiammetta Barone 

on Tue Dec 26, 2017 8:31 am

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Fiammetta Barone



TAP…TAP…TAP…


It was incessant, that damned sound. The lone Lycan was actually starting to get rather annoyed by it, in spite of the fact it was – at present – his only method of tracking the source. Wolven ears perked up as the lone lycan glanced about through the heavy fog, desperate for but a peek at his prey. And yet, there was nothing. Between the craggy obstacles and the foliage around, he’d not a single line of sight on the man with the cane. Growling in frustration, he just continued to follow the noise, keeping all his senses keen.

TAP…TAP…TAP…


Now he was just teasing the poor Lycan, who would’ve howled in anger were he not concerned about drawing the attention of whatever other creatures or persons were nearby. Like a dog on a leash, he continued to be lead by the sound, as the fog finally albeit slowly began to clear, improving his sight if only by the most miniscule margin. And yet, as he followed deeper the path his prey was taken, it was not his sight that suddenly found itself stimulated, but instead, another sense. His smell. He could smell others nearby, and more peculiarly, they did not smell at all look humans.

Rather, he smelled more Lycans somewhat close by. It appeared he’d been lead into another’s territory, though, the circumstances would be quick to change.

~~~~~~~~~~

Fia raised a curious and concerned eyebrow at the mention of the tapping’s purpose, but chose not to ask anything more, and just let Clara explain exactly what that meant. The maid looked to her briefly, as though to ask if she had any questions, but in response only received a small nod that urged her to continue her story.

”Naturally, Leonarda and myself were concerned. A number of worrisome possibilities were present. Rune Knights, local criminals, bandits, dark guilds… Any one of them may have had reason to come and harass or even harm the Barone orphanage. The truth, however, was not so simple.” Another wince of pain as Claramond spoke, causing Fia’s own worries to intensify. She could feel her heartrate quickening a little, an odd sensation of anxiety that she’d rarely felt in her life. Nonetheless, Clara continued, unaware.

”Regardless, I made the decision to address our guest before he could approach us. Given the possible danger of the circumstances, I had Leonarda remain at a distance, in case anything, well, went wrong. As it naturally did…” A bitterness found its way into Claramond’s words, something unlike her usual coldness, something different and darker. ”So, I went out to the front of the house, and waited, listening to that… Forsaken tapping. Soon enough, I actually laid eyes on the man.” The maid raised an eyebrow to Fia, an unspoken request that she pay particular attention to the next part. After all, Fia would greatly benefit from knowing the appearance of the man who was stalking her.

”He wore a suit. Dress-shirt and jacket, the kind of attire Baldo wore. His hair was brown, slicked back. He’d a pair of sunglasses too, thin frames. And, obviously a cane.” Clara paused, giving a small gesture to her right eye. ”Most notable, however, was a scar. It went over his right eye, which seemed shut the entire time. Memorize that detail, Fiammetta. It may help you in the future.”

WC: 561

#6Fiammetta Barone 

on Tue Dec 26, 2017 4:57 pm

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Fiammetta Barone



The lone lycan wasn’t quite sure who was dumber. His prey, for wandering into the middle of a pack’s territory, or he himself, for following him there. Though he obviously didn’t know what was going to happen, or even what it would result in, the lone lycan was already scolding himself for being so foolish and thoughtless. All he could do know was pray he got out before they picked up his scent, or at the very least, hope they’d be understanding of his plight as a lone wolf. The latter case, however, was very unlikely.

TAP… TAP… TAP…

And yet, in spite of his survival instinct begging him to run the other way, the lone lycan continued to find himself lulled in by that rhythmic sound. It’d gone full circle, from annoying to alluring, the continued mystery of its origin eating away at him, preying upon his curiosity. He growled lowly to himself, before once again stalking after the sound. He’d be quick, he told himself, and would surely be careful enough to avoid detection by the man with the cane or any other werewolves. Or, so he thought.

TAP… TAP… TAP…


Quietly, clawed hands and feet carried the lone lycan after the sound, through the lighter fog. After only a few more meters, he saw it – his prey. It wore a suit. That was all he could see from his angle, that, and the several other lycans surrounding the man. He continued to watch with curiosity and fear.

~~~~~~~~~~

Fia etched all the details Claramond listed into her mind. It was fortunate there was plenty to remember the stalker by, it would help her if she ever had to figure out who she ought to beat the hell out of for stepping up on her family’s doorstep. Despite her growing hate for this unknown figure, she remained calm and silent as Clara continued.

