Theia loved the smell of the morning; nothing quite compared to the petrichor caused by the morning dew clinging to the cobblestone. She was slowly making her way to the Dragon Gunfire guild hall, taking in the first breaths of morning. She could see the frosted windows as reminders of the cold nights, but smiled as the flowers on the windowsill still fought hard to welcome the first rays of sunlight for the day. The streets were quiet, but as soon as she passed through the barrier into the underground labyrinth that was her guild, she could hear the chatter of her fellow guildmates muffled by the stone walls.
She had spent the last two week recovering by herself from the S Class Trials, and was eager to see what she had missed in the guild. Becoming one of Dragon Gunfire's first S Class mages, she was eager to show that she was worthy of the title and sign up for a high ranking job with her team. She walking gracefully over to the job board, giving small waves and smiles to the few members that were awake this early in the morning, and settled her eyes on the rows of flyers. You know, maybe I shouldn't be so eager like last time. It seems like I am always the one who picks what jobs Draconic Vanguard takes; I should be nice and have Seraph or Chase choose this next one. Theia thinks to herself as she bounces slightly to turn and go find Chase, who she assumes is already in the guild hiding somewhere.
Chase, for once, isn't in the guild hall yet. He'd gotten side-tracked on his way here by a crow, and ended up following it for about thirty minutes throughout the city. He arrived in the guild hall a few minutes after Theia, missing her entrance and instead settling at the bar for a glass of orange juice to replenish his lost energy. As he watches her bounce about the guild, he presumes she's searching for him, or worse Seraph, and gets up, abandoning his drink in favor of pursuing to small blonde. He lightly taps on her shoulder to gain her attention, carefully planning out his next statement. "Were you looking for anyone?" he asks, a hint of wariness in his voice. She's looking for Seraph. I'm gonna be found out. What is she gonna do to me? She's small, but she got S-Class so she can probably beat me up in a hot minute. Dang what am I supposed to do?... His face contorts slightly, halfway between a smile and looking like he's about to be sick.
Being startled by Chase's sudden tap on her shoulder, her knees give as she drops a little as she places her hand over her chest. "Oh my gosh Chase! You scared me!" Standing back up, she smiles brightly and extends her hands towards Chase. "I was looking for you silly! I was thinking that we should all go on a job together with Draconic Vanguard! Do you know where Seraph happens to be? I thought it was strange that he didn't come by on Wednesday for our normal training session..."
Chase laughs weakly, mumbling a small apology. "I figured you'd hear me coming or something," he says, twiddling his thumbs nervously. "Oh, Seraph? I haven't seen him since the S-Class trials when he wandered off," He says, his voice rising a pitch. Maybe she won't notice? She'll probably just brush it off as normal Chase behavior. He thinks, never once making eye contact with the small girl in front of him.
Theia contorts her face into a look of perplexed wonder. Why is Chase acting so weird...Why is he staring at me so hard; its kinda freaking me out... He must be super anxious right now, I can smell his cortisol in his sweat. Theia thinks and then places a caring hand on Chase's arm. "Are you okay Chase? You seem kind of stressed out right now..." Theia says in a soft voice, etched with concern.
Chase flinches at the contact, which might have been normal a few weeks ago, but it rarely ever bothered him now, especially when he knew he was acting anxious. "Ah, I, uh, just, have a lot on my mind?" He tries, questioning every single word and movement he's making at this point. He opens and closes his mouth several times before any sound comes out, and it's all incoherent. He takes a deep breath in, calming his nerves a bit before starting again. "I'm still caught up in the trials. Trying to figure out why those guys attacked us, and why I wasn't chosen, and what I can do to get stronger. Not used to so much thinking at one time I guess, haha." This is far worse than any situation he's forced himself into, especially when Theia stares at him with such concern. Shouldn't I just tell her? But I've already kept it hidden for so long, so what's the problem with avoiding it awhile longer? His thoughts are moving in the wrong direction so fast Chase has a hard time reining them in to make sure he listens to whatever Theia's response is.
