Makai Gaiden: The Unbroken Seal



The night air felt a bit colder than usual despite the summery time of year. A very clear drop of temperature caught everyone caught all who were out in the area off guard. A young man walked the streets with his head down while trying to tighten his very light jacket around him in a failing attempt to keep out the chill. He was on a pretty busy street so he felt relatively safe for the moment, there wasn't a whole lot of crime in this part of the city so he didn't have to worry about getting mugged, there wasn't even a prostitute walking the sidewalk. At least one that could be easily recognizable by most people's standard. And if there were they were making sure they weren't standing out in any way to draw any obvious attention. Then again maybe this sudden chill might be keeping them indoors as well, or at least more warmly dressed. “**** it's cold,” he muttered, ignoring the slight fog indicating his breath hanging in the air, as he started rubbing his arms to try to get warmer. “Bastards didn't say anything about this on the news this morning.”

Pulling out his phone he went to check the temperature, but his phone wasn't on. “What the hell?”. He tried turning it on. It did for a brief moment, just long enough for him to see that the battery was dead. “****!”, he spat. “I know this POS was fully charged before I left.” He started banging on the phone, despite knowing that wouldn't work. Now he couldn't even call a cab if he had to. “Why did I agree to head out tonight?”, he asked himself as he kept going feeling miserable. “I don't even like the people he works with to begin with.” Still keeping his head down he continued toward the reluctantly agreed upon destination. As he kept walking, out of the corner of his eye he couldn't help but notice a older man being back lighted as he stood in front of a open doorway. The idea that this guy didn't seem bothered by the cold, not even wearing a coat, irritated him slightly.

“Cold tonight isn't it?”, the man asked. He seemed friendly enough so he stopped. Which was weird because he wouldn't stop for some random stranger on the street looking to start up a conversation, especially after a stupid line like that. But it was like something was compelling him to slow down and look at the man.

“You ain't lying there dude,” he said as he started blowing into his hand. He looked past the stranger at the building itself. He couldn't exactly see inside since the guy was blocking the door enough that he couldn't get a good look. So he studied at the exterior, and was surprised to see it was some sort of shelter. His brow creased a bit, he'd walked this street more times times than he could count and never noticed it before. He knew people called him oblivious at times but he couldn't be that bad, could he?

“Do you want to come in?”, he looked at the man after the surprising offer was made. “Just put on a fresh pot of joe. So it should be nice and piping hot, perfect for a cold spell like this one.”

“No thanks,” he quickly said. Gesturing toward the building he went on, “I think other people need it more than me.”

“I realize that son,” this man said with a friendly chuckle and he took a step closer to him. “But I was figuring that you might want to get out of this cold for a bit.” All right that did sound more than a little tempting considering how much he was shivering at the moment. “And the coffee should heat you right up. Just a couple of minutes to get the chill off you bones.”

“Okay you win,” he finally conceded. “But the moment I hear I'm probably going to hell and I'm out of here.”

The stranger laughed a pretty hearty laugh if he had ever heard one. “That's one thing you won't have to worry about here. Come on,” he put a arm around his shoulder as he started to guide him toward the door, “I'll get you a seat by the space heater. Glad I thought to pull that out of storage. I'm even more thankful it worked. I was planning on throwing it out and getting a new one, then this happened.”

“Is that offer open to anybody?”, a new voice asked. Both of them looked behind them to see a blond haired woman standing there shivering as much as he was. Granted her coat looked way warmer than his jacket at the moment.

“Of course,” the strange old man said as he looked at her. “The more the merrier I always say.” He started to heard them in then it looked like something occurred to him, “Now where are my manners, my friends call me Steve.”

“Trevor,” he responded, if the old guy was offering a bit of warmth from this sudden cold then it would just be rude.

Both of them looked back at the woman who just said, “Jules.” The way she said her name was friendly enough, but something made him look at her a little more closely, it was like she was on some kind of alert, like she was looking for something to come out and attack her The old man didn't seem to notice as he gestured for them to go first.

“Ladies first,” he said more or less automatically, such a thing being driven into him by both both his parents and grandparents for as long as he could remember.

She smiled and told him,”Thank you,” both of them parted to let her by. Trevor saw her reach out and put a hand, noticing the leather looking thing on her wrist for the first time, on the door jam as she took a look inside before going in. He blinked a few times, the cold must be causing his eyes to play tricks on him. He could have sworn there was a piece of paper left behind once she lifted her hand away. But nothing was there. Steve didn't even act like he noticed anything was off as he entered behind them and closed the door, using a little extra force to get it to close.

“I keep meaning to get that fixed,” he said as he turned around. “Started doing that a couple of years ago. I didn't think anything of it at the time but it's been getting worse.”

“Old buildings tend to do that,” Jules commented as she looked around while she rubbed her hands together to warm them up. Trevor did the same, a little surprised at how spartan the interior actually was. He was expecting a couple of rows of tables and chairs at least like most shelters he'd seen on T.V. But there were no tables, just a handful of folding chairs by that offered space heater sitting on an old wooden stool, which to be honest did look like it had seen better days. But it was warm in here, in fact he felt himself starting to sweat a little.

“That they do,” Steve readily agreed. “About the time I do get it fix will probably be around the time it stops closing completely.” He chuckled to himself as he gently guided them to the heater. “Now go right ahead and grab a seat, talk a little, get to know each other a bit. Who knows, this might be the start of something special.” When they finally did sit he looked strangely satisfied. “I'll go get that coffee I promised you. I'm currently out of cream and sugar though, I hope that's all right.”

“Just the way I like it,” Jules told him.

Trevor told him, “Just as long as it's not decaff, I'm going to need the buzz considering where I'm going. I'm going to be bored out of my mind.”

“No worries there my boy,” Steve said with that same smile. “And a lady after my own heart. I'll be back in a few ticks.”

Once they were alone, Jules looked back to were he went before returning her attention to him. She looked him over a bit, not exactly like a piece of meat but it was still a little unnerving. Finally she stopped looking at him and smiled a bit as she went, “I'm sure he's a nice guy who means well and all but before you get any ideas,” she reached up and lightly rubbed a slim gold pin that was a couple of inches long, there was some sort of markings inscribed on it that he couldn't quite make out from where he was sitting, “but I'm already spoken for.”

“Same here,” he informed her. “In fact I'm wondering how long I should stay before leaving. He's going to wonder where I am before long.” He looked at his phone, yup still useless at the moment. “And I'm out of a charge apparently.”

“The cold might have zapped the battery,” Jules offered.

“Probably,” he agreed. “I don't suppose you have a charger on you?”

She at least looked apologetic as she answered with, “Don't carry one, sorry.”

“Guess I should expect a ton of voice mails asking where I'm at after I charge this up then,” he sighed and started looking around. Even if she did have a charge cord with her, or he thought to bring his, where was he going to pug it in? He wasn't seeing an outlet anywhere. Then he noticed Jules was staring intently at the heater. It took him a moment but he realized why she was staring at it, his grandparents had a model similar to this one. Those coils should be glowing a reddish orange by now, so it wasn't working. But why was it so warm in here? “What the hell?”, he started to get up but she grabbed his arm and got him to sit back down.

“Don't move,” she told him, an edge in her voice that wasn't there before startled him. He kept looking back and forth between her and the heater as she reached into her coat. He was suddenly very afraid of an old space heater. This was ridiculous. Then she slapped something on his forehead. He got a brief look at some red paper blocking his vision slightly before he closed his eyes and went to sleep.


After making sure he wasn't going to fall out of the chair Jules wondered exactly how she was going to drag this poor bastard out of here. She kept her eyes on the heater, it had to be connected to the Horror some how. Then she remembered about Steve and whipped around with her Madou Brush in hand to see him stand there holding two Styrofoam cups of coffee, still smiling at her. “I thought you were a Makai Priest.” Jules positioned herself so she was between the two of them. “It's a vibe I quickly learned to read.”

“Guess I need to work on that,” she quipped. Now was Steve here the Horror they were looking for, or was he just a pawn trying to look out for his own skin?

“Nice trick with that talisman though, I almost didn't see it vanish like it did, that was a very neat trick. Although I should be a bit peeved you knock our friend out like that.” he said gesturing one of the cups toward Trevor, “Wasted a perfectly good dose of poison, thiese things ain't exactly cheap and easy to come by you know.”

Jules eyed the older man, no Horror she knew of poisoned their victim's first, so working for the Horror then. So she tried to get through to him, because otherwise she would have to do something she might regret later. “What ever the Horror promised you you have to know it won't keep it's word. It'll consume you at some point.”

“Oh I'm aware of that,” he said taking a step forward, Jules took up a defensive position that caused him to stop and look at the coffee in his hands. “Told it it could have me as soon as my body finally gives out, and the way things are going that should happening sooner rather than later. But before then I feed it every so often and it's happy. Better than having it just roam about don't you think?” Okay she wasn't going to regret this all that much if it got physical between them. Which was now as he threw one of those coffees at her. Jules easily dodged and kept from getting scalded from the hot liquid and went after the old man.

He acted like he was going to throw the other one but she kicked it out of his hand. Then he started throwing some kicks of his own that she blocked. The old guy was moving like a professional fighter, he might have even been one in his younger days. But something told her that he wasn't expecting much of a fight from any ol' Makai Priest, male or female. As she steadily block or dodged whatever attack he tried to throw at her Jules was quickly showing him that he wasn't dealing with just any Makai Priest. She was one of the few who could actually fight and seal a Horror. Keeping him at arms length she backed up just long enough to get around a punch by bending foreward at the waist, and brought her right foot up to smash him in the face in the process. As he stumbled back holding his nose she rose back up and brought her brush down in a huge arc aiming for his head.

He saw this coming from a mile away and brought up his arms to block it. Just like she wanted him to. Jules stopped just short of striking his arms, instead kicking out with a foot that knocked him back to the wall behind him. She spun away after the blow and looked at him him glaring at her. She couldn't help it, the smirk just appeared on her lips as she waved him on. He looked to the side suddenly then started smiling as well. She lost the smirk as confusion briefly took her. Then she heard some sort of grinding, whirring sounding mechanical noise behind her and it hit her. The heater he had them sit by wasn't connected to the Horror, it was the Horror. She glanced back to see that heater sprout a set of demonic looking clockwork arms and legs from a equally demonic looking body as it got off the stool it was on.

The Horror turned it's frame to the poor bastard she knocked out. She ran in and hit it with the energized bristles of her brush as it reached out for him. Jumping up a bit he pushed off the metal body of the Horror and made sure her other foot hit the chair the poor guy was sitting on to push it away from the thing trying to eat him.Then she was grabbed from behind by Steve as she kept her attention on making sure neither she or the guy was eaten. After a brief struggle she was able to break free of his grasp, turn around and throw him to the ground. Quickly she grabbed the unconscious man and pulled him further away from the fight. In one motion she jumped around in front of the guy, pulled a red slim slip of paper out of her coat as turned around to face the Horror and the old man. Running her brush over it she placed it on the ground to form a quick barrier between them. The Horror immediately began assusuting it and she knew it wasn't going to last long to begin with. She didn't need it to. She brought up her brush and quickly brought her other hand on top of the glowing bristles.

Jules and, despite being on the other side of the barrier, the old man ducked as the paper she placed earlier in the jam exploded, causing the door to open up. “You think that's going to help?”, Steve sneered. “There's a barrier around this place.”


“One that will let people in but not out,” Jules quickly cut him off. “We have records of this particular's Horror's bag of tricks you know. Besides I wasn't trying to get us out.” The Horror and the old man both looked at the door as a shape walked through the smoke still lingering in the air. “I was letting someone in.” In a dark long coat and holding a black staff with gold inlay in various spots, a single man with dirty blond like hair walked in with a purpose as he locked his eyes on the Horror immediately. That smirk return to her lips as she turned back to the old man, “Say hi to the hubby.”

The horror started speaking in it's language, one both foreign and ancient, but she, and those of the Makai Order, knew enough of it to know it said one thing, “Makai Knight.”

