Ihihihi, surely it's a terrible thing for a man to forget his own birthday! Is this going to be the way of things from here on out? That's not very promising!! I have claims to make, after all, and this should be one of them! This isn't exactly the place, I suppose...
Then again, maybe I can have a girl pop out of my cake, too? I wouldn't want to be jealous of a guy like that! I'd even settle for my wife, at this rate! [UWOOO COME BACK TO ME BEATORICHE LET ME SEE YOUR SMILE AGAAAAIN.
He shakes his head, the easy, friendly grin on his face settling into something more serious.]
Those of you around - what can you all tell me about those crystals the Guardian and the Queen have had us collect?
I’ve been thinking, about this gameboard, and our place on it…
[Whenever Battler’s appeared on the network he’s always been at least mostly ridiculous. Right now, his demeanour is serious, pensive. His eyes are not fixed on the screen but elsewhere, his brow knit in thought. The sharp collar of his cape makes his pale hands, laced before the thin line of his mouth, stand out all the starker.]
It seems to be that we’ve been working under the mindset that it’s us against the fae – humans or whatever we are at one side, them at the other.
[He looks, and sounds, almost like a totally different person.]
We’ve been mistaken. It’s not a simple black and white board here, and we’re not standing on two different sides.
It seemed strange to me that, pitted in a game like this, we wouldn’t be under a more constant attack. Sure, we have plenty of difficulty to face – I know the Watch are kept busy. But I’d have expected a more concentrated offensive against us. Then there are the neutral parties to consider – no, it’s not even neutrality. Some of these fae are openly friendly and helpful to us, so how can we brand them all enemies?
If all these fae are bound together the way they appear to be, then we can’t say that our opponent is the fae. Maybe it’s just to lead us into a false sense of security, maybe we’re meant to put our trust in them, but… no. I’ve underestimated and misjudged my foe before, I won’t make that mistake again!
[Lowering his hands, he looks now at the screen.]
The Queen of the fae isn’t just a ruler. She’s a representative – she holds them all together. They’re pieces of her, so she has to be made from them. And that would mean that when she chooses to appear benevolent… It’s not just a lie to her own benefit.
Really, the fae are pretty similar to any group of humans – we can’t make sweeping judgements.
[He shakes his head.]
I’m digressing, I apologise. My point is our purpose here. We’ve been wondering why we were dragged here if only to fight – that’s not what we’re here for.
This war here isn’t between ourselves and the fae. We weren’t supposed to be the pieces of this fragment – we’ve been caught up in the middle of someone else’s fight.
Talking to that Guardian made me realise… The heart that the Queen is searching for, it’s not ours. And it’s not a living, beating thing either. It’s more than that – our hearts are powerful. They’re the source of so much – they’re bound to us, our thoughts, our feelings. The emotions we carry can form any type of magic if we channel it correctly – love, and these things we carry in our hearts… That’s a truer power than anything else.
Even then… Another shake of the head, his gaze darting away as he goes quiet for a few long moments, thinking.] It’s not as simple as seeking that power.
We’ve noticed the connection between the Guardian and the Queen. It’s not so simple as a battle between enemies, and that’s why we’re not pit against the fae. In fact, I’m not sure you could even say that the Guardian is – I’m going to suggest something, then, with all this in mind.
[He looks at the camera directly, his gaze flat and sharp.]
The Guardian is one of the fae. Actually, I retract that statement. I’ll take it further!
The Guardian is the king of the fae.
The Queen’s husband, that is. This battle we’ve been drawn into… it’s a quarrel between the two of them that we’ve been caught in!
[He leans back again, eyes downcast, hands coming up to lace in front of his jaw once more.]
But even if it seems like it… we can’t underestimate conflict, because of that root. The force of love… can’t be undermined.
[With a sigh, he looks once more at the camera, reaching over to pick it up.]
Of course, this doesn’t answer all our questions. It’s really only the start of a case. So, I’d appreciate other input too.
[He gives a nod, and then the video turns off.]
Alright, so -
[Torn between fury and confusion, Battler waves his copy of the Demeleier Love-love List in the faces of the viewer via the camera. You won't be able to make out the words, but clearly this is the subject of his ire.]
- who the hell is this Adachi guy? Unless you've got tits, I'm not interested. Consider me off the market!
[He shakes his head, waves the bit of paper again to hammer home his point, then consults the list once more.]
Although I guess the pay-offs might be worth it, right? Ihihi - and Ange! It doesn't surprise me to see you named here so many times! Ahhh, I've been so disillusioned about my little sister's precious innocence, it's all useless!
[He reads further.]
-- and, hey!! What the hell is a little girl like Maria doing on a list like this? Tavros, she's too young for you! You can call back in ten years and we'll see about organizing a playdate then!
But I was serious about the tits thing!!
[The footsteps are hurried but heavy and lack any real rhythm - someone is stomping through undergrowth, tripping up every few steps on a hidden rock or a stretching tree root. Every single time there's a disruption, the listener might hear a hissed swear word, an angry little grunt, or a pathetic little yelp of surprise.
Then there's a giggle. The giggle sounds far closer to the device - and it seems to come from more than one voice.
The camera comes on.
A figure in red and white is crashing through the forest, followed by a saddled white horse plodding along obediently. Strangely, the camera is following the figure's progress as he tremples over heather and bracken.
And it's giggling.
If one looks closely, they might see fine green fingers holding the communicator up.
There's only one man in Demeleier who sports such a vibrant read duckbutt hairstyle. Battler stops and leans back against a tree, a breathless, bitter laugh in his throat. The camera edges closer.]
-eless, it's all useless!
[There's a particularly helpless whine in his voice that adds some level of credence to his words. His breath comes out strangely like a sob. The horse just looks at him, then starts cropping grass, as if this isn't the first time this has happened. Slumping, Battler's hands run back into his hair. His sigh is heavy; tired and distressed.]