Showing sympathy in her eyes, Theia squeezes his arm a bit before returning her hand to her side. "Aww, don't worry about it too much. After all, we were able to defeat those guys with just that small group of us, imagine how quick it would be with the whole guild behind us!" She smiled brightly and began walking back towards the job board. "And I really do think you deserved S Class, you're one of the strongest guys I know here! But the only way to get stronger is to train! And what better way to do that than going on a S rank job! That's why I want to get the team together so we can pick a super fun job from this board, so we can all get stronger together! Now why don't we go find Seraph so we can get going?" She then brings her finger up to her chin, lightly tapping it as she speaks quietly to herself. "Maybe he is at his apartment, I didn't check there. Or maybe he's over near the library...I don't know, I can't seem to get a lock on his scent... Usually the smell of fougere and barbecue is just soaking the air wherever he walks, very strange...Maybe he decided to take a bath for once, and that's why I can't smell him."
Chase nods his head, "Yeah, of course." After following Theia to the job board, Chase begins to worry again, listening to each word and feeling as though another arrow is driven into his chest with every syllable. "Uh, Theia, I think I know why you can't find him," Chase starts, wishing the ground would just swallow him whole, right then and there. "During the S-Class trials, he left, and that you know, because you saw it happen. But, he wasn't just going for a walk, he was leaving, leaving. As in, he wasn't coming back. I don't know where he's at now, but I assume he's not in his apartment or at the library."
Pausing her stride, she slowly looks up at Chase with a blank expression."Wait you're saying he left...for good? And you knew that was happening and didn't stop him? Or even tell me In the supposed week he's been gone?" her voice slightly raised at the end of her last question, but otherwise remained monotone, as if he mind was slowly putting the pieces together.
Chase swallows harshly, but keeps his gaze on Theia. "Yes, that's what I'm saying," He starts, attempting to tread carefully into this next topic. "What was I supposed to do Theia? Tell him that he should stay? And what would that do? I barely know him, and you expect me to tell him what he should do and where he should do it? And I'm sorry I didn't tell you, but how was I supposed to bring something like that up? 'Oh, hey, Theia I know you're still really happy about your S-Class promotion, but let me ruin that by telling you our teammate ran away'? I know it wasn't fair of me to keep it from you, and I can't say anything if you decide to punch me into the next century because I deserve it," Chase says his expression as dismal as his words.
Theia burst out in a flurry of emotion as her hands shot in the air as high as her voice went. "I don't care that you don't know him that well! He is our teammate! He is part of our new family! You should have stopped him! Or better yet, you could have told me THEN and I could have convinced him to stay! Heaven knows where he went, and what kind of trouble he's gotten into! We both know that that smart mouth of his is going to get him killed one day, and here you are just letting him walk away to his death." Theia says with a dramatic tone as she paces back and forth. " Dammit Chase, we have to go get him to come back! I ca-- I mean, we can't lose him." Then with a plea to the sky, she sighs, " But how are we ever going to find him..." Her face is etched with worry and concern as she runs her fingers through the top of her hair in distress.
Chase watches Theia's outburst, not daring to interrupt her as she speaks her mind. After allowing a few moments of silence to pass, Chase begins speaking. "Theia, what would have changed? He didn't up and walk away because he felt like it Theia, this was planned. The whole thing, even joining the S-Class trials. You think a guy like Seraph needed to prove his strength, or even wanted to? No, he went through the trials to see if you needed his help, and after he found out you didn't, he left. And what trouble can he get into that's worse than living somewhere where he feels like he's not needed? If he's marching to his death, then maybe you should've done something. You were awake, you saw him leaving. It's not like I knew for sure he wasn't coming back Theia, so I let him walk. I only know he's gone for good now because he hasn't returned, which is something you should've been able to deduce. Seraph is a member of my family, yes, but I can't control his actions, and I can't let somebody else either." He keeps his voice quiet so not to cause any more damage to the relatively calm morning. "I don't know how we're going to find him, but he's not going to appear suddenly because of your yelling. Calm down and think about this. Seraph's smart, but he's only human, so there's only so much distance he can cover in a weeks time," Chase says, resting a hand on her shoulder. "If you want to find him, then I'll help you, but if Seraph doesn't want to be found, then I don't know if we will."
