Inwardly he sighed, and did as he always did, politely addressing them and their concerns, while steadily making his way towards the exit of the building. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of mindless gossip, the occassional confession, and dealing with the concerns of the student body, he managed to find his way out of the building.
It was quite ironic that he loathed dealing with people, yet he was both president of the student council as well as class represenative. Unfortunately his pride demanded that he take up these positions, since the only other option was to allow some idiot to take his place, and would not tolerate that.
When he left the school grounds, he could not help but overhear several of the girls talk about this strange store friends of their's had been visiting down the road from the local Yakiniku restaurant and the mysterious fortune teller who ran it. What peaked his interest, wasnt the nature of the store, but the fact that he had never heard of either before now. He made it a point to know about every establishment in Karakura Town, including the names of the store owners (an impressive feat, but one well within his capabilities). He would have pondered longer, were it not for the distinct presence of Hollows brushing up against his spiritual awareness.
"More Hollows? One would think that they'd learn their lesson by now after the amount I've slain." he thought. He spared a cursory glance at the girls, "I'll deal with the store later, I've got more pressing matters at the moment." Without another thought he disappeared.
It was lunchtime, though for Ryuichi he was surrounded by another group of girls who were presently trying to get him to eat their prepared bento. It just happened to be his luck that hunting down those Hollows would take up most of his evening, leaving him no time to make his own lunch. This was why.
"Ryuichi-kun! I hope...you like it." she said shyly. He turned his attention to one Nakamura Kikyo. She like so many others were....what was term? Ah yes, "infatuated" with him. He wouldnt dare acknowledge ther proclomations as "love", that was just ridiculous. Fortunately, she was also one of the more prominent members of the student council, and quite popular in both genders. She was an accomplished scholar, scoring in the top five of the nation in mathmatics, beautiful, as well as an athelete. Her parents were also quite wealthy, and highly influential individuals, and given the booming success of Karakura Hosptial, they would obviously be pushing his father for an arranged marriage. This meant that taking her lunch wouldnt lead to any gross rumors, so with a forced smile he took the lunch.
Surprisingly it was good, not quite as good as his own cooking, but still it was nice to try someone else's cooking for a change. That was, until he found a prickling at the back of his skull. Something...was amiss. It was when he downed the accompanying drink, that he realized his folly too late.
Or whatever the hell it was, coursing through his body. Immediately he channeled his energy into stopping it, but to his horror found that at best it would delay it. He looked up at Kikyo, to find her staring back at him expectantly, like she was waiting for something. It didnt take a genius to figure out what he just consumed. Thankfully he could delay the effect, but not for long. Outwardly he just smiled and thanked her, and said that he needed to go relieve himself. He entered the halls and quickly sped towards the exit, casting a subtle Ginto to mask his presence. He nearly barreled out of Karakura High, as his mind raced to find the location of the store. He probably had only a few minutes, at best before his mind was seized.
He thought back to their earlier conversation, about the store, where it was...yes! The Yakiniku restaurant! It was nearby, allegedly. He used Hirenkyaku to close the distance, and it didnt take long to find the store. It was strange, he'd passed by this area numerous times before and never noticed it before. Maybe one can only see it if they want to go there.
He had perhaps a minute at best, when he came to the front door. Taking a deep breath. He pushed the door aside and walked inside.
The first thing that caught Ryuichi's eyes were a large round table decorated by a piece of red shoddy cloth, a vase with roses and several odd trinkets that Ryuichi, despite his great knowledge could by no means determine the nature of; the room store had several rooms after what he could tell but appearantly only the living room was available to the customers - a large scarlet carpet with golden star-like marks decorated the otherwise quite bare floor.
What really caught Ryuichi's attention however was the shelves who were filled with many odd objects, jars, books and potions were commonplace and at the foot of the shelves additional heaps of books had begun piling themselves up - some of the jars gleamed in different colors and someone remained passive - in addition there too there was many odd trinkets like those on the table, but Ryuichi could only identify one of the items - namely a Crystal Ball.
Suddenly though, she stood there, it was like she had stepped out of empty air! Her dress was pure scarlet and so long that it trailed behind her as she moved and almost made her merge with the environment; she looked at him or, more appropriately, trough him as those mutiliated eyes could never see light again; the scars beneath her eyes, shaping into what looked like a trail of bloody tears; frozen in mid-motion. She was, or as many would say had been a very beautiful woman once upon a time, her features were young but her eyes betrayed wisdom and knowledge that only a fool would not envy.
