Shadowhunter

Discussion in 'Original Stories' started by Sturmritter, May 27, 2017.

?

Hi all, are you guys stil interested in this story? Should I continue?

Poll closed Jun 11, 2017.
  1. Yes

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  2. Meh

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  3. No

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  4. OMG! STOP ALREADY! SHEESH

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  1. Sturmritter

    Sturmritter Member

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    Chapter 61: The Dimensional Domain

    “He's been too coddled, in my opinion,” Keija replied seriously, “He really did put out a savage intent with his attacks against Daniel.”

    “You're right of course, I've been failing as a big sister in that regard. Let me make it up to you. I'll point you to one of the best locations for ley lines on campus, to power up the weapon in that case of yours.”

    Keija looked a bit surprised, “How do you know there's a weapon in that case?”

    Jessica replied nonchalantly, “For the same reason that I know you're a Swartalfheimer spirit. Remember, Mr. Mallory is an old friend of the family, even if Wesley can't be bothered to remember how much we owe to him.”

    Keija nodded, understanding the situation, “Very well. As long as I can integrate my eidos and these runes in peace, I'll welcome your offer.”

    “I'll ensure no one else from the dormitory bothers you tonight. And I look forward to seeing more of you and your friends in the future,” Jessica concluded as she led Keija out of the room, back to where Daniel and Teyna waited in the main lobby of the dorm.

    “Has Wesley been diapered and put to bed?” Daniel asked snarkily.

    “He's sleeping like a baby, that's for sure,” Keija replied as Jessica frowned and sighed at the remark.

    “So that guy is actually your brother?” Teyna asked in an apologetic tone of voice.

    “Indeed,” Jessica sighed, “And yes, he's been babied for far too long, I know that now. It's just...well, the family situation is complicated.”

    “I won't pry,” Teyna added with understanding, “I know something of complicated family matters myself.”

    Jessica sighed once again, then turned towards Daniel, Keija and Teyna, straightening her back resolutely, she led them towards a small area on the other side of the pond where a natural ley line intersected with a metallic ley line.

    “This should be good area for you to empower the runes on your weapons. Just keep them secure, and don't use them on campus. I'll set up a domain to protect you from unwanted visitors.”

    Keija thanked Jessica with sincerity, and began to sit cross legged on the lawn near the bank of the pond.

    “If you two don't want to stay, I'm sure you can contact our driver to take you back to the compound,” Keija mentioned to Teyna and Daniel as she began to consolidate her spiritual strength for eidos integration.

    “Are you going to be safe here?” Daniel asked with a mere hint of concern in his voice.

    “I'll personally assure her safety for at least until morning when classes begin anew,” Jessica replied.

    Teyna breathed a heavy sigh in relief, and once again yawned as fatigue overcame her, “Yea, I'm running on fumes. It's time for me to head to bed.”

    Daniel nodded and motioned for Teyna to follow him back to their dropoff point earlier in the evening, glancing back for a moment to gaze upon Keija's rapidly energizing form. His spiritual sight wasn't nearly at the same level as Elijah Morris. But he could tell that Keija was injecting her eidos into the surrounding landscape, tapping into the flow of natural and metallic ley lines that formed a heavy presence in this area.

    Teyna too, could feel the residual effects of her spiritual aptitude boost, and watched Keija intently as she began her integration and consolidation of the ambient spiritual energy surrounding her.

    'I really do need to test my spiritual strength,' Teyna thought with a twinge of jealousy. She was introduced to the very fringe of this secret world by Keija, and wanted to catch up to her level of expertise, if that was even possible. In order to begin that journey, she still needed to be tested on her ability to manipulate the magical forces of spiritual strength.

    “Come on Teyna, let's leave Keija to do her thing, We have training tomorrow ourselves, and should get some rest.”

    As the two Shadow Hunters turned to leave, Keija spoke up one more time, “I'll follow in a few hours. If I'm not home by midnight, then start to worry.”

    “I'm afraid I'll be fast asleep before then,” Teyna replied turning back to Keija momentarily.

    Keija snickered, “Good for you, you deserve it after a day like today.”

    Daniel replied warmly, “I'll keep the hearthfire lit til you get back.”

    “Thanks!” Keija nodded and then focused her attention entirely inward as she extended her eidos tentatively into the ley line tap she had formed.

    Jessica, for her part, watched as Daniel and Teyna headed off campus, then turned to Keija and began to construct a dimensional domain with her spiritual strength, borrowing the extra energy needed to maintain it until morning from the pool of spiritual strength nearby.

    Dimensional domains were pockets of intent from other dimensions which intruded into the mortal realm to form an isolated, protected space that was located concurrantly with real space, but either time or dimension shifted so that the two spaces did not interract with each other.

    They were siphoned out of extra dimensional space, and formed using the spiritual strength of the mage constructing the domain. The chaotic entropy that was dispersed by this upper mid level feat, tended to cause adverse effects such as bad luck, violent storms or other such unnatural effects in the area. But with many arrays hidden about the campus and in this area in particular, the effects of such sequela were mitigated tremendously.

    Jessica continued to siphon out a dimensional domain around her and Keija's location until she began to stabilize the pocket dimension with her level five spiritual strength.

    Keija, though busy tapping into the ley line, still felt the effect of the domain as it washed over her location, transforming the terrain into a surreal, purple tinged gray monochrome.

    The ley lines themselves, however, immediately shown more brightly in the contrast, and took on the appearance of literal dragon veins, pulsating with a blue-indigo-violet energy on the metalic ley line, and pulsing with a green-cerulean-teal energy on the natural ley line intersecting nearby.

    Jessica nodded in satisfaction as the domain stabilized, and she connected a thread of her spiritual energy between the pool nearby and the domain itself in order to maintain it for several hours.

    “You're good to go, Keija,” She spoke softly so as not to distract her too much, “You can see yourself off campus when you're done. Just pull the thread here when you want to dissipate the domain. I'll be waiting to greet you again in a few days.” She concluded as she stepped out of the domain's boundary and disappeared, only to reappear in the mortal realm as if slipping through a curtain.

    Pulling out her cell phone, Jessica called the family number, and spoke to the voice that answered, “Wesley almost caused an incident today. We need to get him out of the area for a while. He's caused some friction with Mr. Mallory's group.”

    The voice on the other end hesitated for a mere moment before acknowledging the situation.

    “Oh?” Jessica replied when she heard the answer, “Yes. That will be acceptable to Wesley, but I'm not sure about the others.”
     
  2. Sturmritter

    Sturmritter Member

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    Chapter 62: Rune Empowerment

    (Author's note: This chapter is a bit longer than usual, due to the fact that I'll be away for most of this week. I'll catch up when I return though ^^)

    The other voice murmured something indecipherable to any nearby listeners, and Jessica voiced her approval of the plan. “That should get everyone on the same page for the moment, in any case. I'll contact you again once the agents start attending classes with professor Halloran.”

    Keija had acutely noticed when Jessica Willoughby left the dimensional domain that she constructed. The spiritual strength empowering the domain fluctuated for a bit creating a ripple-like wave effect as it's creator left the area.

    It was like a bubble being released from it's owner, with the interior of the bubble becoming a separate instance of a parallel reality, and Keija was left inside to maintain the integrity of the domain as only a thread of Jessica's spiritual strength remained to act as a conduit for spiritual energy flowing from the pond.

