Page four, chapter two, The City of Locked DoorsMature

The various white guards who inhabited this floor were beginning to notice Noir. No, it's not them, their temperament is too defensive. They haven't initiated any conflict. A woman approached Noir, her features almost the exact mirror of the secretary's below. There were some small differences; her hair was a lighter shade of brown and her form slightly heavier, "The Proctor waits for you inside his office," she gestured toward a door on the other side of the floor.

Noir nodded and strode across the room, ignoring the stares that followed him. Arriving at the door, he knocked and entered, pushing it lightly open with a hand. Inside, he found a room cluttered with pedestals and chairs. The chairs were clustered before a central desk while the pedestals occupied most of surrounding space with a variety of crimson dolls. Some of the dolls were bestial, other human. Some were made of glass, others of cloth, straw, or even iron. Every one of them exuded heat however, marking them as Hemomantic creations, probably some form of dormant life.

He's a damn Hemomancer.

Yeah, try to be polite and remember  that we don't have to kill him to get the job.

Solomon Doll looked up as Noir entered, his red eyes shockingly set in a face of bone white skin and crimson veins. The lidless eyes dilated and Solomon Doll pulled a bone needle out from where it impaled his left hand. He stuck the needle between his teeth a blood welled up from his palm, coagulated, solidified, and paled until it changed into his flesh, erasing all sign of injury.

 Solomon Doll swung his feet of his desk and leaned forward, resting his arms on a sheaf of paper, "Hello."

Quietly grinding his teeth, Noir nodded and managed to force out a return greeting. Solomon Doll gestured to the Shadow-Steel chairs, but Noir merely stepped behind the furthest one and rested his hands on the crown. Solomon Doll cocked an eyebrow at this, but made no comment on it, "We can start with your name, since you never gave it to Elise."

"You may call me Noir."

Solomon Doll's eyebrow quirked again, managing to convey both humor and dissatisfaction with Noir's tone, "Alright then, Noir, I know you are a Shadowmancer, but do you have any combat experience?"

"Yes," his steel molars rasped quietly as Noir finally managed to make his jaw relax.

"How good of a Shadowmancer are you, and I mean your skill not your power; Elise already told me what she saw." The bone needle vanished into Solomon Doll's mouth only to poke out from his lips a second later.

"I'm better than anyone you have currently."

"A bold claim; but one that is not difficult to uphold as I have no Shadowmancers in my employ at the moment, they're all at the Academy." Solomon Doll rolled his eyes, "Alright, next question: What's your Hyde?"

"None of your damn business,"

Solomon Doll's eyes darkened substantially, "I'll let that pass for now, Noir, but if you're a danger to us..."

Noir shook his head, "I'm no danger to you; I have Rencensere blood."

The darkened color of Solomon Doll's eyes diminished, "Is that so, are you capable of a partial conversion?"

"Yes, infinitesimally so." Noir lifted his hand as the steel of his fingernails and knuckles spread outward, usurping the Shadow-Steel. He kept his hand partially converted for a moment, then undid the transformation.

Solomon Doll rapped his knuckles on his desk, "Your control is impressive, but you won't be unique here. We have a pair with Sanitas blood, and I myself have Autorius."

A full blood Autorius? Noir shrugged, "I'm not here to show off if that's what you're worried about."

"Good. Now, do you have any enemies that I should worry about?"

"None that will live long enough to trouble you."

"Any habits I should know about, a taste for blood perhaps?"

Noir locked gazes with Solomon, "None."

Solomon Doll nodded, shifting the needle so it stuck out from the right side of his mouth, "Okay then, why did you choose us?"

"What do you mean?"

"Why did you choose to join my white guard instead of say...Scripts?"

"Because green is a wimp ass color."

Up went the eyebrow again ,"How about Kore Byren then, black is a manly color?"

Noir held his arms out to either side, "Because I don't have enough black in my enable already?"

Solomon Doll glanced at him again, noting his black apparel and, "How about red then?"

"Because, fuck Hemomancers."

Both eyebrows flared, "You know I am also a Hemomancer."

"Yeah, fuck you too."

Solomon Doll laughed, "Well, I see no reason not to hire you. Is there any position you would prefer?"

"I would be your lieutenant."

 Solomon Doll looked up sharply, but Noir caught his gaze and held it. "I'm afraid I already have a lieutenant." Solomon Doll spread his hands on the table with a small shrug.

