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9/13 The sites newly opened, and almost all the servant spots are taken! So hopefully summonings will start happening soon! And the plot can get started.
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The lack of information for the war was a bit troubling to the old thief. He always liked to know as much as possible about his target before starting a job. What they did know still wasn't much comfort. The Last war's victor would be no easy target. After all, the other Assassin tried, and failed to kill her. Although, Autolycus was not like other Assassin's.
His master then got a call on his phone, so Autolycus refrained from speaking up. Even with the knowledge implanted in his brain, the Old Greek marveled at the advances of technology today. "Do Magi even have a use these days?" he chuckled, thinking to himself. As his master talked, the Thief rose to his feet, and moved to one of the curtained windows, and peered out at the sprawling scene before him. The thought of having such a place to pilfer and loot was an exciting thought indeed.
TAGGED: Soren, Gawain, Athanasios, Julius
WORD COUNT: 718 Words
NOTES: To Wax Political
Within the last decade, the Harwey Plutocracy had slowly begun to surface from the annals of history. Their very methods of growth and survival were all but blasphemy to the more traditionally, well-established families of magi. But - without exaggeration - the Harwey Family had at least sixty percent of the world under their control. Puppet governments and legitimized militias, labyrinthine financial and political methodology that was both legal and completely covered all "tracks", the assimilation of innumerable magi families to be bound by numerous Geas and marked with the unbreakable, one-way lock to the Harwey's vast store of knowledge and power. All of these things were now status quo for the Harwey Family of England, who had grown steadily beneath the surface of both worlds for nearly a thousand years. Even if someone could connect even one dot to another, they would likely be found out instantly and more often than not tended to disappear or retract their findings before publication.
The last decade especially had been dedicated to the family's more "Mundane" exercise of political power. Governments with long-established legitimacy across the world had begun the quiet transition - secretly working with the Harwey family, albeit under a different name. "Leaks" that so often plagued governmental aspirations were - simply put - not something the Harweys had to worry about. A tight rein of control and data collection - the conservatively liberal exercise of power and control over their correspondents in Modern Government. These factors helped secure both the integrity and efficiency of the Harwey Machine, and were key factors in tonight's performance. As the black, nondescript sedan rolled smoothly towards the Hyatt Hotel, the regal young man behind the driver's seat took one last look at the manilla dossier in his left hand.
"It is almost certain that Ambassador Zacharias is here for the sake of participating in the Grail War. We have already booked the Class-A business suite in the Hyatt for our talks - under a pseudonym, of course - and Julius will be handling security for this affair. We have ensured the vehicle looks like Diet member Takada's, and he has been dealt with for the duration of these talks. To even the most keen eye, we shall be as diplomats here to welcome Greece's new ambassador."
As Leo sat back and placed the folder down, it was no longer Leo who sat behind the driver. It was a member of the Japanese Diet, Representative Terumi Takada - a known Bureaucrat within the Japanese government who monitored Western relations. Gawain - of course - was Leo's driver and body guard, while Julius sat in the passenger's seat. His men should already have been in position. And as for Soren, Leo's personal friend... He appeared different as well. They all did, save for Gawain, who - in his suit and tie - looked very different than he did in his armor. Leo had helped him pick out the suit for his Servant, and was surprised at Gawain's impeccably, fabulous fashion sense. Gawain's Riding skill had proven most helpful in his flawless handling of the vehicle, even as it pulled up to the Hyatt's curb to drop off the party.
"Ambassador Zacharias!"Leonardo responded, in the voice of Representative Takada. He had exited the vehicle by this point, and hoped Gawain would remember to turn over the car to the Hyatt Hotel's valet parking as an attendant hustled over."This is Representative Takada, of Fuyuki City. I heard you had arrived, and was hoping we could meet to discuss our mutual goals towards exportation and trade."
Leo was not at all happy with this deception, and it would end when they were all in private - that had been the compromise between his honor code and Julius' job as Head of Security. Leonardo's men had the foresight to ensure the real Representative Takada was quite incapacitated, and made sure he had no prior arrangements to meet with Zacharias. Leo concluded his statement, unaccented Japanese spoken in Takada's voice delivering the final nail in this wretched coffin of deception.
"We are outside, on the curb. I do hope you will forgive the suddenness of this meeting, but it is rather urgent, and you will not be disappointed by the results - I promise you, Ambassador."
Athanasios' eyes widen. He hadn't expected to get quite the reception he was receiving...especially not tonight. While most any other, he'd have been fine with the sudden drop-in, now came a bit too close to call. If he'd been called while he was preparing the summoning ritual... "Mr. Takada! A pleasure to hear from you."
The content of the Japanese beauracrat's message was extraordinarily gratifying. Successfully completing his country's goals for increased trade would be quite the feather in his cap. And while such negotiations rarely traveled smoothly or easily, the response took him much further than he had expected to go so early.
With a sigh, Athanasios turns to his Servant. Tonight had not been planned to be business, but to deny this would be a clear violation of his job. "Well, my friend, It seems duty calls. I would greatly appreciate if you could erase the evidence of the summoning, and then catch up with me. I'm sorry to place such a low duty on you, but I you are much swifter than I, and I can't afford to leave this man waiting. Plus, we can't have a cleaning staff find the summoning circle...that would be troublesome."