Calming her nerves, Theia takes a deep breath in and exhales slowly. After a few seconds of processing all that Chase had to say she speaks softly, "I apologize for my outburst. It's just you don't know Seraph like I do. His past is covered in solem darkness. Seraph, more than anyone, needs someone to walk his path alongside him, should he ever feel surrounded by the shadows. Not guide him and tell him which path to take, but offer a helping hand, should he forget the man he wants to become." Pausing to brush her hair behind her ears, she looks at Chase with an apologetic, yet pleading, expression. "I know I should have done something, but honestly I was caught up in all the excitement that I didn't think that Seraph was leaving for good. And yes, only a week has passed, but he has that stupid car of his that can greatly increase the area we have to look...maybe we should ask around the guild and see if he told anyone any clues as to where he was going? I doubt he was stupid enough to run off without telling anyone where to find him if something dangerous were to happen."
Kyshira relaxing after a recent mission testing the difficulty of the S-class type missions, half asleep as well, she sat contemplating the Seraph situation. She yawned and looked over at Theia and Chase waving over to them, She figured helping friends out would be the nice thing to do.
Seeing Kyshira wave out of the corner of her eye, drew her attention away from the serious conversation. "Maybe we can start with Kyshira?" She suggests, and then takes Chase's hand and pulls him towards the member of the Masked Duo. "Hey there Kyshira! How are you doing? No wait, there's no time to answer that. Listen, I know I am being abrupt, but Chase and I kind of have a situation. Do you happen to know where Seraph went after the S Class trials? Congrats again on that. But do you know?" Theia says in an overexcited ramble.
Kyshira grinned "Oh, I'm fine thanks for asking." Kyshira paused for a few moments contemplating the question, she had a good idea where he might be, but didn't receive any updates from him in a while. "From what I can recall from Sykushi, he said he was heading south to some far off place. Don't recall why he's going there but there is a good likelihood it's important. Hope this information helps, let me know how it goes when you return." Kyshira grinned hoping her information was of use for the most part.
"Thank you so much Kyshira! That helps a lot!" Theia says with elation and gives her a big hug, then turns to Chase. "Well it looks like we have a direction to follow! Are you up for getting our teammate back, or are you going to leave me to go by myself?"
"Thank you for the help, Kyshira," Chase says. When Theia turns to him, he nods his head. "There's no sense in getting a teammate back if the whole team isn't there. And about the car, shouldn't we see if actually took it with him? Cars aren't super common, and I'm sure someone would've noticed if he took one out of the city, wouldn't they? And if didn't, then we won't have to worry about having so much are to cover."
Nodding her head, Theia appears deep in thought before speaking. "That's a good point. Maybe we should check his apartment first before we go out searching. Maybe we can see what he took with him to get a better idea of where he was going. I've been in his apartment enough times to know what he has, I'm sure it wou--- I mean, Seraph seems like an organized person, I am sure it can't be that hard to see what is missing!" Theia says rather quickly, realizing that she might be divulging too much information about her personal life and feelings towards their teammate.
Chase nods, making his way towards the guild exit without further prompting. "Theia, is there anything going on between you and Seraph? I mean, it's none of my business, but you... you don't seem like your normal self. You keep hesitating," Chase says, internally going over Seraph's request to keep Theia safe. At the time, he'd thought nothing of it, but now he's not so sure what was meant by it.
"Uhhh... let's not talk about that right now, To be honest though, I don't know where Seraph and I stand... not the point! Let's go check out his apartment for clues! Put on your detective hat, we have a case to solve!" Theia says, and makes an air motion like she was putting a cap on her head and rushes out the door towards Seraph's apartment.
"Alright, let's get to it," Chase says, allowing the topic to be dropped. He follows Theia as she makes her way towards Seraph's apartment.
Later the two approach the skyscraper that was Seraph's apartment complex, Theia turns to Chase and says, "So I know Seraph's door is almost impossible to break down, and I don't have a key to the main door. I have one to disable the security system, but Seraph said I could never be in there without him. But what do you say of flying up to the windows? Those aren't reinforced to my knowledge..." She says as she gazes up the building. Looking around she sees that they would have to be quick if they were going to avoid raising suspicion.
Chase nods, though doesn't make any other move in order to fulfill the plan. "Do you think that you could get in on your own? I could fly you up there, and then once you enter, you could open it from the inside. That way, we wouldn't raise as much suspicion and we wouldn't have to break so much of his window in order for us both to get in." Chase suggests, looking up towards the window.
