dividedby: (I remember now...)
Zero ([personal profile] dividedby) wrote in [community profile] damned_institute2012-06-12 12:04 pm

Day 64: Patient Library (Fourth Shift)

... ... ... ...

It was shock, like failing to recognize some heavy injury following a traumatic accident. Zero's mind was reeling, still trying to accept the fact that Ciel - or else, someone who looked and sounded exactly like her - had been standing right before him, calling him by a different name. She'd spoken untruths, supporting the Institute's idea that he was mad, but her face, her voice, her mannerisms...! It had undeniably been Ciel!

No, his mind couldn't accept that. Not yet. The so-called superior thinking power of the human brain couldn't do anything to help him.

And so the once-Reploid slowly walked out of the visitation room as if in a trance, following behind his forever cheerful nurse. She, of course, thought that there was nothing wrong and began chattering to herself about how healthy that visit must have been for him.


On any other day, he would have let out some sort of displeased grunt or, better yet, some rude remark about just how 'healthy' such a visit had been for him, but any sort of response became impossible when his brain was too busy just trying to process simple facts. So he simply stared past the nurse instead, only vaguely aware that she even existed. (Not that she seemed to notice. In fact, she probably took his lack of rudeness as a good sign. Wouldn't be surprising.)

Thankfully, it was only a very short walk back to the Sun Room and, therefore, only a short amount of time spent with that woman. Zero abandoned her and then slipped into the library in order to find some peace and quiet. He could sit in a chair somewhere and try to think about what just happened...

...He ended up standing in front of a random bookshelf mindlessly staring at the rows of paper-made novels in front of him rather than sitting, but oh well. His mind was in the same place either way.

[Long Hair Brigadiers UNITE!]
skeletonenigma: (fightfire)

[personal profile] skeletonenigma 2012-06-13 12:23 am (UTC)(link)
When the intercom announced a shift change and Yomi took the opportunity to leave the library, Skulduggery asked the nurse who seemed to have attached herself to him if he was allowed to stay here and quietly read. When she nodded her consent and left him to it, he started scanning the bookshelf nearest to him, turning the day's events over in his mind.

The visits Landel had mentioned during the announcement were likely the same ones Badd talked about, and Skulduggery wasn't particularly worried about them. He hadn't met many people here yet, and none of them would have been 'cured,' discharged, and subsequently brainwashed in the space of half a day. The letters posed a bit more of a threat, but Skulduggery would tackle that problem if and when it arose. In the meantime, Yomi had been more helpful than she perhaps realized, and Skulduggery was anxiously awaiting nightfall. Some movement and danger might help to get rid of this bloody headache, even if his body didn't exactly cooperate with the whole 'movement' thing at first.

Why were all the books in this library fiction? Was that normal for a mental hospital, or was that another subtle way of making sure they didn't discover where they really were? Skulduggery pulled out a book at random, saw that it was War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, and almost immediately put it back. In a choice between a religious musical out in the Sun Room and reading about aliens, Skulduggery would very happily choose to leave them both alone and maybe find someone annoying to hit. He was already beginning to miss hitting people.

overlimit: (You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.)

[personal profile] overlimit 2012-06-13 06:31 am (UTC)(link)
All right, so the movie wasn't terrible. Some parts certainly were, but as a whole, it was a tolerable way to waste time. But then the movie ended, and it was announced that it was going to play again for the next shift. Rita definitely didn't like it enough to immediately watch it a second time, and so she forced herself up to her feet and made her way to the library.

While the books in the institute had failed to provide any useful information thus far, Rita supposed she might as well try some different ones. She didn't have anything better to do, in her condition. The mage immediately went for the meager-at-best occult section, then looked over the titles for anything that seemed worthwhile.

Unfortunately, without a background in Earth's magic, it was hard to guess at the contents just from looking at the titles. Rita supposed she'd just have to bring a few to a table and flip through them. A selection of texts by someone named 'Crowley' caught her eye, but as she reached up to pull some down, a sudden sharp pain in her chest caused her to drop her arm with a hiss.

Great. One arm in a sling, and the other couldn't stretch that far without aggravating her chest injuries. With an annoyed look, Rita glanced around, then zeroed in on a taller man perusing a nearby shelf. "Hey, you. Tall guy."