”I asked him how I could help him. There wasn’t much else to say, obviously.” Claramond sighed, continuing with her retelling of events. ”I was in my uniform at the time, so he judged me one of the keepers. He bid me a good evening, asked me if this was, well, if it was the orphanage that used to be run by Baldo Barone. I’m not paraphrasing.”

Though she didn’t say it outright, Fia understood the implication. Whoever this person was, they knew about Baldo’s circumstances – and that wasn’t exactly public knowledge. Sure, it wasn’t a secret per se, but it wasn’t information anyone would know without already being in the loop as it were, or by actively seeking that information out.

”There was no point in lying so I told him the truth. That this was, like he suspected, the Barone orphanage.” Claramond continued to speak flatly and quickly, almost rushing through the less relevant parts of the retelling. ”He didn’t even hesitate to ask his next question.” She slowed down, turning to Fia and looking with a serious gaze. One that almost sent chills down the steam punk’s spine.

”He asked to see the eldest ‘daughter’ of Baldo Barone. Though not by name, he asked for you, Fiammetta.”

WC: 527

#7Fiammetta Barone 

on Tue Dec 26, 2017 5:15 pm

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Fiammetta Barone



On the bright side, he’d stopped tapping his cane. The odd man had seemingly stopped moving entirely as he stood there, surround on all sides by a pack of lycans that had heard the intruder in their hunting grounds. The lone lycan almost felt sorry for the poor bastard, were he not far too annoyed at the odd man for luring him out there too. What a waste of time it had been, and the lone lycan knew very well that the moment this pack was done tearing apart the man with the cane, he was next. And yet, inexplicably, the lone lycan could still not take his eyes off that same man as he watched from his hiding spot.

He seemed calm. That was the curious part. Even as the lycans strafed around him, sizing up their prey, he did not attempt to run or make any other cry for help. He was silent. Until he wasn’t, addressing the entire crowd of wolves around him with incredible gusto, a wicked grin, and a devilish trickster’s tone.

”C’mon, ain’t you gonna at least say ‘Welcome’? I didn’t come all this just for this shitty reception, y’know!”

The lone Lycan was more confused than ever, but had no time to even think further on the man’s words, before another lycan – presumably the head of the pack – spoke up first.

”What is it you want, wanderer?” He growled menacingly, canines bared at the cane-wielding man. It was a fair question to ask, the lone lycan thought. Though, the answer wasn’t exactly elucidating.

”Simple, my friend! I’m out here… Lookin’ for a girl.”

~~~~~~~~~~

”Any chance he said why he was lookin’ fer me?” Fia groaned, her teeth grit in frustration. Just hearing about this bastard coming out of nowhere, looking for her, without knowing why, made her incredibly infuriated. She hated being unable to understand just what the hell was unfolding around her.

”I’m afraid he did not reveal that.” Clara sighed at the question, her discomfort further increasing as she approached what appeared to be the ‘climax’ of her story. ”I did ask him, but he said he could not say. Only that he was operating for some bigger group. Before you ask, no, he did not say who they were.” Though it was only momentary, Fia could’ve sworn she saw a glimpse of grimace on Clara’s face, but chose not to mention it. ”Naturally, I told him I did not know where you were. I’d no reason to trust him with such information. He begged for an answer, but I gave him none. The man got… Angry.”

Fia gulped a little, braced to hear what the asshole had done to her family. Braced to feel an inevitable wrath surge through her. ”The damage to the front step, that was caused by him. The man continued to push, and eventually slammed his cane into it. He… Began making threats. About the other orphans.” The steam punk had suspected that might be a factor, and was already practically fuming at Clara’s words, gripping her cup of eggnog so tightly it seemed close to breaking. She eased off, however, at the surprise in the next statement.

”That was when… Leonarda stepped in. I didn’t notice her until she was thrusting the knife toward him. And it was around that moment when it all went to shit.”

WC: 565

#8Fiammetta Barone 

on Tue Dec 26, 2017 6:42 pm

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Fiammetta Barone



”What?”

A fair sentiment, the lone lycan thought, as a response to the strange man’s revelation that he was searching for a girl. Did he expect to find her out here? In the midst of lycan territory? Certainly he didn’t expect to find her alive, if he’d half a mind to him. Regardless, his casual tone with the bloodthirsty beasts around him seemed to confirm something for the lone lycan: This man was definitely out of his mind. No sane man would have that same level of calm and nonchalance. Not unless… He actually thought he could take on the lycan pack?

”C’mon, wasn’t I clear? I said I’m lookin’ for a girl. About yay tall, long brown hair, has some kinda… Steam magic, or somethin’. Got a bone to pick with her, kinda.”

No, the idea was ludicrous. There did exist those who could match a pack of lycans in combat, but this man did not look to be one of them. And certainly, those that were powerful enough would’ve surely been intelligent enough to not enter the territory of a lycan pack, right?

”You… You’re talking about that girl, aren’t you?” The presumed leader of the pack growled, surprising the lone lycan by revealing the mystery man did actually seem to be on the right track. ”The pain in the ass who injured my brothers. I cannot say we know where she is, not that knowing that would do you any good.” A chuckle escaped the pack leaders lips, as all the lycans present readied themselves to pounce on the seemingly defenceless man.

The lone Lycan could not take his eyes off the sight, in spite of the horrors he figured he was about to witness.

”You’ve entered our territory, and if you are at all connected to that girl, there is no reason to let you leave. She is our prey.”

Forcing himself, the lone Lycan looked away as he heard the snarls of the lycans rushing down the man with the cane. He could hear the tearing of flesh, the spilling of blood, and yet, only a few moments after the fighting began, he heard another all too familiar sound.

TAP… TAP… TAP…