Normally he would never leave such a job as simple cleaning on a Heroic Spirit, but there was nothing to be done. Tossing on a jacket to make him slightly more presentable given the rather abrupt nature of their meeting. Walking out the door, he descends to the ground floor of the hotel in an elevator.
When the doors open, he steps into the lobby, walking quickly. His ability informed him of the consciousness of those around him. It was a fairly quiet evening, so there was no clutter for him to sift through. Just some meaningless babble about deadlines, assignments, family troubles. Nothing he hasn't heard time and time again. As he steps into the night, he sees the car, and the people standing outside of it. Obviously Japanese, the lot of them, and Takada looked just like it did in his files. However...his mind seemed worryingly blank, as if it was being blocked. That was trouble...it didn't feel natural. Even if Takada was a dolt, there would be some things going on. He would take this very carefully.
Casting a figment, Athanasios becomes invisible to the eyes of those in front of him, a double taking his place. Positioning his puppet in front of them he moves off to the side. Directing it to speak in his voice, he calls out jovially. "Hello, Mr. Takada, I presume! How may I be of assistance? You're out awfully late...may I offer you some refreshment?"
While no one could see it, the incorporeal form of Autolycus slide into the luxurious hotel room. If he had sides or limbs, he would be clutching them in pain right now. Though, it wasn't so much the physical pain, so much as the emotional. It was shameful that the Emiya kid and the unknown attacker had gotten the better of him. With stress of his failure, the opened wine bottle on the nightstand was looking rather appealing right about now.
Sadly, the moment the servant had assumed his physical form, light green tunic and white shirt bearing tears and bloodstains in all, Autolycus noticed his servant was rather flustered about something. For a moment, the fellow Greek was talking about some unexpected guess. Then without warning, the weary thief was asked to clean the summoning circle on the floor. Before the Thief could respond, the middle aged man quickly rushed out the door.
A dejected sigh later, Autolycus was on his knees scratching at the the arcane symbol painted onto the ground. He was not designed to clean up after the Magi's messes. The scratching of the wood floor could only be drowned out by the servants own annoyed groans. After a moment of scratching, the knife stopped moving across the floor, "Wait, this is my hotel room too isn't it?"
A snap of his fingers later, the summoning circle and the scratch marks on the floor vanishes without a trace. The thief smiled at his good work, and moved the sofa back into it's place. "Well at least something is going right tonight." he sighed, staring again at the opened bottle of wine. "Not tonight, have to keep a close eye on my partner." he sighed again, and assumed his spirit form, dissolving into air, and moving down to where his Master was engaged in business.
For a man who had never so much as sat in a car before, Gawain proved to be an expert driver. Weaving through the streets of evening Fuyuki at a comfortable pace, Gawain steered the black sedan as comfortably as if it were a horse at trot. That was a benefit of the Saber class; its Riding skill was, generally speaking, inferior only to that of the dedicated Rider class. As such, whatever the vehicle, if you were to put a Saber behind the reins they would ride them as if they were a lifelong expert.
With his excellent sense of direction and ability to conjure mental maps, Gawain took them into the long, arcing driveway of the Fuyuki City Hyatt Hotel. He and Julius both - and Leoardo, but that went without saying - had already memorised the building's entire layout before setting out. Keeping a cautious eye on the surroundings, Gawain rolled the car in and brought them smoothly to a stop at the curb by the main entrance. The rest of the group immediately exited the vehicle; Gawain remained inside for the moment.
He was aware of their purpose here. A meeting with a man named Athanasios Zacharias, an ambassador from Greece, for the purpose of alliance. This man was a Magus, and from what he understood a highly skilled and capable one. He wasn't precisely sure of the extent of the man's abilities, but he knew enough to understand why Leonardo would want him assisting the Harwey Association in this war - and, as he understood it, this visit had the further purpose of expanding the Association's sphere of influence to Greece through Ambassador Zacharias. That last part did however involve a certain amount of conjecture on Gawain's part, idle thoughts he allowed himself to spare.
Moving the car forward a little, Gawain exited the vehicle and stood tall, cutting a striking appearance in his new black suit. With blonde hair, a tall, strong physique, and broad shoulders, Gawain - though he would never think too much of it himself - was a handsome man, something the suit only exemplified. A short Japanese man approached, and it took Gawain a moment to recall what Leonardo had informed him about the role of valets. Stepping aside, he held the door open to allow the man into the driver's seat and strode to stand behind Leonardo, who - in the guise of a Japanese governmental official - was contacting the Ambassador and informing him of their arrival. Letting his arms hang at his side, Gawain waited.
The Ambassador arrived shortly, walking up to the group with a welcoming, jovial expression on his face - sort of. Immediately, Gawain noticed that the man appeared semi-transparent, and realised he was using a spell. Thanks to his Magic Resistance, Gawain was able to see through it, but found himself appreciating the man's skill regardless. Certainly, it was nothing compared to the spells of the wizard Merlin at court - although the Ambassador's efforts were likely to be directed towards more...constructive, efforts - but it was still an inventive use of Magecraft, as was using the puppet as a mouth piece that he projected his own voice from.
