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Lately it seemed like all was business. Pleasure was a luxury she was allowed in intermittent moments that lasted as little or as long as duty did not call her to action otherwise. The higher up the spectrum she got within the Vandenreich’s ranking, the more responsibility that was levied onto her, and the larger the burden. As the current Sternritter Grandmaster, the girl had all she could ever want as far as pull. The position was given to the most powerful fighter within the organization, the one in charge of leading the Captain and the soldiers of the elite group known as the Sternritter. And despite not being within the Executive branch, the Grandmaster was also the head advisor of the Executive branch and the Elect alike. Sofia had no interest in joining the Executive, ever. It was all paperwork and no action; most of its members weren’t that capable in combat either. Leading the Quincy was also a lot more trouble than was worth. For know, she was content to lead in battle and be the voice of reason. She had earned her stripes becoming the most powerful among her people, and even besting the former Emperor to the Quincy. The future was uncertain, and that was probably for the best.
For the time being, the girl was in Bulgaria. There were rumors that a certain Quincy had resurfaced once more, but it wasn’t true. Some had thought Gift had finally come out of hiding, but as it turned out, it had simply been ruckus made by a group of Demons that had been since dealt with by the girl. She knew the chances of Gift ever coming out of hiding again were slim to none. Despite his power he had chosen permanent and self imposed exile on himself. He wanted to be alone, and to die alone. Sofia didn’t fault him anymore for his decision making. Still, it was a shame that all his talent and battle prowess had gone to waste; especially now that she was finally capable of meeting him, and triumphing over him in combat at last. It was then that she felt it. A rather strendous and overwhelming amount of dense spiritual energy, erupting not too far from her location; perhaps closer to the border with Turkey. Moments later Sofia would receive notification of the very same thing she had felt.
And so my relaxation time comes to an end. Ok. Fine.
The energy was very obviously a Quincy’s given its peculiar feel and nature. Given the sheer massive heft of it, it also seemed to indicate a power surge typical to either a Letzt Stil or a Vollstanding. However there were no current missions or threats that required such a power display in an area like that. The situation needed to be looked into. It had to be assessed whether the Quincy had acted as they had with no other means of escape or whether it had been fueled by their own negligence. Typically other Sternritters or the Sub Captains would deal with such a thing, but Sofia was closer. Besides, if it was someone so easily willing to go into their release state, perhaps it was best she was the one that tended to it. Others could likely be pushed to a release state as well if a confrontation arose, further jeopardizing innocent lives. She’d take care of it.
With her own speed, the distance was traveled in mere moments. When she arrived, there was rubble everywhere, and dust that took quite a bit of time to die down and settle. It seemed to originate from both the surroundings and the structures that stood no more. There were piles of bodies from people of all ages. Had the Quincy done that? Why? Just farther ahead from her, likely no more than 20 feet or so, a tall figure stood within the cloud of dust. Sofia couldn’t tell who it was, but she was certainly the Quincy, and the likely suspect being the only one alive. With a swing of her right hand, a violin bow would appear on her hand. It looked just like the real thing save for the glowing blue and silvery white look to it. The only difference of course was the extended handle for gripping and the fair hand guard. As she walked closer, she;d finally speak up to the figure in a strong and commanding tone.
”What is this? Who are you? State your business, and don’t make any sudden movements.”
They were all dead. She'd killed them. Every last one, innocent and guilty. Man and woman. Prisoner and Patron. Not had escaped the hearbreak of her Vollstandig. There was something soothing about such a release of power, such an intense liberation from her past life and now into her new life. The life of slowly dying in the deserts of whereverthehellshewasstan and then a graceful departure from life itself. It felt right for how she had been so far. Collapsing to her knees, she couldn't even muster the enthusiasm to leave this spontaneous graveyard. Nobody would be able to notice that she wasn't another one of the corpses that belonged here.
However, fate had a different plan in store for her. Instead of dying, she had a visitor. One who drew in the Reishi of the area and formed a bow. Quincy! It had been decades since she last saw one, and Anis couldn't help but sob lightly at the fact that one had come now, of all times. Of course, she had just gone full Volstandig moments earlier, so it was understandable that the woman wasn't very trusting of Anis. For all she knew, Anis was just a mad Quincy who Volstandiged all day and blew up buildings as a matter of course.