Noir stepped back from the chair, one hand vanishing into his pocket, "Alright, what's his name?"

Solomon Doll's eyebrows arched up, "Rias Dorian, but you should probably refer to him as Lieutenant."

"Thank you." Noir turned from Solomon Doll and departed, closing the door behind him.

Remember, be polite, these are going to be our friends soon.

"Alright, which of you punks is Rias Dorian?" The room fell silent and every eye turned to Noir.

I said be polite.

Yeah, and I ignored you.

Noir scanned the room, following the expectant eyes as they focused on another man. This man slowly stood up from his desk, pushing his chair back in a controlled motion, and faced Noir. The man, presumably Rias Dorian, stepped back from his desk, again with every motion taut from control, and advanced on Noir. He came slowly, taking the time his measured steps provided to clean his dark glasses and glared from beneath furrowed brows. He arrived before Noir and spoke, replacing his glass in a final act of measure threat, "You will refer to me as Lieutenant Dorian, Soldier." The man's ears flicked up as his scaled features glittered in the electric light.

Noir gave him a slight nod, "Good," and then struck, his right hand impaling Rias Dorian. The lieutenant opened his mouth to scream, Noir crushed his heart, instantly killing him. The room stared for a moment of shocked silence and then roared into life as the white guards leapt to their feet in a flurry of cocked pistols. Noir scathed them all with a glance, "This just business between me and your Proctor, I have no need to kill all of you." The room quieted at this, but they all remained standing with drawn pistols.

Noir adjusted his grip so he held the former lieutenant by the coat and reentered Solomon Doll's office. He strode forward, shoving aside chairs, and dumped the corpse into the front most seat, "I hear you have a vacancy. I would like to apply." Noir drew back slightly, one hand still buried in his pocket.

Solomon Doll glanced from Noir to the corpse and back again, "Yes, that seems to be the case." He stood, walked around the desk, and opened the door, "Temaria, will you please inform Gregorio that Lieutenant Dorian has suffered an accident and is in need of resurrection, thank you." He closed the door and returned to his chair, "Yes, one of my sergeants has just been promoted, so his post is available."

"And what is his name?"

Solomon Doll raised another eyebrow, "If you do this, then you're going to have to go all the way."

Noir shrugged, "That's fine, I don't have anything better to do."

"Very well, he calls himself Hierophant and happens to be our cryptologist, so don't inflict any lasting damage."

Noir nodded, "Very well."

He found the room waiting for him as he had left it, with a host of white guards weighing whether or not to kill him. He stopped just outside the door and scanned the room again, both hands now buried in his pockets, "Which one of you is the man called Hierophant?" The room didn't shift at his words, every man kept their gazes fixed upon him, refusing to betray their comrade. One of them cautiously stepped out from behind his desk, a quartet of black tails hanging from the lower back of his coat. Noir glanced at these then across the room, noting two men with just a pair of tail and a third with four again, "Are you Hierophant?"

The man raised his pistols and sighted, "Yes."

"Good." Hierophant hurled himself to the side, his pistols barking as their hammers crashed into the bullet chamber with a groan of released tension and spat out their bullets. The Shadow-Steel bullet's flew wide and plastered themselves against the room's walls without inflicting even a dent. Hierophant hit the ground and rolled, flinging aside one empty pistol as the other white guards dove to the floor. Hierophant came out from his roll behind a desk and snapped a Winder into the pistol's side, his thumb grinding the button down. The Winder whirred, the pistols gears began turning, gathering tension, and pulling the hammer back out from the bullet chamber. Noir waved his hand and a shadow spear leapt out from the shadows beneath Hierophants warding desk, impaling him through the skull. He crouched like that for a moment, shocked, and then collapsed. Noir crossed the room and collected his prize as the other white guards slowly straightened.

I wonder why they're not attacking us. We have just killed two of their commanding officers.

Noir shrugged Hierophant unto his shoulder. They undoubtedly would be if Solomon Doll had attacked me when I brought that pompous ass, Dorian, in. As it is, they're just waiting to see what he'll do. He reentered Solomon's office and deposited Hierophant onto a adjacent chair to Rias Dorian.

Solomon Doll glanced up, the needle once more imbedded in his palm. He glanced at Hierophant then returned to his palm, "Can you please inform Silas June that he's been promoted to lieutenant." Noir nodded. and exited.

You realize he's masochist, right?

Noir's lips twisted slightly. Yeah. "Silas June, you're next."