"Hello, Mr. Takada, I presume! How may I be of assistance? You're out awfully late...may I offer you some refreshment?"
Gawain remained motionless, but inside Leonardo's mind his voice warned ,"That man is an illusion, Master. It is not the real ambassador who stands before us."
Julius wasn't one to play with Leonardo. He didn't enjoy delaying things even if it was by a second, however for some reason he felt like he had a chance to play pretend. Naturally he sat up front with Gawain, the knight made Julius feel uncomfortable personally. He was too noble for his taste and even more so righteous in what he believed was right. Julius was glad he didn't get a saber similar to him, then again a berserker wasn't the best option either. An assassin perhaps would have been best for the modern day assassin.
"I'll be taking my leave from Leonardo's side once we get out of the car." Julius said softly to the knight, he didn't expect a response. The relationship between the two was distance, acquaintances at best, neither could truly accept the other. Julius knew however, that the knight was an honorable man, a man who could be trusted with his younger brother's life. Julius took in a deep breath as Leonardo's spell took place. He would assume the persona of Bushido Brown, a world renown martial artist. His talent as a martial artist was said to be capable of fending off hoards of people by himself. It was only natural he would be seen with Takada. Julius' height was unaltered, as the two shared that one fact in common. He stepped outside the car, with his newly acquired afro seemed to be perfectly rounded off. Almost unnatural for a man who has known nothing but combat. His facial hair was a beard that only grew under his chin connected to his side burns. His skin was reminiscent of chocolate, however his body type suggested that he was indeed not sweet or delicious. Muscles could easily be seen underneath his coat and his button up. This man was truly not one to trifle with.
"Excuse me, I need to make sure the hotel security is up to my standards." Mr. Bushido said, loudly enough for Athanasios to hear. It was a key word for Leonardo to understand what Julius was planning. He strutted into the building, his walking posture indicated that if anyone laid a hand on him it would come off. Julius looked around inside to see that most of his security made it into the front lobby's staff and could easily secure the rooms of all the people. He went to the nearest counter and tapped the desk bell twice. After the second time he leaned over the counter and whispered to the clerk.
"The Harweys would like their room to be double checked, they believe their might be a leak or a crack somewhere." Through his black shades Julius stared at the man. He reacted calmly and somewhat like he was rehearsing lines for a play.
"Sir, I assure you that the hotel is air tight. There is no place for anything to leak. However I can send a few people to double check if it would appease you."
"Yes, I think there might be a hole somewhere, I swore I saw a rat slip in and out of the hotel with ease."
"No sir. No holes for anything to get in or out of. I can personally assure you that." The man said with a smile. Julius nodded his head and walked slowly towards the stairs. He stood beside them, eyeing the lobby carefully as he pulled out his cellular device. He hit the number three on speed dial, on the roof tops surround the hotel a small speaker clicked on.
"Keep all your weapons aimed on the hotel, no one is allowed to leave. If they leave without one of ours escorting them, put them down." Julius said coldly as all his snipers would train their sights on the buildings entrances and exits. Like a well oiled machine, Julius' plan began to be set in motion. He walked back towards the entrance where Athanasios and Leonardo, rather Athanasios and Takada were talking. He walked past Athanasios and stood between him and Leonardo.
"Sorry if I am interrupting, but it would be best if we went inside. The hotel security seems to be tighter than I expected. It would be a shame if we put all their effort to waste and stood outside talking." Julius looked at Leonardo behind the shades knowing that his little brother would catch on easily. This hotel was officially under the control of the plutocracy.
TAGGED: Soren, Gawain, Athanasios, Julius
WORD COUNT: 1,351 Words
NOTES: Hopeful Ignorance
"Mr. Takada! A pleasure to hear from you."The diplomat's voice was full of protocol joviality and calculated thought, and Leonardo correctly assumed that statement to mean he could expect audience with the diplomat here and now. That much was good, and exactly according to plan. Of course, the fact that Ambassador Zacharias had chosen tonight as the night of his own summoning had been complete coincidence. But that was the only thing about tonight that was coincidence. The Harwey name was not well-known except to - generally - the people and families within its inner circles and networks. Even then, they rarely used their own name in their company charters and financial reports. The power of the Harwey Plutocracy had superseded a quorum of the world in the past half-decade, but a family does not simply obtain that power. There are methods and protocols, and the fact such power could be maintained with almost airtight control and regulation was as much a miracle as the power itself having been accumulated in the first place.
The hotel had been swept clean top-to-bottom. Many of the staff as well as Magus families and even civilian residents on seemingly unrelated business were at the Harwey's disposal. Not so much as a single cockroach or fly was in this hotel anymore - preparations had been silently undertaken around a week ago. The Harwey was a family of magi, obfuscated only by their own devices and methods - they expected constant attempts at infiltration and sabotage and surveillance. And with methodical, mechanical efficiency such venues were explored. Every leaf of every artificial plant had been overturned. And now, the entire hotel was surrounded in a three-layered boundary field set up for this night only. The functions of each one varied greatly, but suffice to say one does not simply spy on the Harweys. Every family in the hotel, every guest and every worker had been background checked again and again, and security for this group was both optimal and discreet. For tonight, this hotel was Leonardo's chessboard top-to-bottom - even the surrounding buildings had not been excluded from the rigorous security checks.