    Keija immediately began to focus on her task. Removing the Bagh Nakh from it's case, Keija began to imbue one of the gauntlets with her spiritual energy.

    Before she could begin to imprint the natural ley line energy into the runes of this gauntlet, she first had to create a personal imprint of her eidos such that the runes would only power in response to her utilization of them.

    If for whatever reason, some other person attempted to use the Bagh Nakh, the runes would not activate if their imprint did not match the initial integration.

    Spirit Integration was a process that worked very similar to daoist cultivation, but in reverse. Instead of drawing energy from the environment, spirits would infuse part of their essence into an object or the environment. Sometimes, as in the case of Poltergeists, the objects so infused would overflow with this spiritual strength and affect the mortal world directly.

    Keija took special care to regulate the amount of spiritual energy that she pushed into the Bagh Nakh gauntlet, and used the ley line energy to flavor and magnify this energy as it seeped into the runes and formed Keija's personal imprint. She definitely didn't want to overcharge the rune and have it possibly explode or be scarred with a flawed spiritual imprint.

    Cleansing such a flawed imprint would require hours if not days of work.

    She worked her spiritual strength into the runes as if she were a swordsmith, folding layer upon layer of spiritual strength intertwined with natural and metallic ley line energies into the runes, and letting the rune stabilize after each fold. Beads of perspiration formed upon Keija's human-guised forehead, and her concentration was stretched to the limit, much like it had been powering the telepathic array in Singapore.

    After several minutes of this careful process, the runes began to softly glow with a jade colored aura, magnified with the natural ley line's additional energy. At this point, the critical procedure of locking her imprint into the weapon's runes began. As the object drank in her spiritual strength, it would seek to expand past the runes into the cold steel of the weapon itself, but Keija would counter this tendency and gently herd the spiritual strength back into the rune.

    The spiritual strength, however, was greatly affected by the natural ley line, and began to take on the untamed attribute as it's energy invaded the corralled spiritual strength and agitated it into a wild, disagreeable state. Keija locked down the unruly intent of this spiritual energy, and bound it with faint silver threads of her own pure intent. The bound spiritual strength reacted angrily and struggled mightily against it's chains.

    In her mind, Keija pushed a soothing gentle intent through these silver threads and cocooned the angry, wild spiritual strength within a sphere that surrounded both the rune and the converted spiritual strength.

    The Jade green glow coming from the rune changed into a variety of fiery colored shades of orange, purple and red as the spiritual strength attempted to rebel and free itself of the rune. But with Keija's watchfulness and agility, she managed to keep the spiritual strength within the rune, and eventually it settled down again into a deep teal green. Keija felt a bit like a bronco rider breaking in a new horse.

    The first rune having been successfully powered, allowed Keija a moment's rest as she sat contentedly, admiring the glow of the rune. She scanned the rune with her spiritual sight to detect any leakage.

    Having found none, she continued the process of powering the 4 other runes inscribed on the gauntlet, and finished off by infusing the last of her spiritual strength into the Zayin, which were the sword sharpness runes of the Hebrew alphabet.

    The entire process of imprinting and infusing her spiritual strength into this one gauntlet, gave her pause when she considered having one more gauntlet to finish. Thankfully, the ley line and spiritual energy pool swirling within the pond allowed her to recover quickly, as her spiritual strength was magnified and rebounded within the dimensional domain.

    The process of infusing this one gauntlet had already taken a little more than an hour, and the evening sky was completely dark now except the stars and moonlight that filtered into the dimensional domain in an odd monochrome.

    Keija had to rest before she worked on the second gauntlet, and took this time to explore the dimensional domain that Jessica Willoughby had constructed for her.

    Getting up to stretch her lithe form, Keija glanced around the monochromatic area with her spiritual sight, noting the various degrees of spiritual strength within the domain. The strength fluctuated in waves as if a heat mirage were pulsating through the dome. The moon and starlight flickered through, but the shadows of various objects did not line up as they would be expected to in the mortal realm, and such oddness would give off a queer, unsettling feeling if one were not accustomed to the secret world.

    Shaking off the stress of having just completed a daunting task once, Keija strolled over to the pond where the pool of ley line energies were coalescing. After a brief moment, she noticed the young pegasus that had fled earlier from the shore had now returned, slowly circling above. It was obviously aware of the dimensional domain but wary of it, yet still wanting to land to partake of a drink from the pond.

    Keija projected a warm welcoming intent into the domain, and the off grey monochrome became slightly tinted with a soft natural green. She was still exhausted from working the runes on the one gauntlet earlier, but changing the aura of the domain to a more natural, welcoming one was indeed a small matter. Once Jessica had left the domain, it would naturally begin to shift its attributes towards the remaining denizen and ley lines which supported it.

    The Pegasus dropped down cautiously, and landed on the opposite shore of the pond, just beyond the effect of the domain, and Keija sat and watched the Pegasus begin to sate its thirst, as it continued to be guarded against sudden movements.

    For many moments, Keija merely watched intently as the Pegasus fluttered it's wings and partook of the pond's refreshing waters. The magnificent creature was majestic in stature, even as it could also be considered a young pony or foal. Its white mane gently wavered in the breeze and its tail briskly swished back and forth denoting it's cautious state regarding the surrounding area, and Keija in particular .

    The pegasus could sense Keija obliquely, but was unable to perceive the interior of the dimensional domain in which Keija now resided. After a few moments it began to graze peacefully among the grassy banks of the pond beneath the moonlit sky.

    Keija drank in the view, and continued to imprint her eidos into the surrounding area. If she kept this up over time, the Pegasus would grow accustomed to her aura, and eventually become comfortable with it. Her only limitation was in how long and how often she might have the opportunity to do so.

    The spiritual strength imbued into the dimensional domain weaved itself in and among the natural ley lines, bolstering and magnifying the effect of the integration, and Keija felt a resurgent vitality and strength wash through her. She said a small prayer of thanks to the Lord of Creation, and to the Pegasus for providing her with such a soul strengthening circumstance. The domain continued to magnify and rebound the eidos for an effect which restored Keija at an amazing pace.

    Feeling much relieved and renewed by this occurance, Keija turned her attention to the second gauntlet of her weapon set, and began to initiate the priming and imprinting of the runes etched upon the blades.

    Once again she gradually corralled the spiritual strength she injected into the runes, and then attempted to chain and tame that strength as before. The process required intense concentration, and Keija continued to impress her edios imprint into the runes, one after another, until almost two hours later she sighed a contented breath and sat back to relax, basking in the glow of the newly empowered runes of her Bagh Nakh.

    She carefully placed the gauntlets back in their protective case, and shouldered it once again with a cord.
     
  3. Sturmritter

    Sturmritter Member

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    Chapter 63: Returning Home, Preparing for a New Day

    It was almost midnight now, and Keija finally disconnected the thread of Jessica's spiritual strength from the dimensional domain, which immediately popped like a balloon from the inside, exposing the normal world as the pocket dimension dissipated. The sudden change of the nearby area from one dimension to the other startled the grazing pegasus once again, who took flight into the clear, moonlit sky.

    Keija smiled at the scene and knew she would have more time to integrate with this location in the near future. Perhaps the pegasus would eventually become comfortable with her aura, and she could interact with it in the future. At least it was something to look forward too.