She stood next to Carter as they faced the Horror and the old man. Jules had no question in her mind that she could have probably taken on this Horror by herself. But with the Steve there fighter her too and not to mention sleeping beauty in the chair she didn't need to be distracted at the wrong moment. Even Carter admitted he had similar misgivings when facing multiple opponents, you sometimes got your eyes on the wrong opponent at the wrong time and that was it. But two on two, well that was a different story altogether. “You're late,” she told Carter jokingly. His only reaction was to glance at her briefly before returning his attention to the Horror. That wasn't him being annoyed at her comment, no that was his 'are you serious right now?' look. She learned that one even before they became a couple. “How about we spice things up a bit,” she told him. “You occupy the old man and I take on the Horror.” Again he said nothing, he pulled the staff apart revealing the hidden blades inside. “The usual boring way then,” she said with a fake yawn. As one they charged the Horror and the old man.

The old man moved to try and block Carter's path, Jules was already there knocking him out of the way as Carter continued on toward the their target. She also knew she had another task to worry about, since she knew spells and magic in general it was her job to figure out what was keeping the barrier up and disable it if possible. It was why she was out here first. Since she didn't spot anything on the outside that meant it was in here, but where was it? Jules didn't spot anything when she first walked in and set the explosive seal, even talking to the guy who was still knocked out in the chair she didn't spot it. Speaking of they had to get him out of here some how. Jules caught a punch thrown at here head and twisted the old man's arm in a hammer lock that forced the old man around. Wrapping her other arm around his neck she struggled with him eventually getting turned around to see Carter fight the Horror. Watching them her eye caught something, a slight shimmery effect that usually indicated one thing. Pushing the old man away with a kick to the rump she retrieved a grey slip of paper and used her brush to hurl it at the Horror as it turned to a metal spike as soon as it left her hand. It hit the shimmery area and the Horror reacted, so did the open door way as the air seemed to shimmer as well. “There!”, she yelled at Carter.

He saw what happened at the door as well and nodded as he concentrated on the area where the spike was. The seal keeping the barrier in place was on the Horror. It started to protect the area more as Carter increased his assault with both blades. He blocked two strikes coming his way, one attack with one blade and a kick with the other. Jules saw what he was going to do immediately, he had both blades positioned so he could connect the other ends to form his double bladed sword. Doing so he pushed the Horror away and started swinging with the weapon having nearly doubled his reach as he held it with one hand. Jules shot an elbow back as she felt the old man coming up behind her, and tried not to feel any satisfaction as she felt his nose give away. She turned back to face him, briefly wondering if he thought that by eventually feeding himself to the Horror would absolve him of the sins of feeding other people to the thing.

It was the second time she had seen that particular line of thinking, The first time being her former mentor Vincent, it made her sick then and it made her just as sick now so she didn't exactly hold back as she beat up Steve while Carter took on the Horror. Then he got through and stabbed the shimmery area with one end of the staff. The Horror recoiled and screamed. Both of them looked at the door as the air shimmered again then seem to shatter. The barrier was broken. “No!” Steve yelled as he grabbed her. She was able to shrug him off again, punching him for good measure. Then he started stumbling toward Carter and the Horror, getting between the two of them. Jules quickly rushed over to help her husband in case he needed it. Then the air around the old man started to look funny, like he was a reflection in a fun house mirrored. “No!” he shouted out. “Not yet!” Both of them watched as he sucked up into the Horror.

Despite everything Jules did try to feel sorry for the old man, she really did. Nobody deserved to be devoured by a Horror no matter what they did. But in the end all she could muster was, “I tried to warn him.”

The Horror started thrashing around, like it was trying to bring the building down on top of them. “Get him out of here,” Carter told her. But she was already going for the guy she put the sleeping spell on. Grabbing his chair she started pulling him to the door. Once there she got under a arm and hoisted him up, taking his dead weight and got him out the door. She look back just long enough to see him spin his weapon over his head, forming the circle that would summon his armor. Knowing the fight was well in hand she dragged Trevor onto the open street. Getting across the street she spotted a empty bus waiting area and laid him on the bench. She looked around, nobody was in sight. So use did a quick motion with her brush and aimed at it the bench. It glowed softly, that should keep him warm enough until the sleep spell wore off. She went back to see if Carter needed any help but he was already exiting the building reconnecting his weapons back into the staff, she so could have taken that Horror if the numbers weren't against her. She went to met him as he looked past her to the sleeping man, “Is he why you went in early?”

“I didn't want him to get eaten,” she told him. Carter simply nodded as he continued on to the sleeping man. Jules joined him. That's when they both heard a particular beep going off again and again. Seeing a soft light in his hand she realized it was his phone. She looked at it, twenty messages from the same number, more than likely the person he was planning on meeting. “Either you're friend is really worried or he's borderline possessive,” she softly said as she replaced the phone.

“The barrier was what it made it so cold,” a tinny voice said. Both her and Carter looked at the Gothic looking pin on his chest. “It absorbs all the heat in the area as part of the trap, which is why it was so warm in there. Apparently it sucked in battery life too. With it gone things should go back to normal soon enough.”

“Any idea when it's going to start to feel warmer Xypher?”, she asked as she rubbed her hands together.

“I'm not really sure but it might take a while,” was his answer.

“Figures,” she said, moving away just so she stay warm. That spell only kept you warm if you were in contact with the item it was cast on. “Times like these I almost wished we had a television set. Just so I can see them try to explain something like this,” Jules tried to joke but wasn't feeling all that humorous at the moment. She looked at the building, trying not to think about all the souls that were lost to that Horror before they found out about it. “You know I really hate it when they take over an inanimate objects like that.”

“It's rare,” Carter said as he walked up to her, “but it happens.”

“It's not even that,” she went on still rubbing her arms slightly. “I mean you can't even use the flame to check for them. There's no eyes.” She stopped talking when Carter putting his coat around her caught her off guard. She looked at him, he wasn't betraying anything like he usually did when out in public, but she knew him well enough to see the concern in his face. “You know, if you showed this side of you more often you'd probably have more friends.” This time he did give her his annoyed look. So she reached up and kissed him. It wasn't much but his expression did soften a little.

Xypher on the other hand, “It's not fair. I say that and I get flicked.” They ignored him as they walked away from the building and sleeping man.


The next morning, and feeling much warmer, Jules was out in the backyard of their home and looked at a tree that had become her target of choice since she married Carter and moved in. There was no real reason for her choice. Outside of that it was far enough away from the house that any misfire shouldn't harm things too much, it was just there, and Carter didn't seem to mind it. Mason, the servant she didn't know he had until right before they were married, even painted a crude target on it for her. But all of that was before she tried this. In one hand she held her Madou Brush, a grey slip of paper in the fingers of that same hand. She brought up that hand along with the other, which had some sort of device on her middle finger and thumb, and brought them together. She snapped the fingers on her free hand causing a spark. Quickly she drew the brush away causing a stream of flame to trail behind it. She spun as she usually did when preforming this spell, and the fire trail spiraled around her. As Jules held her hands above her head as the fire started to ball up above her brush, she grabbed the slip of paper with her free and. Instead of firing a fireball like she usually did Jules brought her brush down and rubbed the bristles like she did to fire off a metal spike.

As the paper flew off in the direction of the tree it did form the metal spike, although this one encased in a ball of fire. She held her breath as it quickly approached the tree. Then the spike exploded before it hit the tree. Jules tried to cover herself as best as she could mainly as a reflex from any flaming debris that might have come her way but any quickly burned up after they flew about a foot. Lowering her arm she looked at the tree, “Damn it.”

“There are,” she heard Xypher say, she looked back to see Carter come up the old stone path, “easier ways if you want that particular tree gone so badly.”

She blew out a frustrated breath as she looked back at that tree, “Not now Xypher.” she walked the path the spike flew on. “That almost worked this time,” she muttered to herself. “What am I not seeing that's causing it to blow up before it reaches the target?”

Behind her Carter was following her, at a respectable distance since he saw how annoyed she was at the moment, “That was a new attack spell,” he commented. “When did you come up with it?”

“Your mom gave me the idea,” she informed him. “When I went over there last week so she could help me tweak this.” She raised up the hand with the device. “We were talking about combining various magic spells when she brought it up.”

“I thought it was working fine,” Carter commented. She stopped and took it off her hand and looked at it.

“And I'm about as much of a inventor as Reks was a fighter.” she looked wistful;y at the device, remember her former partner who was trained along side her since they were children, “He would have had this working properly on his first try.” She looked up at Carter, “Yes it worked but the spark it made wasn't big enough to get the proper effect I needed.” she looked back at the tree, “Now I'm wonder if the spark is too big.”

“You'll figure it out,” Carter said confidently. “You're a better inventor than you think.”

“You're sweet to say that,” she said with a smile, “but Vincent realized my talents were more in the combat arts than creative and trained me accordingly. But I'll admit this is driving me a little nuts trying figure it out,” she placed the device and her brush inside her coat.

“If it's bothering you that much maybe you need to blow off a little steam,” he told her, “just to clear your head of course.”

She grinned a little more, “Of course.” She kissed him real quick before backing up a few feet. Taking up a fighting stance she asked, “The usual rules?”

He nodded once as he took up a stance of his own, a slight smile gracing his lips, “No weapons, no spells.” And a unspoken rule, don't intentionally hurt each other but don't hold back either. Both of them stood there waiting for the other to strike first. Granted this was Carter's usual way to clear one's mind, but it was fun in it's own way. Generally both of them would hold off as long as possible, just to see who would make the first move. But today she was frustrated as hell so she went in fast with a high kick aimed at his head. It also caught Carter completely off guard as just barely got out of the way. She kept up the attack, successfully keeping him off balanced enough that he couldn't get off a counter attack of his own. Then she tried a side kick that he caught easily enough. He flipped her by the leg and she went flying in the air. Jules had enough body control at the moment that she curled into a small ball and spun until she landed in a crouched position in front of him. Like she expected he came at her as soon as she landed.

Carter came at her with a knee strike that she quickly leaped up to avoid, then jumped off that knee into a back flip. When she landed he launched a flurry of punches that she blocked with a little effort. She kicked him hard enough to back him up a bit then came in low with a leg sweep that knocked him off his feet. She got on top of him but after a bit of a struggle Carter was able to flip her off of him. Both of them got to their feet and went at each other again. At this point both of them knew each other's fighting style well enough that they both blocked each other. Then Carter grabbed her arm and pulled her forward. She was close enough to a tree that she ran up and flipped off, twisting in the air and landed on his shoulders. Quickly she wrapped her legs around his neck and started squeezing. She knew Carter probably had a couple of way out of this hold come to mind but she held on for all she's worth, getting ready in case she felt him start to fall back.

But he didn't do that, he got a hold of her ankles and started pulling her legs from his neck, then he pushed her off. Falling backwards she flipped over to make sure she didn't land on her head. But before she could get her balance he grabbed her arm again and spun her around. Then he wrapped his arms around her trapping her arms against her side. Jules struggled to get free while she tried to figure out what this particular form of attack was. The she felt his mouth where her neck met her shoulders and stop struggling to free herself. Despite not having any sort of experience with women before he met her he quickly figured out where one of her turn ons were. Grinning she said, “This is the very definition of a dirty trick.”


“Mm-hmm”, he said as he kept at it. His grip loosened just enough that she could turn around and faced him and kissed him passionately.

She broke away long enough to say, “If you were in the mood you could have just said something. Like you had to something to show me upstairs.”

He shrugged, “This way was more fun.”

“I'm learning things about my husband all the time,” she said as she kissed him again, wrapping her arms around his neck. He backed her up until they were against the tree she flipped off of.

They only stopped when Xypher spoke up, “Could you put me in a pocket or something. I really don't want to learn how humans procreate today. Or ever for that matter” Carter was annoyed at the interruption but Jules just smirked as she lightly tapped the pin on the forehead.

A cough made them look over to see Mason standing there holding a tray trying not to look at them directly, “Pardon my intrusion but a message from the Watchdogs has just arrived

Carter just grunted as Jules went, “Have I mentioned they have lousy timing lately?” Both of them walked toward Mason, Jules in particular wondering what they were going to be sent after now. That was the problem with Horrors, sometimes there were lulls in their sighting, then there were spurts of activity. Nobody in the Order had figured it out the reason for it yet, and she doubted that they ever would. Then she and Carter stopped when they got a look at the contents of the tray.

“A white envelope?”, he said looking at Mason. Both of them were confused at this. The envelope was usually red.

“I know there's a black envelope for extra special assignments,” Jules said. “But what does a white one mean?” Carter stood there shaking his head. Xypher didn't even have an answer.

“I think I should have been more specific,” Mason told them. He moved the tray toward her, “The message is for Miss Jules.”