"Hello, Mr. Takada, I presume!"With Representative Takada's face, he looked right at the double... But as he did so, his eyes saw through the hologram-like projection. The representative's eyes did not visibly recognize Athanasios, off to the side and out of danger's way. No, it would not do to frighten this guest off, especially with how important tonight's affairs were. So, Leo showed no signs of recognizing the illusionary double as anything less than the genuine article - and as for the real Ambassador Zacharias, Mr. Takada didn't seem to notice him anymore than he noticed the rotating doors of the hotel lobby. The Japanese man smiled subtly and bowed in a gesture of welcome and deference, even as Zacharias went on with his greeting.You're out awfully late... May I offer you some refreshment?"
"That man is an illusion, Master."Saber confirmed, using his Magic Resistance to optimum effect in the given situation. Leonardo had always found it laughable that people thought thaumaturgy must only be used for combat situations - when that was almost never the intention of magecraft to begin with. Without shedding a drop of blood, or alerting their important guest, Saber had confirmed what Leonardo's eyes already told him. It was always nice to be sure, and Takada's smile did not fade as he rose out of his bow and spoke."It is not the real ambassador who stands before us."
"Ah. I did not think so. Thank you, Saber, for your thorough nature. Please, keep an eye on the real Ambassador Zacharias, over there. But do not attack him if it can be helped, and do not draw suspicion onto yourself. By nature, my family trait and a good amount of my own knowledge makes it quite impossible to read my mind, but the trait is alerting me to something trying to breach the surface. I can talk to you like this without giving the intruder anything, but I haven't determined if it is him or some other Magus nearby. Watch him, and keep an eye out for any anomalies. I do not know if Ambassador Zacharias in involved in the Grail War or not, but I would sooner have him as an ally than an enemy.
With no visible effort to hide anything on his face, Takada's eyes had met Athanasios' own as soon as he had risen out of his bow. From that moment on, Takada allowed himself a look past the double and into the hotel, presumably to look for his security man. A smile of recognition connected the lines on Takada's face and he spoke to the Ambassador even as he relayed those private thoughts to the Servant Gawain. Of course, Gawain's mind would also prove impossible to read, if Athanasios tried - but only by virtue of his Magic Resistance. The only two whose minds could be read would be Bushido Brown and whatever alias Soren was using - unless Julius had done as he was told and put the proper runes into position. No one member of this party knew exactly what Athanasios' magecraft was, but knowing it focused on mental interference and manipulation would likely be enough to lend Julius all necessary foresight.
"That would be most welcome, Ambassador."Takada said, humbly and with that trademark kind-but-stern smile on his lips."We have already booked one of the business conference suites for the purposes of this meeting as well, but we were not sure whether or not to order catering. Besides, we're just as bad off as your country as far as finances go!"That well-memorized, blunt political humor was also trademark Takada - the Diet Representative did not hold his tongue, and made crass but usually true and heartfelt political jokes. He always had a grim sense of humor, very serious and to the point yet willing to make some level of small talk. Respectful, but blunt and truthful. Most likely, a politician of Athanasios' level would have researched him thoroughly, and Leonardo had ensured not a hair was out of place - literally or figuratively speaking. Before Takada could press on to ask whether Zacharias wanted them to go to his room or to the restaurant, Mr. Brown came back and ushered them to hurry along inside.
"Sorry if I am interrupting, but it would be best if we went inside."Bushido said, in that high and almost velvety voice of his."The hotel security seems to be tighter than I expected. It would be a shame if we put all their effort to waste and stood outside talking."
"Ah, thank you very much, Mister Brown. Ambassador,"Takada began, turning his attention once more to Athanasios' hologram-like double that posited to be the true Zacharias. Julius nor Soren should be able to tell this was a fake, but their minds should be safe if Julius had done his job and put the right rune assembly on himself and Soren. The downside was, Athanasios would then know he was being blocked, as runes were less subtle than a hidden Sorcery Trait only possessed by Leo or Servant-level Magic Resistance."This is my Head of Security. Mister... I'm sorry, 'Grand Master' Bushido Brown. He is paid to worry about our safety, as you can tell, so yes - we would be honored to take you up on your offer, if you might lead the way."
As Takada, Leo would follow whichever way Zacharias' double moved - either to his own room or to the restaurant or even to the business suite from which hotel service could be swiftly ordered - either way, all paths led inside the Hyatt Hotel, and Leonardo sincerely hoped Zacharias wouldn't learn too much too quickly - on a personal level as well as a professional one, he wanted the man relaxed and at ease. As Zacharias expected from the real Takada, these two had a lot to gain from speaking to one another, tonight.