She pointed to the books she'd just tried to reach, up on a shelf several inches above her head. "Think you can pull some of these down for me?"
skeletonenigma: (darkfirewind)

[personal profile] skeletonenigma 2012-06-13 11:03 am (UTC)(link)
Just as a thick, familiar nonfiction book caught Skulduggery's eye, he was interrupted from his perusal by a sharp expelling of breath - possibly in pain - and he glanced around. The girl trying to reach the books across from him looked about the same age as Sora, albeit a good few inches shorter, with one arm in a sling and holding her body in such a way that suggested further hidden injuries. The presence of so many young people in the Institute was beginning to bother Skulduggery, actually. There weren't many teenagers he'd met who deserved to be in a place like this. Even Fletcher, annoying as he was, hadn't done anything downright evil.

His head tilted to one side as the girl spoke to him. 'Tall guy' wasn't the most auspicious nickname, but Skulduggery wasn't going to complain. It was better than abomination. "Of course," he answered with a smile in his voice, walking over. "Bad night?"
overlimit: (What about it?)

[personal profile] overlimit 2012-06-13 02:38 pm (UTC)(link)
He was certainly quick to cooperate. Good.

At his question, Rita rolled her eyes. "What gave you that idea?" she asked dryly. She couldn't let such a redundant question go without a little sarcasm. A beat, and then she gave a slightly better answer. "It's been a couple of bad nights."

Since he was going to get the books for her, Rita stepped back to give him space, pointing to the row she'd been eyeing. "Just grab a handful of those and put them on the table. I'll sort through them in a minute." She hoped this wasn't going to be as fruitless as her last attempt to use the library for research, though on the other hand, Rita was getting used to disappointments.
skeletonenigma: (Default)

[personal profile] skeletonenigma 2012-06-13 07:10 pm (UTC)(link)
"Really? What happened?" If Skulduggery was offended by the sarcasm, it didn't show. The way the girl was gingerly moving reminded him of Yomi the night before, which meant she might have undergone the same miracle treatment. And if that was the case, this girl might be a bit more willing to talk about what happened than Yomi had been.

The books she was indicating looked like a series on the occult. Technically, some of them might have been nonfiction - histories of witchcraft and such - but to Skulduggery, they read like comedies. It was all highly amusing, like watching a blind person try to describe color; it just wasn't possible without having experienced it for yourself. Of course, who was he to judge what the girl wanted to read?

Skulduggery grabbed four or five thick books off the shelf and placed them carefully on the nearby table. The name 'Aleister Crowley' on one of them caught his attention, and he made a noise halfway between a laugh and a grunt. "I hope you aren't treating this as fact," he said, an edge of amusement to his tone that would have been accompanied by a friendly smile on the face of someone who didn't have to concentrate on their facial expressions. He paused. "Then again, I don't really see this as light reading material. What are you interested in?"
overlimit: (Are you done wasting time yet?)

[personal profile] overlimit 2012-06-13 10:09 pm (UTC)(link)
This was the first time someone had asked her outright. Rita didn't want to have to come out and say she'd lost to that little twerp. How did that even happen, anyway? She'd been so sure that her magic could take down any brute, but he just wouldn't stay down.

In the end, she settled for a quick, vague summary. "I got in a fight, got knocked out, and woke up the next day in a box with half a dozen bone fractures." A bad night indeed.

More importantly, the man seemed to react to the books she'd selected. Rita's eyes narrowed at him. "I study magic. I was hoping to learn about the magic of this world, but so far, everything I've found just reads like a guide to ritualized wishful thinking." She paused, studying the man's face for any reactions that might hint at his knowledge of the subject. "Are you familiar with this kind of stuff?"
skeletonenigma: (writtenname)

[personal profile] skeletonenigma 2012-06-13 11:10 pm (UTC)(link)
Skulduggery had to think about that one. His first instinct, when talking to someone who might not be a sorcerer, was to deny that magic even existed. It was an instinct honed from centuries of, quite literally, lying through his teeth. The former skeleton's next instinct, especially when he factored in the current situation, was simply to say yes. But with everyone coming from different realities, each with their own rules and presumably their own forms of magic, Skulduggery had no idea what the girl was looking for, and it took him a few moments to form an answer.

