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 Wanted: Full-Support Priestess

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PostSubject: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 4:41 pm

WANTED: FULL-SUPPORT PRIESTESS

Summary: The life of a typical college student turns upside down when a high priestess from the game accidentally ends up barging into his world because of an experiment gone wrong. An interdimensional story of friendship and realizations.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------


Prologue: Ghost


High Priestess Celestine Edencourt,

This is to inform you with utmost regret that your request for transfer to the Geffenite Frontier has been denied by the Sanctuarian Council due to task prioritization. We know how eager you are to join in our thrusts against the forces of Glastheim but we also considered the fact that you are invaluable to your current post. After much deliberation, we find it best that you stay as Head Matron of the Dovin Orphanage.

Best Regards,
Cardinal Lorin Rimbaugh
High Seer, Sanctuarian Council

The morning rays coming through the small window sill of the wooden cabin spotlighted the dancing dust motes floating between the parchment and its recipient - a young lady in her late teens with flaxen locks that glinted with the sunlight and flushed skin highlighted by ornate crimson wardrobe that flowed down a very voluptuous shape of a goddess.

The high priestess leaned back on the wooden chair behind the fine-grained desk, gripping the parchment ever harder. The third time, she thought. How could they keep Sactuary's youngest ever High Priestess in a Payonese Orphanage just because her Grand General Crusader of a father forbids her to see any action more dangerous than changing diapers?

Celeste took a deep breath. A passing thought that need not be highlighted, the priestess said to herself as she watched a child running towards her office from the front window. Celeste smiled, gently folded the letter and slid it under her desk along with the other denied requests.

Another dog day morning at the orphanage.

"Matron Celeste! It's Jasn - the caves - we need your help!" shrieked a kid who looked more like a swamp abomination with his mud-crusted face from all the dayís playing.

By the way the young boy said it, Celeste knew something was up. There was tensile truth in the boy's anxiousness. Maybe she was needed there after all. She took no time in darting out of her office as she was led by the boy into the darkness of the forest.

----------------

Her deepest fear was confirmed when the boy stopped smacked dab in front of the Payonese cave and pointed towards it with a shaky finger. "We were playing in the caves when... when..."

The priestess needed not even hear it. The Payonese cave was unholy as it was structurally unstable. Perhaps its notoriety was the cause of many a child or childs at heart getting lured into the caves and meeting bad circumstances.

"Stay here," Celeste said as she took out a baroque heirloom arcwand from her side belt.

--------------------

A few meters into the cave and she already heard the lost boy's sobbing. She waved her wand across her face once and watched its opal centerpiece glow with white light. Like a torch, she used it to guide her way into the narrowing caverns.

She found the boy in no time, sobbing helplessly slumped beside a stalagmite.

"There you are, Jasn," Celeste said in a very calm, comforting undertone while reaching down with her left hand,Ē your friends were looking for you at the lunch table."

The boy sniffled and looked up to the sunny expression of Celeste as highlighted by the glow of her staff. He grew a weak smile, nodding once, stifled by remnants of sobbing.

Then, a cold gust of air from behind the priestess gave her a split second chance to recognize thread. With one fell sweep of her arc wand, she demonstrated to whoever or whatever was behind her why she was given the title of High Priestess five years earlier than all her peers.

The ghoul never saw it coming. The radiant light of holiness pierced through the decaying flesh and turned bone to ash on contact. Jasn began to cry again as Celeste picked him up with one hand.

"We need to get out of this place."

The High Priestess turned to the exit but found it crawling with more zombies that exhumed themselves from the soft soil of the cavern. There was something about that scene that screamed at Celeste that it was not her day.

Finding herself out of options, she gave Jasn a blue gemstone and put him down to the ground. Celeste clasped her hands with her wand and uttered a gentle prayer. White light filled the cavern for a brief second, after which, she found herself alone among the ghouls.

"Now that I don't have anybody to worry about, shall we dance?" she said with an entertained expression.

Then happened something even she couldn't explain with all the knowledge of the Pronteran ministry. The arcwand slipped from the fingers that were gripping it and fell to the soft soil. Shocked and in disbelief, the High Priestess looked at her hands - translucent. She tried picking up the wand again but in vain. It was like she was turning into a ghost.

And perhaps, in the strangest kind of way, she already was.

Five seconds later, High Priestess Celestine Edencourt, Head Matron of the Payonese Orphanage, vanished from the world of Midgard.

------------------------------------------



Chapter 1: Disconnected

The familiar, melodious ring of the phone sounded a lot like the coming of Ragnarok for the wakened Christian Mendez. Cold wind coming in from the window made it twice as hard to get up and pickup the handset from his bed at three in the morning. He was wishing the call away from his half-sleep.

But the ringing wouldn't go away.

"Who the hell calls up people at three in the morning?" he grumbled to himself in a familiar grump he used to confront almost everything else. He gave his pillow a frustrated squeeze and finally rose from the bed.

Morning clothes marked the man�s well-build frame as he bent down put on his box-type glasses and combed his ebon shoulder-length hair with his fingers once.

"This better be good," he said.

Christian picked up the phone on top of his dresser. After a few seconds, let it slip from his hands, making it swing towards the closet cabinet and hit its side with a bang.

In his face was a reaction of disbelief, as though something had happened that shouldn't have, or something that should have happened didn't.

He knew which one it was.

Christian listlessly glided from the side of his bed to the window of his seventeenth floor condominium unit overlooking the rain-soaked university grounds - face distraught and breathing heavily.

"Lord, have mercy on us all."

------------

The Science and Technology Research Center was the pride of the University when it came to advanced academic research. From within its halls, only the best minds and the most modern equipment coming from university, government, and philanthropic funding � constantly producing research thrusts that could rival those of much more modern facilities. Agriculture, civil works, bacteriology, and alternative medicine - the studies were as varied as the people who worked there.

Most of the research findings found themselves posted in various journals that were sent out to academic archives all over the world for the betterment of mankind.

Well most of it, anyway.

Of the many projects housed in that complex, there was one hardly notable project located in a nondescript room in basement of the facility labeled as "maintenance room". It belonged the very few research projects will never get published.

And that night, that project was about to hit climax.

------------------

Christian sprang the final four steps that led to the basement of the complex and landed his leathers with a solid thud. He weaved through the steamy piping and damp, cracked flooring to get through the western end of the place. He panted a bit and checked the drab plate sign of unpolished bronze that graced the sidewall of a metal door that resembled a fire exit more than a maintenance room.

Maintenance Room, it says. Heh, Christian chuckled for a second. He dipped his thumb on the last letter of the signed the same way one would when imprinting a thumb mark on some medical record. A motorized whir came from within the wall. In an instant, his finger was bathed in green light.

A pleasant elevatorish ding and an unlocking sound gave him the signal to proceed.

Inside the room was anything but a janitorial maintenance complex. It was what you would normally see in a highly sterilized scientific environment where everything is white. The computers cascaded in a descending stepped terrace setup with glass panes overlooking an observation area for a holding chamber were still on - most of them screen-savered.

Christian briskly walked towards the holding area. Halfway through the aisles of computers, a perturbed-looking young man in a lab gown with hair that looked uncombed for weeks blocked his path. The silvery folder he handed over to Christian reflected glint into his thick eyeglasses and pearly-white grin.

"The logs of the last run we did fifteen minutes ago, sir."

Christian grabbed the folder and squinted at its contents without trying to understand everything. "I came here with the knowledge that somebody in the phone told me that LAZARUS has started up, Jeeves."

The young man referred to as Jeeves almost jumped back, startled. He swallowed his saliva and replied in a half-shaking voice, "Well sir, we followed all standard procedures for this run and everything had been approved by you yesterday evening and..."

Christian closed the folder and shoved it back to Jeeves, effectively cutting the young man's attempt at a formal oral report. The irritated Christian forced his way to the observation deck where he could see the core of the whole Project as Jeeves apparently tried to stall him.

"Just tell me what happened, damn it!"

Jeeves took one deep breath and looked at Christian who looked hurriedly dressed in jeans and plain white shirt.

"She got activated for a few seconds, Sir. But at the last possible moment the Sentience Generation Code failed to interface with her neural structures. Against the standard protocol, I had to reroute the processing unit to the nearest possible source of SeGenCo."

"You should have notified me then," Christian replied while pushing the nosepiece of his eyeglasses and once again going through the printout logs from the folder.

Jeeves went back to his workstation a few steps away from the glass window where a much more relieved Christian was still reviewing the papers with the misty holding area as background.

"Her synaptic rate was dropping quickly, sir. I felt compelled to act outside authorization but within the limit of my jurisdiction. We want her alive but we also want her to be capable of intelligence."

Christian sighed and felt more relaxed this time. LAZARUS wasn't working as he had expected after all. And the snag of a critical program not working almost sounded like a good thing. And though he didn't know why, he felt that there was some justice in not giving life to something that wasn't made the same way men should be.

Project LAZARUS, as the name would suggest, was a project directly sponsored by the Government and the University to create the first human being completely in vitro, meaning, a living thing that would never enter or exit a human womb. The technology that went into the project had come from various sources from all over the world, some of them directly from US Government archives. The moral aspect of the LAZARUS project made the whole thing strictly confidential. That is, among a great many other secretive things.

Raising an artificial human from a basement room was a far-fetched idea that was being crushed by the pressure coming from the benefactors of the project. Christian, as tech lead of the project had already decided that the project should fail for a lot of reasons. Deep inside, he wanted LAZARUS to work out but he also wished it would never.

"Is she dead then?" Christian stared at the gleaming metallic human-containment capsule located of a tiled holding pen another story below the observation area, still swamped with white smoke. He remembered the first time he saw the damn thing coming in from Korea, it was still like a large metallic thermos as much as it was to him then.

"No, sir. It doesn't look like it," Jeeves replied with a deadliner baritone as he pressed switch for the vents of the holding area.

Christian watched eagerly as the white smoke cleared and the containment capsule's door swung open. The lucid blue liquid that used to fill its insides was all over the normally sterile floor. The visorless helmet connecting the subject to the encephalon programming devices hung lazily inside the capsule. A bit further around the metal container were footsteps from dainty feet and at the end of the trail, a circular mark on the tiles - darkened as though something had burnt it. The young man couldn't believe his eyes.

"She's gone," followed up Jeeves in a calm tone. Christian's mouth, still agape.

---------------

Behind the two was Jeeve's workstation. A makeshift wired network connection could be seen from his desk to the capsule's support system boxes below the observation deck. On it's screen, the massively multiplayer online role-playing game called Ragnarok Online was still running.

At the center of the screen was a message around a white window. It read:

-Disconnected from Server-

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 4:42 pm

Chapter 2: Burglar

Rayner SantaCruz bit his No. 2 Mongol pencil's eraser and leafed through another page of his sketchbook. He checked the time from the idle wall clock hanging from the top of the cafe. It read two in the morning. Not too far away, the deep, booming sound of orcs screaming and spells being cast from a few games of Warcraft gave the almost deserted Internet cafe a strange middle-earthly feel to it.

Rayner leaned forward from his shopkeep's seat and peeped from the glass shelves that protected him often enough from the rampage of kids desperate to find open slots on Byte Zone, the internet cafe he was supposed to be running for only eight hours per shift. He swept his vision across the room and found that there was still a group of college boys playing Warcraft. Directly in front of him was his best friend, Elenore Santos who was lazily clicking away at her favourite MMORPG from one of the terminals.

It wasn't the best sideline job in the world to Rayner, but the pay was just right and the workhours tend to get overextended whenever addicts opt to stay till the wee hours of the morning. Nobody forced him to keep the shop open when they do but he somewhat liked staying there anyway. Having to live alone in an apartment as a college student isn�t really as exciting as it sounds.

And besides, he thought to himself as he looked at Elenore playing at terminal eight, he always had good, sensible company with him whenever he overstays.

"You know Ellie, you should at least pay for half of your gametime."

But he already knew her boilerplate reply. She was the type who knows her cards and how to use them. And she has never failed him in that department.

"Put it in your tab, loves," she teasingly replied while twirling her kinked shoulder-length hair, as she went back to the mindless clicking of Ragnarok Online.

He never did understand what Ellie, and several thousand others like her found in Ragnarok Online. He was no gaming connoisseur but it took him no time to realize that the graphics was nothing to brag about. The game itself looked bland, repetitive to him. What it was to him was a waste of money.

But there wasn�t much sense in fighting the futility of asking her to pay for the game. It was his shift anyway, and nobody's paying him for overtime. Her game might as well be the payment for his work. A funny arrangement, but he couldn�t care less. Whenever he overstayed, he wasn't in for the money anyway. Rayner reclined once more in the shopkeep's seat, fixed his baseball cap, and continued sketching away.

While sketching though, it was his habit, albeit a bad one, to listen in on the mostly mindless talks of the players who could spare enough wits to jabber away and score kills at the same time. That night, the Warcraft players were actually talking about something that hit Rayner in a different way.

"Did you hear about that incident I heard in the news, dre?"
"Which bit?"
"The one where a cafe got robbed."

At this point, Rayner had already stopped sketching and was listening in intently. Of course, anything he needed to know had to be sifted from a wad of useless game talk.

"Dammit, I couldn�t take the tower down. I need more creeps."
"You should go play Neopets instead, Mark. You're really pathetic at this."
"Anyway which cafe was it? The one that got jacked, I mean."
"I don�t remember. All I know is that it was done during the weehours of the morning and that the shopkeep was sent to the ICU after he got stabbed with an ice pick."
"Oh yeah, I think I've heard of that. Some escaped criminal did it, they say. He waits till the shop gets cleared then he strikes."

Rayner swallowed hard. He stopped listening and tried to concentrate with his drawing. It was not a distant thought that he had no way of defending himself should any crime be done in his cafe. He was a nerd in every sense of the word and nerds are notoriously bad when it comes to self-defense.

He kept to his thoughts, but he unconsciously dozed off - sleeping at the right place at the right time wasn't one of his better qualities.

------------------------

Three in the morning was the time when he woke up to the feeling of being pelted with crumpled paper lodged by the Warcraft players. Early morning drizzle glazed the transparent windows facing the street.

"Hey shopkeep, we need to go home too. Not everybody wants to sleep inside this cafe of yours," said the more agitated of the group.

Rayner winced a bit and proceeded with work. One by one he logged their terminals off and gave them their IDs used to register terminals, most had university IDs that had a batch number of those a year younger than him. They were seventeen year-olds after all, he thought.

"Feh, and I still look two years younger," he said to himself half in frustration, �I should grow a moustache.�

He looked around after the players had left. It appeared to him that Ellie had gone home unceremoniously too without even bothering waking him up. He saw a note lying beside his chair. The cover read "To Rayn" and it had a drawing of a very cute, well-drawn Persian cat with its tongue sticking out.

He read it out loud with a tone of sarcastic frustration, "Thanks for the game. You should make your work hours like this standard."

The wastebasket was half a room away but when he crumpled the note and threw it, it landed smack in the middle of the trashbin. He gave out a muffled "oh yeah" and then proceeded with the locking of the now empty cafe. Thanks Ellie, but no thanks. He switched off all the PCs that were left switched on and then proceeded to shut of the lights one by one.

Then, just when he had turned off all forty-two PCs and all five light switches, lightning flashed outside, followed by thunder with a second's delay. He almost cringed from the loudness of it. But after that, he heard something more fearful.

Footsteps.

At first he thought he was imagining things. He crouched behind one of the rows of computers and traced where the sound had come from. The sound felt as though it had come near the counter. And it reminded him of the earlier conversations.

Burglar.

Criminal.

Ice Pick.

ICU.