~~~~~~~~~~


Hearing Claramond swear would’ve been surprising enough. But Fia completely disregarded that particular detail, far more concerned about the unsaid revelation. She’d noted Leonarda’s broken arm as being strange, and her heart almost leaped out of her chest now that she had felt she might know the reason.

”He was fast. Incredibly strong, it only took a single strike with his cane.” Claramond uttered softly, her hands tensing up as she spoke. Hints of anger seethed out of her every pore. ”I responded immediately, while Leonarda… Crumbled… But he’d not interest in fighting me.”

It took a lot of willpower for Fia to keep her cool. Her own hands tensed, her teeth grit as she heard how her family was hurt, her loathing for this mystery man becoming almost unbearable. ”He dodged my strikes, and then began to bargain. He stated he didn’t want to harm us, and that he was only looking for you. And then…” Claramond paused, wincing once again. ”He left, and asked us to find him if we found out where you were.”

WC: 545
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#9Fiammetta Barone 

on Tue Dec 26, 2017 7:11 pm

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Fiammetta Barone



That sound, that singular tapping noise, managed to draw the lone lycan in every time. He couldn’t explain what about was so enticing, only that it beckoned him and instilled an irresistible curiosity. Even when he heard it after the fight, which had presumably left the lone wanderer nothing more than a miserable pile of torn cloth and ripped flesh, the lone lycan was still drawn to it. He figured one of the lycans may have picked it up, no, he prayed that was the case. Because the alternative was much scarier.

But, as it was, the truth was far stranger than fiction.

Peeking up, the lone lycan was met with a horrific sight. Blood covered the craggy surroundings, lycan corpses were strewn about the place. Some remained whole, others had been divided into countless pieces. The stench of blood guts had already permeated the air, but it was particularly strong around one point. The single standing figure among all that bodily destruction. A blood-soaked wanderer who continued tapping his cane against the ground.

”Well, that’s a shame.” He sighed to one of the only living – albeit maimed – lycans. The same pack leader that had threatened him before. ”I mean, I got my fix, but not the info. Can I really call that a win?”

The pack leader groaned and growled, struggling to crawl towards the man. Almost absent-mindedly, the mystery man simply brought up his cane, and swung it down at the pack leader’s head. The sickening sound of a blunt object crushing bone into flesh rang out.

”Guess I’ll just have to check around Baska again. But first…”