“For Jules?”, Carter said sounding a bit confused. So was she as she took the envelope from the tray. She never heard of the Watchdogs sending orders to Makai Priests, at least not lately. As she examined it she saw it wasn't sealed so there was no need to use the Madou fire to get the message. Inside she found a letter, written in regular handwriting. She started reading it over as Carter asked, “What does it say?”

“It's from Olivia,” she looked up at Carter, “she was the head of the Makai Priest side of the training ground I was at before Vincent took me and Reks under his wing.” Reading a little more she felt her confusion grow, “She's asking me to go to the Watchdogs for details of a request she wants to make of me.”

“Why not just say so in the letter?”, Xypher asked. Jules wasn't sure what to tell the pin.

“She must think it was important enough to keep up this level of secrecy,” she ended up saying. “You don't think somebody trying to cause a rift in the Order again?”, she looked at Carter, who visibly tensed a bit. Jules couldn't blame him, not after Reks and Sigma before that. Not to mention that Vincent ended up using that as a cover for his own plans.

“I think the Watchdogs would have sent for me directly if that was the case,” he eventually said.

“You're right,” she said while she put the letter back in the envelope and placed it back on the tray. “Don't even know why my mind went there first. I guess because it be easier to get the idea in their heads when they're young or something like that. Well I didn't have any plans for this Morning,” well Carter apparently had some sort of plan in mind, but again lousy timing, “feel like taking a trip down my memory lane?”

“Lead the way Mrs. Greystone,” Carter said as he bowed a bit and gestured toward the stone path. She bowed in return.

Mason moved aside to let them pass. Before they got to far he called out, “I'll keep dinner warm until you return.” While Carter didn't react, like always, Jules at least waved a goodbye to the man. But her mind was still racing trying to figure out what this could be about.


After going into one of the hidden entrances that led to the Watchdogs, they walked the passage ways that led to the chamber the Watchdogs usually spoke to people in they emerged from the darkness that cloaked most of the chamber. As always there were in their balconies looking down as she and Carter stopped and stood side by side under the only apparent source of light in the room. The Watchdogs wore the usual bored expression they always had as they stood there. Both of them bowed as a sign of respect to their superiors and waited. The female of the two spoke first. “Makai Priest Jules.” Then she glanced over at Carter, “Rook, you we were not expected.”

“And yet,” the male said, “we are not surprised. They do travel together now, partners in the order as in life.” The female's expression didn't change but it did look like she sniffed a bit, almost as if she was rebuke. Ignoring this the male continued, “I'm sure you are curious at the level of secrecy regarding this particular summons.”

“It was piqued,” Jules admitted. “Orders from here are usually a little more straight forward. What's going on that Olivia wouldn't or couldn't tell me in her letter?”

“There has been an issue at the trainig ground she looks over,” the female answered. “Things have been stolen from the forbidden vault hidden there by the Order.” Beside her Carter was confused by this, but she knew exactly what the Watchdog was talking about. She only found out about it after she followed Olivia and Vincent one night after he decided to mentor her. “So you can see the need for secrecy in this situation.”

“I do,” she answered.

Carter spoke up, “Why would a training ground house a forbidden vault?” Everyone in the Order knew, or at least heard rumors of the forbidden vaults. They contained spells or items considered too dangerous to be left in the outside world. And their locations were a closely guarded secret, known only to those in the Senate and a select few assigned to guard those locations. “It's contents would be a danger to the students training there.”

“Because the vault was there before the training ground was built,” Jules told him, repeating the answer she was given when she asked the same question. Although it still baffled her that neither the vault or school wasn't moved by now. Granted it would be easier to move the school. “The location of this particular vault got lost over time, only to be rediscovered after the training ground was already running.”

“That would be correct,” the male Watchdog said. “And considering Makai Priest Olivia's diligence in guarding this particular vault it is surprising someone else discovered it's location.”

Seeing she only found out about it by accident Jules commented, “Nothing stays hidden forever and mistakes can happen, even to the best of us. Did Olivia say she had any suspects?”

“She has one,” the female answered, “She had already been detained and is currently being questioned.”

Brow furrowing at this bit of news Jules asked, “Then why am I being sent for? It sounds like Olivia has thing well in hand.”

“Because Olivia isn't completely sure they have the right person,” the female replied. “According to her the evidence pointing to this individual is, in her opinion, circumstantial at best. And she fears that since the suspect is the student of the Priest leading the investigation, his judgement might be a little impaired. She wants someone not currently connected to the training ground but familiar enough with it to look at things with fresh, unbiased eyes.”

“You are familiar with the Priest leading this particular investigation,” the male told her sensing her next question, if it's the student of the one investigating the situation shouldn't Olivia be worried this Priest would be trying too hard to clear this person. Jules tilted her head a bit, who would she know that would be at the training ground? Then the Watchdog supplied the answer, “Makai Priest Walter.” Jules stiffened at the names. He was one of the two Priest sent to fetch her after Vincent tried to expose their world in the worst way imaginable. And he didn't hide his opinion that she was just as guilty as he was before she was even questioned on the matter. “Based on your reaction you share Makai Priest Olivia concern in the matter.”

“Maybe not the same exact concerns as she has,” she said. “But I am afraid he's already judged this person guilty and letting that drive his decisions in this matter.”

“That was Makai Priest Olivia's primary concern as well,” he said. “While we do wish for this matter to be tidied up in a timely matter we do not want an innocent party to suffer the cosequences.”

”I'm sure nobody wants that,” Carter commented.

“You never dealt with Walter,” she informed him. She glanced up at the Watchdogs wondering exactly how much they knew when Walter and that other Priest came to retrieve her for questioning. She didn't want to accidentally get Carter into trouble by mention that he promised to hunt Walter down if he did anything to her along the way. “While he did take your... suggestion seriously. It didn't stop him from saying things like he couldn't wait to see me rot behind bars.”

“Kinda wish we were there when they cleared you,” Xypher quipped. Jules didn't respond out loud, but she did get a little bit of satisfaction when she walked past him a free Makai Priest. Okay a lot of satisfaction, the guy was just an ass in general.

“So you can see why I want to make sure the person they think did it gets a fair chance,” Jules went on. She spoke to the Watchdogs, “I'll leave for the training ground immediately.” Turning back to Carter she said, “Ready to see where I spent a good portion of my childhood?”

“We don't think some things were made clear,” the female spoke up getting their attention. “Makai Priest Olivia wanted it understood that you and just you were to come and no one else. She specifically requested that Rook was not to make an appearance at this time.”

“Me and Carter are partners,” Jules insisted. “Where I go he goes too and vice a versa.” Why would Olivia insist that only she come and not bring Carter? Her first instinct of someone trying to split the order started to crawl back into her head again. She quickly pushed it back down. No the Watchdogs and the Senate would had made certain of anything having to deal with a forbidden vault before sending her in on Olivia's request.

The male spoke, “We are aware of this, as is Makai Priest Olivia. But as one of the heads of the training ground, and guardian of this vault, we must honor her wishes on the matter.”

She didn't like this, but they were right, they had to honor her request. “Very well.”

“We will send word that you are on your way,” the male said. Both of them bowed again as the Watchdogs retreated to wherever they go when they leave those balconies.

“You can show me the training ground some other time,” Carter said as they turned to leave the room.

“I still don't like this, why not let me bring you along just in case?”

“Can I point out something,” Xypher said. “About how you had an issue with Carter not mentioning Mason when you were keeping a location of a forbidden vault from him.” Carter went to flick the pin but just this once she stopped him.

“Are you seriously comparing keeping quiet about one man to a vault location?”, she asked the pin. Who, seeing while she stopped him from getting flicked Xypher also saw she didn't make Carter lower his hand, didn't answer right away.

Carter did for him, “It's a huge difference. Vaults locations are carefully guarded secrets. Keeping quiet about one man because I was embarrassed about the situation is no where close to the same thing.”

“I'm just saying,” the pin said a little sullen.

“Just be careful,' Carter told her as they exited the hidden portal and back onto the street. “If the person they have isn't the culprit then that person is still roaming free. And if they got into a vault”

“Who know what they took,” she finished the thought for him. It crossed her mind more than once while they were talking to the Watchdogs. Granted she didn't know the exact contents of this particular vault outside of a couple of things Vincent had her and Reks helped him research. And those were bad enough. “Don't worry, this one time I'll take the warning. But don't get used to me agreeing with it, is that understood? Were you at least going to be walking with me to the city limits?” Like he did earlier he motioned that she should take the lead and quickly followed after she passed him.

“I could open a path for you,” he offered as she turned and headed in the camp's general direction. “You'll get there quicker.”

“No,” she told him, although the offer was tempting, Besides he would need to be there to have Xypher open the other end, and she wasn't exactly sure how strict Olivia's request that she show up alone actually was. Besides it was only an hour or so walk out of the city “I'm going to need the time to figure out what exactly I'm going to do when I get involved.” He nodded as they walked the streets. “Hopefully this won't take too long and I'll be back by tonight. So you just make sure you stay out of trouble while I'm gone Mr. Greystone. ” He glanced sideways at her, but she caught the slight smirk on his face before he tried covering it up.


There was one thing about being part of the Order that she was currently grateful for, you got used to a lot of walking. Yes some Makai Priests and Knight had a type of vehicle to use, but certain places like the training grounds generally need to be reached by foot, although close to open areas like the one she was currently passing through. Mainly because they were far enough out of the way not to be spied upon by uninitiated eyes. But considering how fast the regular humans were expanding out she sometimes wondered how long that was going to last. Vincent would have gotten his wish eventually, he might not have lived to see it but it would have happened. More than likely the Order had already considered this and had things in place for when that happened, it was still a unsettling thought.

Jules slowed down slightly as she came across a sign you would have only paid attention to if you were part of the order. To any other random passer by it would have been an old wooden street sign that was used decades ago that was never taken down. They might have even mistaken the particular style of lettering as some sort of graffiti, maybe even took a picture of it. But she knew better, it was the Makai language and basically it said the training ground was near. More out of habit from living in a crowded city than anything else she looked around to make sure nobody was coming in either direction as she stepped off the road and onto a field, heading toward a wooded area that wasn't that far off and followed a path, one that was barely used and overgrown but noticeable to her eyes. And one deeply rooted in her memory.

Once in the wooded area the path became more clear as she looked around and quickly spotted the guards posted there, their wooden staffs pointed in her general direction. “I'm Jules, Olivia's expecting me,” she said. They nodded and stepped aside to let her through. “Thank you,” she said with a nod as she continued on. Her memory wasn't getting tampered with today, something she was always grateful for, although she saw the necessity considering what they did and what was hidden in this particular area. Going deeper she saw the first signs of the training ground and smiled as various memories flooded her mind. She looked to her left, if she remembered correctly... There they were, a group of children, boys and girls, practicing various moves and forms, the future generation of Makai Priests. Looking in the other direction it took a little longer but she spotted them a group of boys doing the same thing but with a weapon in their hands, the Makai Knights of tomorrow.

Vincent once told her that in the past the two groups had separate training grounds but civilization's advancement had created the need to combine them in some areas. She stopped when she came to a particular tree, remembering seeing Reks spy on the young Knight trainees. At the time she thought it was because she thought he wanted to be a Knight instead of a Priest. A far assumption on her part considering more than a few of the boys in her group had that desire. But considering Reks was willing to become the next Sigma now she wasn't so sure. Did he have that hatred of Knights all along? Or did he run into a group that bullied him into feeling that way. She'll never know now. Although she hoped it was the latter because she hate to think she missed how he really felt about the Knights after all the years she knew him. Or worse, ignored it as something not as bad as it turned out to be.

The sight of someone approaching in her direction snapped her out of her thoughts and a smile started to form as she saw who it was and waved. The ceremonial robes was her first clue at who it was. Her hair was whiter and the stick she was using as a cane was new to Jules but her green eyes still had the same sparkle they had the last time she saw her, after she left with Vincent. Jules hurried her pace to great her, “Olivia.”

“Jules,” she waved in return with a huge smile of her own. Once she was close enough the older woman ignored the offered hand and pulled her into a hug that Jules returned. “Welcome back,” she said before pulling away to get a better look at her, “Well you have defineitely gotten bigger since the last time I laid eyes on you.”

“You still look the same.”

“And you obviously learned to lie at some point,' she chuckled as she turned so they could walk to the training ground together. “I am glad you decided to help us with this. People are a little jumpy after things went down.”