    Right now, Keija was mentally exhausted, but physically she was energized and ready to head back to the compound, and another day of training. Without bothering to call a driver this late at night, Keija used her natural agility and shunpo to rapidly travel the fifteen kilometers back to the Shadow Hunter's facility and her dormitory room.

    As Keija entered the hallway and made her way towards her room, she stopped briefly to consider knocking on Daniel's door or Teyna's but thought better of it. The two of them had probably already gone to bed and she would see them in the morning soon enough. She had had a very busy day herself, and had accomplished quite a few of the goals she had set out to complete.

    Her thoughts drifted towards all that had happened in Singapore earlier, and the situation with Teyna, which was still volatile in regard to her family's awareness of the circumstances. The next few days would be critical for the Old Man as he collaborated with the Magi in London and Keija, Daniel and Teyna had to be prepared for whatever was necessary when he returned.

    As the newest and least experienced Shadow Hunters, they needed to train intensely, and these classes at the local branch of the college of magi were just one small cog in their overall training as Shadow Hunter agents. Keija sighed deeply as she put all these thoughts on hold, and concentrated on recuperating from the night's activity as she entered her room and lay down on her bed.

    Just as she lay down, however, she heard a knock at the door. “Glad you're back,” she heard Daniel's voice speak lightly through the door, “Did you get everything you needed done?”

    Keija smiled as she looked towards the door, “Get some sleep, Daniel. I'm fine, and yes, I got the gauntlets powered up. You should have seen, the pegasus returned as well!”

    “Excellent,” Daniel replied with an audible sigh of relief, “I'll see you in the morning then. Take care.”

    *************

    Earlier in the evening, back at Willoughby House, Jessica took some rubbing alcohol and removed the marking from Wesley's forehead as he groaned in some restless dream. He had a pretty lump on his head where Keija had clocked him, but Jessica couldn't do much about that at the moment. It would be a reminder to Wesley not to be so arrogant in the future.

    Removing the marking might irk Keija when she next saw Wesley, but Jessica wasn't about to let her kid brother be humiliated at school, and nothing in her agreement said she couldn't remove the marking at any time.

    Jessica had a fine line to walk between the pride of her family, and keeping relations cordial between the college and Mr. Mallory's organization. It wasn't as if they could just throw their family name around like a wrecking ball.

    Still, Keija and her friends seemed to be competent and not vindictive or too concerned with their own standing amongst the student mages. Jessica's own personality was also more in line with Keija's rather than Wesley's, so she felt that she could pacify Wesley's pride while still maintaining cordial relations.

    Being upfront and honest to Keija and her friends about the demands of the family would go a long way in keeping the peace over these next few weeks. Also, Jessica knew that Wesley had to be removed from the location and given some sort of distracting task, in order that Wesley did not keep picking at a potentially festering wound. Her phone call earlier to the family discussed as much. Once Wesley recovered from his mistake, the family would ensure he did what was required.

    Jessica walked to the doorway after finishing her task, and looked back, staring at Wesley with complicated thoughts. That boy could be the best mage in the family, but he really needed work to understand the larger picture. Wesley thought he was some sort of entitled nobility, but in reality he was merely a frog in a well.

    Sighing heavily, she closed the door on her restless little brother, and made her way down the hallway towards her room, in order to plan a suitable distraction to keep the peace.

    **************

    Keija remained in a deep contemplative state when Uzume passed by, slipping the training schedule under her door, and continued on down the hallway to give others their schedules as well.

    For a brief moment, Keija opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling. The patterns in the paint spackle formed various shapes that one could imagine, as if they were cloud representations of objects.

    Keija was in a very comfortable state of mind at the moment, having imprinted her eidos successfully into her Bagh Nakh, and having left a minor impression back at the Salem campus as well. Her mind was free to imagine all sorts of shapes plastered into the painted ceiling wall, but she was concentrating on trying to find the shape of a particular pegasus.

    As luck would have it, however, she was unable to find such an image on her bedroom ceiling without an extreme amount of imaginative construction in her mind. Still, having an eidetic memory helped in this regard, and she was able to imagine the pegasus casually flying across her ceiling as she lay contentedly staring upwards. Time passed and she slowly drifted into a contented slumber.

    Eventually, she woke and found her resolve to get up and begin the new day. Stumbling out of bed, she picked up the sheet with the training schedule on it, and glanced at what would be required of her.

    With a small groan, she realized that she would be partnered with Daniel once again. The two of them would be assisting Samuel Golding, Uzume and Mr. Mallory in testing Teyna's spiritual strength at the UTF.

    One good thing was that she could assume her natural guise, as there would be no need to camouflage herself within the confines of the facility. Keija felt that Teyna was still a tiny bit apprehensive around things pertaining to the secret world, so if she kept her Swartalf guise for the day, Teyna might at least be more familiar and comfortable with her in this regard.

    She also suspected Uzume would act in a likewise manner and appear at the training in her hybrid Kitsune form.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017 at 2:53 AM
  4. Sturmritter

    Sturmritter Member

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    Chapter 64: The Bonds of Spiritual Energy

    The fall temperatures in October were beginning to cool down chillier than the late summer temperatures in September, and Keija decided to start wearing her winter clothes. Instead of shorts and a tank top, Keija decided to wear jeans and an angora sweater. She also placed a knit cap over her silvery white hair, and adjusted it to highlight her sharp elven features.

    Although she knew that during training, she would probably have to change into some sort of jumpsuit fatigues. Until then, she wanted to dress casually but with an effort to impress Teyna, who Keija had found to have a great sense of fashion.

    If she impressed Daniel as well, that would be a nice incidental. She still had trouble resolving her first impression of him, while subsequently getting to know him better over these past few weeks, but Daniel did show some good points as well from time to time.

    As she finished dressing, she picked up her training schedule and slipped it into her weapon case. She would find some time to train with her Bagh Nakh as well as assist Teyna in testing her spiritual strength. With a look of contentment, she opened her door and headed out, holding her case in one hand, as she headed for the dining room and breakfast.

    As Keija passed by Teyna's door, she knocked a few times before loudly saying, “You awake yet?” with a smirk on her face.

    “Are you always this cheerful so early in the morning?” Teyna groaned from underneath the bed covers. “Let me sleep a little while longer. I'm so sore, I don't think I can get out of bed!”

    “If you let me in, I can use a healing wisp to get rid of the soreness,” Keija replied knowingly.

    Teyna hesitated at least 5 seconds before answering, “That actually makes sense. Come on in, the door isn't locked.”

    Keija opened the door and quickly entered the dark room, closing the door behind her.

    “Alright, let me see you cast a wisp,” Teyna spoke more clearly as her attention gradually returned from sleepy land.

    Keija held out her hand and her spiritual strength surged through her palm and began to dimly glow in the dark room with an eerie yellowish green ghostly flame. The wisp took form and the glowing ball of flame began to hover over keija's hand as she brought it over Teyna's supine figure.

    Incanting a Norse charm, the wisp flitted over Teyna's body and hovered over her stomach for a moment before plunging into Teyna's body through the bedsheets and into her belly button.

    Teyna let out a gasp, as a wave of warmth washed over her body rising through her chest and head and down her legs to her feet. The muscle soreness she had felt from the previous day's training melted away quickly, and Teyna felt it being replaced with a a cool, refreshing feeling of boundless energy as the spiritual strength dispersed through Teyna's body.

    Keija turned to switch the bedroom's light on, and then turned towards Teyna to give her some advice on receiving magical healing.