As his eyes adjusted to the darkness he sighted an outline of a person near the counter. He couldn't believe his eyes, or his racing heart. He wished it was only his imagination.

The sound of footsteps echoed across the cafe again. They were a bit heavier than Ellie's and much lighter than those of the players who had been there earlier.

Thoughts ran around Rayner's head as he listened in on the intruder from a corner of the far side of the shop. And though they were many thoughts, they could have been summarized as a representation or the consequence of these four words: Burglar. Criminal. Ice Pick. ICU.

Rayner clutched his chest a moment and decided that he should at least give the burglar the preemptive punishment. He took one deep breath and made his move.

The silence of the cafe and the loudness of the raging storm outside was enough the give the situation a cinematic flavour of suspense. He crept up to the wandering shadow while staying near the darker sides of the powerless cafe and silently lifted the first thing that he had his hands on - his metal-covered sketchbook.

He aimed for what appeared to be a silhouetted nape, swung down as hard as he could, and closed his eyes. He heard a loud thump and then a slight grunt. Rayner's frail body shriveled, expecting a counterattack of sorts. But it never came. He opened his eyes and saw the figure had stopped moving.

After a few more moments, it lost balance and crashed to the wooden matting of the cafe.

"Wow, that was cool," he said to himself as he looked with a look of surprise at the bent metal frame in his hands and the body of an unconscious burglar in front of him.

Victory.

===================================




Chapter 3: Hindsight

Christian wiped the sweat from his forehead using his handkerchief and puffed another from his half-consumed Marlboro. Smoke danced along the naked fluorescent lights of the lowered ceiling of the LAZARUS project operations room like the nimbus clouds of November, ominous and foreboding. Things had just turned from bad to infinitely worse.

"I'm sorry, I didn't seem to get the logic of what you just said Jeeves. Can you repeat it for me?" he said to a preoccupied Jeeves tinkering his workstation.

"What I have been saying for the last thirty minutes is that I didn't know where else to plug the brain-programming function during the startup of the dummy so I routed it to the program with the most logic incorporated to it at that time, and that would be the neural-control Ragnarok Online client on my machine. In lay man's words, I used Ragnarok Online to give her the personality and consciousness she needs."

Christian looked at Jeeves. He could buy the nerd's explanation of using a game to give something intelligence, but he wouldn�t buy that a multi-million dollar project could just vanish into thin air. More plausible was the idea that if he couldn�t produce an explanation for this disaster he would be the one to do the vanishing. "And how the hell does this relate to the disappearance of LAZARUS?"

Jeeves stopped banging on the keyboard and swiveled his chair towards the perplexed Christian. "To a limited extent, LAZARUS has the power to take on any ability that the sentience program etches into its brain. She could have used some unknown power upon waking up. Either that or she self-combusted on first contact with the air."

Christian stared at the screen of the workstation, client of Ragnarok Online still running on the background. "So there's a chance that she's dead?"

"I'm thinking that she's not. See, that's why I called you here," replied Jeeves while jotting a few notes on his journal from a standing position.

"Get to the point, genius."

Jeeves scoffed at his superior, almost to a wondering note why he has to be of higher rank than him in the first place. The first thing you have to learn when working a technical field after all is to be forgiving of ignorance.

"Look at my workstation, Christian."

"What about it?"

"After the incident last night, its power consumption went triple, almost putting the power circuit of this lab on overload. This box was the last thing I connected to LAZARUS before she woke up. Power levels spiked to a high during her disappearance and then maintained a very high power signature afterwards."

"Are you trying to say this workstation here is somehow linked to her?"

"Yes, and it seemed to reflect her status too, but after a few minutes its activity minimized."

"So she's dead?"

"No; the program's still running. If the host specimen, the LAZARUS dummy girl, dies, this symbiotic program should stop with it, and vice versa," said Jeeves as he highlighted the monitoring functions of the high-end computer.

Christian leaned back, immersed in his deep thoughts. There was more to this accident than he had hoped for.

"I don't know. But if you ask me, she's not exactly dead," Jeeves read out the readings from the idle server, "if she really is out there, she should be either weakened or unconscious because of some external event."

"Then," Christian replied while taking a deep breath of gray smoke, "if that's the case, we find her before anybody else finds out."

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 4:45 pm

Chapter 4: Mistaken

Behold, the victorious.

Like a triumphant gladiator, Rayner marched with a proud strut towards the burglar. His head, spinning in circles in a haze of fear, excitement, and bewilderment. Not only had he protected the shop, he had also managed to capture the criminal!

Rayner prodded the dimly outlined body slumped on the floor, there were traces of water everywhere, probably from the rain outside when the intruder came in. It was during those moments that Rayner realised that the battle might not be over yet, that the burglar was just waiting for him to get near. With his right hand at the ready with his notebook, he backed towards the wall by the cafe entrance and flipped the light switch open.

From a 120 mile-per-hour heartbeat, Rayner's heart screeched to a grinding halt and left him partly groping his chest. His bent, metal-bound notebook fell to the floor with a clang.

It was a sight less terrifying than it really was, had fate not been so playful with him. Drenched in yellowish fluid lay on the cold matting. The body of a lithe young woman, face down on the floor, with long black hair outlining an unblemished skin tone of her exposed shoulders and legs. Towards the back of her head was a very nasty black mark at the back that if inspected closer could have yielded the etched mark of Rayner's hardbound notebook.

Rayner didn't know what or why there was an unconscious girl wearing a bathing suit inside his locked cafe but he was quite confident of himself, to a terrifying conclusive degree, that she was no burglar.

And that he may have actually killed her in the process.

From hero to murderer in one minute flat.

"Why me??" blurted a very frustrated Rayner as he dropped to his knees beside his unexpected visitor. "What the hell is going on?" Rayner grabbed her by the shoulder and shook her twice.

No response.

He shook the girl a third time and let her roll to her back. Rayner took a quick look at the girl, her full lips were pale and her eyes, wide shut. Her chest didnít appear to be moving, showing no signs of even weak breathing. At least to Rayner, it wasnít.

"Wake up!" he shouted to the girl but in vain.

Rayner paused and slumped himself into the cold floor. He couldn't possibly have done this to her with just one hit. That's it! He thought, she must've drowned!

Inside a cafe.

Without any water.

Everything that night was beyond illogical. It was insane. Rayner checked for her pulse. It was still there. He was not murderer just yet but if she didnít start breathing anytime soon, he might as well surrender himself to the police.

Sweat drops started gushing out of every pore on his forehead that cold night.

It was then he remembered all his training from high school military training. Well, not really, just one in particular that seemed practical at that time, for more reasons than just one.

Mouth to mouth resuscitation.

Rayner reassured himself. This isn't a kiss. Just something to help somebody not die, right? There was a voice inside of him screaming, "There's goes your chastity!"

Rayner closed his eyes, gently lifted her nose to open a small gap between her lips and slowly bent down for the resuscitation.

"Here goes!"

==


Chapter 5: Rain March

It was dark outside, even amidst the company of the street lamps - the air possessed the silhouetting power of heavy rain. Shattering cold winds created a wave of precipitate every now and then, bringing with it shivers that seeped down soaked clothing.

Rayner slowly trudged his way along a puddled sidewalk adjacent to the University's fenced boundaries with a bear-faced smug stretching cheek to cheek. He swung from side to side like a shoddily balanced pendulum, bearing weight with movement. Every step from his Chuck Taylor sneakers landed uneasily along the cobbled walkway while his shadow danced counter-clockwise with the passing of each vehicle along the road beside him.

The young man's wet cloth-enveloped body arched while he lurched slowly but surely. Piggy-backed behind him, the limp stranger, face buried into Raynerís broad back, wearing the black Adidas windbreaker, edges mapping her white, slender legs glossed by the night rain supported by Rayner's arms. That jacket would have protected Rayner from the cold rain, but he figured, she may need it more, given that she was wearing nothing more than those sleek black skin suits that may have well been designed for Olympian-level swimming.

So the mouth-to-mouth didn't work as well as he had hoped. It was embarassing even to think about it. What in the world was he thinking, thought Rayner. The girl was still unconscious and she couldn't possibly be left behind at the cafe. The next best thing? Take her somewhere she would at least be remotely safe.

His house, perhaps?

Rayner thought about what he had done a few minutes earlier. Despite her unconsciousness, her lips were warm and supple - nobody ever mentioned that in mouth-to-mouth recussitation training. For a moment, his wet cheeks flushed with heat from within. He swallowed hard, kept any other ideas from coming into his head ,and trudged on.

Then he thought of him carrying her to his house. The young man shook his head, now's not the time for after thoughts. For Rayner that night, there was no other option.

His walk was very slow, making the short distance from the internet cafe to his apartment seem to be the span of a marathon, or maybe even a monsoon Collin Mcrae rally, without the cars and with more mud.

And with the rain, came the realisation of consequence. He had just attacked an innocent girl and had caused her to suffer concussion. His heart beat wildly along with his aching lungs as he exerted even more effort to carry her farther. To top that off, he had landed his lips on her - on a very philanthropical nature of course but it hardly mattered at that moment. How he would explain himself and what had happened to her was something beyond him.

------------

After what seemed to be a hundred years of walking, Rayner finally got to the stairs leading to his second floor single-room cubist apartment situated in a bourgeoisie patch of neighborhood lorded over by the monolithic central administration building of the university a good block away. It wasn't exactly the perfect place to stay but it was roomy enough to house two people - and it was dry inside.

Each step climbing the stairs enervating and calculated, but it was the final mile so Rayner hardly even noticed it. Rayner bit the chain of the keys hanging by his neck and dexterously inserted it to the doorknob. A short tug from the chain and a nudge from his knee opened the door.

With seemingly one last exertion of effort, he half-threw the girl into the faux-leather sofa, soft wet body bouncing into the cushion with almost a splash, He then got towels from the rack beside the singles bathroom at the far right of the darkened room, and wrapped them into his unexpected visitor.

"Now to get myself dry," the young man muttered to himself. He took one step away from the sofa but was no longer able to continue. His vision blurred and fever came down faster than any event that night. A few seconds later, his weakened knees buckled from exhaustion.

"Not good," Rayner said as he collapsed to the tiled floor helplessly.

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 4:47 pm

Chapter 6: Breakfast in Bed

Rayner's eyes emerged from the narrow slits of sleep. It took a while before the warmth of the sun coming from the uncurtained part of the west end window of his room to hit his cheeks with prickly effect. For some reason, everything felt off that morning, much to his wonder at first. At least, until he remembered last night.

He found himself in his bed, blanketed and in dry clothes. Last thing he remembered was that he had accidentally assaulted a strange girl inside the cafe and had carried her here. What happened afterwards, he couldnít remember. And speaking of the girl...

Rayner quickly looked around and found a silhouette outlined by the morning rays by the bench just beside the main window. He rose from bed halfway and sat propped by the headboard. He patiently waited for his eyes to adjust.

As his vision cleared an image of a girl appeared. He could only make out parts of her face, she bore rosy white complexion and full red lips, contrasted by flowing black wavy hair that glistened with the morning light. From a distance she almost looked like a movie star in a photo op as she slouched in the bench with one leg folded up and crossed with the other with only long sleeves and short boxers to cover her up.

Rayner swallowed what saliva he had in his dry mouth. Those garments, they were his boxers and long sleeves. But never mind that. There's a very beautiful woman in his apartment!

The bed stirred as Rayner moved away from bed. This caught the attention of his visitor and met him with her full hazel eyes.

"You're awake," said the lady in a mellow voice that sounded suited for singing.

The visitor stood up and walked towards his makeshift kitchen not too far from the living quarters. Rayner could only watch in bewilderment.

"I've made breakfast. Tricky cookery gadgets, you have around here," she said as she got a plate Rayner had not noticed moments ago. "You were feverish from the cold rain when I woke up so I had to heal and dry you up. Anyway, you have to eat up to replenish strength."

The lady approached Rayner and placed the plate on the nearby table. He couldn't remember how long it has been since he's had a complete breakfast before, sausages cooked to golden brown and perfectly round eggs with buttered toast. Seeing this gave him a bit of embarrassment as he tried to squirm out a reply, "Erm, thanks... uh...."

The visitor smiled back, "My name is Celestine. High Priestess Celestine Edencourt. Call me Celeste or Cel or whatever. Thanks for saving my life yesterday, though everything is still a blur to me. I blacked out on duty and when I woke up, somebody assaulted me from behind. I thought I was done for."

Rayner's heart began to beat faster. Save? Wasn't he the one who had almost killed her? He looked at Celestine's nape, it was still black and blue from his metallic notebook. How do I tell her, he thought. This girl had a weird aura about her, and it wasnít just the helluva long name and her weird looks.

"Anyway, eat up."

Sweatdrops formed along Rayner's forehead as he watched Celestine excitedly observe how he put the buttered toast in his mouth. He bit the toast with a frantic crunching sound.

Immediately Rayner spit out the whole thing back into the plate with his tongue hanging out as though it was being cured on the spot with battery acid. "WHAT THE HELL DID YOU PUT IN THIS? ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME?"

Celeste scratched her head. A faint blush permeated across her cheeks, "I'm not exactly too good with the kitchen. I only copied what our house help does. Sorry about the salt, the shaker kinda burst open when I was cooking that."

Rayner felt incensed, forgetting for a while everything that happened. With an indignant voice he bantered on, "This thing tastes more like rocksalt than toast."

"Hey, I'm trying!" replied Celestine in a snobbish overtone.

"If I knew better I swear I'd think you're trying to get back at me for hitting you last ni...."

He didnít even get to finish his sentence. Celestine's eyes mutated from gentle and angelic to fiery devilish.

"You did what?" Cel asked in an interrogating undertone as she lunged towards Rayner, grabbed both of his shoulders and pinned him down the bed.

"Bad move, Rayn," Rayner whispered to himself. Removed from it all, he could not help but stare at the generous fronts that lay a few inches above his chest. His heart beat even faster.

"If this is all youíre doing, I'm going to hit you so hard, you'll be begging for Niffleheim!"

"IT WAS AN ACCIDENT, I SWEAR!" beggingly shouted Rayner as he tried to wiggle out of her hold.

"Yeah, as if I haven't heard that one before!" said Celestine as she raised her closed right fist on top of Rayn's horrified face.

Then, a hurried voice shot through from behind the front door followed by intense knocking caught Celestine's attention. It was a most familiar voice.

"Rayn? Is your butt still there? Zamora will kill us again if we're late for his class!"

==

Chapter Seven: Ellie, Rayner, Celestine

Bang. BANG. BANG!

The pounding sound of aching wood resonanced in Rayn's temples. In front of him, or rather at that moment, on top of him, was a woman in calculated rage, filled with vendetta and aching napes. Outside was a bomb waiting to explode - Ellie. Shoulders pinned by surprisingly strong shoulders, Rayn couldnít do more than stare at the door helplessly.

"Are you in there Rayn? We're going to be late already!"

And then came the moment, that moment of silence just after the fuse runs out and before the payload of a bomb hits you. The strange girl in Rayner's long-sleeve shirt turned to the door and shouted back with a placid, imperative voice of a Weekend killer, "Rayn's busy right now."

The door banging stopped. Rayn's chest heaved and froed quickly as he could only watch things unfold. His ears strained for outside noise.

"Is there someone in there with you, RayNER?" a half-shrilled exclamation.

Rayner mustered all the strength he could. Now was the moment to say his piece, to let Ellie know the situation. Right, Ellie could arbitrate, and better than anybody he could think of! With all his might, the young man tugged up his left shoulder, causing Cel to push down harder. Rayn pushed his back deeper down the mattress and slid his shoulder past the grip, and eventually snaked his way towards the left side of the bed.