Jules looked around after they past the gates, all the building looked just the same to her, maybe just a little smaller from her current perspective, but that was only natural. But she did noticed more than a few were trying not to look like they were looking at them or her. Which did raise a particular question that popped in her head while she traveled here. “So what exactly do the others know?”

“Only that some things of importance were stolen,” Olivia informed her. She motioned to one building in particular, where here office was located. Jules nodded in understanding, there was less of a chance of someone overhearing them so they could get into a little further detail. A couple of attendants banged their staff on the ground then parted to let them pass. Olivia went to one, Jules just heard her say, “Make sure we're not interrupted.”

“Yes ma'am,” the guard replied.

As they continued on Olivia commented, “Married life seems to be agreeing with you so far.” Jules looked at her strangely, that was not the topic she thought she was going to bring up once they were alone and Jules couldn't see any one else in sight. “Although I am just a tad disappointed you didn't ask me to perform the ceremony.”

“I figured you'd be too busy running things here,” Jules informed her, which was true. Asking Olivia did cross her mind in the wedding's planning stages. “Also I didn't think you be that comfortable leaving your post.” Again it was true, Jules couldn't remember a time when she was here that Olivia left the compound, unless the Senate called for her. “Speaking of married life, why didn't you want Carter coming along?”


“No real or great reason,” Olivia said as they reached her office. She opened the door and let Jules in and closed the door when she entered. “Take a seat,” Jules tried not to smirk at her choice of words. That was what she usually said when she had to deal with somebody. Not that she had any personal experience with the situation of course. When Jules sat down instead of sitting behind her desk Olivia sat in the chair next to her. “But a Makai Priest more than likely did this and a unknown Knight walking around would draw too much attention to the situation, more than there already is I mean.” Again Jules could only nod, seeing her reasoning “Granted people will be looking closer any way with your arrival, but hopefully not as much if a Knight had gotten involved.”

“Okay,” Jules went as she leaned forward a bit. “Do you know what was taken? Considering how much the person knew about what they took we could be in major trouble sooner rather than later.”

“Oh yes I know what was taken,” Olivia answered as she leaned back. “As guardian of a forbidden vault I had to know it's contents in case something like this happened. One of them was the Condemned.” Jules eyes widen a bit at hearing this name. That was one of the things she helped Vincent research years ago and it still gave her nightmares all these years later whenever she thought about it. Which wasn't often as she tried not to think about that item as much as possible. “Among other things I don't want to think about most of the time.

“This situation went from bad to worse,” Jules mumbled as she sat back. “How did they even get into the vault to begin with? It had seals on top of seals, or at least that's what I remember Vincent telling me when I asked him about it.”

“It does,” Olivia told her, “as do the the containers they're housed in. As for how,” she trailed off and looked across the room. Jules followed her gaze to see a table almost hidden in the corner. “I have no idea. Go check for yourself, maybe you'll see something we missed.” Jules doubted that but she got up and walked over. Feeling Olivia just watch she approached the table. On that table was a simple open wooden box, with a seal attached to it side.She reached out to touch it, the air around it reacted as soon as she got close.

“What?”, she gasp as she pulled her hand back, more from the shock than anything. She pulled out her brush and waved it over the box in a certain motion, magically scanning it as the bristles glowed. She did this several times, there was no way she was reading this right. But she had to face the truth right in front of her. She looked back at Olivia, “The seal is still up?”

“Yes,” was all the older woman said as she joined her at the table. “Now it's possible whomever did this could have just put a new seal in place to confuse us, but look at the paper itself.” Jules did, it was the standard slip any Makai Priest would use for this type os spell but it was old, at least a couple of decades if she had to take a guess. “I replaced this seal since the old one was losing power, as a vault guardian it is something I have to do on occasion. And this is the same spell I cast back then.” Olivia walked away shaking her head slightly, “Which only means one thing.”

“The person was able to bypass the seal,” Jules said, mind reeling at the thought. Horrors couldn't even bypass a Makai seal. “How is this even possible? I studied a lot of old magic under Vincent and I never came across anything like this.”

“Neither have I,” Olivia told her, this time sitting behind her desk and starting to look older suddenly. “Which more than likely mean this is either something so old it was forgotten in the sands of time until recently or it's new. And if I had to guess I'd lean towards it being something new. I can't count the number of students that came through here over the years that tried to come up with something completely original.” She looked thoughtful for a moment, “I probably should have curtailed such things but I hated to stifle such creativity. I always felt you students learned better that way. Make your own mistakes, figure out what you did wrong.”

“Some of us are still doing that,” Jules said, thinking of her failure from earlier in the day, “If nothing else it gave me a great foundation for problem solving.” Finally she walked away from the table and stood by the desk. “I was told you had a suspect. Is she capable of pulling this off?”

“Her name is Shae,” Olivia informed her. “And honestly no, at least not according to the conversations I had with Walter about her before this.” Jules tried not to react at hearing his name. If she did Olivia didn't give any indication that she noticed as she went on, “He's always saying he doubted that she would graduate to full Makai Priest status. Which contradicts the young girl all the instructors here were praising to no end before hand.”

She was trying really hard to keep her previous interaction with Walter from coloring her judgement of the situation. “Maybe she hit a bump she can't figure out how to get past,” she ended up saying. “Or can properly explain to her mentor so he could help her. I know I've seen it a couple of times when I was here.”

“Or her mentor isn't capable enough to help her past that bump.” Jules was so glad Olivia said that and not her.

“Can I speak with her?”, Jules asked.

“I'm sure that can be arranged,” Olivia said. “I know you had a bit of a journey and might want to rest for a moment. But I want to get this settled one way or another as soon as possible.” Jules looked back at the box on the table. If something like the Condemned was out then the sooner they figured out what was actually going on the better it was going to be for everybody.


n a barren room somewhere underground the trainee known as Shae sat on a a plain wooden chair, the only piece of furniture in the room and looked at her hands. And the magical bonds keeping them locked together. It had been hours since her mentor Walter had locked her in this room. She thought it was hours, it felt like it at least. There were no other way to tell time in here, not even a window to track the light's movement. The only source of light was the small orb Olivia had created before they left her in the room. And the only the sounds of Walter on the other side of the door yelling at her to confess and others taunting her with threats was the only indication that they were other people occasoinally in the corridor.

She looked up through her dark hair as she thought she heard the door unlock. Briefly she wondered if those voices were going to follow through with those threats. And braced herself for the attack. Instead Olivia walked in, with another Makai Priest she'd never seen before right behind her. “Shae this is Jules,” Olivia said as she closed the door after they entered. Shae looked up at her briefly before looking back down. Another one who wants to blame her for this, perfect.

This Jules walked forward and knelt down to try and face her. Then she looked back at Olivia saying, “Can I talk to her alone?”

“Of course Jules,” Olivia said after a bit, “I'll be in my office when you're done.” Jules didn't react until after she was gone for a bit then she took out her Madou brush and aimed it at the orb, performing a quick spell. Shae looked up as the orb started to grow brighter.

“That's better,” she said as she looked at her. Then she frowned as she noticed how her wrist were bound. “Now that doesn't look comfortable at all, I'm surprised Olivia let this happened.” Again she performed another quick spell and her bindings faded away. “There you go, that's has to feel better.”

Rubbing her wrist Shae said a small, “Thank you.”

Still she kept her head down, until Jules put a hand under her chin and gently lifted her head up to look at her. She smiled as she studied her, “Don't worry I'm not Walter.”

“Why,” she said as she removed her hand “why are you here?”

“That's a fair question,” Jules told her. “Olivia asked me to look over the case, make sure things are how they seem.” Shae lowered her head again, she was right, another one who thought she was guilty. “I just looking for the truth,” Jules said apparently sensing her darkening thoughts. “If it turns out you're innocent of this, and considering how Walter tends to view things were guilt and innocence is concerned that might be likely.” Shae looked at her, was she telling the truth? Did she not automatically assumed she was guilty like Walter and everyone else? No, this had to be a trick. “I'll make sure you're set free, you have my word on that. But I do need you to be honest with me about what's going on. Can you do that for me?” Not sure what else to do Shae just nodded, and she was afraid to do that. “Okay I'm going to believe you. Do yourself a favor and don't break that trust, I can be your best friend but I can be you're worst enemy if it came down to it.” She looked around the room studying things, “Have they fed you yet? I haven't eaten since breakfast myself. How about I get us something to eat before we start.”

Okay,” she softly said.

Before Jules responded there was a new voice on the other side of the door, “It's going to be any time now. There going to look away at the wrong time and then you're going to get yours.” Shae could only watch as Jules got this look on her face as she stood and marched toward the door. Opening it she quickly pulled a very startled and frightened female trainee into the room. It was the first time she seen one of her tormentors since she'd been in here. The fact she knew this one, she was kind enough before this or so she thought that she was too shocked to feel anything at this particular reveal.

Forcing her against the wall Jules just stared her down, “Pretty tough behind that door aren't you?”, she said evenly. “I want you to get one thing straight, if anything happens to Shae here while I'm here, I'm not even going to care if it wasn't you, you're going to be the one I'll hold responsible, am I clear?” She quickly nodded her head. “Good. Now you tell that to any one else stupid enough to do what you just did and that's she's under my protection while the investigation is going on. Go on,”she said pushing her back toward the door, “start telling people.” She hurried out the room.”

Jules closed the door, held her head down a bit then looked at her, “Has that been going on the whole time?” she asked. When she nodded, Jules had this look of disgust on her face, “Have you told Walter about this?”

“He told me to stop lying to change the focus of people's attention,” she said, with a little stronger voice, finally starting to believe she actually might believe her.

“Of course he did,” again Jules looked disgusted. Then she finally started smiling again, “I have some experience being in his cross hairs as well. Look I'm going to talk to Olivia, and see if I can make that claim about you being under my protection actually true before grabbing us some food. I'm going to have to leave you in her for now, I'll try not to be gone long.”

“All right,” Shae said as he held her hands out to get them rebound.

Jules put a hand on hers to lower them, “That won't be necessary. Just try and relax and tell me if any one didn't get that message I just gave the other one.” She started to leave then quickly turned back around, “And if you hear Walter screaming and hollering then Olivia granted my request.” She smiled, despite herself Shae smiled too. “You should really smile more, you're much cuter when you smile.” Then she left her on her own again.

But this time as she looked up at the orb, she didn't dim it like Walter probably would have seeing how he complained about it when Olivia first cast it, she actually started to feel a little bit of hope in this situation.


“This is completely unacceptable!”, a voice bellowed from behind Olivia's door. If Jules had to take a wild guess Walter just found out about her getting involved. She paused a second before reaching for the doorknob. She knew she couldn't avoid him the entire time she was hear, and kind of figured he would be upset that Olivia had called her in. She had to to remind herself that she faced down Horrors alone that were worse than the angry man shouting from behind the door. Finally opening the door she heard him say, “I almost got her to...,” he stopped when she walked in. “Oh it's you traitor.”

“And you wonder why she brought me in,” Jules shot back. Ignoring the glare Walter was giving her Jules focused on Olivia. “You might want to have a discussion with the students here. They been threatening Shae.”

“You would believe her lies,” Walter cut in.

“One was making the threat while I was in the room with her.” She was proud of herself from stopping just shy of ending that sentence with you big moron. “I warned her off but considering the attitude of some people around here,' she looked directly at Walter before continuing, “I'm worried she might be harmed physically before this is over.”

“That is hard to believe,” Olivia said as she leaned back in her chair. “But like I told you earlier things have been a tad jumpy around here after Shae was taken into custody. So it doesn't surprise me.”

“Unbelievable,” Walter grumbled.

This time she couldn't help herself, Jules looked right at him as she said, “Somebody needs to think about her safety in all of this.” Looking at Olivia she said, “So I'm requesting that she be placed in my care while I'm investigating the situation.”

Olivia didn't respond right away, although she did glance at Walter every so often as she thought it over. So did she figuring he would have began protesting even before she was finished speaking. But she didn't try to egg him on either, she knew Olivia well enough to know that would go against her request. Eventually Olivia leaned forward a bit, she made her decision. “Walter, Shae is your trainee,” he started looking smug, and she resisted the urge to punch him in the face. “But even though she's currently the only suspect we have in the matter we need to make sure nothing befalls her before the triuh is discovered. Given the circumstances I'm authorizing Jules' request. Shae's all yours until this is over.”