    “Ah!” Teyna looked surprised at Keija's Swarftalf guise, “Sorry. Not quite used to seeing you like that,” she gamely recovered quickly.

    “No worries. I want you to become more familiar with my natural guise. As for the wisp energy, you'll have to refine that to match your own bio-metrics eventually. You'll learn a bit of that today after we test your spiritual strength. If you accumulate too much of my spiritual strength over time without refining it, we might form something akin to a blood bond. I wouldn't mind that, but it plays havoc with mortals who are not used to such things.”

    “In what way would it be bad for me?” Teyna asked curiously.

    “Well, consider that my strength grows when I integrate my eidos with a location. By accumulating my spiritual strength within you, without refinement, your strength is added to my own. A blood bond acts as a sort of siphon or conduit of spiritual strength between a feudal lord and their vassal. Depending on the circumstances, it could be used beneficially, or harmfully by those so bonded, according to each of the individual's spiritual strengths. But that's between mortals. Between a spirit and a mortal. The spirit usually has the upper hand, because of the eidos integration effect.”

    Teyna was both shocked and amazed that such magic came with unknown strings attached. She had certainly felt the effects of the healing, but didn't feel any strangeness from the energy flowing in her body right now. Either there wasn't enough accumulated, or Keija's spiritual strength was compatible with her own.

    Keija continued,“Still, We don't know what your spiritual strength level is at right now, so it may be that you could overpower my own strength, or I might be the dominant partner in such a bond.”

    Teyna looked carefully at Keija, “So this wisp healing you do for others, are they affected as well?”

    “They all know how to refine spiritual energy to conform to their own bio-metrics,” Keija replied evenly.

    “So as long as I refine this energy, I won't be affected by this potential bond?”

    “That's correct. But as I said, it can be used beneficially if you decide to not refine it. It's ultimately a choice for you to decide how much you trust me or not.”

    “Well, you've never given me a reason not to trust you yet,” Teyna replied off hand.

    “But what if I were to be compelled, or bound?” Keija mentioned the oft recurring dilemma that spirits faced in the mortal realms.

    “Oh....that would be a problem, wouldn't it?” Teyna looked crestfallen.

    “It's not an issue in this location, but in the wider realms of the secret world, nothing is taken for granted,” Keija spoke with a healthy appreciation of how large a world that was.

    “Well, thanks for healing me in any case,” Teyna replied gratefully, “I wasn't sure I could even get out of bed once you woke me up,” she chuckled.

    “You're welcome,” Keija smiled brightly as she held out her hand to help lift Teyna out of bed.

    “Now you need to get dressed,” She suddenly turned away from Teyna's naked body. She wasn't ashamed or embarrassed, rather she had respect for Teyna and didn't wish for her to become embarrassed either.

    Teyna blushed lightly, but nodded in assent. “Right, if you wait outside, I'll be out in a moment.”

    Several minutes later, Teyna popped out of her dorm room wearing a nice winter outfit consisting of jeans, a blouse and a knit sweater vest. Keija approved. The two of them continued down the hall, past Daniel's room and towards the dining room.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017 at 2:56 AM
  5. Sturmritter

    Sturmritter Member

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    Chapter 65: Improved Weapons Make Another Satisfied Customer

    “Are we going to wake up Daniel?” Teyna asked briefly.

    “Nope," Keija shook her head as she replied, "He may not even be in his room for all we know, or he may be on an astral walk. He'll arrive at the training facility on time though, with seconds to spare. It's his modus operandi.”

    “I guess that's some strange sense of trust you have in him,” Teyna grinned as she shook her head slowly.

    “For all his faults, I've never known him to be flaky when it comes to training,” she replied seriously.

    “Right. Well, let's get some breakfast, then, I'm famished,” Teyna responded hungrily.

    “Donuts, beef jerky and energy drinks don't make up for a lost dinner, do they?” Keija sighed.

    “Nope.”

    They entered the dining room and made their way to the breakfast buffet and loaded up with a carbohydrate dense breakfast. Although there wasn't a lacrosse game today on the schedule, they still had to recover from the game the day before. Without Keija's wisp healing, Teyna would have been barely able to move at all.

    As they sat down to enjoy their meal, Samuel Golding, Astrid Merkavich, Melissa and Martin Dubois and Elijah Morris came through the doors in one group. Besides, Teyna and Keija, the dining room at the time was relatively empty. But with the sudden appearance of this large group, the ambiance of the dining room suddenly became quite lively.

    Elijah pulled up a chair near Keija, and remarked, “Getting an early start on the day, eh?”

    “We're headed to the UTF to test Teyna's spiritual strength today,” Keija replied.

    “Oh? I guess Sam will be working with you then.” Elijah deduced quickly.

    As Elijah finished talking, Sam and the others returned from the buffet line with their own meals in hand.

    “What? You're not having breakfast?” Keija remarked at Elijah, who had skipped the buffet line.

    “Just delaying it a bit,” Elijah smiled, “After all, I can cook something for myself in a bit. I just stopped by to enjoy a bit of the morning chatter before I finish with some cryptographic analysis.”

    “Oh?” Keija responded, perking up brightly at the news of a puzzle to be solved.

    “It's no secret,” Elijah replied warmly, “I'm working on a file that was recovered by Venka at Daedalus on her flash drive. Dr. Severus forwarded it to me after his own team had no success in breaking the cipher.”

    "Ha!" Keija smirked, "I bet that he was embarassed to have to ask HQ for assistance!"

    Elijah smiled in return, "I didn't rub it in his face, but I could tell he was anxious to find out what was in the file. I'll have my work cut out for me."

    “Let's hope it's something worthwhile, and not the next financial report for the corporation,” Keija laughed.

    “Indeed,” Elijah laughed as well.

    Samuel Golding sat down next along with the others, and he turned to Keija knowingly, “So....how did the rune empowerment go last night?”

    Keija beamed, “Well, except for a minor scuffle, it went extremely well!”

    “I noticed you brought your weapon case with you this morning. Did I forget to mention something spectacular about these gauntlets?”

    “What do you mean?” Keija suddenly became cautious when he referred to an unknown attribute of her Bagh Nakh.

    “The blades in the gauntlet are retractable!” Sam giggled as if revealing a deep dark secret.

    “What?!?!” Keija was astounded, “Why didn't you tell me earlier? I wouldn't have to be lugging around this case if I had known that!”

    Sam laughed, “For one thing, the ability to retract the blades requires the runes to be powered, and for another thing, I thought you'd probably figure it out on your own. But from what I heard from Daniel last night, that case came in pretty handy!”

    Keija shrugged, “Well, yeah. But If I didn't need to lug it around....No, even then I wouldn't have powered the runes yet, so I guess it worked out as best it could.”

    Astrid, Melissa and Martin all became interested in the case that Keija was carrying, “Well, let's see these amazing gauntlets! After all this hype, we want to see why you are so perky this morning!”

    Keija held up her hands, “Woah, now! Hold your horses, people! I'll get them out, but I want Sam to explain how to retract the blades first,” she finished with a mild glare at the weapon smith for leaving out this important 'little' detail.

    “Honestly, I thought you'd have examined the gauntlets in more detail,” Sam shrugged as Keija brought the case up to the table and opened it to reveal the glowing weapons.

    “Oooh!” Melissa, and the other agents who got their first sight of the Bagh Nakh, exclaimed.