"With this stuff, no." He gestured towards Crowley's books on the table. "I know the theory, but the man was basically insane. No idea what he was talking about. If you're referring to magic in general, though, then... yes. I was a sorcerer, before I came here." Technically, he still was, but Skulduggery's pride wouldn't allow him to call a flame in the palm of his hand for thirty seconds sorcery. At least, not proper sorcery.

"Wherever we're supposed to be," he continued slowly, "it's definitely similar to where I come from. But since where I come from magic was, for the most part, kept secret, I have no idea how much of it still applies." He cocked his head. "What do you mean, you woke up in a box?"
overlimit: (pic#1569030)

[personal profile] overlimit 2012-06-14 08:38 am (UTC)(link)
So these were the writings of a crazy guy. Great. That was about the level of quality Rita knew she should have expected from the institute. She looked to the books and sighed, wondering if they were even worth skimming anymore.

In the meantime, while the stranger hadn't offered any visual cues regarding his involvement in the field, he was refreshingly upfront about it when he spoke. Rita was about to press on that, when he asked for more details about last night's ordeal. "A morgue," she clarified, though her tone was hasty and dismissive. "Someone must have mistaken me for dead."

More importantly, she wanted to know about this man's sorcery. It was bound to be more informative than anything in that lousy library. "So you are... were, a sorcerer." The word 'were' was spoken as if it were a question within itself. "What sort of magic did you practice? And why keep it secret?"
skeletonenigma: (pencilskul)

[personal profile] skeletonenigma 2012-06-14 02:12 pm (UTC)(link)
While the word 'morgue' caught Skulduggery by surprise, he couldn't say the same for how quickly she changed the subject. Whether that was because of trauma, or simply because she was used to far stranger things happening in this place, he didn't know. But after studying the young girl for a moment, Skulduggery decided not to press for more details just yet.

"I'm an Elemental," he explained as he went back to scanning the same bookshelf from before the girl had asked for help. "I can manipulate the four elements. I was quite good at it, before this place. But we kept magic a secret because mortals-" He stopped mid-sentence. Maybe that wasn't the best word to use anymore. "Ordinary people," he corrected, "people without magic, have traditionally reacted badly when they find out it exists."

The book that had caught his eye earlier was the Oxford Book of English Verse. Skulduggery looked at it for a moment, puzzled - the only nonfiction book on the shelf? - and tried to pull it out. The thick tome slid out halfway and then stuck.

Part of Skulduggery was on the lookout for a sneaky trapdoor even as he turned back to her, but for better or for worse, nothing happened. "Why the interest? Is there magic where you come from?"
overlimit: (Even an idiot can understand this.)

[personal profile] overlimit 2012-06-14 02:38 pm (UTC)(link)
Rita raised an eyebrow at the word mortals. It wasn't as if magic-users and non-mages had any major physiological differences between them. While there were some ways magic could be used to protect or lengthen one's life, none of it even approached immortality. In any case, it appeared the sort of magic this man practiced was only available to certain people.

"The four elements... by that, do you mean the primary elements of magic - earth, air, water and fire?" Rita asked. It would have been an obvious assumption back on Terca Lumireis, but here, with so many people from so many different worlds, nothing could be safely assumed.

The man began to ask Rita some questions in return, and she supposed it was only fair that she answered them. "Yes. I'm a mage myself. There's no point in studying magic if you don't use it." Well, that could be debated, but frankly it would be boring as hell to dedicate her life to a field she couldn't practice or apply to anything. "Where I'm from, the only difference between mages and non-mages is knowledge. Anyone could use magic if they bothered studying it."

Rita had been watching the man's movements as she talked, however, and she noticed him poking around at some other books. "Find anything?" she asked, idly curious.
skeletonenigma: (writtenname)

[personal profile] skeletonenigma 2012-06-14 03:15 pm (UTC)(link)
The potential sneaky trapdoor continued to deny its existence, and Skulduggery began to wonder what the sticking book meant. It was one of the classic ways to hide a secret passage. Skulduggery himself had managed to find quite a few secrets by poking around in libraries like this. If everything changed to be more dangerous at night, as practically everyone Skulduggery had spoken to confirmed, then... maybe whatever the book triggered only worked at night.