Celeste got up from her position and watched Rayner dash for the door. She clasped her hands and closed her eyes, still motionless and half spread across the unmade bed.

"Tranquilos et paxis por un et mundi, grantos solte der..." she softly uttered in a half-tongue chant reminiscent of a Portuguese vesper in a relaxed, stroll cadence.

Rayn opened the door with full excitement, in his wavering pajamas, and brought in morning light, aura of a very surpised Ellie. At long last!

"LEX DIVINA," culminated Celeste at that moment as she wobbly stood atop the bed in a dominating posture of an aristocrat.

Ellie rolled back her eyes and started off her loquial machinegun while trying to break the screen of Rayn's spread out arms by skipping side to side, "It took you long enough. And whose voice was that I heard? Are you keeping something from me?"

Rayner explained everything at once. Or at least he thought he did. But even as he opened his mouth, nothing would come out, as though every sound he tried to make got sucked back down his throat, where not even himself would hear it - and for no reason at all.

"What are you trying to say? What was that, Rayn? You're a stupid bum, you say?"

Rayn shook is head and tried again, to no avail.

"Listen, little mermaid, I don't have all day to guess what you're saying. Why donít you just let me check that room of your..." Ellie couldnít even finish what she was saying as silence befell her - a different kind of silence.

Shock.

Rayn heard footsteps from behind, followed by the forced tap on his shoulder. Cel's strangely glory-happy face peered between his left shoulder and the door pane, "This man here tried to kidnap me. Now I'm going to kill him. Run along, youíre bothering us."

"There's... there's..." Ellie stuttered vibrato from what she was seeing. Her eyes traced Cel's body as it lithed out from the back of the room - she was barely clothed - and in what was recognizably Rayn's unironed clothing - suggestive, if it's not too bold a comment.

Rayn finally gave up trying to open and close his mouth in an attempt to explain everything to both Cel and Ellie, he sighed the deep sigh and waited. Soon enough it came.

"PERVEEERT!"

Then a slap so fierce, cats leapt away from neighboring trees in shock. Rayn tried to recuperate and respond back but it was all too late, Ellie had dashed off away from his flat, leaving him and his guest alone once more, added a swollen cheek this time of course.

"Now, where was I?" turned Celeste to a badly disfigured Rayner, "Oh yeah, payback."

Rayn waved his hands across his face in an attempt to stunt the next round of pain but what happened next, he couldnít have guessed in his lifetime.

Celestine's eyes whited out while the hair in Rayn's skin started standing up from static. Her clothes flapped wildly even though there was hardly any wind in the room. What the hell, he thought, is this for real? Soon enough, her hands started glowing, pale flashes of ember beamed out like miniature steel pikes from the tips of the borrowed longsleeves.

Rayn tried to scream, but there was still no voice in him. He watched her inch closer to him while he squandered back to the living room on all fours.

"I'll show you what makes a high priestess something to fear," Celestine smiled with a half-intended look of mischief.

Rayner look horrified, still a mess with his loss of voice, and pale as the white wall behind him. Was this the end? What a way to die!

Then, the visitor stopped edging her way towards the young man and looked at her luminous right hand as though something apass Rayner's knowledge has happened.

She held it up once, only to see it taper off up close. The four-corner room once again returned to it's dark self as the light source vanished, with it's single living candle falling like a flower of life bereft, prevented from slamming into the floor by the cradling arms of her strange adversary.

==

Chapter 8: With The Right Foot, We Start Again

There are times in your life when just nothing seems to go your way. It's as though the three fates are conspiring to make everything harder by the moment. Stay strong and take notice of why these things are happening...

Random words of a mentor from the recesses of the mind, flooding in at this time. Why now, Celestine asks herself as she shook her head back to reality.

"You're finally awake," a familiar, yet unusually calm voice broke her slumber. Remembering her situation before, she gasped once and tried to get up from a bed she knew she hadn't slept in. A singular, gentle push from a hand on her forehead was enough to land her weakened self back to the mattress.

"And here I was thinking you're dead. Rest a bit some more. I donít know what happened earlier but I should have known that rain last night had gotten to you." Eyes widened from the narrow slits and confronted that young man again, Cel recalled. She did remember waking up wearing his jacket while he, ironically, had collapsed due to a fever. Tables have been turned, at her weakened state, using any of her clerical skills would just worsen her condition.

"Drink up," commanded Rayn as he held out a warm mug of strange-scented chocolate.

Priestesses are trained to take care of their selves, to never get in the way of whomever theyíre with. And perhaps, in that sort of independence, you lose touch of what you're doing because you'll never need, never know, never appreciate what you give - support...

Celestine sighed once, heartworthy before she sipped the chocolate with white smoke still dancing, not even caring who had offered it. She looked at the young man once - he really didn't look like the part she cut out for him, he didnít even have a weapon by his side.

"Just before I fainted earlier, I saw you catch me in passing, even when I was intending to exact revenge," Celestine half-whispered while staring at her shakestill hands, white as death, "Why?"

"Because," the young man looked out away from the priestess to expel a short chuckle, "it will take only a certain number of concussions before you turn into a gibbering wreck, talking to the walls of a mental hospital. I hate crazy people."

The priestess raised an eyebrow at Rayn's seeming amusement, "You find hitting me in the head funny?"

"No. No, I find it amusing because I never did intend on hurting you in the first place and what happend's all been a big friggin' misunderstanding." replied Rayner with hints of agitation.

"So you do admit that you are to blame for my injuries?"

"I didn't say no, did I? If you remember the situation you'd know it was an honest mistake and Iím sorry for it, really."

"Well how should I know what happened when I'm always unconscious?"

"Then would you at least listen to my side of the story before start doing freaky things with your hands?"

... When everything goes against your way, it may be that you're just facing the wrong direction.

Cel gave a careful nod and Rayn raises the edge of his lips implying 'let's not start with the wrong foot'. Perhaps, Brother Anakris, you are right even when you are babbling, Celestine said to herself, but that we'll just have to see as things pass.

She listened to his story. And it was like a new dawn for that room, far better than that of the morning, and for no real significant reason at all, when the High Priestess smiled again after not having done so in a very long time.

"Oh, and yeah ,thanks for the jacket."

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 4:51 pm

Chapter 9: Realizations

"So do you remember what happened last night the way I told you?" asked Rayner as he faced the red stop light of a busy street along Taft avenue, black backpack slung behind him with his black faded denim straight-cut pants, sneakers, and white polo with a green patch sewn in it's right pocket.

He was astride a girl wearing a knitted paperboy cap, an oversized red tee and green cargo pants that shouted "down dawg" at anybody appreciative enough to look beyond the smug.

Teeth showing of a picturesque, frustrated snarl, the girl replied, "If I did remember I wouldn't even need to listen to your long story."

"For somebody lost who wound up in our cafe, you sure are weird. In not remembering those things, I mean. Anyway, I think it would be better for you if we came back to where I found you," Rayn said, "maybe you'll remember then."

Cel looked around her. Lustrous metal wagons drawn by no beasts were about, movement directed only by strange fluctuating lights of red orange and green. Even in Einbroch she's never seen such things. She looked at Rayn and said, "It looks like it's my first time here umm..."

She then realised, she hadn't even caught his name once.

"What's your name again?" she slowly asked.

Rayner looked to his side with one eyebrow raised. Did he actually miss telling his name to this girl? He tried to keep composure,

"The name's Rayner. Rayn for short."

"Weird name. You don't get a lot of people with that name."

"Not quite as queer as CE-LES-TINE."

"That's High Priestess Celestine to you, layman."

"Whatever, little miss uppity."

The pedestrian light turned green and the two quit the chatter and proceeded to their way. It was a short walk back to school - a lot shorter than what Rayner had to walk the night before at least, and with lighter load.

"I feel like a kid wearing my mom's clothes," complained Cel as she blew a whiff just enough to make her wavy newly formed bangs dangle for a while, � it�s getting embarrassing.�

"Well if you had been walking with other than a swimsuit, you wouldn't have to put up with my last year's hand-me-downs," replied Rayn, still cranky from last night but nonetheless normal. He looked a bit more at Celestine and swallowed, still he wasnt expecting her to carry the clothes so well.

Frozen silence filled the gap as they walked a few more blocks. Then, Celestine finally couldn�t stand the awkwardness and broke it with a shrilled enquiry, "So you mean to say I just appeared inside your cafe, thought I was a burglar and hit me in the head?"

Rayner nodded, "What's strange is that I never heard you come in. It's almost like you teleported from another place and into the bloody room!"

Teleport. The word struck Cel down with great pangs in her heart. So much so that she immediately fell to her knees by the sidewalk. Head supported by both of her hands as though if she didn't do that, it would explode from the pressure.

Fellow pedestrians noticed but hardly gave a damn as they passed by. Rayner rushed to her.

"Are you alright?" asked he. But at that time, she couldn�t hear what Rayn said. It was being drowned by voices of her lost memories as they gushed back in.

The Payon caves.

Seeing her body dematerialize.

Waking up drowning in a vat of strange green fluid with various tubes attached to different parts of her body.

Celestine felt her right wrists. There was still a mark of where one of the tubes had been connected and it still stung a little when she touched it. It was definitely not a dream.

"Teleport," she said to nobody in particular. Rayner looked at her when she said it but gave a what-did-you-just-say look with a matching raised eyebrow as she got up and started walking again.

Celestine recalled the first thing she did when she kicked open the vat where she woke up. She cast the body relocation spell taught to her as an acolyte as a last desperate move to avoid danger. She didn't say anymore though as both her and Rayner moved along the same walk towards the University.

"Rayner," said Celestine as she stopped, looking at the pavement almost in shame, "This might sound too much to ask of you if you already did help me back there..."

"Spill it," replied the young man as he tucked his hands inside the pockets of his pants, "while I�m in a good mood for helping strangers who like to show magic tricks to people they want to beat up."

But it was Rayner who was surprised this time to not hear a snappy retaliation.

"I," she said with a hushed voice, signaturely not her, even when she was still back in Payon, "I need your help in getting back to Prontera."

Rayner did not reply at once. He gave this pokerfaced look that stole any guesses away from Cel as she waited for his reply. Only the roars of the metal wagons filled the air now. Finally, Rayn opened his mouth.

"Where the hell is a Prontera? Sounds like a shady bar in Malate."

Cel returned a puzzled look. It was, after all, impossible for somebody to exist in the civilised world without ever hearing of the Holy Capital. Even in the frontierlands yet to be added to the republic, they at least knew the known center of the world.

"Excuse me?" she said.

"I said," replied Rayn, arrogance intended, "where the hell is Prontera."

"Gah nevermind," the priestess impatiently replied. It should be her day today and none else's, "just tell me where we are so I can locate the nearest Sanctuarium."

Rayn briefly laid the back of his palm on Celestine's forehead, "No fever here. Did I hit you too hard? We're in The University, Cel. This is Manila. The closest you will reach to a sanctuarium here is a sanitarium, which is where I'll be sending you if you don�t stop the nonsense. Are you from the provinces or something?"

"I'm not crazy, dammit," half shouted Cel as she pulled away from Rayn's feeling hand and wandered her eyes around the university buildings that had grown in front of them as they walked closer, "I'm - uh - lost. That's it! I'm lost."

Sweat drops started forming around the high priestess's eyebrows. It might be the heat, but then again she has never seen such odd structures before, with all those beastless-carriages running about, and having her latent abilities, as she tried feeling for it, almost diminished to nil...

"Anyway," Rayn heaved his books up and started walking towards the University entrance, "I already cut my first class because of you. My next class is about to start in a while and I don�t want to miss any more so we should wait till my classes finish if we're to find where you're from."

"Well what do you expect me to do, Rayn? I can't just wait here for your classes to finish! I'm not familiar with the place," trounced Celestine, hands on her waists and eyebrows raised in an angle, "and besides, a bit of education never hurt anybody."

Rayner swallowed hard, his heart frozen stiff and filled with consequences unimaginable. "What did you say?"

"I said, I'm coming with you."

Chapter 10: Experiments

"There," Jeeves pointed out a distinct angular wave in the black and green screen of the oscilloscope reminiscent of an earthquake mark in a seismograph, "see the power spike I've been talking about on the phone?"

The research room was still shrouded with cigarette smoke as it was the day before. Lights have been cut down save for the rastered light from the monitors and various light indicators of machines found around the room. Two men sat at one corner of the room staring at what seemed to them as an unfolding miracle to their bleak situation.

The glow from the dark green waves of the device and a disinterested grimmace made Chris's face orcish. He smiled and said, "This one happened just this morning?"

"Yes," replied Jeeves while tuning one of the various knobs on the tool with one hand and clutching his labgown with the other, "The last time this happened was last night, just after she disappeared. The power consumption value of my computer fell for the rest of the night but became normal after daylight. Then just now, it spiked again and tapered off."

Both men stared at the monitor as though they were just reading morning news. Chris eventually smiled, "You're saying the power consumption of this computer is relative to the power intrinsic activities of our subject right? Spikes like this can only mean..."

"Usage of force of the LAZAR core inside her body - equating to both her strength and consciousness."

"Interesting. Now we can monitor her power usages and consciousness through this device."

"I think I get where youre going. I was thiking though, too much power in this machine can make our subject too... superhuman. It sounds dangerous having her go wandering without monitoring though. Do I shut it off?"

Chris paused for quite a while, thought immersed with the dancing of accumulated smoke in the basement laboratory. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, "No - I want to wait till we see the project again. This project is seeing second light. Think of this as field testing. Just make sure the power of this machine is restricted, Jeeves."

The other man almost laughed. "You have to be kidding me. We aren't even sure that she's really around. And we dont even know the face that was behind the cerebral modulation mask when she was still in the tank. How do we know that it's her even if we do find her outside this laboratory?"

Jeeve's superior leaned back from the computer table. He picked up a montblanc roller pen and pretended to be in a mock swordfight with an invisible foe. "The true nature of LAZARUS is not humanitarian research. Our primary sponsor next to the Brothers is the military. She has a personality override chip located at the base of her spine between her neck and back that gives her some sort of combat mode as specifically requested by the bigwigs at Bonfacio. That's one of the confidential details of this project."

"Combat Personality override chip? Are you saying we just let loose a superhuman killer in a densely populated campus?" Jeeves stood up and slammed his hands on the table. "Why the hell did you keep these things from me Chris?"

"Slow down, dragonslayer. She is programmed to disable any opponents, not kill. Like I said, field testing. We'll know her by the wave of destruction she'll be creating," Chris replied with a confident tone.

Jeeves didn't reply but instead stood up and removed his labcoat, exposing maroon longsleeves with oversized collars and flaunted cuffs from the hippie era. "Where do you think you're going, Jeeves?" asked Chris.

"I'm going outside. Who knows, I might even run across her."

That said, the young researcher left the room, leaving Chris resting his chin between the knucles of his fists, arms arched on the computer table. "Be careful what you wish for."

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 4:57 pm

Chapter 11: Magic

It was almost lunchtime when the two arrived at the green-paint ironwrought gates of the University's southern entrance. A constant stream of faceless young men in black slacks and white polos and young women in white blouse and green skirt uniforms streamed through the narrow passageway separating the cloisters of the campus from the harsh world of the inducted outside.

"I have a question," said Rayn as he stared at the bronze statue of a saint hovering just above the entrance, "how were you able to produce fireworks with from the sleeves of your polo earlier? Are you a pyromaniac who always keeps gunpowder around?"

"Fireworks?" Cel asked back.

Rayner gestured the opening and closing of his palms, eyes still glued at the statue as though watching for some miracle to happen akin to what he had seen earlier. "Bang! Like exploding light that momentarily blinds whoever sees it! Your magic trick earlier, it looked awesome."