"Are you the fortune teller who runs this shop?" He said a bit too coldly. He hadnt meant to sound like that, but he was annoyed by his current situation. Out of all of enemies he's faced, he never thought to consider his schoolmates as potential enemies. Altogether it was pretty humiliating.
"I'm pretty sure I've consumed a love potion. I want you to remove its effects." He got straight to the point. If it was money she was after, he could easily compensate. But he really needed that cure within the next 50 seconds.
The woman didn't speak she simply walked up to Ryuichi and gently touched his forehead - he could feel a warmth emanate from her touch and then onto his entire body and he felt that the imminent influence on his mind withdrew a good deal although he quickly discerned that it was only delayed, by, judging by his rough estimatee about fifthteen minutes; she wanted something else of him appearantly before she saw herself fit to cure him.
Her figure turned and more floated than walked over to the round table, as she sat down in a tall chair and gestured for him to sit down opposite of her - when he enclosed upon her he saw that five cards were placed face-down on the table, the first four was placed in a square-like formation, with a small distance between one card and the card opposite of it; a fifth card was placed asymetrically in the middle but above the four first cards. The woman gestured to a plate at the table where money had been collected and a small sign close to it revealed that the price for a reading was appearantly 600 yen - obviously she demanded that he bought a reading before she'd even think about removing his ailment.
Ryuichi didnt just ignore the spectacle in front of him just because, he had taken note of the fact that this woman had just appeared, appeared like from thin air, into the shop. The fact that he couldnt sense her before hand did not escape him. Which meant he was likely in the presence of a bonifide magician. So he was treading in unknown territory and with a human no less, not good.
He also took note of the arrangement of the tarot cards before him, and recognized them as "the two paths". Regardless, the situation did not bode well for him. He walked over to the plate, placing a 1000 yen bill. He didnt carry much change around, but still he was annoyed to let the money go. Although he was sure she couldnt see, he didnt doubt that she could tell he was clearly indignant about the entire fiasco.
As Ryuichi sat down opposite of her she began speaking softly "I've been expecting you for some time now, Ishida-kun; I may deal with your primary problem later but for now we have more pressing matters at hand, or well, not me - but you do" She paused briefly before she reached to grab the plate where the money had been placed, running her long-nailed fingers accross the money expectantly she proceeded to lay it down before her and continue speaking "You've been generous I see; fortunately for you, money is rarely an issue - very fortunate indeed."
"I am Madame Amarantha and I pride myself in being capable of answering most of your questions, first however, I will give you a reading in order to provide you with greater insight, or actually, some insight and more questions - since I knew you were coming I've already prepared the reading before you: The Two Paths spread provides insight into an important decision ahead of you, the possible outcomes, and the forces that draw you towards each of these outcomes" The Madame paused once more before she began.
She reached out towards the card closest with her with truly surprising precision before she flipped it over for Ryuichi to see; the card showed a man sitting in a large chair with a sword in hand; placed at level with the ground, the card was upside down though - the Madame spoke again "The first card represents the first possible outcome, the King of Swords, when reversed - this alludes to a violent conflict; and this conflict will be between you and the forces of an entity who is the very epitome of perversity, sadism and cruelty ---a spirit of disturbance, it is likely connected to something which you have met before, your opponent shall be an avatar of chaos and discord - although you're not intended to fight this battle on your own"
Amarantha then moved over to the card just above the last one and flipped it over; this time it appeared like a man that held in his hand a golden scepter; this unlike the first card was not reversed and the madame spoke quickly thereafter. "The second card represents the second possible outcome, the Knight of Clubs - The second path leads to a venture into something unknown, it brings with it promises of battle like the first, but the nature of which I cannot fully grasp, it brings with it a hidden threat of some kind; and by choosing this path it is fully possible that you may not ever return ---although whether it is philosophic or physically I cannot discern."
The fortune teller gazed out in empty air before she almost casually flipped another card opposite of the first over; this time when she spoke, her voice sounded strangely distant "The third card represents the force drawing you towards the first outcome, Eight of Cups - it means that a major conflict will arise if you're delayed or if you don't act pre-emptively to divert it or find a means of stopping the one who will be responsible." The woman turned her face towards Ryuichi slowly, her empty gaze sparkling with hidden power.
She reached out then once more; as she flipped the fourth card in the formation up for Ryuichi to see before her face shaped into a perplexed and befuddled mask as she continued the fortune. "The fourth card likewise represents the force drawing you towards the second outcome, the Sun, reversed - It means that to take the second path you must let the events of the first path transpire; it is also apparently imperative that you take what you deem to be the longest road to success and through your own unhappiness or perhaps loneliness the door that is represented will somehow be unlocked." The Madame seemed thoughtful before she reached towards the very last card.