- what kind of a witch do you have to be, haa? Come on, Beato! You're going to fall behind like this! [His smile, when he looks up again, striding away from the tree and balling his hands at his sides, is full of a fierce sort of bravado.] Don't you see all the shit happening when you're off being lacksadaisy? It's no good, Beato! It's no good! [And then he lowers his head again, shoulders shaking.] I'm no --
Tch! This wasn't in the rules, you know - I think I should be able to get one game out of the way first, right? This is just unsportsmanly! -- hey, come to think of it, Beato!! What kind of a wife abandons his husband like this?
[But he knows that at least that gripe is ridiculous, and sags once more, defeated. He trudges on, followed by horse and faery entourage, his voice lowering but the rant continuing.]
The day I've had, too - can't find a damn thing until it's all too late, and now I'm fighting off - [possibly with some amusement now] - these rude trees trying to get a hold of me! I'm a taken man now, or so I should be -- ahhh, useless...
[The horse glances back, as if pretending it's not with the snivelling, useless man. It happens to catch sight of the fae following them and, nudging its master's shoulder, tries to get his attention. Battler just pats it half-assedly, then gives it a light and totally ineffective shove.] Get off, horse. You don't even have a name! She couldn't even name you before she left - typical, typical! All this responsibility and she leaves it on me - I'm sorry. [He stops walking. His shoulders quiver, and this time when his head falls forward into his hands, there's a soft, stifled sob in his voice.] I'm sorry, I'm sorry - [ - Ange, Maria, Jessica --
but it seems that the Battler Show now has a very special guest! And it's a particularly hairy man who appears to have goat legs, peering out from behind a tree. Naturally, Battler fails to notice.
The creature steps closer to him, looking oddly timid. Battler continues to cry.
It places a hand on his shoulder. Battler mutters something about dumb horses and tries to shrug it off, still not looking up.
It's not until the urisk looks over to the camera, shakes its head, and says 'You little ones oughtn't be stealing' that battler realises he has hairy company.
The recording switches off.]
Ihihihihi - I'm on a horse!
[GOOD MORNING DEMELEIER.
It's that horse from yesterday! But this time, Battler is sitting astride the beast. In fact, he manages to look almost regal up there, with his cloak draping around him. Like a real fairytale sorcerer, perhaps!
And then he grins at the camera, and the effect is largely shattered.]
Eh, so, the curse wears off, huh? Nothing shows a guy who he can trust like being transformed into something innocent and cute, I tell you - I'm not going to take kindly to it if you assholes try jumping on my back again, do you hear me? Not even for apples!
[There is something triumphant in that smile. As if he's won a contest.]
Ahhhhhhhh, Bea~to? You see now, don't you? Happy White Day, ihihi! This makes check, right, riiiight?
[Good morning Demeleier! On the network today we have - well, it seems that a horse has gotten hold of Battler's communicator. It's difficult to tell at first - all the camera catches is sky as the device is scuffed along the ground by a hoof - and then then the beast comes into view, peering down at it from above.
As if it realizes it's being recorded, it whinnies, rears up, and narrowly avoids stomping on the device on its way back down. With a neigh, it leans down for a closer look. It's a very pretty specimen, the coat white, the mane a rare shade of red. A white ribbon has been tied in a bow around its forelock. Dark blue eyes look at the camera with something close to useless despair.
There's another desperate little whinny and he stomps a hoof, leaning down to peer at the feed again. Before he starts to mouth at the device, as if that'll help matters. D'awwwwww, pony kisses!
Happy White Day, Beato! Your husband is saddled and bridled right outside.
[Battler is all smiles, a laugh hovering on the curve of his mouth. But it's a tremulous one, ripe, perhaps, with uncertainty.]
Heh, so - one of you guys got my little sister's hat, right? [It's said with a wiggle of his eyebrows, conspiratorial and suggestive.] Ahhh, that's no good, I'm going to need to start keeping an eye on things. All this time without someone looking after her, who knows what's been going on - ihihihi...
[He looks like he'd have said more, but ends up giving a little shake of his head, smile disappearing for a moment before back with full force.]
It's time for introductions, isn't it? It's creepy, just hanging around like this and not knowing anybody - you can call me Battler. Eheheh - it's good to meet you all, I'm sure.
[And then he pauses, again looking like he's wondering whether or not to say more.
He gives a blatantly nervous laugh.]
Heyyy, Beato? What are you doing, hiding like this, it's unseemly for a wife!
[But there's something about his sheepishness that makes it pretty clear: he knows she's gone. One way or another, he already knows.]
You're not seriously going to keep me in the lurch like this, are you? Ahhhhh, useless - [are his eyes a little too shiny?] - it's all useless!
[People ought to start checking their pockets when they wake up here. The communicator's broadcast seems to suggest that the device is being left behind as the new arrival strides down the temple steps to take a look around his new surroundings. Conveniently, it gives a clear view of his back - red hair, white sleeved arms, long black cloak edged in gold.
His hands go to rest on his hips, and then one relocates to his hair, dislodging the rowan wreathe which tumbles to the ground. Caught by the noise, the man spins, gaze falling on the discarded crown at his feet. He shakes his head, bending down to pick it up and examine it.]
-- heh. That's new...
[He keeps a hold of it, but doesn't put it back on. His attention turns once more to his surroundings, and he tuts, sighs, raising his voice.]
Hey, isn't this kind of unruly? Starting us off like this - we're just going to get off on the wrong foot, right?
[The tut in his voice is more pronounced, now, like whoever it is he's addressing should be talking back by now.]
And what's this about? Come on, this isn't the time to be switching things around! Ah, useless...