"This is....I, don't know. I've been here so long, and I don't know why they made us do all of that" Anis whispered, not trusting herself to speak any louder, lest something in her break. She then looked up, and stared at the woman. Something about her was familiar, and soothing. She could feel her ragged, desiccated heart calm a hair, and so she could speak more. And the world would not scorn her for it.
Once the smoke cleared, the figure of a woman would be clearly visible among all the death, and all the destruction. Tall, fair looking, with locks of blonde hair, and an appearance that indicated she had likely gone through very rough times. Her clothes were torn, she was covered in bruises, cuts, dirt, and dried up blood. Most people couldn’t imagine the horrors that went on around their otherwise normal lives, but Sofia knew. She had been knee deep into the darkness and the stench of the realms, and she had seen things most hopefully never would. Still, she had so many questions. What had happened? Who started the fight? Who was she? From her expression, the way she looked, and the way she talked, it didn’t seem as though she was there out of her own accord. Perhaps kidnapped, or a prisoner of some kind. Were some of their enemies experimenting on Quincy? The woman had certainly never seen her before or so she thought. That was however until she stated her name.
”No, that’s not right. Anis? What the hell.. What the hell happened to you?”
In the shock and confusion of the moment, Sofia had not stated her name or how she knew her. It simply slipped her by with everything else going on at the moment. It was obvious however that she needed to be moved to a different area. So much death and destruction would certainly raise a few flags and call for unneeded attention. After calling in for the general details of the event, the Quincy had decided to bring Anis to one of their nearest safe houses. It was typically empty, and while not as fancy as her homes, it still had more than enough things to nurture the woman back to health. It also had a fair supply of food, and a few sets of clothing that she certainly needed; a bath too.
”I’m a Sternritter with the Vandenreich. We’ll take care of you. Please come with me.”
Extending one of her hands out to the girl, she’d ask for her to follow. She intended no harm. If she had, she would have done so already. By the time she extended her hand, the violin bow would’ve dematerialize into nothing. Sofia knew that at some point, sooner or later she would have to reveal who she was, but it seemed as though she was waiting as much as she could. If the girl asked, and she certainly would, the Quincy would not avoid the question. But her name could bring about emotions that simply would hinder her further beyond her disheveled state. It was also the same reason she had mentioned herself as just a Sternritter as opposed to the Grandmaster among them. If Anis did indeed follow, it would only take five to ten minutes until they reached the desired location. The house was far and away from most others by at least a mile. It had about three rooms with a bath, and an ample living room area.
”Feel free to shower. There are clothes in the room, so pick whichever you desire. I’ll be in the living room waiting with food, and questions.”
Even so long after she vanished, it seemed Anis had made a splash. No surprise really, when your family proclaimed you were the next leader to anyone who would listen - and a few people who wouldn't - and you were not exactly friendly to your peers, there was room for an impact that would last as long as it did. She was glad the woman in front of her was someone related to the Vandenrich, a Sternritter no less. From the casual, and powerful bow that she formed from the Reishi, and her general bearing, there was nothing else she could be. Sternritter, and powerful, or else prideful. Either way.
Each breath Anis let out was deeper, and more exertive than the last. She knew this feeling, it was what precluded the collapse from Blut overload. Maybe her Vollstandig wasn't as good as she expected it to be. She reached forward to take the Quincy's hand, took a step towards her, and as if she had tripped, collapsed onto the ground. Seconds passed, and she did not rise, having totally conked out on the ground in front of the Sternritter. Not exactly the best first impression, but then she wasn't exactly in the best of conditions in the first place.
While Sofia took Anis back to the safehouse to get her to a bed and wait for her to wake up, Anis dreamed of horrors that scared her mind, and made her eventually wake up in a cold sweat. Forcing herself up, and stripping off her clothes to show off more dirt-caked skin and swollen scabs, scars, and disgusting blemishes, she stumbled into the shower. The water ran, and then she collapsed again, a loud thud that sent bottles of shampoo scattering across the bathroom in a loud fashion. Staring up at the celling with half-lidded eyes, she wondered if this was real, or just a crazy hallucination.
Carrying Anis to the safe house had its own difficulties. Despite being able to handle the weight just fine, it was her size that made it all the more difficult. The woman was at the very least a foot taller than Sofia, but alas, it was done. It had been so long since she had last seen the blonde. The Quincy was among a very select few group of kids that were destined for greatness. Anis, Toshiko, Sofia, and a few others. All of them had great potential and the skill to one day surpass the strongest of Sternritters to ever live. However, some of them had died, some had become soft and lazy, and some had simply vanished, leaving no trace of their existence and with uncertainty as to whether they lived or not.