A small, squirrely man peeked out from behind his overturned desk, blinking large, wet eyes, and sniffing the air with a distended nose, "No, no, I resign, you can have the post."

"Thank you." Noir stepped back through the door, "He resigned."

"At least that makes the mess easier to clean up." Solomon gestured at the two resident corpses where the draining blood was forming into a pair of chalices, "I have in here under control, but could you ask some of the boys to clean up outside?"

"Sure, who's your new Lieutenant?"

"I believe it's only Corporal Valerian left now, she's one of the Sanitas I told you about earlier." A knock came from door, finally drawing Solomon doll to look up again," Yes, come in."

 A woman with mottled skin entered, her hair a tightly bound mass of thorn vines, "I figured I was the next in line, so I'm here to resign and... congratulate our new lieutenant?" She glanced at Noir.

Solomon Doll straightened in his seat, "Yes, I do believe congratulations are in order, Lieutenant Noir."

Corporal Valerian warily smiled at him, "Congratulations sir."

Noir nodded, "Thank you."

I'm so proud of you! Not an hour into your first post and you're already a Lieutenant!

Oh, shut up. Noir turned to Solomon Doll, "Is there anything I need before starting?"

Solomon Doll shook his head, "Your uniform and implements shall all be provided. I do suggest, however, that make yourself presentable, if you can," he gestured at Noir's unruly steel hair.

Noir tapped his beard with a fingernail, causing it ring out a dulcet note, "It's difficult, but manageable."

"Good." Solomon Doll reclined back into his chair, "I don't believe there's any need for introductions as you've already met your fellow officers, so you're free for the remainder of the day. If you require accommodations, there are a variety of rooms up above that you may use for as long as you're in my employ."

Noir shook his head, "If you need me, I'll be in the undercity, where the Engines are."

Solomon Doll's eyebrow rose again and Corporal Valerian blinked, "You live in the Engine Room?"

"Yeah, is that going to be a problem?"

"Not at all, it's simply an unusual choice for lodgings."

A cursory knock stuck the door and man entered, interrupting them, "I heard Lieutenant Dorian got himself killed."

"Ah, yes. Lieutenant, this is our resident Necromancer, Gregorio Taim; Gregorio, this is our new lieutenant, Noir."

Gregorio glanced at Noir and hitched up his shoulder pack, "Are you the one who killed him?"

Noir faced Gregorio, subtly flexing his fingers, "Yeah, what of it?"

Gregorio snorted, "Nothing of it. I just wanted to know if this was going to be a habitual thing." He slipped past Noir and set his pack down between the two corpses, "I assume you'll do the mending, Proctor."

Solomon Doll nodded and, rising from his seat, stepped around the table, "Of course, there's no need to involve a foreign party." Arriving beside Gregorio, he took a seat on the front of his desk and settled in to wait.

Gregorio set about examining the two corpses, making certain there actually dead and examining their injuries, "They'll have to be repaired before I rez' them, otherwise these will just kill them again."

Solomon Doll nodded and extended his hand. The two crimson chalices rippled with this movement and collapsed in upon themselves, returning to their liquid state and flowing up the corpses. The blood sought out their injuries, buried itself in them, and thickened, slowly turning into undamaged flesh. Solomon Doll tsked quietly and shifted more toward Hierophant, "Brain injuries are so tedious; Gregorio, start on Dorian please."

The Necromancer nodded and donned a pair of black spectacles from his coat pocket, "No spiritual trauma, or metaphysical damage," He glanced at Noir, "It's like he died in his sleep." He refocused on the corpse, "I don't see any complication, so this should be fairly simple and he should be fit to work tomorrow if not today." Gregorio returned his glasses to their pocket and laid both hands on the corpse. Wisps of black energy burgeoned from beneath his fingers and swirled out from his hands, covering Rias Dorian's corpse in a membrane of energy. Gregorio held that posture for a moment, then removed his hands, causing the black membrane to lose its subtle brilliance, "That should be enough, he'll wake momentarily." Gregorio shifted over to Hierophant, his long, many-knuckled fingered retrieving his black glasses.

Rias Dorian jerked awake with a cry and surged to his feet, tearing off the black membrane. He spun on a heel, caught sight of Noir and stabbed a finger at him, "You! You fu-" A shadow spear erupted from the ground at his feet and impaled him again.

Noir lowered his hand as Gregorio glanced around and sighed, "I just finished resurrecting him."

Noir shrugged, "It couldn't be helped."

The End

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