Again she was proud of herself for not outwardly celebrating this little victory. But if anybody could've read her mind right then, well that would have been a different story. Walter on the other hand literally snarled right before storming out of there, Slamming the door behind him. “Well that went well,” She said, trying to lighten some of the tension that was still in the air. Olivia did smirk slightly before getting serious again.

“I hope you know what you're getting into,” she told her. So did she truth be told. And although she had been ignoring one particular question that had been floating around in her head, after what just happened Jules just had to ask it out loud.

“I just have one question though, why assign Shae to him?”, she said pointing at the door. “And yes my past experience with him is one of the reasons why I'm asking.” Olivia seemed to appreciate her sudden burst of honesty about the situation.

“It was because I thought they could help each other in a way,” was her answer. Confused Jules took a seat and waited for her to continue. “As long as she'd been here Shae was never the most out going child, Something you wouldn't know about of course,' she added making a joke of her own. Not being able to disagree with that particular statement Jules just smirked and kept silent. “And seeing how Walter has never been all that shy about his opinions I was hoping some of that would rub off on her, in a good way. With Walter I was hoping that he finally get past that attitude he had when he first came into the Order. I'm sure you've experienced it, I doubt he be this rough with her if Shae was a male student.”

A couple of things about her last statement caught her attention and she wanted to ask about both of them at the same time. But that was just going to confuse things in her mind so she started with the first one that caught her attention, “What do you mean 'came into the Order'?”

Olivia let out a tired sigh as she leaned back into the chair, obviously that was something she didn't want to get out. Looking past her toward the door it was a moment before she focused on her again. “His family wasn't part of the Order Jules. He came to us after his parents were eaten by Horrors by the Priest who helped fight it off. He was fifteen at the time,” she said staring off into space looking thoughtful.

“Well that explains a lot,” Jules said, although not meaning to say that thought out loud. Given his age he was already set in his ways by the time he started training. And given how everyone on the Makai Priest side of thing treated every one else as equals in her experience that attitude had to have been imprinted on him while he was still growing up. “And nobody thought to work with him to get past that attitude while he was training?”

“Because he was very good at hiding it,” Olivia told her. “Nobody noticed, he was always so respectful of the female staff while he was training. It wasn't until he left here that it came back out. After he was assigned her as an instructor, over a lot of the Priests' here objections, I was hoping that teaming him with someone like Shae would help him finally get him past that.” Offering a small smile she went on, “Obviously I made a not so small mistake.” If she was expecting her to say something she hide her surprise well as Jules held her tongue.

“God only knows what that did to Shae,” she did end up saying, which was just as bad as commenting on how big of a mistake Olivia's decision was. In fact it was pretty much was commenting exactly how much of a mistake she thought that was. Realizing this she quickly added, “I didn't mean any disrespect Olivia.”

Olivia held up a hand to stop her, “It's a thought I've had more than once after I realized Walter's attitude so I really can't call you on it, no matter how much I want to.” She looked thoughtful again as she stared past her. “Can I ask a not so small favor from you?” Jules nodded a yes and listened. “I'm not sure how much of a issue it's going to be but could you try and undo whatever damage Walter might have done while you're looking over the situation. If she is innocent I want to try and help get back to where she was before Walter became her mentor.”

Jules was taken back about the sudden request. And a little worried about what would happen after the investigation was over and she left to go back to her usual job and Carter. She had a no problem with helping Shae if she could but if she was just going to go back with Walter then what was the point. But she knew that she had to help the girl if she could, help her discover her backbone if nothing else. “I'll do what I can,” she told Olivia.

The older woman smiled and said, “That's all that I ask. Let me worry about Walter in the mean time.” Jules winced internally, was she that obvious? “If she improves under you, even if it's just a little then I'll have enough reason to separate the two of them.” Now she understood the request, Olivia mentioned that Shae had taken a bit of a down turn since being tutored by Walter, she was looking for any reason to justify her theory and still save some face.

“I just need to know what kind of restriction she's going to be under in the mean time,” Jules said. She still wasn't sure if Shae was truly innocent or not at this point. Given how she never suspected what Vincent was planning the previous year and never caught on she admittedly probably wasn't the best person to judge somebody's character on the first meeting. So she didn't want to accidentally give some one capable of bypassing a seal free range. “And I did sort of tell her that I'd get us something to eat after I was done talking with you.”

Nodding Olivia rose from her seat and started to walk her to the door, “Of course. We're not barbarians after all. If we had any other place to put her beside those lower cells then that's where she'd be right now. Go get the two of you some food. I'll get you those restriction after you're finished.”


Once Jules got to the dining area she immediately wanted to know when the food got better. When she was here in her younger days it was pretty much a gruel type slop, one that was supposedly highly nutritious but it was still a dark grey slop in her memory, not to mention borderline tasteless. And the taste you could get wasn't all that great. On special occasions it was a light brown, the taste didn't change one bit, but it made it seem a little more special. Walking with two plates of food that actually looked like food in her hands and her arm weaved around a spare chair she found, she was not going to sit on that floor and eat. It was an interesting balancing act, but she pulled it off. Even opening the door to the room Shae was confined to without spilling anything. So they sat there in the room and mainly talked while they ate, Jules was trying to get a better read on the young girl, who had to be fourteen at the most, she would have to remember to ask Olivia or somebody else who wasn't Walter about it.

But she did seem happier, not in the getting away with it way, more in the relieved that someone seemed to believe her claims of innocence sort of way. And having dealt with her mentor she couldn't exactly blame the girl. Jules made a mental note to ask the other instructors around here about what she was like before being paired up with Walter. “So you're from a family of Makai Priest too?”, she asked after swallowing a bit of her lunch.

“Yes ma'am,” She answered as she wiped her mouth with a napkin. “Father always said my grandfather worked for the Senate. But I can't find any proof of that in the family records.”

Tilting her head a bit Jules asked, “Why wouldn't you believe that he worked for the Senate? If any of my family worked for the Senate I'd be proud as hell.”

“He also claimed he lifted a Knights sword without any training what so ever,” Shae added.

“Ah,” Jules said in understanding. “He's the exaggerting type I see.” Shae just nodded. “There's one in every family I suppose. I have a cousin like that. Fortunately he lived really far away so I didn't have to deal with it all that often, because I would have gotten in trouble for beating him up to get him to shut up. You on the other hand,” she shook her head, but she was still studying her, particularly the way she kept pulling at the hem of her dress. Like she wasn't used to wearing one. Boy had she been there growing up “Was there something special going on that you needed to get dressed up for?” Shae looked like she started to shrink up a bit, that wasn't going to work for her, she just got Shae to open up a little Jules was not going to let her back track now. “Trying to impress one of the boys around here?”

“No, Shae said quickly, but Jules did catch the hint of a smile cross her face momentarily.

“Oh there's somebody around here that caught your eye all right.” Sitting her plate on the floor Jules watched her, “When I was here most of the girls your age had eyes on the young Knights training across the way.” She was definitely blushing right now. “Aha, I knew it, you got a crush,” Jules teased her with a grin. Seeing how embarrassed she was getting Jules decided to pull back on the teasing, for now any way. “Hey there's nothing wrong with it, I married a Knight after all, “And even though it's only been a few hours she was missing that particular Knight already. “But there wasn't much intermingling between the two camps when I was here.,” she said after she thought about it for a bit. “Somehow I doubt Olivia and her counterpart in the Knight's camp have gotten all that lenient since then, so why the dress?”

Shae was hesitant to answer, but Jules just waited until she was ready to answer. “Walter said this was how a young lady was supposed to dress.” Hearing that Jules immediately pinched the bridge of her nose, if true, she didn't fully realize how deep his idiocy went. “Are you okay?”, Shae asked.

She offered her a small smile, “Just trying to decide if the thoughts of hurting him in the ways I'm imaging is going to lead me to darkness or not. Not the first time I asked myself that, believe me. And not just about Walter either. I mean I just learned something about him that makes what you said make perfect sense but still.” Gathering her plate she stood and placed it on the plate on the chair.

“Where are you going?”, Shae asked.

“You're room,” Jules told her, “I'm going through your stuff to see I I can figure out who your crush is.” Shae immediately looked mortified. “I'm joking, I'm joking. But I am going through your closest and figure out what you usually wear. I'm going to need you to feel like yourself if we're going to get to the bottom of this.” Shae still didn't look happy with her privacy being violated but seemed happier with her actual goal.

“Okay,” she said.

“And I want you moving around a little,” she told her as Jules pulled her to her feet, “I mean it, I don't want to see you in either of these chairs when I get back. You're not bound to it.” She reached out for the door, “Oh and make sure no one touches my plate I'm not finished with it yet.”

“Yes ma'am,” she said again. This time Jules was sure it was a automatic response. She remembered saying it to the instructors around here when she was younger.

“And just stick to Jules if you'd please,” She told her. “I'm not old enough to be a 'ma'am' yet.” She didn't wait for a response as she left the room.


It took a little snooping but she found where Shae was living at while she was learning here. It was pretty much the same when she was there, a dorm like structure made out of wood with rooms that usually housed more than one trainee. So hopefully she had a room mate that could help identify her usual outfit. And if there were close maybe get someone else's take on Shae. See what she was like with out a proper adult around. Finding the room in question she knocked lightly, wanting to see if there was any one in there before walking in. “Who's there?', somebody called out. Hopefully she was a talker and wouldn't need much convincing that she was on Shae's side in all of this.

“My names is Jules,” she replied. Okay now where did she go from here? Well she might as well go with the first reason why she came here, “I'm getting some clothes for Shae to change into.” There was some quick footsteps right before the door flung open, fortunrtely inwards. Jules wasn't sure she could have gotten out of the way in time to avoid getting clocked in the head.

She looked at another trainee, maybe roughly around Shae's age with red hair. Jules couldn't help but noticed at how suspicious she was looking at her. “You're going to let her get out of that outfit her mentor is making her wear?”

“As fast as I can.” Jules told her. “And I'm hoping you have a better idea of her usual style, so that would be a huge help.” She did seem surprised at her request. But she still stood in the doorway blocking her entry. “Be a bigger help if I could come in.”

“Just because you didn't barge in like her current mentor does,” she said as she stepped aside to let her in.Jules took a quick glance around as she stepped through the door. The room itself looked like only one person lived in here. One side while not exactly sloppy did have that lived in look that her old dorm did. The other side was pretty much immaculate. The only thing that gave away that anyone was using it was the clothes in the closet and a couple of personal items carefully arranged on the desk. “I've never seen you around here before.”

Now came the tricky part. “That's because Olivia asked me to come look over the situation Shae got caught up in.” It looked like she was going to shut down on here, exactly what she didn't want to happen. “ Look I'm going to tell you what I told Shae. If she's innocent...”

“She is innocent,” she insisted. Okay they were definitely friendly at least.That could be a help in the long run.

Jules continued, “Then I will do everything I can to get her out of this mess and get the person who actually did it. Both of you have my word on that. And I need you to be truthful with me too. Any lie, even if you think it's going to help Shae, might make her situation worse. What's she being accused of, well it's more serious than you might think. So please work with me. I'm sorry I never got a name.”

“Nadia,” she said after a moment. Then she added, “You're not going to treat her like that creep does?”

That question about certain thoughts leading her to darkness popped in her head again. And she didn't even want to ask for clarification on what she meant by that. “I wouldn't even treat my worst enemy like that. And considering that's the same guy you're talking about should say something.” Nadia smiled slightly as she headed for the closest on the immaculate side of the room and started going it. “I'm just guessing this is Shae's side of the room? And she always keeps it this tidy?”

“That it would, and yes she does.,” Nadia told her as she started pulling various bits of clothes from the closet and putting them on the bed. Jules looked at that side of the room, that was what she was afraid of. If Shae was this meticulous about her belongings then she could be capable of coming up with what ever spell was used to get past a barrier. Because something like that took the type of dedication she was seeing right now. Okay it was more than likely Shae wasn't the only person here who was this much of a neat freak. It was time to test something out. “Let's say I moved something, just a little, Do you think she'd notice?”

Stopping going through Shae's closet Nadia looked at her, like she was trying to decide if she was looking for things to pin the thefts on her roommate. Quickly thinking Jules told her, “Because every time I see a desk this organized I just want to mess with it and see how annoyed the person gets.” It was true enough to a certain extent, She did want to mess the person who was this neat. Nadia still stared at her intently.

“It depends on how much you moved it,” she ended up saying apparently believing her reason for the moment as she returned the the closet.”Actually I was playing a little game for a while after we were roomed together those first couple of weeks, just to see what she would notice. And if she got annoyed she kept it to herself.”

