Episode IX: Ancient Antidotes, Pt.1

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Syreene shuffled back and forth in front of the bedroom floor mirror as she tied her last pigtail. The depth of her accursed anxiety kept her pacing, and also pushed her back a couple minutes tardy for school. But her brother's atypical attitude left her on edge, and she couldn't shake the possibility that Cabil was in some kind of trouble. This burden of carrying his problems on her shoulders was something she self-induced one hundred percent of the time, and nearly every time, she'd go and try to solve said problems furtively. Today was no different.

She slipped on her shoes, grabbed her tote, and stepped into the hallway with a loud announcement, "Oh Cabil, I borrowed some of your zines from underneath your mattress!" The elfin boldly ignited, her eyes squinting and searching clownishly. "Huh, that usually gets the chase going. He must be working." Even so, her soft-footed steps snuck into his bedroom, the smell of keshess wreaking havoc on her nostrils. She pursed her lips, and felt her eyes tingle from the utter chaos of his room. Cabil was usually a neat freak, but the last couple of days had her reconsidering that impression.

Syreene flipped cushions, raided drawers, and dived into his closet without the slightest clue what she was looking for. She made a round through his nightstand, rummaging past books on pyromancy, the martial arts, and poems his mother gave him. But tucked in between the clutter, she pulled out a recent picture of her and Emie, with Emie's side torn off. "Hmm, I don't remember giving this to him." It was strange, she thought, given that Cabil insisted they didn't have any pictures in the apartment. Luckily, she convinced him that her room shall remain an exception. "This must have been from the time we went to the cherry blossom festival. But, why is it so sticky?"

Syreene caught the window's glare at the corner of her eye, a dancing shimmer of light bouncing off parliament. From beneath the pillow, a piece of paper called her towards the bed. Her ears perked up, curiosity unfolding the sheet with haste.

But without warning, a sickening sensation seizing her, sending chills down her tightening hold. Thoughts of her biological father mudded her mind with fear; and the longer she studied it, the further engrossed and twisted her face became. Where has she seen this before? It looked like alchemy, and Darith had to have been one of the more inapt alchemists she had known. But this particular science seemed off. "It's almost as if... I saw this exact scroll befo—" She gasped, a loud thud sourcing from the window dropping her bottom onto the floor.

"Stupid acorns!" she huffed, catching her breath. Syreene took a quick snapshot of the parliament with her handheld, and left Cabil's room after a rushed adjustment of his belongings.

Once in the corridors of her school, she sought out Emie, drowning out the usual taunts and titters. Her head kept down to the portable display cradled in her hand, the image of the snapshot staring back at her. But with little regard to her surroundings, the elfin came to an abrupt stop, colliding against her newly appointed mathematics professor. She juggled her PD from falling before the towering eye-candy, and took in a shallow breath before recomposing herself.

"Oh, I'm sorry Mr. Seiger. I wasn't really paying attention," she said sheepishly.

"Don't trouble yourself." he followed, tucking a hand in his trouser pocket. Syreene looked up to him flushed, noticing his lingering gaze between her open collar. She cleared her throat and veered aside, zipping up her jacket.

"My, you can never be too careful with this weather change, am I right? Better safe than sorry!"

He craned his head up, a simple smile etched on his stanch face. "Syreene, how are you feeling?"

"Huh? Well, I'm feeling fine. Thanks for asking?"

"Oh, pardon me. My question was missing context." He rested a hand on her shoulder, feeding Syreene absolute chills. "Hang in there. Don't bother yourself with the missing; I'm sure those elfin women are safe and sound." He looked down to her PD before reading her with marveled eyes. "Ah, how refreshing. Young minds dabbling in cult conjuring."


He released her, arching a brow at her unexpected hesitation. "The black arts. Are you not studying durja?"

"Ugh-oh, me? No! Of course not!"

"Then you don't know what that's a blueprint of?"

"No, I actually have no idea. I just, found it somewhere, honest," she stumbled. Her heels backed up in a gradual attempt at evading, bumping into Emie in the process.

"Good morning Mr. Seiger! You look nice today, doesn't he look nice?" Emie prodded Syreene at her side, a sneaky smile crawling on her shifty face.

"Y-yes, yes. Very nice!" Syreene began to sweat from the tense situation, bumping her backside into Emie as a distress call. Her dear friend would never fall short when it came to making up an escape route.

"Sorry Seiger, but Sy and I have to compare cup sizes. She still thinks she's actually bustier than me."

"What?!" the elf cried out in shock, tossing Emie a look.

"See you later!" They peeled off in a staged hurry, with Syreene's face beat red in embarrassment.

"I was looking for an exit, not a reason to have him thinking about me in the nude!"

Emie giggled. "So you owe me!"

"You can be so perverted, you know that?"

"Hey, what's that on your PD?"

Syreene pulled out the screen, stopping at the tuck of her classroom entrance. "I found this in my brother's room. Any idea what it is?"

"Yeah, it's a durja recipe, and you can get in a lot of trouble if you're seen with that."

"Seiger found me with it. He didn't seem very troubled about it."

"Well, I'm glad I caught you then. But don't worry, I don't think he'd report you to council."

"That's not what I'm worried about. Why did my brother have this in his room?"

"Hmm, good question. Maybe he's just curious."

"About cult energy?"

"Hey, he's been fighting the horde for years; maybe he wants to know what makes them tick."

"But you just said this was a recipe. So he's making something, or summoning something right?"

"Hmm, I know where we can find some answers if you're willing to play hookie," she suggested, her eyes falling into sneaky slits as she tapped the ball of her chin.

"You mean, skip class?"

"Ha! You say it like you've never done it before. Come on!" Emie grabbed her wrist, rushing eastward towards the library.

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