    “They're gorgeous!” Astrid complemented to both Keija and Samuel, “And already powered up!”

    “I was gone with Teyna and Daniel last night for a little exploration and eidos integration at the college of magi,” Keija explained hastily, “And I discovered that place was crisscrossed with suitable ley lines for powering runes.”

    “Teal runes?” Melissa replied knowingly, “So you must have found a natural and metallic ley line to tap into?”

    “That's pretty amazing!” Teyna exclaimed, “You could tell that simply from the color of the rune?”

    “You'll learn to identify such things if you stick around with me long enough,” Melissa grinned in response.

    Even Martin was impressed with his sister's knowledge of runes, then turning towards the weapon smith, he encouraged Sam to explain the other aspects of the weapons. They all clustered around Keija enthusiastically.

    “Right, so Keija, the blades are retractable with pressure sensitive glyphs sewn into the palms of the gauntlets. All you need to do to retract, or extend the blades is to slap your palms together.”

    Keija nodded as she slipped the Bagh Nakh over her hands. As she practiced the move that Samuel described, she slapped her palms together, and was happily surprised by the blades retracting into the gauntlets' Tekkou back cover.

    “This is really quite useful. I can wear these all the time now!” Keija smiled.

    “Do they really go well with Angora sweaters, though?” Teyna raised an eyebrow.

    “Hmmm,” Keija muttered a bit, “I guess I'll have to fashion coordinate a bit in the future.”

    Keija again slapped her palms together and was able to extend the blades once again, instantly allowing her combat readiness at a moment's notice. Once again, she placed her palms together, only instead of clapping she merely put pressure against her palms, and the blades retracted again. She softly caressed the gauntlets, which now looked more like leather motorcycle gloves with the blades retracted, and nodded in approval, "This means I can do this stealthily as well!"

    "That's correct," Sam nodded in agreement, "You just have to apply enough pressure to trigger the glyphs. The blades extend and retract with minimal noise themselves."

    “Ok, Sam, “ She beamed with a fiery glow in her indigo eyes, “Consider me impressed! These were already amazing to begin with, but now I have the capability to be combat ready at any time!”

    Samuel turned towards the others and winked, “Another satisfied customer!”
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017 at 3:03 AM
  6. Sturmritter

    Sturmritter Member

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    Chapter 66: Preparing to Test

    The discussion then turned towards the daily training schedule. Samuel would be working with Teyna, Daniel and Keija along with Uzume and Mr. Mallory. Venka would be preparing for the flight to London with Uzume and Mr. Mallory later that evening. Melissa and Martin had ward construction and array repairs from the damage done during the mechanical bug invasion. Astrid and Elijah were working together on the cipher from the file Dr. Severus forwarded.

    As everyone finished breakfast, they scattered their separate ways, “See you at dinner!”

    Sam turned towards Keija, “I'll meet you in a bit at the UTF, I just need to finish up a few things at the armory.”

    Keija nodded at Sam and turned towards Teyna, “We better get a move on. It's not wise to keep the Old Man waiting.”

    Teyna nodded in agreement, and the two newest Shadow Hunters left the main building heading for the tunnel entrance to the UTF. As the two approached the entrance, Daniel was waiting, uncharacteristically early, nearby.

    “Did you get breakfast?” Teyna hurriedly asked.

    “I keep a supply of breakfast bars in my pack,” Daniel explained, “So I'm good to go.”

    Teyna frowned a bit, “You should have joined us for a sit down meal!”

    “I was busy with a walk,” Daniel offered quickly.

    “What do you do when you walk?” Teyna asked curiously.

    “Explore. Discover new knowledge, encounter strange things. The usual,” Daniel replied as he glanced hurridly and nodded towards the UTF, “We better get in there.”

    “Right,” Teyna replied as she noticed Keija impatiently tapping her foot with her arms crossed.

    The three traversed the length of the tunnel, and emerged in the central chamber. It looked almost completely bare now, with the majority of obstacles from the previous day's training removed.

    Mr. Mallory stood near one of the observation towers along with Uzume, and graciously waved the newcomers over for an introductory lecture on the day's proceedings.

    “Welcome Teyna! Keija and Daniel, good morning to you as well,” The Old Man spoke with warmth, Uzume smiled brightly as well as the three young agents approached their position.

    “Good morning, sir. Samuel said he had a few things to finish up at the armory, but he'll arrive shortly,” Keija explained as the group consolidated at Mr. Mallory's location.

    “You probably have a lot of questions, Miss Caulfield?” The Old Man asked gently.

    “Yes sir,” Teyna replied with trepidation, “All these things are so strange to me....” she tapered off glancing at Keija in her dark elf guise, and Uzume in her hybrid kitsune form, “And yet, they are not uncomfortable.”

    “I'm glad to hear it,” The Old Man responded with a smile, “Today, we'll be testing your spiritual strength. You've already tested your aptitude, which scored quite well for someone without any sort of professional background in such things. Perhaps you have some sort of ancestral affinity in this regard. We can research that later, if you like.”

    “What exactly does this testing entail?” Teyna asked cautiously optimistic.

    “Spiritual strength that hasn't been utilized before needs a stimulus,” Anthony Mallory replied evenly, “It is much like a muscle that hasn't been used. In order to be able to effect things with your spiritual strength, you must first learn how to feel it, and it's connection to your willpower.”

    Teyna nodded, but didn't quite understand how she would be able to accomplish that.

    The Old Man continued, “We will elicit a reflexive response from your spirit, so that you will be able to feel the effect. One you grasp this feeling, you can concentrate on recreating this feeling on your own. “

    “A reflexive response to what?” Teyna became even more cautious as she began to have an inkling about what this meant.

    “Well, how shall I describe this?” The Old Man pondered a bit, “Think of it as if it were an electrical current being applied to a particular muscle in your body. It's not a pleasant experience, but one after which you can isolate the feeling and move the particular muscle effected by the stimuli on your own. This is especially true of muscles that you usually don't move consciously, such as your abdominal muscles. Once you gain the awareness of your spiritual strength in an analogous manner, you will be able to exercise that spiritual strength much like a muscle.”

    “So, basically, you're going to shock my spiritual strength awake?” Teyna concluded incredulously.

    “That's the gist of the matter,” The Old Man nodded with empathy.

    Teyna gulped, “Do I really have to go through this?”

    “I don't mean to sound ominous or threatening, Miss Caulfield. However, I should remind you: the process might be painful or not, but I believe you must go through with it. After all, This organization is protecting your family at the moment, predicated upon your joining our organization. Which, by the way, is going quite well, and they wish to talk with you after our training today.”

    Teyna blinked in astonishment. Of course! She had almost forgotten how dire the situation was back in Singapore. Daedalus would be after her family once he discovered that she had decided to leave. Earlier, Teyna had mentioned to Jessica Willoughby that she understood complicated family matters, and Teyna was true to her word.

    Teyna's relationship with her family bordered on the bizarre and dysfunctional. But they had provided her with the references to obtain her job at Daedalus, and she owed them for her education as well. Even without those obligations, she had siblings that she wanted to protect. Especially her younger brother, Thomas.

    Teyna mustered up her courage, and nodded slowly, “Do what you must. I'm ready for anything at this point.”

    Samuel Golding had arrived moments before this awkward moment passed, and headed towards the control room for the facility. “Sorry I'm a bit late sir, the preparations for your mission to London are complete. Shall I begin to activate the array?”