While her old friend went into the shower, Sofia would wait for her on the living room. Typically the Quincy had all food made for her be it at restaurants or at home. It came with the benefits of being wealthy rich. She couldn't remember the last time she had made something herself, though she certainly knew how. Regardless, in the time it would take her friend to get out of the shower, Sofia would have prepared a fritatta with a variety of peppers, ham, and cheese. Although it wasn't the highest level of cuisine, it surely tasted better than whatever she was fed. Even then, she couldn't help but wonder how Anis had gotten all those bruises and all those cuts. Was she still affiliated with the Quincy throughout all that time? She was about to find out. In mere moments the girl was bound to walk out in whatever outfit she had picked for herself. Rather than assault her with questions she'd simply let her eat, and save the rest for when she was done.
"I made something to eat. We can talk once you're done."
No doubt sooner or later she'd have to come out with her name. It was something she dreaded. Was it because Sofia had seemingly turned out so well? It was difficult to say. Despite her own pride, the woman wasn't one to gloat in the face of other's anguish. She had grown wise despite her youth, even when her behavior sometimes challenged the fact.
Anis eventually decided that this was indeed real, and managed to get herself showered, although it was not a very good shower. It was easier to say, she got very wet and then pulled towels over herself to cover the wet from getting on the Quincy's furniture. The water had madeher very dizzy, and she couldn't explain why. All she could explain was the fact that staying upright was difficult, so she made sure to get to the chair set out for her, post-haste. And then, there was food. It was not like the lumpy porridge gruel that was severed at the arena, but rather a delectably smelling...something. Anis drooled as she smelled it, and dug in with her terribly maintained nails. Just grabbing chunks of the food and stuffing it in her mouth. Clearly, where she had been had not taught her table manners.
The wild monster devoured the food, and then licked the bowl clean, before looking up at Sofia and finally realizing there was an audience. Hanging her head with a deep blush, she tried to talk, but just meeped softly. Any impression that Anis was civilized or worth a dam to cultured society had just flown out the window on a pair of bright red wings~
Not that there would be any value if they had known what she had done in the arena. People rarely enjoyed the company of indiscriminate murderers. She didn't know, obviously, or else she would never have taken her from that spot, and probably just arrowed her head to start. With a messy mouth, and food-covered hands, Anis smiled awkwardly. "Sorry. I, was, hungry.." she tried. It was a very bare permise for acting like a shrieking savage, but hopefully the Quincy would let her off this once.
”It’s okay. But I’d like to know, how does a promising young Quincy girl end up in a hell hole of savages?”
The woman had no details yet as to what Anis had been up to all those years or what exactly those that laid dead all around her had done, but she could take a good guess. There was that hunch that she was taken and forced to do something that led to the scene she witnessed. But one’s thoughts were typically simpler and easier to stomach and understand than the cold truth when heard from the horse’s mouth. And it looked like time and combat potential weren’t the only things stripped from the girl such a long time ago. Her table manners were just about non-existent; not that she’d blame her however. She hadn’t seen her in such a long time that whatever she was taught at one point would have likely been forgotten at the face of real and nutritious nourishments.
”Have you reached out for your family? Have you heard from them?”
It had been a long time since Sofia had looked into the Kabal family. She always thought Anis had cracked under pressure, and had simply ran away momentarily. Thinking she’d return sooner or later, the girl just used it as an encouragement to keep working hard to make sure the gap between their powers were more obvious the next time she met. Little did she know her childhood friend was facing her own unique hell in her own ways. And while Sofia’s parents did talk and mention the Kabal family from time to time, the talks stopped a few months following the child’s disappearance. It wasn’t clear whether it was done to avoid fostering similar feelings in the Montero’s daughter, or if it had a completely different route cause. Nonetheless, the Quincy never looked back, and she never researched what became of them. Had they had more kids? Did they further allied with the Vandenreich? Or did they die?