Flipping it over gently she paused before muttering the final sentence of the fortune, her voice hazy and almost ethereal as if something else talked trough her - "The fifth and last card represents the critical factor that will decide what shall come to pass, Two of Swords, reversed - It whispers about empty promises, lies, deceit and dishonor; false friends will come and the path that reveals itself will be decided by lies and misrepresentation ---These are both omens, representing two great evils, Young Quincy; the challenge lies in discovering which of them are the lesser evil because indeed, you may only choose to prevent one." The final sentence hung in the air as she turned towards Ryuichi to await his response.
"Even if she is a magician, all of this could have been pre-orchestrated. She could have easily learned of who I am by the students that frequent here, and learning that I'm a Quincy is simple for one in the occult. It wouldnt be hard to spin a tale of evil and battle, knowing who my enemies are. Still, what she speaks of is resonates too close to several truths. But that could just be coincidence, a highly developed skill of fishing for information."
He leaned back in his chair, one leg crossed over the other, his chin held high, and his fingers laced with another. He looked the very image of his title ---a prince. He gazed at her, his eyes moving ever so slightly as to discern body language and at the same time get a feel for her spiritual prowess. Unfortunately, beyond what he could physically see, this Madam Amarantha appeared to be an ordinary human. That alone was discomforting. He didnt sense a drop of spiritual energy, not nary a single spiritron! Often the absence of evidence, was evidence in of itself. At the least she wasnt a liar. Which begged the question, how come he had only heard of her now?
For a moment he reconsidered what she said. Assuming the woman truly was a magician, could mask her presence from even his advanced senses and divine the future, than what she had just provided for him was invaluable. On the other hand, she had nothing to lose by lying, and could be a possible enemy maneuvering him into a trap. No, if she wanted to do that, she could have done so when she touched him and cast her spell. Idiot. He wondered when he started trusting people so much. Probably because all he's been fighting as of late are monsters.
Well the evidence so far was in her favor, he at the very least could conclude that she possessed some sort of paranormal power, and was willing to share it. For what reason he was unsure, but one he would eventually find out. Therefore, he would play along.
"So there are two paths, one leads to a foe I have faced before," he paused, as if to consider his next statement. "and the second while unknown will also lead to new foe." He gestured to the last three cards. "The others simply determine the method by which path I choose, with the fifth indicating that regardless, I will be forced or manipulated in some way towards either. Is that about right? Why tell me? If you knew I was coming here, than you also knew I wouldnt have paid to have my "fortune" told. Perhaps you're at the center of this "fifth card" acting as its pivotal factor. With that, you've bound me to one of two paths. So my question is, why?"
The Madame gazed in Ryuichi's direction before she spoke "I divine the future, Ishida-kun, I do not control it ---'tis your own actions who have lead you in this direction, not I and thus I cannot answer your question because I do not know the answer. I knew that you wouldn't have paid to get your fortune told which was why I used that girls infatuation as a means to make you come to me; and of course make sure that you paid me: fortune tellers need to live as well, mind you"
The madame grinned widely before she continued to speak "I'm however quite aware of things that you are not, including the nature of the foes you faced before; and indeed not just that, I tend to possess advanced knowledge of the race as a whole thanks to a little, trade some years ago" The madame gestured to the plate where money was supposed to be put; obviously - if he wanted to know anything more he'd have to pay up, again. "If you want more information, ask me a question and we'll discuss its value to you".
He almost grinded his teeth, but kept his emotions in check. He did not like being manipulated in any capacity. But what she said did give him pause. The unknown enemies he faced? He'd only been facing Hollows unless.....
He reeled from the realization, those foes he fought before. So that what she was referring to. The first card was probably alluding to that as well. His research had turned up far too much, enough that any info he acquired would have been "tainted" by centuries of misconceptions, half-truths and just plain fiction. All he knew was that they were demons, devils, whatever. They were powerful and evil. But if she had information on them....
Begrudgingly, he slipped another 1000 yen bill into the plate, giving her a wary glance as he did. Fortunately he always carried around enough money in case of emergencies, so footing the bill for this wasnt too much of a hassle. It was, however a matter of principle.
"What were the creatures I fought before? The one's in the warehouse, who....had a weakness to silver." He didnt miss the fact the she said, "question", as in singular. So he had to make damn sure she was screwing around with him with his answer.