    The Old Man nodded, “Go ahead, Samuel. I'll brief the others on their duties for this task.”

    “Yes, sir,” the weaponsmith responded crisply.

    Turning towards Teyna and the others, Anthony Mallory began to describe each person's responsibility during the testing process.

    “Keija,” He turned towards the dark elf, “I want you to act as the prod in this activity. If I were to do it myself, it might overwhelm Miss Caulfield's capability to withstand the effect. With your natural agility, if some unforeseen circumstance were to occur, you would be able to redirect any stray spiritual strength from harming Miss Caulfield.”

    Keija nodded with understanding. The testing of spiritual strength would sometimes have chaotic sequela which could rebound in the array and create a resonance imbalance. Elijah Morris would normally be in attendance for such testing, being an expert in resonance fields, but with his task to decrypt the cipher file, Keija would have to make up for Elijah's absence.

    The Old Man turned to Daniel, “I need to you to provide Astral security. If you could place a marker for this location, and begin a security walk in the Astral realm, I would be grateful. We don't want to attract unwanted visitors during the testing period.”

    Daniel nodded his assent. He would have to clear out the idea space surrounding the testing chamber so that astral denizens wouldn't disrupt or attack the array during the evaluation process.

    “Uzume,” The Old Man settled his gaze upon the Kitsune spirit with a warmth that was palpable, “You'll be the one to power the array. Just follow the calculations provided by Mr. Golding in the control room, and everything should run smoothly.”

    “Of course, Anthony,” Uzume chided softly, “I'll be careful with both Teyna and the array.”

    Mr. Mallory then turned towards Teyna and motioned her to stand at the center of the chamber, atop a small obsidian dais, and suggested that she relax as best she could.
     
  7. Sturmritter

    Sturmritter Member

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    Chapter 67: Teyna's Spiritual Strength Test

    “Try not to tense up. You'll feel a wave of Keija's spiritual strength wash over you, and if you tense up against it, you may experience something akin to a cramp. It's best to exhale as you are affected, and allow the feeling to wash through your body with as little resistance as possible at first. Your body will produce a counter-wave of your own spiritual strength in response. Keija will continue to send her spiritual strength towards you, until your own counter wave reaches it's maximum potential. This can take as little as a few minutes, or up to a half hour or more depending on your strength.”

    Teyna nodded as the process was explained to her, greatly relieving her of stress due to fear of the unknown.

    “Keija mentioned something earlier about a spiritual blood bond, and the need to refine her energy if it accumulated too much in my body,” Teyna spoke up out of concern for this phenomenon which Keija had described earlier.

    “Indeed,” The Old Man nodded with approval, “Keija was correct to inform you of this. Once you have your spiritual strength identified and are able to consciously manipulate it, you'll understand how to circulate your own spiritual energy in a manner which captures foreign spiritual strength and refines it for your own use. Think of it like a car's manual transmission, but instead for your body's spiritual immune system. Once you can control your spiritual strength, you'll be taught how to circulate that strength to purify your body of invading foreign influences.”

    Teyna glanced over at Keija, who nodded and smiled, as she stepped onto the dais.

    “Is everyone ready to begin the testing?” The Old Man spoke evenly, but with authority and clarity.

    Samuel and Uzume replied affirmatively. Daniel had prepared his den, and was unconscious but breathing normally. Mr Mallory turned to stand guard over his physical body, while Daniel walked in the Astral plane to keep the area clear, in the transitional dimension, of unwanted visitors or entities.

    If one were to delve deeper into an understanding of why this Astral protection was necessary, Daniel would explain that the Astral realm consisted of several layers, or dimensions of thought. The deepest level, where Edgar Mallory had been trapped, was the Astral plane of ideas. This was what one normally thought of the Astral plane when people talked about out of body experiences (OBE's) and traveling at the speed of thought. The Astral realm also had other layers of representation, however, which were less well known.

    The next level closer to the mortal realm was known as the Astral plane of emotion. This plane of the astral realm was the simple and more representational dimension of subconscious thought. The final plane in the astral realm which was closest to the mortal realm, and which affected the body vibrationally when walkers or divers entered the realm was known as the Astral plane of transition.

    This transitional dimension of the Astral realm where Daniel was now patrolling, was the interface between the Astral realm and other planes of existence, including the mortal realm. If anything were to affect the mortal realm from the Astral, or vice versa, it would have to pass through this transitional dimension.

    This transitional plane was also what allowed Astral walkers to physically travel to various dimensions and parts of the secret world. Though their physical body was always in their original realm, passing through the transitional dimension with an astral body could “clone” a physical representation of the traveller in another plane of existence for a limited amount of time.

    This worked for natives of the astral plane as well, and an astral entity with sufficient strength and determination, could manifest a clone of itself in the mortal realm for brief periods of time, if the circumstances were favorable enough.

    Conversely, the Bifrost bridge, which led to Asgaard, and to Keija's realm of Swartalfheim worked on a slightly different principle. The effects for Bifrost were similar as far as dimensional travel was concerned, but with the original body, thus alleviating any limitations on the time spent in other realms.

    Seeing the Old Man stepping into a position to guard Daniel's physical form, Keija nodded towards Teyna, and replied, “Ready, sir.”

    Tenya also nodded, “Me too, sir.” She said without a thought, and then strangely wondered what it was about the Old Man that commanded such unconscious but automatic respect. She shrugged off her response as one conditioned by her corporate upbringing, but still felt at ease giving Mr. Mallory her respect in such an easy manner. It was odd to think that he had earned her respect, but also garnered it in an artificial manner as well, or so it felt.

    Teyna was startled a bit, when the Old Man commanded, “Begin!”

    Immediately, Keija conjured up a very large wisp of her spiritual strength, infused with a probing intent which flared in a deep purple color, and radiated a prickly electrical aura. Keija finished infusing the wisp then directed it towards Teyna.

    Uzume followed Samuel's guidelines in keeping the array powered, which created a resonance field for the wisp to magnify and grow as it headed towards the focal point where Teyna was standing upon the raised dais.

    Teyna nervously gaped in wonder as the wisp which started out as a small globe, rapidly grew in size as it approached her location, until she became engulfed within the violet electric globe. She let out a startled yelp as the spiritual strength invaded her core being, and began to spread electrical tendrils throughout her body searching for any signs of spiritual strength. She was literally being shocked, but she wasn't feeling this on a physical level, but on a much deeper spiritual level.

    It was as if she were an object encased within a lost wax mould that was being violently shaken apart, until a golden casting was revealed beneath. The electrical tendrils stimulated something within her body that she had never felt before and her spiritual sight (which had been boosted by Keija and Daniel for the first time just the night before) was switched on like a lightbulb.

    Instantly, Teyna could see a myriad of scintillating colors and wavelike emanations surrounding her within the array. She sucked in her breath as she noticed a counter wave developing in her own body from a chakra she didn't realize even existed before now. The shock of this occurrence stunned Teyna and she winced as the counter wave erupted in a reflexive manner against the probing of Keija's tendril wisp.

    The Old Man smiled approvingly as Teyna reflexively created her first instance of inherent spiritual strength, and Samuel Golding adjusted the array to balance the counter wave so that it would not unbalance Miss Caulfield so much as to knock her off her feet. Uzume adjusted the power immediately to adapt to the new settings so that the flow of the array was not disrupted by Teyna's additional spiritual strength as it expanded throughout the array.