Athanasios was quite nervous. He wished he had never taken this call by this point. He'd never quite encountered people so blank to him...and strangely, the driver was more than the others. He would need to be very careful with him. Testing the waters, he found that the bodyguard...supposedly "Bushido Brown" was the most susceptible of the three. There was some magical resistance, but nothing insurmountable. However, he could get little but traces from his mind, but it wasn't easy, and it wasn't anything useful. He was skilled at keeping focus, that was for sure. Takada, on the other hand, was like a glass orb dipped in oil. He was aware something was there, but when he tried to pluck at it, it slipped through his fingers. If he had time to practice, he was sure he could crack it...but there wasn't time, not on the fly like this. Leonardo would doubtless feel a presence reaching deeper than he might believe possible: a testament to the skill passed down to him from his bloodline. The driver was a lost cause, he was like a blank. His mental fingers couldn't even get close before he was repulsed...it was likely that the illusion didn't even have an effect on someone like him...
Sweating visibly, or invisibly as the situation had it, he nevertheless directed his puppet to respond immediately. Laughing at the joke, the illusion returns jovially. His personality was certainly in line with Takada's...but he himself could have put on such a puppet show with his access to Takada's file, so that was little reassurance. "And quite spectacularly so. However, I do believe we might be able to help each other out of our prospective holes we've dug for ourselves. I'll have some drinks brought from my own room, with food to follow shortly. Might I know where to have them directed to?" If he was going to be walking into a trap in whatever room they had assigned for this "meeting," he might as well have Autolycus give it a thorough sweep beforehand. He'd need every advantage he could get.
Takada's admission, however, made him relax more than he should have. "Ah, yes, my room would be the easiest for this. You'll forgive me if it's a bit out of order, I only just moved in." Good...he was comfortable that Autolycus would be able to prevent additional mischief from occurring. Directing a telepathic link to his Servant, he sends a message. "Go back to the room, make sure no traps or other surprises are present. In addition, order room service for four, high class food. We might be in danger, and must proceed cautiously."
Responding to the words of both the security officer and the bureaucrat, Athanasios directs his illusion to bow, and say "But of course. Right this way, gentlemen." With that, both he and his illusion turn about face, and walk towards the elevator.
As Autolyucs made his way down to the lobby of the giant hotel, he immediately heard a telepathic message from his master.
"Go back to the room, make sure no traps or other surprises are present. In addition, order room service for four, high class food. We might be in danger, and must proceed cautiously."
The thief stopped mid movement, as much as one could consider the movement of a incorporeal being, and analyzed the message. The tone and words felt panicked, and it was unsettling to the thief that they would be danger so soon after he had been injured. Such situations can lead to tiny mistakes being made, which compounded could lead to failure.
"I'll get it done immediately. Spare no expense right?" He started to move back to the room when something stopped him. It was a weird irritating sensation in his stomach, something which was programmed into his mind when he was reborn into this world, "Master, there's a servant here, down by you I believe. I can't tell which one, but it is definitely there."
Now there was fear again. Had someone found out that Athansios was a master? Or was this just a coincidence. If this was a Caster, Autolycus could probably take it down. Anything else would be a lot of trouble. His best bet was to stay low, and only attack when he had IDed the master, and could confidently take it out. For now, he would just follow his master's orders, and keep the suspicion low.
The next moment, a tall Greek appeared in Anthasios's hotel room, In one fluid motion, he snatched up the phone on the nightstand, and dialed the front desk, "Hello, I would like order room service for room XXX" he paused, "Dinner yes please, four meals please." Another pause, and Autolycus looked confused, "Oh well, I'm not sure, what do you have?" A few moments passed as several dishes were listed from the voice in the phone, "Hmmm, well yes the pasta sounds tantilaizing, but the entrees would be much more filling. Oh but I don't know what these old men would like. Just a moment please." his hand covered the reciever of the hotel room phone for a moment.
"Master, do you think everyone would enjoy the Oven roasted Canadian lobster, Parma ham, with herbs, or the Japanese beef rib eye pepper steak, with red wine sauce, and crushed potatoes?" Before the ambassador could answer, Autolycus removed his hand from the phone and spoke the women on the other end, "You know, how about the Roasted Australian lamb chop with herb bread, braised paprika,and chorizo. Thank you." he said happily, the fear from before seemingly gone in a flash.
The thief then proceeded to remove any signs of there being two people in the room. On the table where there were two wine glasses, Autolycus snatched one, and tossed it out the window, "I hope that doesn't hit anyone important." he muttered to no one. Chairs were rearranged, the couch was double checked to ensure the summoning circle was hidden, and the floor was wiped hastily with a bathroom towel to remove shoe prints. Once everything was done, Autolycus procured his old bronze helm, and placed it on his head. The man vanished without a trace, and stood still more towards the back of the room. A spirit form would not do, he had to be able to act quick in case things went sour.
He knew that what they were doing important. He knew it was a big deal. He knew he needed to look super serious. But honestly all of this politics and deception stuff flew straight over his head. He wasn't the scheming or deceptive type: Simpler things were better. But Leo needed his entourage, so Soren nodded his head, got in the awkwardly fitting suit and acted the bodyguard for the evening. Which meant sitting in the stuffy Limo, with Leo and Gawain, Julius being off doing a much better job than Soren at keeping them all safe doing whatever it is he's doing.