Celestine chuckled and tipped her hat, still awonder at everything she's seeing, horseless carriages, clothes, buildings and all, "Magic trick? Oh, that! You're lucky I wasn't able to deliver the Holy Light in full force. Otherwise you'd be sleeping tightly in an infirmary somewhere with a few broken bones minus consciousness."

"Broken bones? Are you into some new David Blaine magic cross martial arts kind of gig?"

"David what?" Celestine asked, insulted and almost disappointed as well. She sighed once and then lift up her hands and moved it closer to Rayn, "you mean this?"

It was just as marvelous albaeit seemingly dangerous for Rayner to see it again. Spheres of light no larger than rosary beads formed at the tips of her fingers, each one radiating pure white light painful to the eye like a stare into a foglamp, but still visible enough to take a round shape. But it looked too dangerous and conspicious. Rayner had to grab her arm and let it down with his eyes closed and face looking away.

"Not here," he said.

"You mean to say you've never seen the Holy Light before? Every priest knows how to do it. It's how we defend ourselves."

Rayner sighed once again, causing his shoulders to collapse inward, almost screaming here-we-go-again. He looked at Cel once, "Don't you think you're pushing this weirdness gig a bit? I mean you say you're a priestess and then you show strange powers and say it's normal? You should have seen how people looked at you earlier."

The young woman lifted the visor of her cap and looked around, nobody around her was paying attention. At least not now, they're not. "I don't think they are, you know. You and your paranoia."

ďAnyway," Rayner lined up between the various railings directing students to the gaping entrance hall of the University and pointed at the gates with his thumb, "there's no use hanging around here so we might as well get inside."

There was a sudden shift of expression in Rayner's face as they lined up for the entrance, his eyebrows crooked as though in pain. Celestine noticed this immediately and gave his knap a short tug and said, "What's wrong?"

"Are you enrolled in this university?"

"I finished my conventional studies at the Pronteran Academy two years ago so no - I don't think so."

"****," Rayn rubbed his chin while thinking, "I just remembered they've installed new biometric scanning devices on all entrances since last term. I don't think won't let anybody who's not enrolled through."

Cel raised her entwined arms to stretch in full confidence, "That's okay. I'm a high priestess; as beings of enlightenment, we're always welcome in any institution of knowledge."

And perhaps, due to the confidence of Celestine, Rayner could even convince himself that she was probably right. Or at least, he had enough to let her try. No harm in trying, he said to himself as he extended his thumb into the fingerprint scanner that looked more like the table scanner in a supermarket cashier with all its laser emissions. Right?

Beep! Beep! Beep! The biometric machine sounded thrice. An LED screen in the coalblack block standing between the turnstiles showed information about the person who entered.

- Access Granted to Student Number 10608047 -

Rayner turned back to a Celestine who still carried herself pretty much the same way she does - in a composed manner befitting of the girls of fine-upbringing at some lost victorian era. Far removed from any hint of tension, she looked back at him and pressed her thumb at the biometric machine.

Rayn closed his eyes. If this didn't work, he couldn't begin to imagine how to prevent her from being thrown out, or worse, into jail!

Beep! Beep! Beep! repeated the machine as before.

It... worked? Rayner couldnít believe it. He looked at the screen between the turnstiles and read closely.

- Access Granted to Special Student #NNNN-NNNNN -

Cel walked past Rayner's face with his mouth ajar. Inside his head, there was nothing but maelstrom. Light out of her hands was one thing. But how the hell could somebody like her be able to fool something so sophisticated?

"Toldja it would work," Cel gloated for a bit, "problem is, you never believe anything I say."

Rayn took a look at the screen again and exhaled through is mouth. Things just keep getting weirder and weirder. Was there anything to believe?

Author's Notes:
I think this was where we stopped last time before RB got thrashed.

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 4:59 pm

Chapter 12: The Rooftop

Wind blew from the sea of green that was the soccer field up into the engineering building's westend wall. It splashed straight into Ellie's face and waving hair as she sat on the rooftop's concrete sides, legs crossed and eyes closed. Her green skirt and white blouse almost made her blend with the horizon of green lawns and light blue skies beyond. There was a hint of agitation in her face that morning - slight albeit unusual.

The rooftop door opened directly behind her, making Ellie break from her trance-like indulgence of the cool breeze.

"I thought you'd be here, babyface," a hoarse male voice shot from behind her. Ellie didn't bother to look. It was him. She bent her lips ever so slightly and turned a smile. "It's just you. AND WHO THE HELL ARE YOU CALLING BABYFACE?"

"Just me?" the voice replied, "Maa, maa. That's just not the reaction I've been wanting to get. And it's such a good morning to boot. Did you get up in the wrong side today? Or let me guess. You and Rayn had one of those piddle fights again eh?"

Ellie remembered what had happened that morning, Rayn, that mysterious girl and all. For some reason though, she'd rather not have talked about it. The scene was beyond explanation, she thought to herself. Somebody so stoic couldn't be possibly hiding a girlfriend from her - could he? But that's not something she wanted to delve on that morning, the very thought boiled her blood.

"I got your bragmail last night," Ellie segued "you're saying that you can create an intelligent program that learns from how a character moves ingame and make it into an ultra-realistic copy of its personality? Sounds fishy."

A man came alongside her and sat in almost the same manner. He wore long hair, box glasses with an umistakable maroon long-sleeved polo with oversized disco-era collars, giving him the look of a hippie lost in time. His face, though of youth, looked more like in his early twenties with stubbles of roughly shaven facial hair and a more ruggedly chiseled face.

"That's the long and short of it. Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of creating an entire race of independent bots. Like a tamagotchi of sorts. Imagine, your very own personal army ingame of not just dumb bots, but almost living things that learn and evolve," replied the young senior.

"Holy s--t, Jerimiah Esteves! We're going to be rich with this kind of project!"

The young man locked Ellie's neck with his arm and drew her close. "HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU NOT TO USE MY FULL NAME?? JEEVES. JEEVES!"

Ellie buried her elbow into the groin of the man called Jeeves with considerable violence. "Fine, but that doesn't give you a right to go cuddle up like that - Jeeves. God, why do you fancy such a stupid name?"

Jeeves almost fell back from his seat in anguish. "fine," he grumbled in fetal position, "you're fiesty as ever. I still can't get over that side of yours." Jeeves gave out a grunt of pain.

Then came something unexpected. Ellie turned to Jeeves and moved his face towards hers. She titled a bit and kissed him in the lips lightly. The boy flushed red.

"Jeeves, we tried didn't we?" Ellie spoke softly, "it didn't work out. And if you ask me, I'd still really love to have you as a very good friend. You're a good guy and you're going to make a girl really happy one day. I'll be rooting for my favorite lab assitant till that happens."

The melodied lunch bell rang all over the campus, muffling a young man's sigh. Ellie just put on the similar happy-greet face she had beforehand. Jeeves stood up and faced the strong winds from the field.

"Classes are starting," said Jeeves while watching a faint outline of a familiar figure walking with another student in civilian clothes along an unroofed walk leading towards the building, "We should go downstairs now."

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 5:00 pm

Chapter 13: The Classroom

"What now?" Rayn asked Celestine. In front of them was room V405 of the Engineering building. For that period, it was to be venue for the General Philosophy class of Professor Bridge Roxas. The young man patted his forehead, "I don't think she's the type to allow sit-in students in her class, specially the type that's not even enrolled."

The young priestess smiled as she walked into the room and straight towards Miss Roxas who at that time was busy writing something on her table while waiting for classes to start. "Let me handle this then," Celestine said in passing. Rayner could only wonder at what she's going to pull off next.

The young priestess raised her hand and then placed two of her fingers into her lips as she whispered to herself, "Cirrus auri. Divini vi ruwachis. Ensebles felisus. Pnumasei Pneuma - the breathing divine ." She then pointed back at the open door as though she was pointing to the Rayner who was standing there. There was a faint trace of blue mist coming from the tips of her fingers.

"Me?" Rayner asked, whispering. Celeste snickered and shook her head. "No, behind you." Rayner turned and almost died of fright as he saw a towering caucasian Brother in friar's clothes standing right behind him.

The Brothers ran the University. They were the ones who founded the institue almost a century ago as missionaries from France. And although they were the most influential people on campus, they were rarely seen mingling with its populous, giving them an illuminati-like status. And yet, here was one, right beside him.

The brother walked towards the teacher's table and stood right beside the priestess. Miss Roxas immediately stopped what she was doing and stood in attention out of respect. The kindly brother gestured her as though he wanted her to sit once more.

"What can I do for you, Brother Smith?" asked the professor.

The Brother smiled and replied with a Southern State accent, "I would just like to ask if this young woman over here can sit in your class for a while as a part of an international community enrichment program. We've heard that your class is one of the few exceptional features for philosophy in this campus so we recommended her to your position."

It had caught her with her defenses down. Here was a Brother praising her for her teaching and asking her to accept a student. Professor Roxas bowed a bit and said, "I would be honored to include err..."

Celestine immediately bowed back, "Celestine EdenCourt, for your mentorship."

"Welcome to our class, Celestine. We will begin shortly," the Professor said, smiling. Rayner could only watch in disbelief. How could somebody so strange be associated with the most powerful people on Campus? He waited for both the Brother and Celestine to excuse themselves and walk out of the room. He followed them into a darkened corridor of the building.

He heared the priestess whisper, "Dispelis Pneuma - vanishing wind." And to his shock and horror, Brother Smith was gone, just like that, without an air of a trace.

"WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?" he exclaimed. Celstine turned around and smiled. "That's how you get yourself enrolled in a class with a bit of Sanctuarian arts." Rayner could only hear junk coming from Celestine. His face filled with alarm and voice with shaking, "Where did you take Brother Smith? What happened to him?"

The priestess raised an eyebrow and looked at Rayn straight on. "Hmm? There is no Brother Smith. I saw from a listing here that brotherly friars ran this school. So I invented a certain brother Smith to help me out using Pneuma."

"What."

"It's all an illusion. Haven't you ever seen any priest do a simple trick like that? What kind of backwater place is this anyway?" Celestine said with an agitated voice, "Roxas thought she knew the guy because my spell convinced her that she did."

And that was just the limit of for Rayner that morning and he would have none of it anymore. "That's it. I don't think I can take more of this." He turned his back and walked towards the main corridor to the classroom. He turned one more time to glance if it was all a trick, that Brother Smith was hiding somewhere behind him.

And before he knew it, he had bumped into somebody with an all too familiar voice.

"Watch it, Cassanova!" the voice said half shrilled and agitated.

Rayner turned and it was Ellie. And the day couldn't have started any better.

----------------

Chapter notes:
Pneuma, according to greek tradition, means air or spirit, and is generally used to describe a non-tangible influence or entity, like a ghost or an imposing belief on a person (e.g. hypnotism)

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 5:01 pm

Chapter 14: Encounter

"Ellie!" Rayner shouted in surprise, "aah, about this morning, I need to explain."

Ellie crossed her arms and stopped to raise her eyebrows, her green skirt and white blouse flapping from the strong wind coming from the terraces of the building. Trailing behind him was an equally lethargic Jeeves who merely pushed the nosebridge of his glasses upwards as he looked over Rayn's companion. Celestine didn't even bother making a reaction upon seeing Ellie again - she didn't have anything against that girl afterall.

"Hmm? I don't remember anything you have to explain. It's your life you lead, Rayn," Ellie replied with cadence, playing down whatever emotions she had - if any. She tugged Jeeves as she would a toy dog, "Jeeves let's go, we're going to be late for class."

Jeeves didn't budge at once, his eyes were still fixed to Celestine, who had been noticing the attention. After a while Celestine started glaring back with resolve.

"Jeeves? Are you coming or not?" shouted Ellie who had started off along the corridor without her companion. Neither Jeeves nor Celestine did not take heed, instead they both stood motionless with their stares.

"Are you going to stare all day?" asked Celestine, half-flushed in the cheeks but still with a very serious manner of speech, "That girl is calling you already."

Rayner couldn't even notice. At that point, all he could ever think of was how to explain things to Ellie, who from experience looked almost at her breaking point of patience.

"Rayner," Jeeves said in a flat tone without taking his eyes on the Priestess,"aren't you going to introduce your friend?" Jeeves speaking made Rayn break from his trance as if he just got out of hypnotism. Rayn stuttered for an answer, "Ah, her name is Celestine. She's uhh --"

The young man couldn't even finish his sentence before he got cut off by Celestine, "His cousin from another country. I'm here for an exchange student program. And you are?"

"Jeremiah. Jeremiah Estives," Jeeves answered back, "a friend of both Rayner and Ellie. Just call me Jeeves. Exchange student eh? So how's your experience so far?"

COUSIN? She must be crazy! Rayn almost blushed because of what he heard. He thought about it some more, if she's willing to make up that story, maybe he can also use it to explain a fake story to Ellie. Having a cousin from the States is a lot easier to justify than a half-naked girl teleporting into an empty cafe...

"I should ask you then why you stare at me like that," replied Celestine while fingercombing her hair that had become wavy as it dried out from the sun. " I'm not accustomed to the customs of this country, but I find your stare downright impolite."

Silence grew between the two. Rayner could only watch in horror the tension building up around him. Last time the priestess got mad, he recalled, the unexplainable light came out of her hand and she fainted. Not good for anybody.

Jeeves broke out with a smile and scratched his head, "Anou, sorry. Sorry for staring. I got too distracted by your looks. I didn't mean to be impolite. You reminded me so much of somebody."

"Eh?" Celestine's eyes widened, "my looks?"

"YES!" Right then and there Jeeves dropped to his knees and joined his hands in begging, " YOU LOOK EXACTLY LIKE WHAT I HAD IN MIND! PLEASE WEAR THE COSTUME I'VE MADE FOR THE NEXT COSPLAY* EVENT IN THE CAMPUS!"


Author's notes:
A Cosplay (lit. Costume Play) is the act of dressing up and imitating a fictional character, which usually comes from cartoons (anime), comics (manga), and video games. While such an activity is widely popular in Japan, it has only recently become mainstreamly accepted here in the Philippines. For more information, you can go check http://www.filcosplay.tk

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 5:02 pm

Chapter 15: Ellie and The Priestess

The school bell finally rang across the whole university, signaling the end of another subject period. Rayner stretched his arms and yawned as he stood up. Sitting right beside him was a very silent Celestine. Her face showed deep thought, eyes fixated on the scribbling from the class.

The professor quickly fixed her class materials and proceeded towards the exit of the room - but not without giving her new student a second glance. "Miss EdenCourt," she said, relaxed and quite informally, "thank you for your active participation in my class. I'm not sure why you're exactly here but you're very much welcome to join anytime."

"Thank you, Professor Roxas. It was my pleasure learning about so many things that are new to my belief system."

Rayner blinked twice as he watched his professor talk to Celestine. First day of class and she's already gained the favor of the academic terror named Roxas? "How do you do that?" he asked.

�Do what?" Celestine said as she watched the professor go out of the classroom.

Rayner waved his arms around like a flail in protest, "How do you make somebody like her recognize you as a good student? You were answering like you've been studying philosophy since gradeschool. Is there some trickery, magic behind this again?"

The priestess merely smiled, "Magic? Hell no. I read your books at home. You should try going through them sometime." Rayner pretended not hearing that and walked towards the other end of the room where Jeeves and Ellie had seated themselves.

Ellie had a different look on her face this time when she spoke in half-melancholy. "Why didn't you tell me she was your cousin earlier, Rayn? If Jeeves did not tell me during class I would have never known!"

"Well it's not like you gave me a chance to explain eh?" replied Rayn, "She came in last night in soaking wet clothes so she had to borrow mine for a while." Celestine came out of nowhere and followed up, "I got robbed of my luggage on the way to Rayn's place."