"Great idea! Then I could focus my attack with more fine precision if I don't have to worry about keeping my wings balanced. So I will break in and disable the security system while you slip inside while someone is leaving and meet me up there. I'll input the code on the inside to unlock the door, and then detective mode!" Theia says brightly, silently congratulating them on their plan and enjoying her pretend detective job way too much.
"Alright," Chase says, swinging his arms upward. The air forms around Theia, lifting her up to the window. Theia quickly shoots out a beam of light from her fingertip, chipping away at the glass until a complete rectangle is made just big enough for her to squeeze through. After making sure she's made it in, Chase walks towards the entrance, though doesn't watch, instead relying on his sense of hearing so he doesn't appear suspicious. As soon as the door swings open, he makes his way over, keeping the door open with the wind. He walks towards the stairs, not wanting to get caught up in the elevator with anybody in case they didn't recognize him or questioned his being there. He could say he was visiting a friend, but he wasn't sure how well he could pull off a like that. He makes his way up the stairs, and steps onto the proper floor. He doesn't know which door it is, so he walks slowly along the corridor, waiting for Theia to open a door.
Theia is busy rushing to the security console, which has already triggered a silent alarm from when she first step foot in the apartment. She pulls out the key Seraph had given her some time ago, should she ever need it, and quickly disables the security system. Without hesitation, Theia walks over to the door and looks at the stainless steel keypad, thinking hard to remember the special code Seraph gave just for her. It was some numerology thing, or something like that...what was it..? Wow his smell has almost completely disappeared from here... No Theia, focus! Umm... oh I got it! Theia thinks to herself and smiles as she inputs 45511146 onto the keypad and hears a solid click as the doors locks disengage.
Chase steps into the newly opened door, and begins to explore the main living area as Theia investigates the bedroom. Of course, he's not exactly sure what to look for, so he's generally using his sense of smell to pick up on an area that has a more distinct scent than anything else. He finds a small trigger in the arm of the couch, which causes a tray to extend, several empty spaces where small blades could be stored. Wherever Seraph is now, Chase hopes he's using the knives for parlor tricks rather than fighting, but he's not naive enough to believe it. He clicks the tray back into place, and then moves over to the kitchen. Nothing amiss here and his scent is weaker because of the various other scents of food. Chase checks the fridge, which is nearly empty, only a few water bottles proof that it was even used. That isn't all that strange, being that the entire house would start to reek if any food was left in their for too long. All kitchen utensils are present, if in slight disarray. Before he can continue investigating, Theia calls out to him, and he moves back to the bedroom, not sure what to expect.
Theia begins to explore the apartment, trying to look for any sign of what Seraph might have taken. She notices that his wallet isn't in his usual place, but that is no surprise to her, as money is an essential. Theia decides that one of the best places to start looking is his bedroom; to see what kind of clothes he would bring, if any, that way they could guess the weather he was preparing for. She pushes the door open slowly, and sees that nothing seems out of place, except for the closet door left ajar. Perfect, that must mean he took some clothes! Or it could be his weapons too... I know he keeps some stashed away in there. She moves towards the door and pulls it, only to be shocked by the sight before her. On the back wall of his walk in closet is a large bulletin board filled with newspaper clippings, pictures, strings connecting handwritten notes and the latter. Taken aback, she calls out to her partner, "Uhhh Chase! You may want to come see this!"
Chase steps in looking around, not finding Theia in the immediate vicinity. He sees the closet door is slightly ajar, and he walks over to her. His gaze is drawn to the back wall, if nothing but for the fact that Theia is looking at it too. Not waiting for an invitation to check it out, he begins on the right side of the wall, looking at the pictures and matching captions to find out just what Seraph was planning. "Ever seen this before?" he asks, referencing the entire board rather than just what he was looking at. "This looks like something straight from those crime shows about stalkers, just without all the pictures of girls he plans on killing." He doesn't touch the board in case it triggers something, just carefully looking it over.
Theia still stares in disbelief at the sight before her. "No...I've never seen this before in my life...But look," she says as she points over various newspaper clips. Photos of young mages, and excerpts of their parents testimonies. "These all have a similar theme of children being kidnapped or gone missing. And theses posts about assassinations and murders have all gone unsolved but mention children again...none of the locations seem to correlate though. What do you think Seraph was trying to find?"