The lone lycan, fool that he was, continued to watch in shock and intrigue. Only for the man with cane to suddenly turn, and look him right in the eyes. Fear paralysed him immediately. A figure of death approached him with equal haste.

~~~~~~~~~~

”That’s it?” Fia suddenly burst out after an extended moment of awkward silence following the end of Claramond’s retelling. There was no holding back her emotions anymore, not after the mess she’d just heard about. ”Some asshole comes up, asks for me, threaten’s the whole fuckin’ orphanage, hurts Leo, and he jus’ walked away!?”

Fia stood up from her chair, ignoring whatever eggnog she had left and staring down at Claramond with fury. All she got in return, however, was a look back from the maid, one cold enough to freeze over hell itself. ”It was the optimal decision. I had to tend to Leonarda, and make sure there weren’t more. All I could do was break the fighting there.”

But that was not even close to enough for Fia. She grinded her teeth, continuing to snarl at the maid. ”So that’s it, huh? We don’ fight for ourselves anymore?! You didn’t even ask what the hell he wanted me for!? Or if the fucker was gonna come back!? Shit, do you even find out anyth-“

”I know he could’ve killed me.”

Claramond’s sudden interjection had all of Fia’s planned words immediately caught in her throat. ”Huh?” Was all she could manage at that moment.

”Fiammetta. I have only personally encountered one man stronger than him. Your own father. Whoever this is… Whatever he wants… That doesn’t matter. All we can do now... Is lose him, and keep moving on."

WC: 556

#10Fiammetta Barone 

on Tue Dec 26, 2017 7:37 pm

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Fiammetta Barone



Things were getting strange. That much was evident. ”Hol’ up, whaddya mean?” Fia queried with frustration and anger, furious at how unclear Claramond continued to be. They couldn’t anything about this guy? The man whose name and intent wasn’t even known? Did Clara fear him that much, just from their little encounter?

”Fiammetta… We need to think about this.” Claramond asserted with a calm yet solid tone. ”This man wasn’t just looking for you. He was looking for the eldest daughter of Baldo Barone – those were his exact words. I think… We need to consider…” The maids gaze was cold and yet, somehow, also sympathetic. ”That this man could very well be an old associate of Baldo’s.”

Fia furrowed a brow, recoiled in confusion and shock. ”Ya mean… Someone from his past is out to get me? Why?” She uttered with an almost betrayed tone. It felt grim, this revelation, like something that they’d had coming for a long time now.

”I don’t know, Fiammetta. But you and I do know that Baldo’s past is… Fraught… with all kinds of sins. We need to wonder if this is the result of one.” Like some kind of deathly magic, Claramond’s words seemed to drain the energy from Fia. Because the steam punk knew the maid was almost certainly correct. And the implications of that… Well, they weren’t fun.

”Fuckin’ hell…” Was all Fia could utter, as she sat back down, feeling the weight of the reveals wash over her. It was difficult to comprehend exactly what the would mean for her at that point. But one thing was for certain: Something was going on, fate was conspiring against her yet again, her future put at risk…

”So, then what the fuck now, huh? What if he comes back, and won’ take no for an answer?” A fair question to ask, Fia felt. Fortunately, Claramond answered almost immediately.

”We’ll be ready. He might have been able to take myself and Leonardo one on one, but if it comes to it… He would fall against all of us, and the extra security measures I’ve implemented.” Claramond assured confidently, a sentiment which Fia had no trouble believing. Amadeo and Salvatore’s help could mean a world of difference in a proper fight after all.

”As for what you need to do next… You must continue. Throw him off your trail in your next steps, it should be easy enough. Fiammetta, you must focus on funding this orphanage. If it falls, nothing else matters. For now, with what little we know, that is the best we can do.”

Fia let out a hefty sigh as she leaned back and stared up at the ceiling. It was a lot to think about, and that’s exactly she would do. She still wasn’t even sure how she felt about it, besides angry. Being hunted by a former associate of her father’s… Some deep, despicable part of her wondered if she should blame Baldo… But God, what would the point in that be? However, perhaps most of all, Fia wondered about one single aspect. Something been thinking on the whole story.

Was Claramond telling the full truth?

Fia glanced at the maid, who continued sipping her eggnog. The kids would be waking up soon, so they would soon be starting breakfast, acting like their talk had never happened. It was painful, at times, all the secrets she had to keep. But she would do it anyway.

For the sake of her family.

~~~~~~~~~~

He wasn’t dead!

Somehow, he wasn’t dead! The lone lycan had stared the reaper in the face, and yet he lived! He was, however, still frozen. And remained so for the long moments that passed with the one-eyed man standing right in front of him, looking at him with a cold and devilish glare. The lone lycan almost whimpered, as he stared up at the imposing figure.

”Maybe you’ll be a bit more useful…”

The lone lycan shrunk further, the man with the cane now looming over him. It was at that point the lycan noticed one conspicuous feature of the man’s appearance, though it was nought but a silhouette from his position. This strange man…

He had horns.

/END

WC: 703

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