Ellie gave Celestine a puzzled look. She should be relieved by now that that girl is just a cousin, but why could she not feel at peace? "Oh, it can't be helped that Rayn's communication skills is about as adept as a mountain gorilla. By the way, my name is -"

The priestess cut Ellie off even before she could introduce herself, "Elenore. I've read about you in an article in the college newspaper clippings lying around Rayn's apartment. You're a good martial artist it says."

That said, the girl's guard went down and drowned in a haze of her own self-esteem. "Ahahaha~! I'm not as good as they say! I'm just twice as lucky as my opponents," said Ellie who at that time looked like a million dollars had been given to her in cold cash, "RAYNER WHY DID YOU NOT FRAME THOSE LIKE I TOLD YOU??"

Rayner just gave a village idiot grin in reply. After a few moments Jeeves stood up and cleared his throat. "As much as I would want to hang around, I have to go back to the STRC building to finish some more paperwork." Ellie's reaction turned sour almost immediately. "What a nerd," she mumbles.

Jeeves then turned to the priestess, "Celestine, thanks for agreeing to wear the costume. I'll be bringing it tomorrow so you can fit it first. And yeah, I'll let you tailor it to your liking as promised."

The room was almost empty already, as there was no longer any class after Miss Roxas' Rayn nudged Celestine a bit, "Are you sure about this costume-wearing-gig? I can't believe you said yes."

Celestine flapped her shirt. "Compared to these? If I could, I'd rather not be wearing anything. And besides... I..." her voice trailed off. That said, Jeeves slightly bowed and exited the room.

"Hey!" Rayn's eyes dilated. He placed both of his hands atop Ellie and Celestine's heads. "You two are of the same body size. Ellie, can you lend her some clothes until she can get hers?"

Ellie smiled with the end of her lips showing slight tremble. "Err, okay. I have extra clothes that my sister sent me that I don't use right now. Though I'm not sure they will be to your liking."

"Anything but these clothes," the young Priestess replied, eyes turned at Rayn who was washing every drop of guilt by starting somewhere else and whistling, "I feel like I'm going to grow a moustache if I keep on wearing these."

It looks good on you anyway, Rayner thought for a moment but saved it from being heard.

"Well, I guess we shouldn't be wasting time," Ellie said, "shall we drop by my house later Celestine?"

"Call me Cel," Celestine replied while smiling. It was the first real smile Rayn had seen on her since they met and with that image he told himself, perhaps this day isn't as bad as he had thought after all.

Or was it?

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 5:02 pm

Chapter 16: Clarifications

"So where are you exactly from, Cel?" asked Ellie while the three were walking along the sidewalk just outside the University gates. Rayner was caught off guard because of the question. Sure they had the cousin albi going on already but what about that Pronte - froter - Frontero place she had been talking about? How will he explain that?

"I'm from Prontera," Celestine said without even thinking twice, "I need to go back there soon because the people might be looking for me." Ellie stopped walking.

"Prontera?" asked Ellie with a very surprised face.

Rayn's heart began beating wildly. She's now going to find out of how he had met her. So much for the i-am-his-cousin cover. Rayner nervously awaited crud to hit the proverbial fan.

"Oh cool!" Ellie exclaimed, "What server do you play in?"

Server? Prontera? That wasn't exactly the reaction Rayner had been waiting for. He stopped to see the reaction of Celestine. She looked just as puzzled. "Server?" the priestess asks.

"Uhuh. Which server are you part of?" asked Rayn's friend as they crossed the street brimming with what seemed to Celestine as an endless stream of beastless carriages spewing foul dragon smoke.

Celestine closed her eyes and thought for a moment. "I serve only Odin." Ellie looked at her in a strange manner for a moment but she smiled again, "Oh cool! I'm in Odin too. I usually hang out with my guildmates by the flower girl at the west Kafra."

Alien language. Each and every word of it, thought Rayner, alien language! Was this an elaborate prank orchestrated by Ellie? Rayner said to himself. Was Cel a friend of Ellie she had left inside the cafe to surprise him? Too shady. Or was it part of the plan to? And what about him hitting her in the head? Preposterous � that couldn�t have been faked.

"That's great!" Celestine shrilled with excitement, clasping both of her hands almost immaculately enthusiased. "So how do you go to Prontera from here? Is it just nearby?"

Ellie merely shrugged as she crossed yet another block, "Shouldn't you be asking your cousin who runs an internet cafe? We try to keep that place clean of keyloggers so you can go play Ragnarok there without worries of getting hacked."

So Celestine was talking about a game earlier? No wonder he couldn't figure out what she was talking about no matter how hard he tried! Still though, why would a complete stranger ask where she can play that game Ragnarok when he found her inside an internet cafe?

"Right Rayn?" Ellie followed up with a rising tone.

"What?"

"She can go play Ragnarok in your cafe safely," replied Ellie, stammering, "Geez, you're spacing out again, Cloud Nine."

The priestess walked past the two friends and stopped half a meter ahead. "WAIT! I'm not asking where I can play this game you call Ragnar Hawk! I really need directions to Prontera."

At this point even Ellie had lost it. "Prontera? As in a real place? Rayn, your cousin is really one hard core gamer." She extended her hand towards Rayn's shoulder who shoveled it off with his own, seemingly insulted.

"You tell me, Ellie, and I thought you two were the ones who understood each other. So she was talking about Ragnarok Online, the game you�re playing all this time?" replied Rayner. Ellie at that time seemed too preoccupied watching Celestine bob and weave her head as she read all signs from street posts, billboards, establishments.

Then, they saw Celestine's face light up at the same time. It was like watching a kid get to choose candy from the shop. Rayner hesitated to turn his head to where Celestine's glare was frozen, but it couldn't be helped, Ellie was staring too.

"A CHURCH!"

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 5:03 pm

Chapter 17 : The Priestess of the Church

"Can somebody please explain to me what's getting her so riled up all of a sudden? Don't they have churches in Prontewhachamacallit province that girl is from?" asked Rayner as he watched Celestine hurry up the masoned steps of the church in a careful calculated flurry of dainty steps.

"Hey, she's your cousin!" replied a surprised Ellie who gave Rayn a snappy slap at the back of his head, "you should at least know how she thinks like. And besides, what does Prontera having a cathedral got to do with her getting all excited like that?"

Rayner riled a bit and shouted back, "I have no idea. It's not like I've known her all my life okay? I'm not even sure where she came from."

In a few seconds the priestess had already gone inside the church through its menacing wooden doors. The two friends stood outside and waited for what was going to happen. It wasn't everyday that they had to enter that place with such an urgent, embarrassing objective.

"So do we go in?" asked Ellie. Rayner shrugged, answering "Could be trouble if we follow her in there." Ellie walked by the doors and found Celestine nowhere in sight, "She's gone. Wait - what do you mean you don�t know where she's FROM?"

"Well," Rayner tried to improvise as casually as he could, "from what I remember she was in the States a few years ago. But when we got to talking again this morning, she was babbling all nonsense about Prontega."

"PRONTERA," Ellie lambasted Rayner. "It's a town in the game called Ragnarok Online. And it's mighty weird of her to have said that when I was asking where she's from in real life. It's like she's an addict or one helluva roleplayer."

"Could be none of the above," replied Rayner, thinking about the other weird things that had happened to him that day with her. He himself was starting to start thinking thoughts. Funny thoughts, at that time, but thoughts that begin to take hold by the grace of possibility.

"Or both."
"Or she's just plain crazy."
"Crazy is good."
"So do we fetch crazy before she does something really, really sinister inside that church?"
"Let's."

----------------------------------------------------

Celestine tried to restrict the excitement brewing in her face. In the place of sanctity, one should always be as composed as possible. Her dash became brisk steps that clitter-clattered across the tiled floors of the cathedral. She looked for any acolytes that might attend to a high priestess like her to no avail. She thought, hmmm, maybe it's because I'm not dressed in my usual attire. Her missionary friends had mentioned before that clerics from the province can't tell a high priestess as easily through aura alone.

There were no candles in the place, only steadily-glowing electric bulbs that she could have only seen in the industrial cities of Einbroch or Aldebaran. The usual music of the Sanctuarium wasn�t playing either, but other than that, everything looked normal.

The high priestess reached the sacrosanct tabernacle but found nobody around. She waited for a few moments and heard somebody walking around the side of the church pews. It was a woman upon closer inspection, coming out of the confession box.

"Pardons," Celestine whispered but with urgency, "may I know where I can find the monsignor of this cathedral?" The woman smiled warmly, "Yes, he's still hearing confessions. You can talk to him in that box I came from." Celestine gave a soft bow and then moved towards the box where she was greeted by a warm, seasoned voice from behind the elaborately-carved wooden screen.

"Greetings, child. My name is Father Paul. Are you here for confession?"

"Actually father," replied Celestine in her most formal tone yet, "I'm lost and I don�t know the way home."

"A runaway, I see."

"Not really. I don't even know why or how I got here where I am right now. I'm supposed to be looking after children and now I don't even know where I am!"

"Yes, well there are those times that we just need to step back from the busy world we live in and reflect on what decisions we've made so we can rediscover our way back to our state of peace. Perhaps I might be able to help."

Celestine started sweating, that wasn't the sort of conversation she was expecting. And it's not like High-Priestesses would have to hear what lower clerics have to say about advice! Father Paul continued talking, about something from his past that could have related to a nonexistent problem of being a runaway, but Celestine no longer listened, she just waited for him to stop a bit so she could finally ask him what she needed.

But it didn't come too soon as it turned out.

"... and so I said to myself, 'This may be God's way of calling me to priesthood'. I felt that I could..." Father Paul lectured on.

"FATHER!" interrupted Celestine. Father Paul unghed in befuddlement. The interrogative interjection was loud enough to have been heard outside the confessional.

"What is it child?"

The high priestess took one deep breath. "I'm not here to listen to your oratorio. I'm High Priestess Celestine of the third Payonese Diocese and I need a quick warp to Prontera's Sanctuarium or that of any town within the Swarchzwald republic. I'll send for the payment for any blue gemstones that you might need for the arcana's casting."

There was silence for a while. Father Paul barely moved from his seat and Celestine strained for his reply.

"I'll just ask one question, and I hope it's nothing too private," Father Paul said, more slowly this time around as though sensing any sort of negative reaction from Celestine. "Yes?" asked Celestine, expecting him to look for credibility for her request since that's pretty much standard operating procedure for emergency warps.

"Are you on drugs, child? I mean, are you using substances that could be bad for you?"

It took a short while before things registered in the quiet priestess's thoughts. Celestine's vision dimmed. "WHAT??"

"It seems your problem is a lot bigger than I had thought child. Have you talked to your parents about this?"

And that's about as much the high priestess could take. Without a word she stood up and walked away from the confessional, fists clenched and blood pumping twice faster than normal. She quickly headed for the outside to get air and just before she stepped out she half-shrilled "I AM NOT ON DRUGS! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?"

Father Paul didn�t bother going out of the confessional box. Inside, he took off his glasses and wiped them once with his robe , shrugged, and merely smiled. "Kids nowadays."

----------------------------------------

Outside, Rayner and Ellie got greeted by an incensed Cel already on her way out. The high priestess ignored them and continued walking past.

"What's with your cousin?" asked a very puzzled Ellie, "did she enter the wrong church or something?"

Rayner stretched his arm forward and began following the priestess. "Maybe she's at that time of the month again. You're not too far off from behaving like that during your period." Ellie prompted with another slap at the back of his head, "SEXIST!"

The sun had started setting and the skies blazed crimson. Rayner had already gotten to thinking that he was probably with two of the world's worst women. Somebody who doesn�t know what she wants and the perfect sadist - what a combination.

The three started walking again towards their destination when they heard a rowdy voice from behind with a backwater accent of a provincial, "There. You. ARE!"

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 5:04 pm

Chapter 18: Hammer and Sickle

Rayner used his hands for visoring off the setting sun to see who it was that had called them from the other end of the block. There were silhouettes of two men not too far from where he stood. After a while, his eyes adjusted some more - their blue khakis and sungleamed golden pins at the right hand collar of their white polos were tell-tale signs that they were from the Eagle Royale University - a rival school of their university in almost any active field.

Ikonoka: Eagle Royale University AMP!! lol!

"Well if it isn't the Markus Brothers," shouted Ellie in a boisterous voice with her hands at her waist. Rayner and Celestine observed from behind Ellie quietly. There was a sharp chill in the evening wind that passed once by that street.

A man with a clean flat-top cut standing at six feet easy took one step forward. "So nice of you to remember us," He flexed his head from side to side. "I sure hope you also remember why we've come here."

Rayner glared at Ellie intently. For some reason he already knew where this was heading.

"You were in my way, Hammer," replied Ellie with indignation, "As a faithful member of my university I just had to kick your ass."

"Please tell me you didn't," whispered Rayner while covering his face with one hand, "that temper of yours will surely get you killed someday." Celestine didn't make comment; she instead appeared to be getting really impatient, as though the even earlier with Paul the cleric still hadn't left her thoughts.

"You were in our territory, Taekwondo Princess." followed up the smaller student who sported a mullet and roughly shaven facial hair, "and I can't call kicking Hammer once and running away for dear life 'kicking our arses'."

"Well now, Sick Sickle, I guess I have to repeat things for you so you can remember better how your ass got beaten eh? No wonder you guys are still studying at that age - yo helluva dumb!"

"You'll eat that arrogance from the tip of my shoe, witch." said a more agitated Hammer.

At this point Rayner started walking towards the students from the rival school. "Now, now, I don't think there's a need for this. I'm sure there's nothing we can talk over a nice game of Warcraft."

Sickle, the thinner of the two looked at Hammer once and smiled. He approached Rayner who was halfway across the block already. Tension grip Ellie at that time, she knew there wasn't a chance she could stand ground by herself and had been counting on Rayner to fight as well.

Rayner's sweat began gathering by his forhead. He swallowed his saliva and put his hands inside his pockets. All this fighting is stupid. Silly Ellie, always throwing weight around - and in the worst places too.

"Listen," Rayn said to Sickle as they finally met face to face, "I'm sorry if Ellie had been so much trouble. Maybe we can find something to make up for - "

The young man suddenly found himself gasping for air and unable to move. Half a second later, pain gripped his abdomen, shock traveling all over his body. His sentence didn't even get finished. He looked down and saw Sickle's fist buried halfway into his crumpled polo. That was the last thing he saw before things blurred before his eyesight.

"That's what you get for interfering with our business," replied the kid in the mullet. Hammer chuckled from behind him as he too began walking forward.

Celestine still did not speak, but there was a noticeable flame of surprise in her eyes. Her trance was broken when she heard Ellie charge towards the two in rage.

"Kiyaaa~!" shouted Ellie as she launched a half-roundhouse at the larger of the two. Hammer was prepared though, as the movement seemed slower than her usual kick that made her famous during tournaments.

"Too slow," said Hammer. He gripped Ellie's leg with his blocking hand and then launched a slap that threw Ellie off her feet. "You're looking at the new head of the shootfighting club of the Eagles." Celestine began looking around and found that the place hardly had any people passing through it at that time. Ellie looked fazed to Cel, but a quick glance told her that the girl was as tough as she claimed.

Hammer and Sickle found themselves out of opponents and turned their sights on the slowly approaching Celestine, ever composed and seemingly indifferent at what had happened to her friends.

"Aren't you gonna help them, missy?" asked Sickle with a singsong tone. Hammer gave a mock salute at the priestess. But Celestine kept walking. This behaviour apparently ticked the two off more.