The madame nodded solemnly before she began talking "They are refered to as Diabolus ---or more precise, they refer to themselves as such while most other knowledgeable individuals call them Devils; they are created from the negative and intense emotions of the deceased, in essence they're emotions, wishes and desires in corporeal form - they are different from other Spiritual Creatures in that they are naturals and as such every one of their physical qualities in particular will not drop over the course of a battle and given how they're created not a single specimen has the same abilities and powers as that of another and each individual Diabolus is an unique entity onto itself - this makes dealing with them rather difficult as one can never fully prepare for their abilities unless one have fought that particular Diabolus before".
The Madame then trailed off before she began to talk again "They're native to one of Hells many realms and that is where the majority of them stay; fleeing from Hell as those you've encountered have done is virtually impossible - they're only capable of conversing with others trough the use of Faustian Bargains: deals that they do with humans and other creatures in order to gain more power; granting the summoner a boon in exchange for their soul when they die" The Madame then paused, clearly, she meant she had answered the question.
ADA filed away the information for later use. He had enough problems dealing with Hollows, and now these...Diabolus? Well, thankfully their appearances in the human world were uncommon, but that also meant that the ones he fought before are still out there. A flashback of Amarantha's fortune regarding the first card replayed through his mind. The last time they fought, he had difficulty in fighting them, and even then, he hadnt been able to see all of their powers.
So even after forking over 2000 yen he still knew next to nothing. Powerful, evil entities bent on chaos and destruction. The Shinigami were certainly getting lazy. No matter, he had never counted on them anyways. They were an incompetent bunch, parading around with their laws, only to cower at the first real enemy that surfaces. There's also the increasingly large number of rogue Shinigami that have been turning up over the years, which serves to prove how idiotic Soul Society really is. His thoughts were rambling now, he had more important things to take care of, like learning the identifies of these new opponents.
Standing up, he moved towards the plate and placed another 1000 yen bill on it. He did not bother sitting down before asking his next question. "Who are they?" He asked. "If you can't answer that, then my next question is what was the nature of that trade. As in, what was it for for and why? You went out of your way to make it obvious, ergo, you wanted me to ask the question." He pulled out another 1000 yen bill in the event she could answer the first, and was therefore ready to make payment for the second.
The Madame frowned "Those three you met are known as Rutilus, Flamen and Boolg - the dog-like creatures are known as Barghest; Rutilus is the dark-haired one with the claws and great mobility, Flamen is the blue-haired aristrocratic one with the ability to manipulate the weather - Boolg is the small, ugly wart-ogre that dresses in feminine clothing and uses Telekinesis to fight. They serve under another entity who goes by the name of Dorothy Furlan da Liberi; and it is she who is responsible for the chaos that transpired at the Pre-school a few kilometers from here" she folded her hands in her lap as she nodded.
"In regards to the deal; That is a personal affair and quite frankly not something you need or should know ---I will say however that the price was my eyes and that my knowledge and intelligence is one houndred percent authentic; as the source is definitely trustworthy." She put great weight on each word in the sentence in order to discourage any further prying.
He smirked. "I see I'm not the only one who prefers their privacy. Perhaps you should take that to heart the next time you pry into matters you shouldn't. But in respect to your wishes, I will withdraw my question. So then, where does that leave us? And yes, I mean us, because after you've binded me to one of these two paths, you can be sure that any path I take, I'm making damn sure, you're not too far behind. You got me in this mess, so you'll help me see it through."
Taking his seat once more, he took a comfortable position, though his guard was up. "Well if thats, that, then I'd like you to remove this charm on me, if you dont mind."
The madame doesn't move at all and instead smiles widely as she speaks, her voice sickly sweet and draped with a layer of sarcasm "Oh, but you forget one single thing - namely the fact that I have never mentioned that I would dispel the charm for free; and what I request in return is that whatever you are to deal with, you will deal with alone and leave this poor fortune teller to her daily buisness - or of course, you could let the charm take control, become a trophy for this admirer of yours to show to her friends and be instrumental in tieing together hers and your family for a long time"
Amarantha stops up for a moment before she continues "Of course, you may also choose to sacrifice yourself in an effort of being ever-so-noble and simply remain a love-bound blushing fool for about a month or so - while this will certainly not give me any advantages I do suspect that your fellow students will never quite see you in the same light again - one tends to do rather odd things when one is in love, magically influenced or otherwise."
Ryuichi has the graciousness to not show his annoyance at this womans shenanigans, but otherwise, sits down and nods (whether she can tell or not he's unsure of).
"Fine, I wont bring you into my troubles --if I can help it. If my enemies hunt you down to get to me, thats your problem. In the meantime, lift this accursed charm off me, and quickly!" He said cooly.