    Teyna looked on helplessly as her body reacted involuntarily to expand the sphere of spiritual strength emanating from her body.

    “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!” She yelped in nervous fright.

    But then a wave of intense spiritual strength washed over her subduing her own strength, calming her down considerably.

    “Relax, Miss Caulfield,” The Old Man smiled warmly and gently, “You are awakening a spiritual 'muscle' you've never before used. Keep calm, and breath normally, the effect will get stronger each time until we find your limit.”

    “Step it up a notch, Miss Nighthawk,” The Old Man spoke Keija's surname formally. Well, it was her alias surname in the mortal and synod realms anyways. Keija's true family name had been lost to the ages. Everyone in the Synod simply referred to their family as the Nighthawks for as long as she could remember. She hadn't thought of it much until the Old Man spoke it out loud.

    “Yes, sir.” She returned her attention to the task at hand.

    Keija infused more of her spiritual strength into another wisp, and sent it once again into the array towards Teyna, who braced herself in preparation for the reflexive response of her body to the array's magnifying effect.

    The jolting of Teyna's spiritual strength, awakening to her conscious control, was intensely stressful and shocking in a manner Teyna had trouble coping with, but she endured with all her concentration, and forced herself to relax as best she could. The wave of spiritual energy elicited an internal response that Teyna began to understand innately, which allowed her to begin controlling the response after a few more of Keija's wisps washed over her.

    In her mind's eye, Teyna could now sense the difference between her own spiritual strength now, and Keija's as it washed through the very fiber of her being. She began to relax more and more as her nascent control of this response became more intuitive each time a wisp interacted with her in the array.

    “Good! Very Good,” The Old Man applauded out loud, as Teyna consciously reduced the reflexive response of her spiritual strength to Keija's latest prodding.
     
  8. Sturmritter

    Sturmritter Member

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    Chapter 68: An Unexpected Delay

    Teyna smiled, even as her body was quivering from the shock of having her spiritual strength awakened, much like having a bucket of ice cold water suddenly poured over her unexpectedly. She glanced at Keija, and nodded with satisfaction, “I feel it in my bones,” She said with a grin.

    The Old Man turned towards Keija, “What level of strength accomplished this?”

    “At the end, I was pushing out wisps around my former strength before I advanced in Singapore, close to level three I suppose,” Keija replied with unexpected enthusiasm, “Teyna, you are really strong!”

    “Thank you, I guess!” Teyna remarked rather astonished at the assessment. She felt on top of the world at the moment, as if she had broken out of a cocoon. Everything she sensed felt as if it had more clarity. Her eyes were sharply focused, and she could see Keija's aura, and how it differed from everyone else's except perhaps Uzume's.

    Even then, the two auras of the spirits had unique distinguishing features that Teyna now saw clearly. She knew without a doubt that after today, she could tell Keija and Uzume were spirits whatever guise they were in.

    “Don't get a big head!” Keija cautioned with a smile, “You told me to remind you of that when you felt things were getting crazy.”

    “Hahaha!” Teyna laughed out loud, “Thanks for that, and I mean that sincerely,” Teyna immediately reflected on her state of mind, and how easy it might have been to abuse this newfound ability without such a reminder. She had taken her first step on the path towards being a Shadow Hunter agent, and she didn't want to forget the incredible circumstances that got her here, or lose her humanity in the process.

    “I think Mr. Mallory said you had some family matters to take care of. As for me, I'll be thinking about what to draw on Daniel's face before he returns from his Astral patrol,” Keija snickered.

    Uzume and Samuel began to shut down the array once the Old Man gave the signal, and Keija returned towards where Daniel had set up his den. Keija looked at the prone figure of this very exasperating person, and wondered why she didn't mark him up immediately, until she realized the Old Man was still around, and that he disapproved of pranking her teammates.

    Her eidos integration with the Shadow Hunter compound had begun to create a massive link between her and the Old Man (and consequently Uzume as well), much in the manner that Keija had described the blood link phenomenon to Teyna earlier.

    Without thinking much about it, whenever The Old Man was nearby, she could sense his presence and felt comforted by it. With his presence nearby, Keija felt that a few more weeks of continued integration along with her recent activity with Rune empowerment and Teyna's testing might push her strength closer towards the next stage.

    How would it be when he left on his trip later tonight? She wondered to herself. She felt as if he'd been a part of her life since the beginning, but she knew of no memory of this man prior to her arrival in the mortal realm. Something was odd and mysterious in how he warped the attitudes of those around him. She would think more on this phenomenon after he left for London, and perhaps she would talk with Uzume more about this when she had the chance.

    “Well,” Keija said after the long pause caused by her musings, “Let's go celebrate!”

    “Well, shouldn't we wait for Daniel to wake up first?” Teyna glanced over at the young man's sleeping prone form nestled in his makeshift den.
    “Hmmm...That's odd,” Keija remared after a while of waiting for Daniel to return.

    The Old Man turned his head with concern towards Daniel as well, “He should have sensed the array powering down in the Astral plane. I'm going to take a quick walk myself and see if there is any trouble. Uzume, if you would be so kind as to guard my body, I'll return as soon as I'm able to find out what's going on.”

    Everyone hurried to make way for the Old Man as he quickly entered a Astral walking state after sitting down in one of the spectator's seats. Uzume stood nearby his now unconscious sitting body, with her arms folded, looking very intimidating, even with only friends nearby.

    Teyna looked at everyone with a nervous expression, “Was it anything that I did?”

    “Teyna,” Keija reassured her, “Absolutely not! You did fine with the testing. If Daniel is late, he's either found something extremely interesting, or is engaged in defending the transitional space near the Array. With the Old Man going to find him, I think whatever situation he's in will be resolved shortly.”

    Certainly, within moments after Keija had reassured Teyna, that the Old Man's body began to tremble, as his consciousness returned to his body.

    “He's all right. His silver cord is still vibrant, and he left a marker for me to let me know that he was tracking an interesting presence that had been observing the testing,” Anthony declared once he had fully returned his consciousness to his body.

    Uzume relaxed greatly, once the Old Man had returned, and her stiff, defensive posture once again assumed a casual, friendly stature. “Is everything ok with yourself, Anthony?” She demurred.

    “I'm fine Uzume, thank you for your concern,” the Old Man replied with a gentle smile.

    Keija nodded, and turned towards Teyna, “See?”

    Teyna nodded, and felt a wave of relief wash over herself. Her newfound spiritual strength felt turbulent after the startling revelation that Daniel hadn't returned, but this news calmed the stormy emanations in her soul. Bits and pieces of wisp strength were bobbing around in her soul like buoys, and she instinctively understood what Keija mentioned earlier about the need to refine this energy before it clouded and clogged her own strength.

    “I'm glad Daniel is accounted for, but now I've a different concern. Keija, about refining your wisp strength?” She mumbled halfheartedly.

    “Well, let's get some pointers from the expert, shall we?” Keija motioned towards the Old Man.

    ***********

    Daniel continued tracking the obscure presence that was swiftly retreating along what Daniel assumed to be the presence's silver cord.

    Unfortunately, his sense of the presence was fading rather than strengthening, and he assumed he would soon lose the trail altogether. He had been patrolling around the transitional plane as Keija bombarded Teyna's soul core with her wisp energy.