“Seriously, she didn't look annoyed at all?”

“Well,” she started then hesitated. Jules silently willed her to be honest but didn't push it wanting the information to come out freely. It still took Nadia a couple of seconds to finish what ever thought she started. “Well those times she did notice she'd look at me, although I made sure my head was always busy looking at something, a book, a scroll my group was assigned to study and try and decipher.”

“They still do that?” she scrunched up her nose a bit. “I hated that exercise. You had to figure out everything out from scratch and if you missed one little mean nothing thing the instructor would look at you like you insulted his mother.” Apparently sensing a bit of a kindred spirit where that particular assignment lay Nadia stepped a little closer as she began laying out the clothes she finally settled on, a dark dress shirt. Some knee length pant, then she started looking for some accessories..

“As I was saying Shae would let out this breath,” she did an imitation of said breath, “Kind of like that. But she wouldn't readjust anything, just leave it like it was.” Okay she wasn't that much of a neat freak then. “It stopped being fun after the first couple of times since she wasn't reacting any more, honestly I think she was surprised when she noticed I stopped. Jules you got to believe me, Shae isn't capable of doing whatever it is they're saying she did. She doesn't have an evil bone in her body.”

Jules wanted to believe that, it went with the image she painted of the girl in her head after she first talked to her. Unfortunately she knew first hand that no matter how well you thought you know a person they could act in a way you never imagined they were capable of. Then the door burst open with a slam. Jules already had her madou brush in her hand and pointed at the intruder. She just looked at Walter as he stood there looking so smug and superior. In the back of her mind she realized she should lower her brush considering he was a quote unquote friendly, but her arm wasn't moving. “Finally going to prove me right traitor.” he sneered.

Nadia got her wits back first as she walked around Jules and tried to get in his face. “You have no right to barge in here whenever you want...”

Walter pushed her out of the way only to be stopped by Jules pointing her brush at his chest. He looked surprised at first, then annoyed as she started to move him back. “She's right, this is a private room and off limits to the likes of you. So kindly turn around and leave before I make you leave. What if she was getting dressed?”

“It would serve her right walking around like a slut. And you better be careful before I start digging into any involvement you might have had in this.” Finally moving her brush Jules kicked him in the gut to force him closer to the door. “This is my crime scene!:, he snapped at her Jules who was less than impressed with the display. “I have every right to be in here!”

Eyes narrowing she coolly told him, “Not any more it's not. Now leave before before I make Olivia cross with me.”

“You're Knight's not here to protect you this time,” he tried to tower over her, to seem more imposing. She faced Horrors with sharper teeth then this idiot. Why was she so worried about running into him earlier?

He didn't even hide his shock as not only didn't she not back down, she was imposing her will on the situation, backing him either further away from Nadia. “Let's get one thing perfectly clear. That day you guys took me to be questioned,” she smiled a predator smile, unnerving him even more, “I wasn't the one he was protecting. Now get out of here.”

“Did you even see where I found the evidence that pointed toward that little tramp?”, he looked down as she cracked the knuckles on her right hand.


“Her name is Shae,” she said sternly. “I suggest you remember that for the future.” She finally stepped back and looked around the room, “Okay where was this oh so damning evidence that pointed toward her?”

He started looking smug again as he pointed right at the desk on her side of the room. Jules immediately walked over and started opening drawers trying to see if there was any indication oh a secret panel or something. “No,” he bellowed right there sd he pointed at the desk, no he was pointing at the top. Jules started pushing on various spots trying to trigger a hidden panel “No you dumb,” a sharp look from her quieted him for the moment. Then he reached past her and started tapping a particular section over, “Right here.”

Jules was dumbfounded, and couldn't hide it making Walter look superior again. She looked over at Nadia, “It was out in the open?”

“Right there,” although she looked sick to admit it out loud. Jules looked around the room, again taking a look at how immaculate Shae kept her side of things

“Tell me Walter,” she said addressing him, obviously confused she wasn't immediately apologizing for being proven wrong or something, “was that door locked when you discovered whatever it was you found.

“What does that have anything to do with it?”, he demanded.

She pushed past him and and opened the door, making sure to show him the doorknob , “There's no locks. They never had any. And of course it never occurred to you that just any one could have placed what ever it was you found there, probably expecting for you to act just like this.”

“It was her desk!” he kept on insisting. Now Jules was starting to wonder how Olivia let him get away with how he was treating her on something so flimsy. They were going to have to talk about that, later.

Right now she had something more important to take care of. Turning to Nadia Jules told her, “Gather up those clothes and take them to Shae. I'm going to speak with Olivia.”

“About what traitor?”, he demanded as he stood in her way. Right now Jules didn't care about playing nice for Olivia's sake. She dropped him with a well placed knee to the crotch. Once he was down in pain she stepped over him not even pretending she didn't enjoy every bit of that and stalked to Olivia's office trying to remain calm. Which was going to be hard to do considering how Shae was being treated.


Getting into her own clothes never felt so good. Shae was surprised when Nadia knocked on the door with a set of clothes in hand. And on Jules' say so. She wasn't sure what to make of this but anything to get out of the dress Walter was making her wear. Adjusting the headband to keep her hair out of her eyes she stretched out she looked over at Nadia who was keeping an eye on the door. So far nobody had come by to make another threat, and while Shae was sure Jules would have believed her, it was good to have somebody hear them if they did. “You messed up my closest didn't you?”

“Hey,” Nadia protested, “I picked out that outfit very carefully, thank you very much”. Looking away she added, “Now the pile on your bed however”, she trailed off. Shae let out a breath, that Nadia smiled at for some reason.

“But thank you though,” Shae told her, “I couldn't get out of that enough.” she looked at the dress that was thrown on the ground.

“I've noticed,” Nadia said, “You usually fold it up neatly when you'd take it off at night.”

“Is it wrong I want to burn it?”, she asked as she stepped closer to her friend.

“I'm surprised you haven't done it already,” she said.

Both of them looked at the door as it opened. Shae was worried that it was going to be Walter and went to retrieve the dress from the ground and try to straighten it out. Nadia knew her well enough that she grabbed her wrist and held her in place. Then Jules walked through the door much to her relief. She looked her up and down, nodded and said. “I don't even have to ask about how much better you have to feel. I can see it already.”

“Did you already talk with Olivia?” Shae asked.

“Yes,” Jules said as moved the plate that she put on the chair she brought in and took a seat. “And I have some good news, and some not so good news.”

Shae and Nadia just looked at each other before Nadia went, “Isn't that suppose to be good news and bad news?”

“Well that's going to depend on how you feel about me,” she said. Shae was still confused at what she was talking about. “Let's start with the good news, You can get out of here.” Shae immediately hugged Nadia who returned it.

“What's the not so good news?”, she asked Jules.

“Well, unfortunately you can't leave my side while I'm here investigating things. For the most part, I still have to figure out what's going on, and my usual sidekick was asked not to come. So you'll be supervised by somebody who's not Walter. I made sure of that.” .

What?!”, Shae protested.

“That's not fair,” Nadia quickly agreed. Jules put up a hand to get them to calm down a bit. Shae wanted to argue but she'd listen to Jules first.

“Look I understand but Olivia insisted that be restriction on letting you free from this room. And it's for the same reason why you were put in here to begin with.”

“Walter wanted me in here,” Shae quickly said.

“No it's not,” Jules said as she protested again. She waited until Shae got it out of her system. “I was giving Olivia an earful about it when she told me why. Walter's the only one who automatically thought you did it. But Olivia was afraid the person who did do it might try to incriminate you even more or do something to you personally. So she put you in here for your own good, it stinks I know but I couldn't really disagree with her reasoning after hearing it.”

“She could have told me,” Shar muttered. Jules reached out and rubbed her arm.

“Do you hear me disagreeing,” she said. “But according to her Walter was always hovering around so she couldn't get a chance to explain. I think she meant he wouldn't shut up long enough but I could be wrong.” Jules said it with a smile, Despite how unfair the situation was Shae snickered a little.

Nadia on the other hand. “ But you cleared her.”

“She's not cleared yet,” Jules told them. “I just proved Olivia's theory that it could have been planted at best. In fact I pretty much increased the suspect pool to any one who could get access to her desk.”

“Wait?”, Nadia went, “I'm a suspect now?”

“Nadia wouldn't do that to me,” Shae started to say.

“Nobody's a suspect,” Jules told them as she stood up. “At least not officially. Like I said, anybody who could get access to Shae's desk needs to be looked at, so at least everybody in that dorm. Walter, and I wish I could be there when he finds that out, all the mentors and instructors.. No, I just made Olivia's headache that much worse.”

“But Shae can leave this room now right? Nadia asked.

“As soon as she's ready,” Jules answered. “Actually I'm surprised she's still here. I thought she'd be gone the moment I said she could leave. But before I forget there's something else. I was able to convince Olivia to to let you practice again.”

“And the not so good news?”, Shae asked cautiously.

“You catch on quick,” Jules told her with a grin.. Shae noticed she wasn't saying she was wrong either. “Until things are straightened out you can't be in your regular practice group, and considering you've been threatened, I really couldn't come up with a good argument against it.” Shae sighed, deep down she knew Jules was probably right, still didn't mean she had to like it. “So I'm suppose to work with you when I can. And I'm also supposed to be mindful of this,” reaching into a pocket Shae's eye widen a little as she pulled out her brush. It took a second but Shae did realize she wasn't exactly handing it back to her. “The catch is you can use it for your practice sessions, but I have to hold on to it when you're not.”

“That's not fair,” Shae protested. That was her property, nobody had the right to keep it from her.

Jules just softly said, “No it's not. But I promise you, as soon as we prove to the others that you didn't do this I'll give this back to you, until then I'll keep it safe for you.”

She looked at the older woman as she pocketed her brush. She wanted to believe that she'd be true to her word and hand the brush back to her, but she wanted to believe Walter would believe her too. Look at how that turned out. Jules seemed to understand what was going through her head, “It sucks, I know. My mentor once explained to me that while the Knights have their swords, we have the brush and it's pretty much an extension of who we are. So if I want to give this back to you I better get on the case and find out who actually did it and tried to frame you, badly I might add.”

“So you think I didn't do it now?”, Shae asked. Probably not sounding as hopeful as she should have that somebody finally seemed to believe her.

“I saw your room,” was all she said. “No one as neat as you would leave any sort of evidence out in the open like Walter claimed. What you were keeping it in, maybe but not the item itself.” Reaching down Jules grabbed the last bit of a sandwich that was on her plate and popped it in her mouth. “Now come on, the person responsible is not going to catch themselves.” She opened the door and let Shae go out first. She was unsure, looking to see if there was going to be anybody right outside the door that would push her back in. But the only push came from Nadia and Jules, out the door.

“What about the dress?”, Shae asked suddenly. Why did she ask about that stupid thing? She just wanted to burn it and never see it again. Instead of answering Jules looked at the dress and pulled out her brush. Making a quick motion she sent out a blast the set the dress on fire.

“Wow,” Nadia said in disbelief that she just saw that. Shae joined her in that amazement, The two of them watch the dress burn as Jules put her brush back in it's place inside her coat. That was the last thing she thought was going to happen, even if she just wished for it.

Jules looked at them and with a grin and a wink said, “If anybody asks a Horror did it.” Then she closed the door behind her, leaving the burning garment and guided her and Nadia to the outside.


This could be both good and bad. That girl was the perfect patsy to try and place the blame on, she kept mainly to herself, hardly had any friends to speak of outside of her roommate, and had an idiot for a mentor. When Olivia listened to Walter and placed her in the underground holding rooms things were in the clear. While everybody was focused on her then no body would be looking as those pieces from that vault were taken out of the training ground. There were already several buyers lined up, the pieces just needed to get there then the money would be rolling in.

Then word got out the Olivia had sent for a former student to take over the investigation. One according to rumors actually hunted down Horrors like a Knight. That meant she had a better eye for detail than Walter would have. Considering her and the girl and another one were walking out into the open she probably already figured that she was a patsy in all of this.

But while that patsy was apparently off the board, things weren't going to get planted on or around her while that Priest was around, all wasn't lost just yet. The pieces could still be moved, just a little more carefully. Some of the students were easily riled up enough to make threats against the girl earlier. It shouldn't take that much to get them to go after her again. And while the outsider was dealing with that then she wouldn't be looking for the pieces, or the person who took them.