Sickle grabbed Celestine by her shoulder and said, "Don't tell me you're just going to walk away from those two!?"

"Those two have done nothing to merit my help. It would be in your best interest though if you release me at once before I find a reason to make you grovel at my feet at the risk of pain," monotonically declared the priestess.

Hammer, overhearing everything go the short end of the string of patience. He raised his hand once more and brought it down on Celestine. Though, this time, it was his turn to be too slow.

Too slow by a league.

Even before the blow could reach halfway towards its target, Celestine already had landed the counterattack. The bottom of Cel's joined hands swinging a seemingly invisible bat landed on Hammer's abdomen, with force enough to drain air out of his chest with a grunt. All this executed with inhuman speed though Celestine's calm expression barely changed.

Seeing this, Sickle also launched a full punch of his own. Celestine turned away from the collapsing Hammer and then spread the palm of right hand right at the rushing Sickle.

"Repellum velinci, torres fuegos il negras, Kyrie Eleison!" she said in half a breath.

The blow never came.

Sickle bounced off his feet and landed smack solid on the pavement. A glass-like refraction appeared for a few short seconds in the air and then disappeared again. Sickle, seeing his fallen comrade wasn't getting up anytime soon, faced the priestess again.

"You'll pay for this, you wench!"

"You shouldn't go on calling people names, you know," replied Celestine as she began walking towards a wobbly-footed Sickle, "Specially those people you know you can't stand up against. Never mock High Priestesses who can turn you into juicy pulp as easily as crushed grape."

Sickle took something out from his pocket and swung it open with a snicker in his face. It was a knuckleduster. This time he really meant business. He rushed towards Celestine again in a zigzagged manner. The priestess fanned out her right hand again.

"Repellum velinci, torres fuegos il negras, Kyrie Ele - "

Celestine felt a sudden wave of pain grip her as she tried uttering the same words. She was rendered unable to move and her vision blurred. Sickle's fist landed on her abdomen uninterrupted, causing her to squeal in pain and fall flat back on the pavement.

The aggressor laughed merrily and stepped on Celestine's abs. "Repayment for what you did to Hammer, bitch. That's what your arrogance gives you."

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Six blocks away, inside the confines of the LAZARUS control facility, Chris and Jeeves were facing the same set of green-glow monitoring equipment intently, "There it is! The power rating is spiking again!" shouted Chris excitedly.

"That's it. The limit value we set has been reached already. If the power drain goes more than that, this machine will run out of electricity to power its own processors," replied Jeeves with a serious tone. "LAZARUS will die if this continues."

"Ah, but we won't see the real capabilities of our specimen if we don't give it what it wants!" retorted a very exited Christian. This was what he was waiting for! A chance to see what LAZARUS could really do! "Wait till the Brothers see this!" he exclaimed.

"Christian!" shouted Jeeves in slaps and fraps, "We don't even know what the LAZARUS is doing right now! It's too dangerous to remove the limiter."

"Just do it," Christian replied in a very serious tone without even taking his eyes off the monitors.

"What?" Jeeves could not believe what he was hearing. To his all knowledge, Christian's feelings for the project was for it to end as quickly as possible and as safely as possible. He had always been the worry wart in the project - for him to be this reckless - to give LAZARUS power was very much unlike him. "We shouldn't do that, Christian. People could get hurt."

Christian took out a cigarette stick seemingly out of nowhere and lit it with his stainless lighter, "Do it or I'll have you and Elenore's scholarships cancelled."

It was surreal, like a dream, what Jeeves was hearing. Threats? But now the stakes have been raised. The scholarship had to stay, if not for him, for his friend or rather, the love of his life, Elenore. "DAMMIT," he whispered to himself as he twisted the knob of the variable resistor serving as the limiter to the server's power consumption and watched with a sour face the readings of the power consumption go beyond the normal levels.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ellie's senses slowly returned with the sting of a fresh headache. Now she's really gotten herself into more trouble than she bargained for - and it was her fault that both Rayn and his cousin are in danger as well. She looked around and almost went down in tears to see Rayner still down along with - could it be? Hammer! The shootfighting champion of ER University! She looked for Sickle and found him standing with one foot on top of a shrivelling Celestine - screams audible even from the considerable distance.

She had to fight back. It was her fight after all. Ellie struggled to stand up - fighting at this state was no good.

And then, what she saw then wasn't anything she could have explained.

A shot of white light similar to a powerful camera flash blinded her for a few moments. When the her eyes readjusted she saw a very different scene. Celestine's eyes were burning red instead of the hazel brown. There was a devil's smile plastered across her face as she was lifting Sickle by the collar with but one arm.

The air felt electrified as all hairs from Ellie's arms started standing out. She watched in horror as Celestine swung her arm and threw Sickle effortlessly across the street as though he was no more than a practice dummy no more than a couple of pounds. Sickle didn't even scream anymore - by all evidence he looked unconscious if not dead.

In an ethereal voice, Celestine pointed her right palm towards the fallen enemy. It started glowing with the similar light that she had seen explode just a few seconds before. "Grovel or die,� the priestess whispered.

"No..." Ellie muttered to herself, attempting to shout but losing to the lack of strength she had. This is too much already. Even with what has already happened, there was something in her that was telling her that whatever it was she was going to do was going to be fatal for Sickle.

The light became too bright after a while and Ellie was no longer able to stare at it. She turned away and waited for the worst. But slowly she felt the light dying down. She looked again and saw a different scene. It was Rayner, barely able to stand, holding the extended arm of the priestess and propping himself up against her by crossing his other arm across her chest.

"No," she faintly heard Rayner speaking, "you mustn�t use that."

Celestine turned her sight towards Rayn with a seemingly stiffened neck. Her face, still expressionless. Rayn shook his head in disapproval. Slowly the fire in Cel's eyes began dying down. She looked at Rayn's arm holding the glow, it was heavily charred already, skin and clothes flaking off as black ash.

"I - I don't want you to get hurt again."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There was silence inside the LAZARUS chamber. Jeeves was expressionless, stern. There was undeniable delight in Christian's face. The readings returned back to normal, halfway below the green line that was labeled "threshold" on the monitor. To the side of teh screen, a small message was flashing. Override chip deactivated. Jeeves knew all too well what had just happened.

"I don't know what this is all about anymore," muttered Jeeves as he stood up and removed his lab coat again.

Smoke clouds filled the room again, along with the clickety clack of lighter being opened and closed repeatedly. "Well we're close to finishing the tests aren�t we? All we have to do is wait for her to turn up in the news."

Jeeves glared at his partner. As he was halfway out of the room already. An explosion of silence.

"What is it?" replied Christian in a raised voice, "do you have something to say?"

"Fuck you and your goddamned smokes. I'm outta here."

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 5:07 pm

Chapter 19: Acceptance

The sun had already fully set when the three reached the Byte Zone internet cafe Ė the place where Rayn was working in. There were very few players at that time, as the busy midterms examinations had taken its toll on the regular player's morale. The hardcores where there still, though as nothing short of a biblical catastrophe could have prevented them from playing their favorite network games.

Rayner waved at the current shopkeep as the three rugged-out souls passed by the shopkeep's corner. The shopkeep looked relieved in waving back. Celestine walked as though nothing had happened while Ellie had been unusually silent ever since they found themselves running towards the cafe to the sound of sirens.

The three entered the crew quarters, a room just behind the store counter large enough with its own wash sink and foldable bed. During normal days, this was where Rayner would take his breaks from work - but not today. An electric fan stood at one corner, lazily left switched on probably by one of the other shopkeeps. Aside from the gentle whir of the fan, silence filled the room.

Ellie finally broke the silence with a toothed smile, "Well now, I'll just go check up on shopkeep Bryan first. I'm sure he doesn't appreciate the extended shift he had to do because you're late."

Rayner nodded at the exit of his friend. She was a strong girl indeed worthy of winning the Taekwondo tournament, being able to keep a face like that just after a brawl.

"Rayner," said Celestine with a bedroom voice as they sat in bed after Ellie had left. "I didn't know what happened back there. It was like my head was filled with bloodlust.Ē

The priestess grew silent as though reflecting. ďI've never encountered something like that before."

Rayn was quick to respond this time, forcing a smile amidst his inflamed left cheek, "You got carried away; that's all. We all get that sometimes. Except for my case, I still get beaten up."

The priestess stood up and faced the sink within the small room. She appeared uncomfortable with the topic, breathing in light, short bursts. "A-nyway," she said with a spark of hesitation, "Thanks. I don't know what would have happened to me had I gone like that longer."

It was Raynerís turn to be silent. It took a while for him to let everything he saw and felt sink in. The gruesome nature of her anger made him shiver at the thought but her gentle way of saying thanks was enough to break things even. Still, once again she had demonstrated her out-of-this-world properties, which made everything else that happened that day sound trivial and trite.

Hammer, Sickle, Ellie - him. They were all there and they all saw what Cel did, if they knew what they were seeing.

It was, for once, for Rayner, believable.

"So you really do have powers," he said as he looked at Celestine. "It's like those powers are always harming people, if not others, it's you. Everytime you use it, it's as though your life is being siphoned away from your body."

The priestess didn't reply, instead hopped sideways towards Rayn's side of the bed. "Lift your shirt," she asked politely.

"What are you doing?" Rayn asked with a slightly raised voice and flushed cheeks. Celestine's pragmatic stare gave him the assurance he badly needed to obey her. He slowly lifted the shirt to reveal a hideously darkened surface of his skin from the fight earlier.

Then, there was singing. It was Celestine, in a voice that sounded like a choir's filling the entire room. She fixed her hands over the blackened area and Rayn watched the priestess's hands glow again, this time with a greenhouse glow.

Heat flowed into his body, as though he was imbibing alcohol directly to his stomach. Rayner's body jerked a bit at the feeling but he became accustomed to it after a while. Before long, the glowing stopped, and the singing finally vanished. What was left was Rayn and a smiling Celestine, looking at the previously blackened area with satisfaction.

It was gone like nobody had punched Rayn in that area a few minutes ago. He stood up in disbelief.

"At least that much I can still do," Celestine said clasping her hands, addressing nobody in particular. "When I was but an acolyte, doing healing was so easy for me, I actually forgot the purpose of what I was doing. Having reduced power like this, I learn to appreciate what I was trained to do again. A priestess's powers is never intended to harm anyone. We are disciples of God and our job is to help people be relieved from the pain of life."

Trained to do? Rayner scratched his head. "So you mean to say, you're a priestess from Prontera who accidentally appeared in my shop because you were trying to escape from something and all these powers I'm seeing are because of your position?"

The heavy look on the priestess vanished almost instantly. "It took you THAT long to figure that out? What have I been babbling about all this time? Are you deaf? Do your ears require healing too?"

And that's where things just didn't make sense for Rayner. He was hearing things clearly, seeing things clearly - but logic does not seem to be following up quite well the past few hours.

From behind the door, leaning on the wall a soulsmashed Ellie was listening as well. She recalled how Celestine fought, her words spoken. This lady from Prontera...

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 5:08 pm

Contacts

"Hey Rayn!" shouted Ellie's voice, an injection into the silence, "Brian's left already. You should start manning the cash register. I'm going to use terminal eight for awhile, okay? I need to check my mail."

Rayn took heed and stood up from the bed. "Well now," he said to the melancholic priestess, "whatever happened earlier shouldn't be a reason for us to be down and out. I guess that's one of the things that I admire about Ellie. She moves on quite fast. We should be looking up to her a bit more."

Celestine peeped at Ellie from behind the counter. True enough, she looked like she had been enjoying herself perusing the strange looking box flashing random images in front of her. Perhaps, Rayn is right. She just had to look into the brighter side of things.

"I'll be at the counter. Maybe you'll remember something about where you're from if you hang out here for a while," Rayn said as he walked towards the corner where the cash register was located, in his hand, a slightly bent metal-bound notebook. Celestine nodded with an escaping thought that the notebook looked slightly familiar.

The priestess went out of the confines of the storekeep's area. She noticed the occasional stolen glances from the casual gamers but didnít mind it. A high-priestess was a sight to behold after all. She looked around the place and found it rather familiar, though it was dark the first time she was around. There was nothing special about it. It was clear the spatial displacement spell she cast right after she awoke had just sent her there. But where was she exactly from before that?

A guy sitting beside where Celestine stood up and in doing so, accidentally spilled a bottle of water placed beside his office-type chair. Celestine glanced at the spill and then suddenly flashbacks from the past started flooding in.

Waking up in a tank filled with liquid, clothes different from what she was wearing and her arms and chest filled with wiring. There were whirring sounds inside that tank, after which the strangely coloured water was drained. She remembered gasping for air inside the chamber, and then forcing her way out into a wider opening that was filled with ivory tiles. Panic stricken, she did what any cleric would do as a final resort.

Teleport.

A tap on Celestine's shoulder brought her back to the here and now. She was at the cafe again, clothed and dry and without the wires and strange fluid. It was more like a dream - no, something more real as though it really happened.

"Are you okay?" asked a feminine voice. It was Ellie. Celestine sighed in relief - move on as fast as you can like her, the priestess said to her self. "I'm fine," she replied to Ellie.

"You said earlier that you're from Prontera-Odin right? I think I still have my old account there. You mind if we play along for a minute?"

Prontera. Upon hearing the very word, Celestine's face lit up. "How can we get there?"

Ellie went back to her seat. "Terminal nine," she said, "it'd be nice if we're seated together. And donít worry about the payment." Will two clicks of the mouse, Ellie launched the client program for Ragnarok Online. Celestine sat at terminal nine but kept her eyes glued to the strange box labeled "Phoenix Monitor". There were images of people with clothing similar to hers on the screen - a whitesmith, a high wizard, and an assassin cross among others. Ellie typed a few letters that appeared on screen on selected boxes. The boxes said Login and Password.

There was tension in that little corner of the cafe. Not too far away was an oblivious Rayner, sketching the time away like he always did. Or perhaps it was not time he wanted away - it was the horrid memories from earlier.

The high priestess clutched her fists and braced for seeing the "Prontera" again. Ellie had been talking about. Finally, home - she whispered to herself. Ellie looked at Celestine with very serious eyes and then clicked again, this time a box with the name "Odin (23431)". And the screen went blank for a while.

-Now Loading-

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 5:09 pm

Encounter

Rayner's attention was caught by a very loud bang. No, it wasn't a bang. It was more like the door of the cafe slamming very hard. The other cafe players stopped playing and looked at where the sound had come from. Whoever had slammed the door wide open wasn't there anymore.

The bleat and beep of the computers filled in the gap left by the fleeting noise. Rayn looked around and saw Ellie still sitting at terminal eight, staring at the screen though motionless. He looked around further - Celestine was nowhere to be found within the cafe.

"Where is Cel?" asked Rayner as he dashed for the only person who was probably unsurprised by the loud door bang. "Did she leave this place?"

Ellie rose from her seat without a word, eyes closed and eyebrows crossed. "She ran out. I wouldn't blame her for being frightened like that."

It might have been the thick evening air - or the thick heat exhausts of the computers - or something completely different - but one thing was for sure; Rayner felt rage within him, frustration. Something was terribly wrong and he dared not ask what.

"Help me find her," Rayn said sternly at Ellie, "She might get lost."

The young man was halfway out the door already when he heard Ellie reply, "Tell me one thing first. I need to know."

"What is it?" said Rayn.

The young woman still standing in front of terminal eight spoke softly, "She's not your cousin, is she?"

Now wasn't the time for this, thought Rayn. "No, she's not. And it's not even what you're thinking. I'll explain later."

"No," Ellie replied, "That's all I need to know. Let's go look for her."