    From Daniel's perspective it could be imagined as a laser light show as the two spiritual strengths, Keija's and Teyna's, collided and produced sparks as if it were some sort of particle accelerator experiment. At first, Daniel perceived the testing in fascination as Teyna's response was reflexive at first, like a bubbling pipe that was being flushed of a clog, but then Daniel began to tell that Teyna was gradually assuming greater and greater control over her responses to Keija's probing wisps.

    It was at this point that Daniel was distracted, and and felt the faintest pressure of another presence and some obscure intent. Immediately growing cautious, Daniel began to seek out this presence but could not pinpoint it's location.

    Growing bolder, Daniel dropped a marker the Old Man, and continued to search deeper into the Astral realm, heading further into the emotional plane. At this point, Daniel was surprised by the revelation that the obscure intent he felt earlier wasn't sinister or violent, but rather curious and hopeful, full of positive feelings.

    Daniel took a moment to assess this revelation. Was the presence simply curious? Was it someone or something that had a relationship with the participants? He wanted to confront this presence to ascertain it's intentions, but the presence was extremely skilled in astral travel, at least as skilled as Daniel himself and possibly even more so? No matter how hard Daniel tried to close the distance to this mysterious presence, he couldn't approach closer than he had already tried.

    The presence was clearly aware that Daniel had sensed it, and was retreating rapidly, but leaving no trace for Daniel to track as it withdrew. Soon thereafter, Daniel lost the presence completely, but now had to retrace his own silver cord back to his body. With time, ideas and emotions so fluid in the Astral realm, Daniel felt a small pang of guilt for making his companions worried if he were gone for too long.

    Sighly dejectedly in his mind (which left a small puff of greyish dark smoke in the realm), Daniel stopped the chase and began the task of tracing his own silver cord back to his body.
     
  9. Sturmritter

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    Chapter 69: An Unknown Presence

    “Oh? So that's how you circulate your spiritual strength?” Teyna finally nodded in understanding as Mr. Mallory finished his lecture on the subject, and let Teyna practice.

    “Correct, you are doing well, Miss Caulfield,” he replied with satisfaction.

    As the lecture and practice session was ongoing, Keija noticed that Daniel's body beginning to tremble, and she knew that Daniel's conscious mind was returning to his body.

    “He's back!” She exclaimed with relief. Keija had been hiding her worry, but when she saw that Daniel was returning, she didn't care if people knew of her concern or not.

    Uzume and the Old Man both headed over towards Daniel's body, and Teyna quickly quelled her circulating spiritual strength, and rushed over as well. The four of them waited impatiently as Daniel slowly recovered and eventually opened his eyes.

    Keija was the first to pounce, “You had us worried, Daniel!”

    “You? Worried?” Daniel rubbed his eyes as he scoffed in disbelief.

    Keija shook her head as she stifled a snarky reply.

    “I was gone for fifteen minutes past the training completion!” He quickly rushed out a hasty defense, “And I left a marker too! And why am I trying to justify myself to you?” He added with a slight grin on his face.

    “Because you had me worried,” Keija replied as she gently rapped her gauntlet's knuckles on Daniel's forehead, “Next time I'll have the claws extended,” She said with a deadpan smile.

    He swiftly deflected her hand away and used her weight as a counter balance to pull himself up into a standing position, ending up extremely close to Keija's lithe and athletic body.

    Teyna raised her eyebrows at this, and remarked in jest, “Hey now, take that behavior to a private room!”

    Uzume giggled and the Old Man coughed uncomfortably as the two young agents seemed entangled by Daniel's action. After pausing for only a moment, the Old Man broke the tension of the moment and asked, “So Daniel, what was the cause of this distraction? Are the facilities' astral defenses breached? Was there an intruder? I hadn't sensed any malicious intents during the testing.”

    “No sir, The facilities defenses were not breached, however, I did get the unmistakable feeling that the process was being observed by something or someone.”

    “Oh?” Everyone, including Teyna, was surprised by this revelation.

    The Old Man muttered while stroking his chin, “I didn't sense any external magic, so it was not a scrying spell, and it was apparently only a presence in the astral plane, since we are far removed from any casual observations here in the UTF.”

    Uzume suddenly seemed to have a possible answer, “Could it be an eye watcher?”

    Daniel was unfamiliar with that type of spiritual entity, and questioned Uzume for further explanation, “Eye watcher? I've never heard of such a thing before.”

    Uzume mulled over the possibilities in her head before explaining, “An eye watcher is a variant typo of Mokumokuren, a type of Japanese Youkai. The Mokumokuren usually inhabit dilapidated old shoji screens that have holes and tears in them. They watch people through those holes in the screens and are sometimes known to cause harm to unsuspecting sleepers. However, there are variant types that do not harm people, but simply watch and gain spiritual strength from the act of voyeurism.”

    “That may be the case,” Daniel mused, “But that doesn't seem to match the intent that accompanied the presence. I felt a strong intent that conveyed hope and warmth, which I thought rather odd at the time, as if it were something or someone familiar with one of us.”

    “Very odd indeed,” The Old Man concurred. “If that is the case, then we are in no danger. It may be a familiar spirit in the literal sense of the term!” He laughed softly at his own play on words.

    Keija and Uzume both smiled at the joke, as they too could be considered familiar spirits to those present. After a moment of reflecting upon these circumstances, Keija realized that it might be someone from the Synod, traveling astrally, who might have been attracted by the emanations of her spiritual strength.

    She voiced her suspicions, “Perhaps it was a Synod member, who recognized my spiritual strength during the test?”

    “Ah, yes, that could explain the circumstances as well,” Mr. Mallory nodded in agreement, “Yes, that is quite plausible.”

    Daniel furrowed his brows as he pondered the possibility, and seemed to come to the same conclusion as the others, “If so, then it was a fairly high ranking member of the Synod, since I couldn't track them down.”

    The Old Man turned towards Uzume and whispered in her ear, and she nodded her head quickly as she understood his intent. Quickly reciting her norito, Uzume flashed into her spirit realm and disappeared from the chamber.

    Teyna was surprised at the quickness of her actions, “Where did she go?"

    Anthony Mallory calmly replied, “She's just going to check on something for me. It's nothing to be concerned over. I'm just trying to find out if our uninvited guest left any clues behind.”

    Since the training was officially over, and Daniel had recovered from his unexpected delay in his astral patrol, Keija bowed to Mr. Mallory and then to Samuel as she took hold of Teyna's hand and glanced at Daniel to head towards the UTF chamber exit tunnel.

    Before the three walked a few meters, the Old Man reminded Teyna, “Don't forget, your family is waiting to contact you.”

    Teyna quietly paused, and turned around, giving Mr. Mallory a look of gratitude.

    “Thank you, sir, I'll call home as soon as I'm able,” Teyna bowed politely and then turned back to rejoin the others.

    The three young agents exited the tunnel into the bright glare of shining sunlight, as the crisp, clear blue sky was revealed. The exceptional weather seemed to correspond to the clarity within Teyna's soul at the moment, bright, sunny and full of hope. Keija switched her guise to that of her human form, and quickly adjusted her clothing so that it would fit appropriately.

    Although she felt comfortable with her natural form, there were still a few people who weren't quite able to feel as comfortable when directly confronted by a denizen of the secret world. Teyna was getting better at it, but Keija didn't want to impose too much on less familiar people.
     

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