As such, all of this mental magic and illusion stuff also went unnoticed.
It was a good thing Julius had apparently set up that rune assembly on him, because he would have had no way to stop Athanasios' mental magic on his own. The young spell caster also had no clue that Athanasios was using an illusion: And with no way for Leo to verbally tip him off, he would remain ignorant of that fact. But that didn't stop him from glaring daggers at the ambassador from behind his ridiculously not stylish shades. Especially considering it was dark and they were inside a car.
But with the Ambassador moving to go inside at Leo's prompting, Soren realized it was time to get moving. He moved to stand beside Leo as they would follow the Greek man to... wherever he was leading them. Soren didn't honestly overhear all of it- His room, maybe? He reconsider after a moment, moving to fall into pace behind Leo rather than beside or in front of him. He said nothing, not wanting to give away the illusion through some verbal misstep of his own.
Gawain was the better Bodyguard, so it made sense that he should be the one closer to Leo in case shit went down, right? Soren kept pace a few paces behind them, making himself a rather obvious target, and also making him slightly out of ear shot of the conversation. Soren didn't really need to hear anyway: Leo would tell him what he needed to do later. But what he did need to do was pay more bloody attention to everything else: From back here, he could watch the situation more objectively, and keep more of an eye on the Ambassador while worrying less about Leo's safety. Not like Gawain needed his help, Soren knew very well the Servant outclassed him as a Bodyguard.
Though the additional attention to Athanasios would be useless, since it was, you know, an illusion. Not like he knew that, though.
Eihwaz and Kenaz, The two runes that ensured Soren's and Julius' protection from Athanasios. Eihwaz, the rune of defense, protection and prevention combined with Kenaz, the rune of intelligence, understanding and clarity. These two runes made the mental protection that help ward off Athanasios' mind reading attempts. This pair was inscribed on the back of both Soren's and Julius' neck. In order to let it reach its intended target quicker and to also keep it hidden. Julius mentally sighed as he felt the man probe at his brick wall with a sledge hammer. He could crack it, but not get through it right away. He would have to hammer away at Julius' mind where he could focus before he was able to find anything useful. This much was at least guaranteed. However Julius still didn't like the idea of this man reading his thoughts. Julius, or rather, Bushido Brown, followed Athanasios to the elevator. Each room was secured by Julius' men so that no humans accidentally walked in on their conversation. None of his men reported anything to him via text or phone call. So far it seemed that everything was going perfectly. As all of them began to crowd into the elevator Julius noticed something odd.
This cat, this literal fat cat was lounging about on its owner's lap. But that wasn't the problem. The problem was that it kept staring at their group curiously. Everyone else probably regarded it as a cat being a cat. A curiosity filled creature that wanted to go investigate everything it could. However this cat started to annoy Julius. It was staring at them like it knew something, something that Julius didn't. He of all people didn't like it when people teased him over something like this. As Athanasios pressed the button to take them to his floor. Julius stuck his hand out to stop the doors from closing and stepped outside of the elevator.
"Sorry. But I would prefer to take the stairs for now. This crowded elevator doesn't suit me well. I'll see you up there shortly." Julius said as he nodded his head towards Leonardo and Gawain. The doors shut as he turned around and made his way towards the cat. It seemed to watch him even more curiously as he spoke to its owner.
"Ma'am, would you mind if I held your cat? I have one like that at home and I dearly miss him. I'm currently here on business so I won't be back for a week or so." Julius asked politely. The woman seemed surprised that he would ask to do so.
"Oh! I completely understand! Mr. Whiskers here is my baby and I couldn't go a week without seeing him either. Go ahead! He's very friendly." She said while pushing the cat into his arms. He smiled and nodded his head as he began to pet the large cat. It was obviously well taken care of but that didn't matter.
"Aren't you so cute? You're watching me and thinking that you can get away with it. With that smug little cat face of yours. But I know better. Cats don't watch someone this intently." Julius whispered quietly to the cat's ear. He began to pet a little harder, enough for the creature to know his true intent with it.
"You're quite the lucky one you have an owner. Or else I'd have no problem with disposing of you." The cat, almost as if it was trying to rub it in his face that he couldn't kill it began to purr in his arms. Julius stopped petting it as he placed the cat back into the woman's lap.
"Thank you very much ma'am. I greatly appreciate it." Julius said with a smile as she laughed and slapped him gently on the shoulder.
"It is no problem! Have a great day hun!" Julius nodded his head and turned around as he began to make his way towards the stairs. Just as he reached them he looked back at the cat one last time to see if he was mistaken in his words. But it stilled stared at him and offered him a parting gift before he went up the stairs.
As part of his "swamp the city with familiars to gather intel" plan, Merlin had the damn things pretty much everywhere. This lead to a few being mistaken for standard pets and carried around: Which actually only helped Merlin's cause. He didn't get to choose where they went, but nobody suspected a pet with a perfectly mundane owner of being a familiar. Let them see, and hear, a lot of very interesting things. Like in this case, where the cat got a glimpse of specific entourage entering the hotel.