After a little discussion Jules finally got Nadia to go back to her training session. The job she was called in for was going to be hard enough as it was. She didn't need somebody else following her around, especially since she had to check out the actually crime scene, and for that she had to see the vault. And it was going to be tricky enough with Shae having to be at her side. A second teenager, even one Jules had to silently admit seemed familiar, maybe a little too familiar in some cases. But Nadia did agree to go on, but only if she was kept informed on getting Shae fully in the clear. Jules agreed seeing how she was going to let her know any way seeing how close the two of them where, And that's if Shae didn't tell her friend first.

But it was just the two of them as they walked into Olivia's office. The older woman immediately got out of her chair and went straight toward Shae, taking her hand, “I'm so sorry I had to put you down there, I should have found a way to let you know my reasoning before now.”

“It's okay,” Shae told, Studying her a bit Jules had a feeling that it wasn't exactly 'okay' but she didn't want to make a fuss in front of the head of the training ground. Olivia apparently saw it as well, then shot a look toward her. Jules had seen it before, the “Why can't you act more like that?' sort of look she'd seen from various instructors and mentors while training here. Obviously in response to the earful she was giving her not that long ago. And much like when she was younger Jules paid it no attention, besides she wasn't a student here any more. Going on Shae said, “Jules told me why you did it.”

“It still doesn't make it right,” Olivia told her.

“She has time to make it up to you later,” Jules said. “But we have more pressing matters to attend to.” Olivia looked at her for a moment before nodding in agreement.

“You're right of course, it is the main reason why I asked you to come.” She turned to the young woman in front of her, “Shae, I need you to stay in here for a bit. Jules and I need to discuss some things that's not meant for your ears.”

Shae surprised both of them by going, “Is it about whatever vault I was supposed to have broken into? Can I see it?” Jules and Olivia looked at each other while she waited for a response. Apparently getting impatiant she went on, “Walter said I stole from this vault, I'd like to see exactly what I was accused of stealing from.”

Jules quickly stepped up to her, “Walter told you about the vault?”

“Ask Nadia,” she quickly told her. “She was there when he first accused me.” Jules thought this over, Nadia did see where Walter's “proof” was so she had to have been there.

She glanced over at Olivia, “Walter knew about the vault?”

“I didn't tell him exactly what it was,” she said as she tried to defend her actions. “He knew somethings were taken from it but that was about it. I was worried when there were more rumors about a vault floating around than usual. I was really hoping he wasn't the source.”

“Well,” Jules said after a bit. “I was going to ask who else knew about it, I think a better question is who hasn't Walter told about it yet?” That just made things that much harder. Before she would have just paid some extra attention to the people around her and see if somebody slipped up and mentioned the vault when they weren't supposed to know about it. Now with the word apparently out that flimsy plan was just shot out the window. Well it was a lousy initial plan any way.

Then she looked at Shae who was still waiting for an answer. “I was about her age when I found out about it,” Jules said, “but it's your call Olivia.”

The older woman sighed briefly as she thought it over. “Normally I's say no but the damage is already done I suppose, and it would be easier than explaining why we left her alone in here when she's supposed to stay by your side.” Shae looked like she wanted to celebrate but was mature enough not to, at least in front of Olivia.

Still Jules felt the need to pull her to the side for a moment to have a slightly private conversation. “Shae this may seem exciting and all, but I need you to understand one thing. You can not tell any one about what we're going to show you. I mean it, you can't tell your family, Nadia, anybody. Promise me you won't tell anyone.”

She didn't respond right away, which Jules took as a good thing since it meant she was thinking about it and would probably be more likely to keep her word if she gave it. But she finally said, “I won't tell anybody,”

Olivia sighed again, “Well now that's that apparently settled let's get going. I suppose you remember the way,” she said to Jules.

“You're more familiar with it location than I am,” she said. Which was true, Jules only found out about it because her curoisty got the better of her. And while she could probably lead the way if given enough time she never found out how to open the way to get there.Olivia just nodded again and lead them out of her office. Shae started for the main entrance before Jules made her go the other way. The walked the halls until they reached an apparent dead end. Olivia walked up to the wall then looked back at them. Getting the message Jules indicated to Shae that they should turn away for a moment. They only turned back around when they heard a click and part of the wall was gone revealing a hidden passage way. “Later,” Jules said reading the question in Shae's face.

“They're with me,” Olivia said to apparently no one. Then a couple of guards, which was one more than Jules remembered being there originally, the second one must have been put in placed after she followed Vincent and Olivia, these carrying spear like weapons, came forwards from some hidden alcoves in the dirt walls which caused Shae to jump slightly they appeared so suddenly. Still the guards stared at them as they passed, almost like they were looking for a reason to do anything. And considering things were stolen from the vault under their watch Jules couldn't exactly blame them for acting this way.

After a few yards Jules finally spoke up, but still soft enough that her voice wouldn't carry back to their ears, “I'm assuming that you questioned all the guards after you discovered it happened.”

Olivia nodded and kept her voice just as soft, “It was the first thing that I did. Nobody is sure how who ever did it got in here, I don't even know how they discovered it to begin with.” The frustration was evident in her voice. The location of the forbidden vaults were some of the most closely guarded secrets in the entire Makai Order. Which made this one hell of an inside job.

“Okay you can ask that question now,” Jules said to Shae. She was practically bursting at the seams at this point.

“”What is down here?” Shae asked, trying to keep her voice down as well and barely succeeding. Olivia looked back at her and again the meaning of that look she was currently giving her meant it was all on her.

“A Forbidden Vault,” she told her, figuring it was better to just get it pout of the way than just sugar coat it or beat around the bush. Shae's eyes widen slightly, okay she at least heard of them so she didn't need to explain any further. “Now do you see why I said you couldn't tell anybody?”

“You can't be serious,” she ended up saying. Then they got to the main vault chamber and her eyes went bigger as she got her first look at the Vault, a big wooden and steel door with various protective seals adorning it. It was just like she remembered the room as she walked up to it while still keeping her distance, even how musty the air was. “You are serious,” Shae who stropped in her tracks almost as she saw it said with some reverence.


“Trust me kiddo I wish I was joking,” Jules told her as she scanned the door, she knew Olivia would have done it already but part of her still wanted to see if she could how figure out how it was done. So far she wasn't having any luck. Olivia's, who seemed to be doing the same thing, shoulders just sank a little as she surveyed the scene for only she knew how many times at this point. “Normally I'd asked when it happened but I think I better ask when did you notice items were missing?”

“A few days ago,” she eventually admitted, “When I was doing some routine checking on some of the seals on the objects inside. I should have said something then but since I was this vault's guardian I was stubborn enough to try and handle the situation by myself.”

Giving her a smile as she started examining the vault Jules said, “Happens to the best of us.” Then she returned her attention the room itself as she walked around. “Assuming none of the guards was part of this how did you get in?”, Jules asked nobody in particular. Looking back at Shae, and figuring if she was supposed to try and undo some of the damage Walter did to her, she asked, “What do you think Shae? You got any ideas on how somebody got in here without being seen entering or leaving?”

“I got no idea,” she admitted.

“Come on,” Jules said, “You're young and bright, at least one idea had to have crossed your mind.”

“Outside of they might have dug a tunnel I got no idea.”

“We checked for that,” Olivia told them. “we couldn't find any sort of magical talisman any where, in here or in the Vault.”

Jules held out a hand as she slowly walked along the rocky walls of the room. “As a Madou Pin I'm particularly fond of once told me, if you want to hide something from magic users you wouldn't use...,” she stopped at a particular spot,” magic.” She kept her hand over a certain section just making sure she wasn't imagining anything. There it was again, a slight breeze coming from the wall. Taking out her Madou Brush she tapped the non bristle end around the area a few times. It might have been her imagination but some spots sounded a little more hollow than others. One look at Olivia confirmed she heard it too. Running her fingers around the rocky wall she found what she was looking for. “Shae, give me a hand.” She came over and helped Jules move a section of wall out of the way once it was out of the way she pointed at one of the torches along the wall. Shae quickly grabbed one and handed it to her. Putting it in the opening all of them got a look at a tunnel. “I think we just found out how they got in and out.”

“I'd say that was a good guess,” Olivia told her as she got a good look at it. “I'll go get one of the guards and have them see where this leads. Maybe there's a clue at who the culprit is on the other end.” She quickly headed back to the hidden alcoves leaving the two of them and the tunnel.

Jules looked back at the vault, well more the area around the vault. “I wonder if that's how they got into the vault.”

“Wouldn't that make some sort of noise?”, Shae asked. When Jules looked at her she said, “Making this tunnel I mean. Even if whoever did this used magic there would be some sort of noise being made. Wouldn't there?”

“Depends on how it was done,” she tried to get a better look at the tunnel walls, “and how much work was actually done. If this tunnel was already here then an opening woud have to be made, and I can think of a couple of ways to do that off the top of my head that wouldn't draw too much attention just based on that stone we just moved. Granted I'm just speculating here,” she added as she stood up, walked over and replaced the torch. “It's all I can do with the information at hand at the moment. It's kind of like hunting a Horror in a way, trying to pick up any cue that would give away what it is with some limited information sometimes.”

Before Shae could respond. Olivia came back with one of the guards and quickly pointed out the opening they discovered. “See where that leads and let me know. Try not to be seen as you get to the other end,” she told the man.

“Yes ma'am,” he said as he took another torch and went into the tunnel.

“You might want to see if there's one leading to the Vault,” Jules offered as she stepped closer to Olivia. “We don't now how long it took to bypass those seals on the containers.” She looked back at the vault, and more importantly all the slips of paper adorning it. “And I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be a fast job.”

Olivia nodded again, “Of course. They wouldn't want to be caught in the act. “I'll get on that myself. Thank you Jules, I'm not sure if we would have discovered that tunnel this fast, if at all. I feel we're already a few steps closer than what we were. Although I fear the job isn't done just yet.” And Jules had to silently agree there. “I'll let you know what the guard finds. In the meantime why don't you and Shae get some practice in. I'm sure she missed some sessions due to what was going on.”

“We don't want her falling behind, do we?”, Jules said. Considering she hadn't tried to teach anybody anything before she was slightly afraid she was going to screw the girl up some how.

As always Olivia just seemed to read her as she said, “You'll do fine. I wouldn't have asked if I didn't think you could do it.”

“If you say so,” Jules said. Then she turned toward Shae, “Come one kiddo, show me what you can do .” Her and Shae left the room and headed for the secret opening.


Once they got to the opening Shae couldn't believe how fast Jules' demeanor seemed to change. She was all business the entire time like she was when she was examining the vault room, but almost as soon as they crossed the threshold she was almost like how she was when she first met her earlier. Going so far as to even tease her about her crush a little. It was so much of a change she had to comment on it, “Why are you acting differently all of the sudden?”

“I am?”, she seemed genuinely confused about it, did she not notice what she was doing. After thinking about it for a few moments she said, “I guess Carter's rubbing off a little on me too.” Okay, now who was Carter? Jules looked at her then smiled softly, “Carter's my husband. And I only said that because he has two modes. When we're at the house he a bit more open then when we're on patrol, then he's all business. I guess I picked up a little of that, and he wasn't here to see it. I probably should be happy about that because Xypher would never let me hear the end of it.” Shae was confused again then remembered she mentioned a Madou Pin a bit ago. She knew some Knights had a Madou item of some sort, the pin was probably her husband's.

It went like that until she realized Jules had guided her to one of the practice ranges. Nobody was around that Shae could see. Probably because of the idea she was still the culprit in some of the other's mind. At least Nadia knew the truth, and Olivia and Jules believed her. That thought should have made her feel better but instead she started feeling more alone than ever. Standing her In front of a target she handed back her Madou Brush and said. “Okay Shae let's start with something simple,” and she left it at that as she stepped to the side. Shae knew what she wanted to see. Holding her brush out Shae made a quick circular motion with the bristle drawing a symbol in the ait then she brought her brush back and pointed it the mark she just made, “Ha!” The energy blast was supposed to go straight, but like it had been lately it shot off in a weird direction, in fact it hit a different target entirrly at the very end of the line. Why couldn't she do this stupid spell any more?