Chase hums in thought, carefully reviewing the information. "It wouldn't be a stretch to say he wanted to help the kids. As far as correlating the locations, it's safe to assume that his car could take him a number of miles if they weren't in the same location. This really doesn't limit where we have to search," Chase says, letting out a troubled sigh. "I can't think of anything he'd find or get from saving these children, except maybe a reward and some brownie points, which he could easily get here. Why would he go through all the trouble to help them? Do you think it has something to do with past experiences? There doesn't appear to be much information on who or what the children were taken by, but maybe you could recognize something that Seraph has told you about?"
Sitting down on the floor she stares up at the board and tries to think back to anything Seraph might have mentioned. "Hmm... nothing I can recall. He always talked about how it was hard growing up but he never really divulged what happened... But look here." She says in a serious tone, pointing to a picture in an article clipping of a women standing next to two children. "Doesn't that women kind of look like Seraph? The way her eyes are shaped and the jawline..? It looks like it is the most recent clipping too, not as faded or wrinkled as the others. Maybe this can give us a starting point? Can you see what it has to say Chase?"
Chase moves over to the picture she's pointing at, tilting his head slightly as if that will allow him to see the similarities between the woman and Seraph. "I guess," he says, and then he moves to the caption, carefully looking it over. "The location is Serra do Mar, but no names are given for the people in the photo," Chase says, reading over the caption once more to make sure he didn't miss anything. "That still gives us a ton of area to cover. It's pretty far off the coast, but with more than twenty separate islands, all only accessible by boat, we've got our work cut out for us. No sense in dawdling around here anymore," he says, moving out of the walk-in closet and towards the entrance. "Did you find, or rather not find, anything at his house that usually is? Maybe we can get a sense of how long he planned on being there, or what he expected to find there, based on that."
Standing up with a slight bounce, Theia follows Chase's footsteps and takes one last look around the room. "No, not that I could see. All I noticed was his wallet missing, the keys to his car, and a few weapons from the closet." Putting her hair up in a ponytail she walks briskly to the window where she previously cut a hole open. "Well I don't think there is anything left of us to do here. It will probably take us a week or so to get to the coast since we both know a train isn't our best friend; so we better start as soon as possible. I am going to speed over to my apartment and grab a few things before we go, want to meet at the entrance of the guild in an hour?" She says as she places one foot on the edge of the window, preparing to leap out.
Chase gives her a short nod, leaving through the door. Just the same as he had entered, he traveled down the stairs, exiting the building and heading over to his own apartment. Speed was necessary, so he only brought his wallet, not wanting to be weighed down. He searches around his apartment for no other reason than to kill time, sorting through various things. He changes his clothes, opting for a close fitted shirt with a black hoodie over top and dark jeans. He slips the cross-shaped pendant beneath his outer garment, and then leaves his apartment, locking up, not bothering to take the key with him. Picking the lock wasn't difficult, and worrying about keeping a piece of metal other than his necklace was useless. He heads over to the guild, taking a somewhat fast pace despite having quite a bit of time remaining between their designated meetup.
Meanwhile, over at Theia's apartment she quickly changes into much more durable clothing, preparing for their journey. She puts on a pair of dark wash jeans, a white tank top, and a black and gold loose fitting shirt over it. She grabs her wallet, her back holster that is fitted to hold her manji sai in an inverted position as well as her hanbo, and a pair of communication lacrima for both her and Chase to use. She leaves a note for her exceed, Albina, that she will be gone for awhile and to make sure to watch over their apartment. She then races out the door, with twenty minutes to spare.
Coming up upon the guild, Theia sees that Chase was already waiting for her. "I see we both packed rather light; well good, it means we can travel faster. Here, take this." She says and tosses Chase the communication lacrima she picked up earlier. "That way we can contact each other if we happened to get separated. I don't want to have to go hunting for two people, instead of just one. Draconic Vanguard has to stay together! After all, we are Dragon Gunfire's strongest team!" Her bubbly tone reflective of the energy she has to begin their search for the last member of their team.
Chase snatches the lacrima from the air, studying it over in his palm. "Thanks," he mutters, pulling his necklace from beneath his hoodie. He opens it, placing the lacrima inside, then snapping it shut again. He puts it back in place, then turns to face his guild, his home. "Let's get this show on the road. The faster we find the loudmouth, the faster we can prove that we're the world's strongest team."