Normally Merlin wouldn't have really paid much attention to the entourage, and as a matter of fact, was letting the familiar do so almost entirely on it's own at the moment. It would spy what it could without leaving it's "post" or cover as a simple owned pet, so without Merlin's say so it wouldn't move to follow them. It'd just sit there for now. And stare.
Even if there were several Magi among them, he wouldn't pay them special mind outside of cataloging their existence. But then, he'd seen a member of this entourage before, and was quite familiar with him. This person being Gawain. And from Gawain's presence he could assume at least one of them was his Master, but none of them appeared to be the Master he had been with at the harbor. Meaning he had switched, or they were disguised. While Merlin couldn't recognize any of the others around him, it wasn't hard to detect the use of Prana in the room. Exerting effort to detect what it was being used for and see through any enchantments or interference would have been child's play in person, but through his familiar it would have required possibly drawing unwanted attention. Following them was also out of the question, as one of the handicaps of the "house-pet" cover story meant the owner was oddly attached to the familiar, thinking it was their actual pet, and the familiar likely couldn't get away until their actual pet turned back up.
So he'd just take the glance for what it was, recording in his mind what each member of the entourage looks like for future reference. Apparently the familiar was noticed staring however, as one member of the group broke off from the rest and approached the cat, plucking him from his "owner" and whispering threats at him. This part actually amused Merlin, so he assumed control of the familiar just enough to purr at the man he would from henceforth refer to as "Tall, Dark, and Edgy." The man put him back in the woman's lap, turning to walk away. But Merlin couldn't help but add a parting insult.
TAGGED: Gawain, Athanasios, Julius
WORD COUNT: 800 Words
NOTES: Getting a Move On
Leo had decided not to wear a pair of dark shades with his own formal attire, unlike Soren. In fact, at a later date, Leo would almost certainly have a chuckle at the expense of the shades themselves - though, he would not be too unkind to Soren in doing so. Still, the princely boy had already apologized once to Soren for making him accompany their little group - but this was the minimum entourage one might imagine for Representative Takada and politicians of his caliber. For some reason, the "Super important" among a nation's political elite felt the need to have at least three people with them, it seemed. In this case, Representative Takada had his driver (Gawain), his Chief of Security (Bushido Brown), and a Personal Assistant (Soren) who also seemed outfitted for political service. Leo himself could have done without all the bells and whistles. Subterfuge was not his preferred method of contact, least of all with one who would hopefully become their ally. However, he expected Ambassador Zacharias would be understanding of their predicament.
"At your lead, then, Ambassador."Was all Takada said in equally formal reply, only able to keep step with Ambassador Zacharias' own social graces due to his actual upbringing as the Scion of the Harwey Plutocracy. Takada followed along with Julius, Soren, and the physically manifested Gawain. However, the precautions Leo and Julius had taken were not just known to the Head of the Harwey's Counter-Terrorism Unit (and chief of security) Julius. Soren was not a Harwey by birth or by blood. He was exempt from the otherwise heavily-enforced policy of protection all Harwey family members had on their person. Helena Black, Julius Harwey - third cousin twice removed or nearest and dearest brother; all family members of the Harwey Plutocracy had that miniature Family Crest inscribed on their person somewhere or another. Leo understood why his brother was taking his leave from the group, but he would not stop him. Instead, he simply smiled and gave a simple verbal affirmative to his bodyguard.
"Of course, Grand Master Bushido Brown. I trust that you will meet with us promptly as soon as you are able. We shall see you soon."And with that, the twin doors to the elevator shut firmly. Leo did not let his mind wander as the elevator began its ascension into the heavens. Leo was not even sure what floor Ambassador Zacharias' room was on, but as Takada he would be expected to be at least a little eager for their talks to begin. Takada was now only flanked by his driver and his assistant - that is, Gawain and Soren - and he found himself presented with an overlapping mental image of a certain cat as Julius dealt with his suspicions. When the feline started to purr, Leo couldn't help but smile. His brother's sharp eyes were something Leo admired about Julius, and they had spotted this inconsistency in their environment.
"Mister Kaneda,"Leo spoke in perfect Japanese, referring to Gawain by the alias he had thought up for Saber before they had even left their previous meeting place."About how long do you think it will take Bushido Brown to take the stairs? I am not paying him hourly by my own choice, as you will recall."
It was idle banter, and Leo had to force it upon himself. He was not good at "chit-chat", and was really just waiting for the short elevator ride to be over. It was a known fact that the real Grand Master Bushido Brown did charge hourly, and was certainly expensive. Only politicians and CEOs could afford to hire him anyway, and he was rumored to have a list of demands that needed to be met before one could successfully hire him. Even so, amongst the world's humans he was arguably the strongest and most talented in martial arts and the way of the Black Samurai. Takada's hands were behind his back, and he made a point not to look towards the real Athanasios, but his double, only addressing him after Gawain had answered his question.