Anis shook her head, wiping tears from her eyes with her dirty hands, and leaving bits of food on her face as a result. "I am not promising. I never was promising. This whole ordeal proved that. I was just a girl with more energy than the usual person. And everyone jumped on the chance to call me the best thing since sliced bread, and that didn't help me. It just made me an asshole. I hurt my friends for no reasons other than because I could. And then when I couldn't handle the pressure from everyone, I left in the night. That, is how I got in this situation. They grabbed me off the street and made escape more terrifying than anything they put me through"
Anis screwed her eyes up tightly and looked away, getting up from the table to head somewhere even she wasn't sure of. Just aimless wandering. "I've got a power I can't control in a body that looks mature, so everyone treats me like an adult despite the fact that I don't know what I am doing. I'm just a girl in a body that did the biological thing. I haven't seen the outside world in nearly twenty years. I haven't learned anything except how to beat people into quivering pulps of flesh. My arms have been broken more times than I can count, and now, they are just constantly painful, but I can barely feel it. Everything has gone numb. And it's terrifying" Anis' eyes were wide, her tears spilling down her face, and her voice edged with hysteria. Clearly, she had not been able to keep herself from totally breaking down while talking to Sofia. "I...I...can't, do this. Anymore. I just, can't keep, in control..."
Was Sofia a monster? No, that wasn't it. She did find comfort in cute and beautiful things, in artsy things, and in combat. She was no monster. She simply understood better than most the odd turns the world took, and had purposely placed herself well ahead of the curve. As such, once Anis had finished eating and began talking, the Quincy would walk to her, either to hear her better or to see her better, even if the choice of undergarments she had chosen to wear didn't present a real effort.
"I don't believe anyone makes us do anything or have us turn into anything. What we do, and the people around us simply enhance what we already are. Nothing made you an asshole as a kid, you were one from the get go. But you don't seem to be one now. It probably got taken from you along with your respect, your decency, and your will. Whether you wanna becoming the whining asshole again or step out in the light is just up to you. All I can really do is lend a hand to pull you out, or kick you in the teeth to make sure you stay down if you so decide to remain pitiful."
There were probably over a dozen different ways Sofia could have gone about her explanation, and just about every single one would have likely shown more tact and care than the means she had employed. But even after all was said and done, regret was not among the feelings she harbored. The Quincy had gone through a lot herself as well. She had been born with the same potential as Anis. The pressure was on from the very start. She needed to be the very best she could in order to please her family, and simply to continue to be able to be awarded the privileged to practice her music. The difference between them was that the prodigy had handled the pressure well and did not run, but that didn't mean her life had been easy; not in the slightest.
"Most people don't have power. The majority that do have power they can't really control. You can either join the bunch or just suck it up, let me help you, and try to make something good out of the gift you still have. Unless you're planning to run out yet again."
They were going to get nowhere by simply pampering Anis and sugar coating the situation. Sofia could help her if she allowed herself to be helped. She was a Quincy, and had a home with the Sternritter and the Vandenreich if she so choose. The blonde certainly had the raw and untamed power to be a good fit among the ranks. She only needed direction. Besides, who else to understand her struggles than Sofia? She had been raised similarly at the very start. Her own ego and lust for power had led her to go down a demonic route and use the former emperor of the Quincy for her own goals. She had long discarded both but not all could claim to have the luck and skill the prodigy possessed.
Anis was falling, down into her pit of despair, and madness. And then, as Sofia spoke to her, like a velvet-wrapped blade, she felt herself stopped. A hand catching her and dragging her up, back to solid ground, where she received a heavy-handed verbal slap. The Quincy woman was surprisingly good at knowing exactly how to deal with Anis. And from her bowcraft earlier, she was pretty skilled at Quincying. Could it really be that after so long she had someone who could finally teach her to take what control was available to her, after so long of negligence?
"You....heh" Anis rubbed her face, trying to get some of the tears cleaned up. Didn't do very well, just spread it about a bit. There was still a great deal of fear in her eyes, of terror from the darkness, from the past, from the fear of failure. And the fear of losing control again. But there was something else as well, some time spark of an emotion she had not felt in a long time. She felt that with enough work, enough effort, and enough drive, she could actually do this. And so her face cracked into a tiny hint of a smile.
"I...am not a great student. I don't know anything. I will probably be slow to grasp a lot, and you will need to teach me from the very start. I know that such a thing, for an experienced woman like you, could be irritating, or exasperating, so If you just want to find someone who will teach me rather than do it yourself, that is fine. You've already done more for me than I could have hoped for" Anis' voice was soft, and quivering, as if at any moment she expected the whole world to explode, or just to wake up back in her cell.