Night had completely fallen when they reached the main street. Street lamps and car lights illuminated the walkways and byways whence the sun had made the shadow dance slowly during the day. The two friends stopped near the intersection.

"She can only go to so many places," said Rayner, "We should try going back to the university first." Ellie nodded, but was clearly deep in thought with her eyes furrowed and lips locked tight.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Halfway back to the campus, Rayner was stopped once more by a familiar face. Ellie was likewise surprised by the presence, but she was equally unperturbed.

"You guys look like you've been to a disaster area. What the hell happened?" said a voice in front of them. Rayner smiled a bit as he panted from the sudden stop from running.

"Jeeves! We just had a run-in with some Eagles who had beef with little miss warfreak over here. Long story," Rayner tried to reply as calmly as he could, but still with slight vibrato in his voice.

�Why am I not surprised?� said the man appeared to be Jeeves while looking at their battle wounds with a puzzled face. "Seems Celestine is not with you guys? Is she okay?"

Uncertainty took over Rayner. What should he say that wouldn't make Jeeves suspect anything? The incident earlier was enough to prove to him how unstable Cel could become. Celestine confirmed this herself. At that point, the young man didn�t know what to make of things anymore.

And it seemed Ellie knew better. As always.

"She's going to stay in my place, Jeeves. She had to get permission from her aunt," Ellie replied with a smile. Rayner stared at her as she said those words - she's the perfect gambler, he thought.

Jeeves shrugged. "Oh in that case, I'll just have the costume I asked her to wear sent to your place."

"Nah," Ellie said, "send it to Rayn's. She hasn't packed yet so I'm pretty sure it'd be easier for her if she got it there."

"Whatever you say," Jeeves answered back, "Just tell her I was looking for her okay?"

Ellie gave a thumbs up, and Jeeves tipped an make-believe hat and went on his way. Rayner quietly observed the conversation of the two and politely bowed slightly at Jeeves' passing.

The moment the lab assistant was gone after turning around a block. Rayner turned to Ellie. "Tell me," he said with an exhausted tone, "what really happened inside the cafe? Why would she run out like that?"

Ellie went to the nearest wall by the sidewalk and listed her back, one foot propped against the wall. "First, I think you should tell me who Celestine is."

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 5:09 pm

Elenore's Discourse

And then there was no sense of hurriedness anymore, Rayner knew that all things needed to be sorted out just had to be sorted out. And this was the golden moment to get it over with. As with any stretch of effort in life - direction is paramount. Direction can only be achieved once things are clarified.

Rayner finally explained how everything happened - Celestine's mysterious appearance, how he had knocked her out, brought her to his flat, and escorted her to school. Ellie for her part made no disagreement whatsoever and just listened quietly, much to Rayner's surprise.

"I see," she replied at the end of Rayn's quick tale.

Rayner looked at Ellie, still in deep thought. "You're not least bit surprised?"

"Actually, it's all just beginning to make sense," replied Ellie to the cacophony of a honking car passing by. Rayner was intent in knowing what Ellie knew - but first, one last salvo.

"She was able to summon a Brother out of thin air, make do her bidding and then let the person vanish into thin air to its will. There's also that incident this morning where I suddenly lost my voice. And then she healed my wounds without any medicine whatsoever. What's not surprising about that? It's like she came from some cursed tape played on a black and white TV."

Elenore smiled. "Earlier, when I picked a fight with the Markus brothers, I thought I could take them on; Turns out I've overestimated them and ended up getting whipped."

Rayner remembered how it all happened. Of course it was all Ellie's fault. But it wasn't like her to bring up the past like that. There was probably something relevant about it.

"What has that got to do with Celestine?"

The young woman began walking again. Rayner followed, expecting the answer.

"I saw it with my own eyes too. Hammer's punch was repelled by nothing but thin air," Ellie exhorted, "And the light that flashed before my eyes when she gained second wind - it's not even human. I wouldn't believe you if I hadn't seen it personally."

The light, the fury in Celestine's eyes - Rayner remembered them all too well. There was demonic rage in her, different from the way she was fired up when he told her about the notebook incident. "Is there anything that you know about Celestine that I donít? About the Prontera."

Ellie stopped walking and turned to Rayner. "It's okay for you not to believe what I'm going to say. I can't be certain for myself right now and I myself would rather not believe it if not for the circumstantial evidence that I'm seeing."

Rayner nodded. There was nothing he couldn't believe now.

"The real reason why I checked my mail earlier was because Jeeves sent me details, rather sketchy details about a secret project he had been working on a few days ago. He always shared these things with me because I was equally as curious. I just had to read things again," explained Ellie with a serious tone.

Rayner swallowed hard. So she did know something.

"The project is something about tapping intelligence from an existing human-to-computer interface such as a program game that constantly absorbs player characteristics into recorded data and using it to literally give life to a dummy corpus - a body so to speak."

There was nothing in what Ellie said that Rayner could even understand. It was all jargon for him after the word "tapping". "In English please, Ellie. I'm finding it hard to follow. I need to know this."

Elli took a deep breath, "In other words, they're stealing personalities from games and putting them into bodies. Like how you put a brain into a dead body - you should know where to find a brain. At first I thought the body they were mentioning were just bots in the game - programs that mimic other players and exist inside the game - and only inside the game. It's like some strange science fantasy that's too real. Too real."

"If I understand correctly, this is all too frankensteinish," Rayner interrupted, "But when you saw Celestine, you thought she was what Jeeves was working on?"

Cold winds blew Ellie's hair across her stern face. "No, I just thought she was an acquaintance of yours. There was nothing strange about her, save for the fact that she kept on asking about Prontera as though it was real."

"At least until the incident earlier?"

"Yes. I don't believe in ghosts, the supernatural, and the occult. And if ever there's something strange that's bound to happen around here, I'm confident it'd have something to do with the blasted experiments they have at STRC," said an increasingly frustrated Ellie.

"I know I shouldn't be saying this after all that's been happening but how do you prove this crazy theory of yours?" asked Rayner. The weird just got a lot weirder.

Ellie smiled and said, "Didn't I ask her to go play Ragnarok Online with me? If she indeed came from that game, seeing her origin would give some form of reaction. And it did. She was shocked out of her wits and couldn't believe it. Hence the way she ran off."

And for once that night, Rayner smiled that of appreciation at Ellie. "You know, for all that weirdness in you, I'm surprised you have all that logic intact. Thanks for telling me. It's all too unbelievable, but I have nothing else to explain it with."

Ellie brushed it off and walked slightly faster. She stretched her arms upward while walking, "I really felt bad after what had happened earlier with the Eagle students. Maybe just think of this as payback."

"I swear, you're turning more and more into a female Jeeves."

Laughter was Ellie's only answer. The young man then remembered why there were outside in the first place. "Let's talk more about this later. First, we find Celestine. She could be in danger."

"Or she could be the danger. Long story short," Ellie replied, "We're looking at a real-life character from Ragnarok Online who can use Lex Divina, Kyrie Eleison, and Heal."

She looked at the streets leading back to the ominous administration building of the university. Rayner looked one with one loud beating heart. Ellie broke the silence with one line with biblical tautology.

"We've just met a Ragnarok Online Priestess and she could be anywhere."

And then, there it was - direction.

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 5:10 pm

Savior

Celestine ran. She ran as fast as she could, as though her feet would lead her home. Back to the orphanage. Back to the kids. Back to what familiarity she longed for. Around her was no sign of it. She was lost like Father Paul had said. And seeing what looked like Prontera in a screen that looked so distant, it was just too hard for her.

Priestesses are trained to be physically tough, but there's a limit to what a weary heart can take. Wind sheared what moisture gathered in her eyelids, blurring her vision and burdening her heart.

And as though the heavens followed in condolence, heavy rain started pouring, turning the sidewalks into a battleground of puddles. Soon enough, the drizzle had embraced everything. The trees, the streets, the cars that fly by, and the priestess.

"Why!?" Celestine screamed at the dark sky above her, "Why does it always have to be me? Have I not been so obedient to the order that I had to be punished like this?!" But heaven had but silence in reply. "Answer me!"

The priestess's head began to throb, fortelling of another fever about to come down. Too much has happened in just one day. She gnashed her teeth and hated everything around her. The noise of the passing cars, the pounding rain, the occasional honk of the horn - all of it.

At that point, Celestine thought, she could do anything to get home already. There was nothing in this place for hers - and everything about it fortold of a life's plan ruined - rise to the top of the sanctuarian council - play the part of Grand Vicar in the Glast Heim campaigns -

Overshadow her father.

Then, she felt a strange sensation - a strong beat of her heart that rippled all over her body as though somebody was watching her. She looked at the other side of the busy street and saw a most strange apparition. It was a young man in feint brown robes and a silk rope sash with drooping caucasian hair sogged down by the rain standing at the opposite of the busy street. His eyes barely showed behind the bangs.

"Brother Anakris?" Celestine screamed, "Brother is that you?" Her voice seemingly drowned in the rain and flood of honks from the horseless carriages.

The man named Anakris didn't move any closer. Instead he lifted his right arm and pointed at something standing at the middle of the street. It was a street dog who had gotten lost in the middle of the intersection.

The priestess saw this and panicked. She could not understand the meaning of what had been happening. As though needing more clues, she looked back at the guy who had pointed out the dog to her but didn't find him anywhere anymore. Anakris was gone - the way he should have been all this time, Celestine thought.

But then the dog was still there. And he was in danger. Celestine shouted to the dog, "Stay there!" and for a moment it seemed to have noticed her. But it noticed her in a wrong way, much to Cel's horror. The dog began running towards the priestess, seemingly aware of the comforting aura of Priestesses but unaware of the danger it was in. But the traffic wouldn't stop for anything it can barely see.


"Stay there or you'll get killed!" Celestine shouted desperately as she dove right into the street and headed to meet off the dog midway, arms reaching for the dog. A loud blaring horn snapped her back to her senses and before she knew it, she was standing still in front of a raging truck too shocked to move.

Is this it?

Then out of nowhere arms plucked Cel out of the road and shoved her back into the elevated pavements of the side walk as the blaring horn blared and faded with the passing of the truck. Somebody had pulled her at the last possible moment. She felt her back and noticed that she had accidentally pinned whoever had helped her into the pavement. The priestess immediately composed herself and squatted while trying to untidy her jeans with her hands, "Thanks for your help Rayn..."

"Rayn?" The man got up, he was wearing a thick leather coat and seemed unfazed by what had happened. "Anyway, you shouldn't be darting into traffic like that, unless you have a deathwish," said the man in an unfamiliar voice.

It wasn't Rayner, Celestine embarassingly thought. "Sorry, I thought I was..." But the stranger didn't pay any attention. Instead, he recovered an overturned umbrella not too far from them and gave it to her. "Use this, you don't want to get any wetter than you are already."

Cel blushed a bit, it wasn't like a high priestess's lot to be taken cared of like this. She noticed the man was just watching the green light on a lamp post. After a while it turned green and the man crossed the street Celestine almost got killed in. It seems the colour of the lamp post dicated the movement of the horseless carriages - for somebody with a very high intellginence, Celestine thought, she had overlooked such a common observation.

The man went about to pick up something up, Wrapped it with his coat and then returned to where she was. The man, now coatless, was no exposed to the rain, his white collared poloshirt turning semitransparent on a rather well-shaped body. His face was chiseled, hair ubiquitously long and highlighted by thick box-shaped glasses.

"I'm glad you're safe," the man said as he lay down the object wrapped in his coat. Celestine nodded gladly. But the stranger did not faze in his expression and instead unfolded the coat.

"The dog wasn't as lucky," the stranger said, "unfortunately." He then took out a distinct lighter and a pack of cigarettes. A few gestures later he was puffing away the cold.

Celestine was too awestruck to reply. The dog was dying and she was to blame for it's condition! She broke down and slumped herself on the muddied sidewalk. The stranger caught the umbrella as she fell but didn't give her any support.

What was she to do now? If she used her powers again, something like what happened earlier with the Eagle students could be repeated. If she didn't, the dog would not be able to make it. She tried to ask for counsel from the stranger but like the apparition of Brother Anakaris, he was likewise gone.

She couldnt even thank him.

At once she was left alone with the dog, with nobody watching over them other than the tearful heavens above and the silent watching lights of the passing vehicles.

---------------------------------
Author's babblings:
One of the real reasons why W:FSP contains details very similar to what exists in real life is that it was originally designed for screenplay. (The room in the prologue is actually based on my room in real life). In the event, the story would have been portrayed by real actors in real settings in film. Part of the story still exists in Screenplay format. Maybe in the near future hahaha...

Oh yeah, the story is nowhere near conclusion but it is nearing the end of the first act.

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 5:13 pm

Dilemma

Celestine knew there was something very wrong with her powers since the night she had met Rayner. More than half the time she tried using her powers, she ended up either badly injured or badly injuring somebody she didn't intend to. But then again, Cel was the only person who could do anything for the dog at that time - at least to her knowledge.

She took a deep breath and recalled her seeing Anakris earlier. "Is this yet another one of your tests Brother?" she thought in reflection. How many years has it been? Three, four years? It didn't matter. She saw him again, and it was enough for her to know he was still around. And as though his appearance was a predefined solution to her puzzle, Cel finally knew what to do.

Because Priestesses have a sworn duty to the failing life - no matter who it belonged to.
Right, Brother Anakris? Cel asked the cleric who was never there. She kept a stern face and relaxed her body. A few moments passed and all warmth in her body started gathering in her palms placed an inch over the dog's abdomen, wet with rain and blood. It was then she started chanting:

Invocatus Animus Departos in solemni.

To the life that seeks to escape this body,
I implore you to stay in thy vessel once more
Find the purpose of a life unfulfilled,
and be it granted then you shall find the true rest

In naremus dominitri masemoni exelcis, verita vida -

GRANDES RESURRECTI.


A blue beam of light shot up into the night sky coming from the base around the priestess and the dog. Rain stopped pouring around the area as a hole opened up in the heavens, and for a moment, night became as bright as day.

Celestine opened her eyes and watched her spell in motion. Everything was right, and she had executed the magic of resurrection perfectly. She had practiced using the spell countless times in the Academy and the Sanctuary, and she was sure it wouldn't fail her when the time came.

But something was very wrong.

The dog was unflinching, and the spell was drawing out too long. Soon, Cel started feeling the effects of casting such advance arcana. First her feet felt cold, then her head throbbing even harder. All her bodily energies started being siphoned off her body, but the dog lay unmoving still.

"This can't be good," the priestess told herself as her consciousness started waning off, "Please, wakeup."

Then, a cold hard slap landed on her cheek - disrupting the spell and bringing back some strength to her. Still, what little force remained in her was not enough to prop her up. She flinched and listed, only to get caught by a familiar set of arms.

Celestine turned her head to see who had stopped the resurrection spell, partly for the insult, and partly for the help.

And this time, she was right.

"Rayner?" she asked with a very weakened tone as her face buried into his chest for the lack of energy, "how did you find me?"

Rayner looked more aggravated than relieved to see the priestess has he supported her flailing body with his arms. Rayner felt Celestine's warm, rain-soaked body brushing closely to his shirt and blushed a bit. He brushed the thought off as quickly while he replied, "Like I can't see light that shoots a mile high up in the air?" he said in raised but calculated voice. "Are you crazy?"

Ellie arrived shortly after Rayner and saw the dog in the coat. She turned to Rayner who was likewise worried of what was inside the coat. Celestine gave a weak frown, "I couldn't resurrect the dog..."

"Didn't I tell you not to use your powers? The more you use it the more you get hurt!" Rayner finally broke down and started yelling - but once could easily tell there was sweet concern in his tone. "You could've killed yourself!"