“Well,” Jules said as she stepped closer, “You hit something, I'll give you credit for that.” She said it in a lighthearted way but it just made her feel worse. Then she started feeling Jules rub both of her shoulders, “Okay kiddo relax, I think I might have an idea what's wrong, I just need you to trust me and listen to what I say. Alright close your eyes,” she did as instructed, “now take a couple of deep breaths and try to relax.” Again she did as she was told, but it wasn't exactly working, at least not very quickly. “Nope still too tense, but take your time. I think I told that to Carter after we got engaged.” Shae got an image in her head and snickered a little, for some reason now she started to feel at ease. “There you go, all it took was a semi dirty comment to get you to unwind. That's probably not going to be standard teaching procedure so don't get used to it.”

“Okay,” Shae said as she finally felt relaxed, more relaxed than she felt in a while.

“Now this next step is very important, so listen closely and do exactly as I tell you.” Shae nodded and listened. “Now I want you to forget everything Walter tried to teach you about doing this spell.” Opening her eyes Shae looked back at her in confusion. There was no way her current issues were that simple. It made sense but there was just no way. Jules stopped rubbing her shoulders and placed one hand on top of her head, making her face the target again. “Just do it. Do it like you would have before. Trust me.”

Taking a deep breath as she backed away again Shae did the spell again, almost exactly the same, except this time when she brought her brush forward she kicked her knee up a little, “Ha!” An energy blast shot straight and hit the target right near the bull-eye.

“There you go,” Jules said as she clapped her shoulders. “Now do it again.” Shae did and got the same results. Just to prove it to herself she did it a third time. Again it worked perfectly. “See you can do it.”

“But Walter said that wasn't proper form.” Jules tsked a bit then spun around on one foot for some reason until she faced her again.

“What I just did, it's part of a spell my mentor taught me, a pretty powerful one. But he never did the spin like I do. And not once did he say I wasn't using the proper form, do you know why?” Shae shook her head. Instead of answering right away Jules looked around until she spotted something and pointed it out, it was a group of young children as well as some older ones going over a certain form over and over in practice. “Now are all of them moving the exact same way?”, she asked. She was going to say yes but realized if she did Jules would make her look harder so she did so just to avoid being told that. Then she saw what she was talking about. Some of the older kids while going through similar motions had some a variation in their movements she never noticed before.

“No they're not,”

“That's because not everyone moves in the same way,” she said. “Now don't get me wrong there are certain types of magic and spells that you have to move in precisely the right way in order to do it properly. But certain spells like that magic blast can allow for little variations in the user's movements. Nothing major but enough that the user's personality can come through slightly. Walter wasn't born to this world,” Shae looked at her not understanding what she meant. Unfortunately this time she didn't elaborate on what she was talking about. “No his mindset was pretty much locked in place when he started training.”

Shae looked at her unsure if she should ask this or not, but she had to know, “Is that why he's always gloating about growing up in the real world?”

Letting out an exasperated sigh Jules looked around again. And again she found what she was looking for, “You see that instructur over there?” Looking at where she was pointing Shae saw an older male Makai Priest watching over a group of students practice. “Has he ever told you what he thinks of what the regular humans call the 'real world'?”

Shae nodded, “I think he said it was a fantasy or something like that.”

“A fantasy that we protect,” Jules said in approval. “I got to be honest with you, he not exactly wrong. There's what they call the real world, and then there's the reality we deal with. There would be a lot of panic if they knew the monster under their bed was real. Actually considering some of the Horror's I've come across they'd rather deal with the ones under the bed.”

“Why did you decide to hunt Horrors?', Shae asked, some what curious since Jules was the first Makai Priest she knew that actually hunted Horrors like a Makai Knight. She heard rumors yeah, overheard various family members talk about them when she wasn't at the training ground but this was the first time she met one in the flesh.

“Because I was more of a natural in the combat arts,” she answered freely enough. “Only made sense once you think about it. But not everybody is, or can they see it in others. I never really thought about it until Vincent, the Priest who mentored me picked up on it.”

“Did he hunt Horrors too?”


“Not exactly. He did with me or with a Makai Knight but that was about it,” Jules sighed again and looked off in the distance. Shae had seen that look on her father a few times when he was thinking of the grandfather she never had the chance to meet since he died before she was born. So Jules must have lost this person too. “No he was more of a researcher than anything else. Looking up and cataloging old and nearly forgotten spells and items. Not that he couldn't handle his own in a fight.” She stopped as Olivia and the guard she sent into the tunnel walked up to them. “Find anything?”

Olivia had the guard stop where he was as she took a few steps closer, “He found the other end of the tunnel and reported back to me. I was hoping that you would assist him in looking the area over for any clues that might be there.”

“Of course,” Jules said but then she glanced back at her, “But what about...?” Of course she meant Shae was supposed to be by her side at all times. But having her around when she was still under suspicions in some eyes was probably not a good thing, or something like that.

“I think,” Olivia said as she stepped closer to her, “that nobody should complain if I stayed with Shae for a little bit. What do you say dear, you want to hang around an old lady?”

Not sure what else to say because Shae was positive she wouldn't be placed any where good if she said no she said, “Sure.” Okay, she probably wouldn't be put in that room again but she didn't want to risk it. Olivia looked pleased though so there was that.

Jules looked unsure but said, “All right then, I guess it's settled.” She said something to Olivia didn't quite catch. Something like, “We didn't do much.”

Olivia didn't seemed worried, “I'm sure it's fine. Now go and look the area over. Maybe Shae could show me what you two did do, or she could ask for some advise on certain things. If she's so inclined that is.”

“I wouldn't know what to ask,” she said.

“Oh I'm sure something will occur to you without even thinking about it,” Olivia assured her. Still she was a bit more nervous now.

“Okay,” Jules said to the guard, “show me what you found.” He nodded and told her to follow him. Jules followed for a bit and pointed a finger in their direction. “You better behave yourself.” Shae looked down a bit, why did she say that to her? Then she said,” I was talking to Olivia.” Shae looked back up to see her grin before turning back around to follow the guard.

“I see some things haven't changed,” Olivia said shaking her head. Then she looked at her and smiled softly, “Maybe I should be worried that I asked her to help you train when she could. She might corrupt you without even trying.” Shae smiled a little which seemed to satisfy the older woman. “So why don't you show me what you worked on in this short of time. I wanted to give you a little longer but that tunnel wasn't as long as I thought it was.”

“Yes ma'am,” Shae said. Facing the target she fired off another magical blast. Hitting it much to her personal delight. She looked at Olivia who seemed happy with what she saw. “That's about it.,” Shae told her when it looked like she was waiting for more.

“Small steps dear,” Olivia told her. “I'm sure your next mentor will help you along even more.”

Shae looked at her in surprise, “I'm not going back with Walter?”

“No dear,” Olivia said. “That's not a mistake I'm going to make again.” Next mentor, Shae still couldn't believe it. If Jules was right he was the source of all her current problems. So it would be great to be with somebody who'd try to understand her like Jules did. In fact she hoped that's who her new mentor would be.


Okay this was officially not good. The trail, as loose as it was, quickly disappeared as the ground quickly became more solid and rocky the further away she got from the opening. She tried to take a guess where the vault was in comparison to her current position. By her estimate she had to be close, that and the ground mildly reminded her of the walls on the chamber and the passage leading up to it. Stomping on the ground a bit she understood why this place was originally chosen as a place to hide one of the vaults. This place was hard enough that she imagined that it took a while to make the vault chamber to begin with. Looking around she tried to get into the thief's mindset and figure out where they might have hidden the items. Again it would make things a bit easier if there was a building to head too, even if it was too obvious. At least she'd have something to search, and worry if it was a waste of time later. It would be better than doing what she was doing now. She was going to have to remember to ask Olivia about that the next time she saw her.

“Enough of spinning this particular wheel,” she said mainly to herself. As hard as it was to do it was probably time to admit that this particular lead more than likely was a dead end. If the thief knew about the vault then they knew about this patch of rocky Earth and might have headed in this direction just so they could change direction and throw off anybody following their trial. So that's what she did as she turned to face the direction of the training ground and headed back. Besides it was more than likely time to check in on her temporary charge. Exiting the wooded area into the edge of the training ground and headed toward the last place she saw the two of them. Surprisingly both of them were still there. Jules couldn't help but notice at how much happier Shae seemed to be than when she left. Hopefully that wasn't a commentary on her trying to be a teacher. Olivia's guard saw her come close and greeted her with with a nod as she stepped aside to let her pass. Jules nodded in return as she passed. “Hey guys,” she said once she was close enough. “How's it going?”

“Jules!,” An extremely excited Shae said as she ran up to her, “Olivia taught me a spell. An advanced one I didn't think I could do.” She looked over at Olivia, “Can I show her?”

“Go ahead,” Olivia told her while smiling slightly. “You're not going to settle down until you do.”

“Let's see it,” Jules said. Shae went back to the targets and set herself. Holding her brush out she brought it to the side and swung it up in a half circle. Making several small circles as she brought it back forward. She then held it so the bristles were pointed straight up. Jules arched an eyebrow as she glanced over at Olivia who seemed proud at what she was seeing. Jules knew this spell, having seen the older woman perform it before as part of a demonstration years ago. Again She kicked up her knee as she brought the Brush back down with a shout. From each circle pattern a bolt of energy fired out and hit a target each. If it was possible Shae looked even more excited than she did earlier. So Jules smiled and gave her a small clap to show how impressed she was at the demonstration. “You never taught me that,” she said to Olivia.

“Vincent took you from us before I had the chance,” she said in response. To Shae she said, “I think that's enough for today. You showed me a lot Shae, enough to verify that my decision to reassign you a new mentor was the right one.”

Shae stopped looking excited, but looked at her brush as she clutched it a little closer to her. Jules heart went out to her. She walked up to Shae and tried not to look impatient. Without any prodding Shae slowly handed her the brush. Jules took it saying, “Remember what I told you,” she said as she placed the brush in one of the inner pockets of her coat. “Just as soon as we prove to the others that it wasn't you.” To Olivia she said, “How well do you have the woods around the training ground mapped out? That guard headed for the records to see if there's any caverns that are big enough around to stash things. But There's has to be more than that out there. Like some sort of shed, to keep any unwanted visitors or something.”

She looked thoughtful, “Not that I recall. One of my predecessors was pretty adamant about reusing materials on any structures that weren't of any use any more. Those targets over there were made out of one of those sheds you mentioned I believe.”

“It would still help to know where they were,” Jules insisted. “In case they had a basement or something. Those items have to be somewhere. They're just not going to walk through the training grounds carrying those things unnoticed.”

“True,” she conceded. “I have some old maps in my office. I'll look them over and see if I can see anything that might have fit that description.”

“Can I asked what was stolen?”, Shae spoke up suddenly.

“Not in this case kiddo,” Jules quickly said, much to Olivia's apparent relief and Shae's disappointment. “The fewer people who know what's in any particular vault the better. Besides, it's better if you don't know. I know I wished I didn't know sometimes.”

“Same here,” Olivia agreed. “And I'm the guardian of this particular vault so I had to know it's contents.”

Looking at her with a confused look Shae asked Jules, “Then how do you know about the contents?”

“Like I said my mentor was mainly a researcher when I first joined him,” she told her. “And sometimes he needed help researching various things. Unfortunately a couple of those items were the focus of that research. Olivia, why did you and Vincent go to the vault that day? He always said it wasn't really that interesting of a story and left it there.”

“I'm afraid he was right Jules,” Olivia told her. “I needed to replace of a couple of seals that were about to fade away. One object in particular needed a very powerful seal, one that needed two Makai Priests to fully enact it. Considering he had a bit of knowledge of the older items and spells he seemed like the perfect person to ask.” She snorted a bit, “Even if he did leave and take one of my more promising students under his wing at the time.”

“Didn't know Reks had that much potential,” Jules said, mainly as a joke. But saying it did make her a little bit sadder as she remembered him. “Come on Shae, I don't think those clothes Nadia was going through are going to put themselves back. Unless you created a spell that would do that?”, she trailed off at the look Shae was giving her, the typical teenage you must be joking look. “Right nobody's that neat. Olivia if you'll excuse us.”

“Of course. Take heart Shae,” she told her, “this will be over before you know it. Then everything will be back to normal.”

“Or better,” Jules added, considering Olivia said she was changing her mentor. That part had to be better, they would have to try for it to be any worse. “Let's go Shae.” Jules waited until Shae was next to her before heading off with a wave to Olivia. Besides who knew how long it was going to take Olivia and that guard to look that information up. This way she could get to know Shae a little better since the person behind all this mess wasn't going to announce it was them and laugh manically like some old time movie villain.

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