Pushing the thought to the back of his mind for now, Skulduggery returned his attention to the girl's questions. "Yes," he answered her first one. "Some are more useful than others, however." An image of Ghastly as a statue swam briefly back to mind. He ignored it.

It turned out that she was a mage as well, but in a completely different sense than Skulduggery was familiar with. "I see," he responded, intrigued. "My sorcery is a little different, I'm afraid. Relatively few people can actually use magic, but those that can become very different from non-mages." He used her word for now, with only a slight hint of hesitation. "Such as a much longer life span. I'm over four hundred years old, for example, and that's not even the oldest I've met. If it weren't for magic, we wouldn't be able to fit all the candles on the cake."

He was joking, of course. Skulduggery didn't have birthdays anymore. They tended to lose all meaning after you had died.

He was about to ask her another question when she interrupted with one of her own. He glanced back at the Oxford Book of English Verse. "Perhaps. Are you familiar with the cliche of the book that triggers a rotating bookcase?"
overlimit: (No one wants your manly musk.)

[personal profile] overlimit 2012-06-15 06:25 am (UTC)(link)
“Four…” Rita began to repeat the words, incredulous, but she quickly caught that her voice was too loud, and she finished the outburst in a sharp whisper. “…hundred!?

She knew she had to take such an extraordinary claim with a grain of salt. Magic could be used to heal injuries and cure ailments that would have otherwise led to death, but it couldn’t do anything about simple aging. She’d heard of mages who’d tried, of course, but most only succeeded in wasting the remaining years of their lives – or shortening them, even.

Rita definitely wanted to press on the subject of his magic, and see if he could explain how his life had been extended so long, but then he answered her other question, and, being caught slightly off guard, she decided to leave the grilling until after this was examined. It would give her time to decide which questions needed to be prioritized, anyway.

“A rotating bookcase?” There was doubt written on Rita’s face, but she moved in closer to see what he was referring to. “What, you think this could be some kind of hidden switch?”
skeletonenigma: (Default)

[personal profile] skeletonenigma 2012-06-15 12:27 pm (UTC)(link)
She'd reacted almost the exact same way Valkyrie had, right down to the incredulous expression on her face. "Yes," he answered simply. "Four hundred." He'd spent most of that time dead, of course, but if the fellow mage was having enough problems with his age, it was probably best to let her ask her questions in her own time.

Skulduggery tried pulling the book out again, and again it stuck before it came all the way out, stubbornly fixed in place no matter which way he tried to drag it. "See how it looks like it's part of the bookcase?" he explained, pushing it back into its slot. "It might not make the bookcase rotate, but it has all the makings of some kind of secret passage. I'll admit, I'm still fairly new, so I don't know if that sort of thing happens here. But, short girl, if it does, I'm almost sure it would only work at night. It's worth a look, don't you think?"

It probably wouldn't amount to anything - Skulduggery's luck had never been very kind to him, after all - and if that was the case, he could always go and examine that morgue she mentioned. It might help him understand how he'd been brought back to life.
overlimit: (Just thought you should know.)

[personal profile] overlimit 2012-06-15 01:56 pm (UTC)(link)
The man tugged at the book to demonstrate, and Rita had to admit that it looked like he could be on to something. "... I see. It does look pretty suspicious. It might be worth coming back here later to find out for sure." With Rita's previous goals derailed for the time being, she supposed she could even come examine it herself.

"And watch what you call me. I have a name, you know." The hypocrisy in being offended by that went apparently unnoticed by her. Although, she wasn't likely to care even if it was pointed out. "It's Rita. Rita Mordio."
skeletonenigma: (darkfirewind)

[personal profile] skeletonenigma 2012-06-15 02:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Skulduggery glanced at her, a little surprised. He hadn't been paying close attention to his own words, busy planning out the next few hours instead. He'd naturally assumed that his explanation was as brilliant as his explanations always were. "Ah, yes." He paused, and cocked his head. "A response to your earlier nickname, I believe. It's nice to meet you, Rita. I'm Skulduggery Pleasant."