Celestine wouldn't have any of it as she forced her head to rise up. "THE DOG IS DEAD! CAN YOU BRING HIM BACK TO LIFE? I'M THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN DO THAT!"

Ellie took a deep breath and decided to step in, "Listen, Cel. I have to tell you something."

Both Rayner and the priestess stopped before their next salvo of screams. Rain began pouring down again. Ellie stood up from her stoop and finally explained, "You're in an alternate dimension now, Priestess Edencourt. While some of your spells work here, you can't expect everything to work the way they used to."

Finally, Cel thought, the first rational explanation to her situation. She calmed down almost immediately, almost defeatedly, "I see." Rayner smiled at Ellie's explanation, a very nice way to put the truth.

Rayner gently eased Cel into a rag doll sit and turned to the dog. He placed his hand over it and sighed. "You want to know why you couldn't bring this dog back to life?"

Celestine was surprised by the sudden calmness in Rayn's voice. Rayn stood up and picked up the coat containing the dog. "Your buddy here needs no resurrection. He�s not dead to begin with." More tears welled in Cel's eyes but the rain was quick to hide them for her. He was right, after all.

Rayner started walking away from the intersection back towards the cafe and said in a settled fashion as though nothing big had happened, "Ellie, please take her in for the night. I'll come back for her in the morning." Ellie nodded tacitly.

Celestine could barely stand but she still managed to speak, "Wait! Where will you be taking the dog?!"

"Well," Rayner paused from walking and turned back with a smile on his face, "I'm not sure how it is in Prontera, but here, a veterinarian can do as well in healing as any priestess. It'd be a waste to have this poor thing die here now that you've tried so much."

Ellie smiled as well - there's the dependable bestfriend she knew. She grabbed Cel by the shoulders and slowly hoisted her up with the umbrella in hand. "You can bunk with me tonight, Cel. It's been a very long day for you."

"Thanks," the priestess replied while wiping the water off her eyes and watched Rayner disappear behind a curtain of rain, "Thank you both for everything."

The resemblance...

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 5:13 pm

Chapter 24: Dos Princesas

The rain had already stopped when Ellie and Cel arrived at the two-storey Santos residence. Not too shabby, thought Celestine as she entered the place which looked homey enough, if not a bit extravagant for its class, with various pieces of contemporary art gracing spacious, romantically-lit rooms.

"Is it okay for me to crash into your place like this?" asked Cel, a bit hesitant.

Ellie gave a welcoming smile back as they removed their rain-soaked shoes. "My parents are working abroad, and my brother's studying somewhere far from here so he only comes around during the weekends. Most of the time, it's just me in this house."

There was silence in the rooms that told Celestine Ellie was indeed telling the truth - though the place hardly felt any less lonely. For Celestine, there was never a time she wished somebody had been lying all along to her than at that time - that Ellie was just joking about the place being empty, and that she was just joking about her being part of - part of -

Of a game called Ragnarok Online.

But this wasn't time to think about such nonsense. There has to be a method to the madness, she thought. Running away didnít help, as her experience earlier had taught her. There has to be a way out, and until she finds that out, the only way for her to survive would be to adapt to her new surroundings. Suddenly she was a novice again, doing the basics of outdoor survival.

Celestine's musings vanished when she got netted by a towel on her head. She swept one side away and saw a full-faced Ellie who had a smile from ear to ear. "You know, that almost looks like a Coif you can get at the Pronteran Church."

A coif? Celestine stared back at Ellie and couldn't help but generously laugh at Ellieís infectiously happy personality. She does know about things in Prontera - like she's been there!

It was too curious a trick if ever it was one, thought Cel. "Funny you should say that," she said, "I used to wear towels like these on my head when I was a kid whenever I wanted to play the role of Matron!"

Ellie was busy drying her own hair as well, humming a few tunes on the side as she went about her task. "Matron? You mean like a nun? Who would want to dream about being a nun?! Thatís totally weak."

Celestine started drying out her own hair as well. "I did, as a matter of fact. Being priestess has always been my lifelong dream."

Thunder crackled outside the house. Ellie stopped drying her hair with her hands still on the towel on her head and cackled and feigned as shiver, "Okay, you with super powers, I can take. But wanting to be a nun? That's just too weird for me."

The priestess just gave a hearty laugh, "I suppose you should say that. I was never the normal kid in the group anyway. For some reason, I've always felt singled out - special."

Ellie didn't seem to bother replying. She started heading for the stairs while wrapping her head with the towel. "We'll get sick if we stay on these clothes any longer. I think you're about my size, so you can use some of my clothes first."

The priestess nodded in agreement. And that was when Ellie's jaws practically dropped.

Celestine removed her muddied top and loosened her pants in the living room. Before she knew it, Ellie realised the probable reason why Jeeves had been all gung-ho in asking her to cosplay for him.

Underneath the borrowed clothes from Rayner, underneath the mud and dirt,

Celestine Edencourt had the body of a goddess.

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 5:14 pm

Chapter 25: Girl Talk

Elenore watched Celestine slip into a skimpy pair of red workout shorts and an oversized PE shirt from her bed. Her body frame carried the items of clothing like a mannequin.

"Ah," Cel stretched her hands into the air with a sigh of relief, "these clothes are a lot more comfortable than what Rayn forced me into. And they're dry to boot."

Forced you into? Sounds shady, thought Ellie. "Good to hear that," she said with a smile.

"It's been a while since I wore anything this casual actually," replied Celestine, "Back in Payon, I had to wear three layers of clothing everyday for my duties at the orphanage - Priestess regulations an all."

The way Cel elaborated her life in Payon made Ellie almost think that Payon was some real place just outside of the city. "Well nobody pays attention to that here. As a matter of fact, it's quite the opposite here. The skimpier your clothes, the more attention you'll get."

Celestine laughed. And she can't believe her own laugh. Her life as a high priestess had been all serious that she had tonight was the first time she had been so carefree for as long as she can remember. Perhaps, this arrangement wasn't so bad after all.

"Say Ellie," Cel hopped into the girl's bed with both legs folded like an enthused child. Ellie was quick to notice and gave Celestine a most puzzled look - the priestess seemed quite different from before. "What is it?" Ellie asked.

The priestess gave glee as she closed in on Ellie's face, "What's Rayn to you? You two seem like a very close couple, me seeing lots of pictures of you two in his apartment."

As thunder crackled just outside, Ellie's heart raised. Long awkward silence filled the gap. "Me? Rayn?" Ellie fumbled for words while feigning a hearty laugh, "We're - friend's - S'right! Friends!"

The priestess mocked Ellie with a pout and a raised eyebrow. "Is that so? You sounded like a jealous wife this morning."

Ellie stood up and started walking around, "Well, ah, I was surprised, and you know, the scene was just too suggestive, like it's from a telenovela, and you know it's just like instincts kicking in and, I don�t know."

"You're babbling already," said Cel while trying to contain further laughter with a bitten lip, "I think I should stop there."

"Oh," said Ellie as she noticed a quick mood change from Celestine who had buried her face on a pillow. "And you, my dear priestess? What do you think of Rayn?" she asked back.

Cel rolled to one side and stared at the ceiling, "Rayn is a good guy. It doesn't take long to figure that out. When I first met him, I thought of him as a knight in shining armor who saved me from somebody who had knocked me out cold. Then he turned out to be the one who had knocked me out cold in the first place. I was really angry at him then. But then again, he wins back hearts faster than one might think - he's got the aura of a saint. He actually reminds me of somebody from back in Prontera..."

Once again there was silence in the room. Celestine wouldn't continue with her sentence and Ellie was too into the reply to interrupt. And then there was more silence interrupted only by the occasional thunder.

�About earlier,� Cel segued, �Sorry for running out of the caf� and worrying you guys.�

�It�s nothing, � answered Ellie, �From your situation, I would freak out too.�

�I�ve been nothing but a burden since I came here,� the priestess said with a very downed voice. �It�s just that I�m so confused by everything that�s happening.�

�But you helped me out fending off the Markus brothers earlier,� Ellie replied, �And you healed Rayn�s wounds. That�s something we both are thankful for.�

�I never told you about healing.�

�I was watching you guys earlier,� said Ellie, �that�s how I confirmed what you are.�

The priestess rolled to one side of the bed again, �Ten years of training couldn�t have prepared me for this. Not like this.� But Ellie just smiled, �One can never be too prepared for life. That�s why we got friends to help us along.�

Celestine became in deep thought once again about everything that happened, but there was no longer deep denial of what had happened � there�s only tomorrow. Always tomorrow. �Thanks, Ellie.�

"Hey," interjected Ellie, "And you should stay here for as long as you want to. I'm not too keen on letting you stay with Rayner for a drawn-out period. It's just not right for you two to be living under one roof. And besides, it's about time we had somebody who can cook in this house."

"Cook?" Celestine reminded herself of earlier that morning. "Right," she said to herself, "if you want an acid demonstration shoved down your throat."

"Because from now on," Ellie followed up with a smile, "you're the sister I never had."

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 5:15 pm

Chapter 26: New Beginnings

Ellie's narrowed eye slits widened slowly to the soft, familiar Bossa Nova tune of her alarm clock. Six thirty in the morning, she checked as she depressed the enlarged top button of the clock. She turned to her side and found Celestine missing from her side of the bed with only some depressions on the mattress to remind her of Cel - it was clear though that Celestine had fallen asleep in her room last night from exhaustion and it was no illusion that she slept with Cel on that same bed.

The rain the previous night gave way to a very clear day, much better than before. Ellie smiled as she slipped on her bedroom slippers by the window and scratched her slight bruises from yesterday's fight - only to find they were no longer there.

Celestine, she thought with a smile.

She went halfway downstairs and caught a whiff of the air coming from the kitchen. Cooked sausages. She rushed back to her closet and then sifted through her garments. After a while, her eyes widened and quickly grabbed a red piece of cloth and rushed downstairs.

"Breakfast is ready!" beckoned a house-groomed Cel, hair tied in a knot at the back of her head with an brown apron gracing the curves of her body as outlined by the borrowed shirt. Ellie jumped the last three stairs and threw her arms towards Celestine.

"TADAA!" Ellie exclaimed.

It was a one piece red Sunday dress, with diagonal shoulder straps and a straight cut skirt that dropped an inch below the knee. Celestine stared at it with bewilderment. "What's this?" she asked.

"It's what you're going to be wearing today, Cel!" replied Ellie with a glee while pressing the dress really close to the priestessí shoulders.

"This," said the priestess hesitantly with a spatula still on hand, "this is too much, Ellie. I think I can do fine with the shirt and jeans of Rayn."

Ellie raised her left eyebrow, "And let that beautiful bod of yours wither away?" Celestine blushed a bit; she was, after all, used to any sort of comment except comments about her physical looks.

"Put it on first," chided Ellie, "I want to see you on it". Celestine nodded and went to change behind the fridge. "I hope it fits," she said to herself.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

During most days, Ellie would be the one to wake up Rayner and drum him off to school. During most days, at least. Today was one of those days that can be held as exceptions, thought a uniformed Rayner as he strutted right in front of Ellie's house and pressed the doorbell.

Ding Dong.

A scuffle of footsteps echoing from the wooden floor seeped out to Rayn's ears. He pulled back a seemingly heavy brown backpack as he awaited Ellie at the door. It didnít take long. The door opened but Ellie wasn't there.

And for some period of time, Rayner wasn't "there" either. Celestine Edencourt opened the door for him - and he just spaced out like that. It was no magic trick, if you thought it literal - but it did work wonders.

Standing in front of Rayn was Ellie, dressed in red with the sleek matte-finish cloth hugging her hips, tight thighs and chest. Hair worn down and with not a trace of make up on, she was an instant celebrity to the eyes of Rayner.

And there before him was the reason to space out.

"Good morning, Rayn," said Celestine in a cheery voice. The door swung open and behind Celestine was Ellie who looked like she had just come out of the bathroom.

After what seemed to be a lifetime's span of idleness, Rayner finally came back to reality upon seeing his best friend. With a desperate, pleading, and just as surprised look he turned to Ellie. Ellie shrugged, smiled and lipworded "I'm just as surprised." Rayn exhaled with a heh. He got her message.

"So what's up?" asked celestine.

Caught off guard, Rayner started fumbling with his words "Uhh, yeah I was just visiting you guys so we can go to sweet - I mean school together. I thought it'd be your first night there so I just came by to check on thongs - I mean things!"

"You're acting pretty weird," replied Cel with a toothed grin on her face.

"Pretty, yeah," replied Rayner in an enervated undertone, "I mean, I also came by to give you something."

Celestine was surprised. "Oh? What would that be? A ticket to Prontera, I hope?"

"Nothing like that," said Rayner as he took out his bag from behind.

Out of it protruded a smiling dog's face. Celestine recognized the dog immediately and hugged the dog while the backpack was still full under Rayner's arms. Her soft skin grazed his pectorals slightly, but enough to make him blush. Ellie only laughed from a short distance while watching the two.

"The - the doctor said that dog miraculously healed overnight. From dying, that dog transformed into tip-top in less than twelve hours. I was thinking you had something to do with it."

Celestine pulled the dog out from the bag and cradled it in her arms. "Probably, probably not," she said listlessly. Rayner was just happy Cel was finally smiling better that day.

Rayner looked over to Ellie. She was gone already. He sighed a bit and tried to gain breath from what was stolen by his raving heart.

"Oh and by the way," Celestine said casually to Rayner who was turned away from her at the time "Thanks for saving me and this dog's life," she followed up and with a kiss on Rayner's already badly reddened cheek.

------------------------------------------------

"So you'll be bunking with Ellie for the meantime huh?" asked Rayner as the three walked the familiar streets leading to the University, still gently patting his right cheek.

"Yeah, your place is too crampy for both of us," replied the priestess.

Ellie ran a few steps ahead of them and added, "Plus she can cook. Her skill goes well with mine - eating!" Rayner's eyes enlarged. Cooking?

"What the hell? If I remember correctly, miss salty sugar here concocts biochemical weapons for breakfast!" as he pointed the accusing finger at Celestine.

The priestess shrugged and then started laughing uncontrollably. "I had to make sure I was choosing the right condiment on somebody's breakfast. Pity it just had to be yours!"

Rayner sighed. At least for now, life was getting back to normal. He looked up into the sky and saw that it was going to be clear skies for the rest of that day and for several days to come. "Hey Cel!" Rayn yelled at the priestess who had overtaken him.

Celestine turned with a lightface that he could not have imagined on her just yesterday. "What is it?"

"I promise I'll find a way to your home soon."

Wind blew down the streets and caused Cel's hair to scatter a bit. Serenity took over her face. "Thanks, but no need to hurry. You've helped me more than enough."

"But I thought..." Rayn stammered for a retort. Cel gave the "hush" signal and winked as they arrived just in front of the University's southern gates.

"With you guys around? Maybe this place isn't too bad at all!"

The school bell rang and the three ran as fast as they could to their classrooms.

And that was how the priestess came into the life of Rayner and Elenore.

---------------------------------------
Author's Note:
I guess that's supposed to be the end of the first half of WFSP. I'll try to continue on with the bridge chapters within the week. If I am unable to do so though, it will be because of something big that we're planning for fanfare. Thanks for reading up to this point. More priestess action coming up!

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PostSubject: Re: Wanted: Full-Support Priestess   Sat Jun 14, 2008 5:18 pm

So since tapos na ung First Act nung W:FSP, hinto ko muna ung pag post ko..

wala pa naman nagbabasa eh bounce

and binabasa ko pa rin 2, actually 2 chapters ahead pa lang ako from this chapter..

and from what i saw, mag-span lang ng abt 70 ch e2ng W:FSP..

Post ko na ung complete ni2 pag natapos ko na >_<

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