Although for Amarantha's senses, she could easily detect the distinct undertone of pleading in his voice. Apparently he did not like having to ask for anything. He was more of the type to take, either by force or through manipulation whatever he wanted. Given the situation, it was apparent he was unused to being at the mercy of another.
The Madame stood up from her chair and then moved over to Ryuichi as she gently prodded his forehead once more; this time the clinging feeling vanished completely, like a veil that had been lifted which in turn brought to Ryuichi a feeling of ease - The Madame then nodded quietly before she turned around and began to walk towards one of the shelves - where she grabbed a bottle of some odd, transparent liquid.
Walking back over to Ryuichi she handed it to him slowly; taking great care not to lose it, whatever it kept it was likely very valuable.
A shiver made its way through his body as her fingers touched lightly upon his hand. Despite himself, Ryuichi was normally not attracted to females, largely due to how annoying he found them. So he had to question as to why these normally absent feelings would return now.
"Perhaps you find powerful woman particularly attractive master, it would certainly explain your fascination with myself." Quipped ADA. Ryuichi didnt respond for a moment, instead contemplating why ADA had remained so quiet through this endeavor. "In the interest of preserving my loyalty to master, I refrained from interfering with the charm. You were almost killed during our first meeting, so I could not risk it such an occurance happening again." He sighed. "It was not your fault. I should have been more aware." Before he could continue he found Madam Amarantha smiling mischievously at him from her chair.
"Normally I might be inclined to give thanks, but considering that you made 3000 yen off my expense, I'll settle for giving my appreciation for this bottle. Whatever it is." The last sentence asked in more questioning manner.
The Madame leant forward as she spoke "That you will learn of quite quickly; although you shouldn't drink it unless you're in a real predicament - because it might very well save your life; Concider this to be an unusual streak of generosity on my part, because I very rarely give gifts of this nature - But yes, save it and keep it close at hand you never know when you might need it."
Ryuichi snorted. "I recently took a potion that nearly turned me into a mindless lovestruck fool. Why should I take another potion with unknown effects? Do you take me a for a fool?" He said cooly. He eyed the drink warily, but the calm expression on Amarantha's features seemed to relax him. Sighing he pocketed the tonic into his jacket, while muttering something incoherent.
"You never did answer my earlier question. Why did you want to inform me of my, " he paused, briefly considering his next word. "possible future. You went out of your way to ensure that I came into your shop and recieve your divination. Monetary gain aside, why did you do it?"
The Madame hummed to herself for a moment before she spoke up "To establish contacts of course, I know that you know realize that I am much more than a blind fortune teller; I possess knowledge which next to noone else possesses, aside from your enemies of course" the fortune teller began to drum her red polished nails against the table rhytmically before stopping; gazing out into empty air as her voice softened somewhat "Your family holds great influence, Ishida-kun - I'd be a fool not to make sure to get such contacts when they became so readily available." her gaze turned towards Ryuichi; Ryuichi felt like he was indeed being watched, but no, those white pupils remained lightless.
It was a given that this woman was much more than seemed, possessing supernatural powers beyond even his own understanding. Which was why he found himself surprised, that she would do all this to establish connections. Didn't she know...? Dammit. he thought. Of course she knew, she was a fortune teller, she could have seen how their meeting would play out. So, was this outcome the most beneficial for her...or for him?
After a moment, Ryuichi mentally berated himself for over analyzing the situation. The problem with such genius is that you at times expect others to follow suit. Often times the simplest answer was often the best answer. Well, for better or for worse, she had certainly made a connection, whatever it is.
"Hn, I have to admit, you've made quite the impression. For good or for worse, I believe we'll be seeing much more of each other in the near future. I'll be counting on you for your continued services. Now, is there anything else you'd like to add?" While he was initially quite irrate with this woman, it was rare that he could be outwitted in such a fashion. The challenge was...well, he didnt have a description for the feeling at the moment, but suffice to say it felt pretty good.
"That there isn't, feel free to seek me out whenever you'd like and do remember to bring with you payment of course if that is the case - myself, unlike you, is not some superhero but a honest woman who runs a buisness" Ryuichi could certainly disagree, but her empty eyes promised torture if he dared to do so.
Ryuichi smirked in response, before standing up and leaving the shop. With a final farewell he bid the mysterious fortune teller goodbye, leaving her humble store. Stepping into the street he realized that he could no longer find the shop. Or rather, since he no longer wished to go into it, he could no longer find it. A very interesting power, indeed. With time against him, he quickly made it back into class, having spent most of his time in the "human receptable facility" as was his excuse. Even with the progressive increase in the powers of his enemies, they were still largely boring quarry. But this? This was an unexpected development, and he couldnt help but look forward to what the "future" awaits.