He pointed to the ignored pile of books on the table. "Can I assume you won't be needing the ramblings of a crazy man anymore? I don't mind putting them back for you." After a moment, he added, "because you are very short." His face remained unchanged, but the amusement in his tone was obvious - Skulduggery was really only teasing her now.
overlimit: (Stop talking. Forever.)

[personal profile] overlimit 2012-06-18 12:37 am (UTC)(link)
Skulduggery. Apparently, that was a name.

Rita was about to agree to his offer, but then the guy had to throw in a comment like that. How the heck did a guy live to be 400 without learning how to watch his mouth? Anyone who talked to Rita like that generally got a fist or a fireball to the face, but sadly, she lacked the means to deliver either at the moment.

So she settled for stomping on his foot. "Yes, please do," she implored through gritted teeth, then stepped off, hopefully before any nurses would notice.
skeletonenigma: (Default)

[personal profile] skeletonenigma 2012-06-18 02:00 am (UTC)(link)
Of all the reactions Skulduggery might have been expecting, physical violence was somewhere at the bottom of the list. Hadn't Sora talked about the threat of sedation like it was common knowledge? And it hurt, too. The foot Rita had stomped on wasn't nothing but bone anymore, and even through the fuzzy layer of slipper, the stomp had been enough to send small pinpricks of fire up his leg.

Skulduggery managed to bite back any sounds of pain, lest they draw the attention of someone who could administer a sedative, but his face twisted more than it had all day. Perhaps that was the reason a genuine smile broke through his features less than a second later. "Sore subject?" he asked as he walked gingerly over to the table. "I'll try not to bring it up again." No promises, of course.

He stopped just before picking the books up, and then turned back to her, his face as impassive as before. "If I were to come and examine that potential secret passageway tonight, would you want to come? You seem like you know your way around, and I'd like a look at that morgue later."
overlimit: (Go tell someone who cares.)

[personal profile] overlimit 2012-06-18 07:43 am (UTC)(link)
A sore spot? Not necessarily. "I just don't have patience for people who say stupid things." It was an understatement when it came to describing how short Rita's temper was, but Skulduggery could consider himself warned.

To her surprise, however, the man's next move was to invite Rita to join him that night. The mage furrowed her brow, confused both by the sudden offer and by his interest in the morgue of all places. What was that about? ... Well, maybe she'd ask later.

"... Fine by me," she decided after taking a few moments to think. "I was going to go myself, so it's probably better to work together than to get in each other's way." And in her condition, things like competition or obstacles were best kept to a minimum. "There's just one thing I have to take care of first. It shouldn't take long. I'll meet you when I'm done."
skeletonenigma: (Default)

[personal profile] skeletonenigma 2012-06-18 01:15 pm (UTC)(link)
A small part of Skulduggery couldn't help noticing the similarities between Rita Mordio and Valkyrie Cain. Both young teenage girls studying magic, both completely unafraid to run into danger, both impatient, intelligent, sharp-tongued, and fun to tease. And one of Rita's arms was in a sling. That same small part of Skulduggery briefly wondered if there was some connection, or some hidden meaning behind his impulsive offer.

Skulduggery usually ignored that small part of his mind. This was about not knowing what to expect, safety in numbers, and a fellow mage. That was all. "Excellent," he replied brightly. "In that case, I'll see you tonight."
overlimit: (Here's the deal.)

[personal profile] overlimit 2012-06-19 02:14 pm (UTC)(link)
Rita hadn't expected to form a partnership like this, but she supposed she'd take it. It was convenient for her, anyway.

"Meet me at the doors to the Sun Room. That room's usually guarded, but the way there should be safe." It was probably the most time-efficient way to go about it, too. Rita just hoped there wouldn't be any big hold-ups on either of their ends.

The intercom sounded then, signaling the end of the shift. Rita glanced up at one of the speakers, and gave a sort of half-shrug. "We can talk more tonight. Don't make me wait." Being the one with a prior appointment, Rita knew she was more likely to be the one delaying them, but she still felt the need to make that clear. With that said, she turned and made her way to the exit.