"That is good then, Mister Kaneda. I apologize, but since he is doubtlessly doing one last check of the stairwell, you are in charge of Grand Master Brown's duties while he is downstairs... Ah, and Ambassador. I thank you again for your hospitality. And apologize, for the sudden nature of these talks. But as they say, that is the 'Nature of the Beast', is it not?"Not a question asked to lead down any particular path, but to enable their business partner to kill some time, until the elevator reached the proper floor. When it did, obviously the Ambassador would be expected to lead the group's way towards their destination - his room.
His mental communication with his Servant continues as Athanasios summons an elevator. As such, Athanasios was aware of at least the basic actions Autolycus performed as they hastened to prepare to meet "Mr. Takada." The fact that Autolycus could tell a Servant was among them chilled him to the bone. Yes, thank you for telling me. I believe I do know which one it is, given that logic. And he has Magic Resistance too, blast it all. That means we're dealing with a Knight... Of all the rotten luck to befall him...if he was going to survive, he'd have to get the upper hand here.
He almost blows a gasket when Autolycus begins to ask him about the food, but is momentarily distracted from his dire situation by just how tantalizing the choices sound. "Ooh...the lobster sounds divine, but it would probably be better to get the..." Cut off immediately, he sighs. The choice his Servant went with was perfectly well on it's own, but not being able to respond sunk him back into the situation at hand...that had been a welcome relief, and it was snatched all too soon. However, he thinks he has found the correct plan to tackle the situation.
We're going to let them go over the pleasantries...the fact they haven't attempted to kill me yet means there is more to things than it seems. However, I want you to be ready to strike the older Japanese man...he is the one most heavily protected against my powers aside from the Servant, and is therefore likeliest to be the Master...or at least a high-value target. If we are unlucky...well...I'm not quite sure what to say. But do not strike until I give the signal.
While this conversation is going, he has his dummy make a quick, false cell phone call, ordering the food that will be presented. The hotel spares no expense, and regularly prepares the food in advance for an order, he's confident that even at this point, it would be waiting for him, even if he didn't have his Servant make the call in advance. Once that's done, he directs him to speak to the others in the elevator.
"Hmm...Wouldn't it be a bit dangerous to let your head of security go off on his own?" Athanasios asks, more idle banter than actual criticism. "I'm positive he knows what he's doing, however...Master Brown's reputation is legendary, after all."
When the elevator begins moving up, he has his puppet discuss the artificial circumstances jovially with Takeda. "Of course, of course! I would never pass up a chance to speak with you on such important matters. I was afraid I would get the runaround with lower-level officials, I would never dream of being able to talk to you on such short notice!" Throwing flattery was always a sure-fire way to a politician's heart, and even though he was fairly confident he was not talking to a fellow politician, he would have to play in-character. "And being ready for talks such as these is in my job description, after all. I'm not being paid and housed merely to enjoy a vacation in this beautiful country of yours."
The elevator dings open, and the real Athanasios quickly scurries out of the room, making sure that none of the others attempt to do the same. He can't afford to make a stupid misstep, not when things are so dicey. "Right this way, gentlemen!" he directs his dummy to say, as he leads them over to his room. He decides to give his Servant a warning, to ensure that he is ready. We'll be right there, be ready.
As they reach the door, Athanasios holds the door open, letting them in. Looking inside, he's gratified to see that the food is where it's supposed to be, and his Servant is nowhere to be seen. "Well then, gentlemen, please, have a seat. I am eager to begin, and I hope it will be as productive as I believe it will!"
There was little to Gawain's role at present. All he could do - rather, all he needed to do - was follow, protect, and observe. Julius had moved off; Gawain had tracked him, and though he had not been able to make out precisely what had been going on - even though he towered over many of the Japanese people milling about - he seemed to have been examining an animal. That didn't strike Gawain as particularly odd; it could have been equipped with what Leonardo had described to him as a 'surveillance device', or it could have been a (much more familiar to Gawain) familiar. Either way, Julius had seemed satisfied, and that was enough for Gawain; his priority was the metres immediately surrounding them and those within that boundary. He would concern himself with a cat if it came within those boundaries, but he sincerely doubted a cat could trouble them.
Gawain could have sworn he sensed a faint spark of prana from the cat. But it was so faint, and so indistinguishable, that it was likely just overflow from Julius, or something else entirely. Maybe Julius had cast a spell on it. Whatever it was, it was in the back of Gawain's mind promptly, something he had no control over and would likely never need to use again. After all, he lacked the ability to properly track and identify prana; how could he possibly suspect Camelot's old trickster was a participant in this war, and had taken delight in fucking with his Master's other bodyguard?
Gawain followed behind Leonardo as they made their way to Ambassador Zacharias' room, remaining slightly behind and beside his Master, saying nothing, observing everything. He made a point of entering the room before his Master for safety's sake and quickly scanning the room before mentally confirming to Leonardo that the room was clear. Then he fell back into his position, and, when his Master sat, stood beside and behind his chair rather than sitting, never letting any of the room's occupants out of his sight and keeping aware for any surprises.
It was subconscious thing, mostly. He had no way of knowing there was an Assassin in the general vicinity. But instincts took a long time to cultivate and even longer to die, and Gawain's were in their prime. And they never let him relax, even for a moment. He waited, and watched.